Looking For Myself When I Break

Cameron Brick

Note: I wrote this almost two weeks ago, and it is still a daily struggle. But I hope through sharing it that you will relate.

I haven’t been myself in a very long time. I became who I thought he wanted me to be. The ironic thing is, when I changed he didn’t want me anymore. He wanted someone else. And in the process I lost myself.

I lost my ability to say no. I lost that part of me that didn’t take any shit. I lost the part of me that said that I am worth standing up for. I lost the idea of who I wanted me to be. I lost the edge, and the beauty of being a soul who speaks her mind, and became someone who just let things happen to her. And I became someone who didn’t like being alone with herself.

I miss him, and I miss what we had, but tonight I needed more. I have needed someone to be there and hold me, and talk to me about the bad things happening, and tell me it was all going to be okay. I lost the ability to do that for myself.

I broke tonight. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand the pictures he was showing off of his new kids, or that he said he was talking to his girlfriend. He said it to me. A woman should never have to hear those words from the man she thought she would spend forever with. It was harsh and cruel.

I broke tonight when the crowd was on their feet cheering, and encouraging the boys on the field, because my son wasn’t out there any more. I look for him, and I don’t see him. I know that I won’t. He died. I saw it myself, when I identified his body. But I still look and hope to see him, and then I plummet into sadness, and heartbreak.

I broke today when we had to meet with the funeral home director to collect the death certificates, and copies of donation checks, and his ashes. When we realized what had caused the accident, and we all felt responsible in some way, I broke. I listened as his biological mom talked about all the grief she is going through, and I could say “ me too” for everything she said, but because I didn’t give birth to him, so my grief wasn’t validated.

I broke when the man who I married years ago was supposed to be there and didn’t show up. Because that meant that I was there without any support or back up. I was fighting for myself, and still collecting what he needed, and I was doing it without him. More broken promises.

I broke when a friend showed up to watch the game with him, and I was left out. He was my friend too. He had become my brother. He said those words, and yet I wasn’t a part of the conversation, the friendship, the bond that they still had was cut off from me, and I broke.

I broke as I held my dead son’s cousin while we buried her baby this morning. Another baby gone. Another mother crying out for her baby to come back to her. Another heart that will never be the same.

I broke when people that I had come to love had only harsh words to say. I broke when people that once knew me best, didn’t even see that I was not okay. I broke when I thought of all the loss I have had, and wondered what would be next. In 5 months I lost my husband to divorce. I lost my son to death. And all I am left with is my daughter. I worry what will happen to her.

And I lost myself. How could I still even have anything left of myself with all the brokenness? When your heart breaks into so many pieces how is it even possible to have anything left of yourself?

I broke. I did not explode. I wanted too. I did not stop living. I’ve wanted too. I just walked away. I needed out so badly. I needed away from all of the pain. I needed my husband to love me. I needed my son to hug me. I needed to not hear the cries of a childless mother. I needed to not hear the anger of a broken bio mom. I needed to not see the pictures of him with his new family. I need out. So I ran.

I stood up, and walked out. The game was ending. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I talked to a friend. She knew I was shutting down. I said that I was going to explode or go silent. She said I need out

I work all the time. I know that isn’t totally true, but I do work hard. I have too. I am now a single mom. The only child I have left alive is high needs. I have to educate her. Take her to all of her many appointments, and help her through all of this grief. I have to work to keep her warm, and fed, and clothed. And I still try to be a fun mom, and make her life better.

But tonight I broke. So I went to the place where my son died. It is the only place we can go to feel near him. Then I reverted 20 years. I drove fast. I drove back roads. I blasted Puddle Of Mudd. I sat in my cold car with a coffee and a pack of camels. I wrote on the side of the road. And slowly, after two hours, I started to feel okay. I started to feel like me.

Am I still mad? Yes. Am I still sad? Yes. Am I still broken? Hell yes. But it helped. I took myself back to a time where I listened to Alt rock, and drove fast, and wrote in the cold with my smokes, and coffee instead of going home to dive right into work.

When I did get home I put on baggy clothes, crawled into bed, and wrote some more. I grabbed books that have nothing to do with building a business, or eating healthy, or education. I grabbed a magazine, and a novel. I grabbed the laptop and music.

I need me. I need to find me again. It probably won’t always be in a Puddle Of Mudd song. But I have to try. Because for the first time in a long time I don’t feel quite so bottled up and stuck in who I tried so hard to be I felt like me. The girl that likes loud music, and fast cars. The girl that needs space to drive, and sit, and write, and be angry.

Parenting After Death

When a child dies, in some ways a parent does too. The hopes you had. The dreams you listened too. The plans you made with them for a future, and a life all of their own. They all die.

Losing a child of any age is horrific. I lost a baby in early pregnancy. It was horrible, and left damaging scars on my family. But, when you have come to know your child, you watch them grow, you see their smile, and you hold them tight….the damage is worse. I didn’t know that it could be, but it is.

I will never get to feel his strong arms hug me again. I will never get to see his beautiful smile again. I will never get to listen to him call me mom ever again. I will never get the late night talks, or midday texts. The pain in those lost things is heart wrenching.

I think of graduation, and college, and marriage, and babies, and jobs, and dreams I will never get to see with him. It almost immobilizes me. Parenting a dead child is the worst. You go out to the place you feel most connected to them. You watch their friends go on with the life that they were supposed to live. You wake up, and go to bed wondering what you are supposed to do with all the parenting you have left and can’t use for them. Even if you have other children there is a void that you just can’t fill.

People ask you how many kids you have, and you stumble because you don’t want to make things weird. People don’t know that you have parented a child so old when you give advice. People don’t know if they should say something or say nothing when they see you at the coffee shop, so they give you looks of pity, and hugs, and you love them for trying.

When you are parent with out your child the world looks different. I experienced this to some degree when I went through years of infertility, and again now. People complain about their own kids (and I’m not above complaining about mine) But you know the ones I’m talking about? The ones who probably should have stopped several kids ago, or maybe gotten a dog instead? Or there are the people that just can not, and will not get their shit together. Now I understand that some of these people have real reasons, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the ones who just sit around, and leach off of other people. Hello, you were given a life! Live it already!

When you know that your child will not get the opportunity to live a long life it makes every thing just a little bit more harsh, or more beautiful. There doesn’t seem to be much of middle ground right now. So I look at my life, and what needs to change. How to move forward, asking what would I teach him about something like this.


Cookies For Cameron


I panicked a few days ago. I worried that I had never made cookies for my son. I text my ex husband and asked him. He couldn’t remember either. I was heartbroken and distraught. What if I had never made him cookies? Every mom should make their kids cookies. There is something special about your mom making you cookies.

My mom made me cookies when I was sick. She would put my sister and I on the couch and bury us in blankets, and then we would watch Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks, and drink hot totties, and she would make us fresh warm cookies. It made me feel so loved. That’s what mom’s do. But, I can’t remember if I ever did.

My mind raced to questions like “What if I failed him?” To me, not making my kid cookies was failure. I started to worry then about all the things I might not have done for him. Did I read to him? Did I take him to the park? Did I watch his favorite movie with him? Did I listen when he was hurting or confused? Did I love on him when he was sick? Did I do a good job at teaching him to be kind, and to love well?

I know I did. I can think of times when I have done each of these things. Except I can’t remember anything about damn cookies. But the rest of it…..I know I did it. Yet, I panic. What if it wasn’t enough? What if he didn’t know that I loved him as much as I did? What if, what if, what if…..

It’s the what if’s that I can’t dwell on. I can’t go there. I can’t think about them. They will immobilize me. I know that I did the best I could. I know that he knew my heart. Now it’s time to focus on what I do have left. It’s time to focus on my daughter.

Since my ex husband and I split up I have woke up so many days thinking about him. I redirect my mind by telling myself to focus on my kids, and work. This morning that was especially hard. I woke up thinking about life with my ex, and about how he is now getting some of the things that he wanted, things he couldn’t get with me. I was feeling alone, as I do most of the time now, so I thought-focus on the kids. My brain corrected myself to KID. You have one kid now. Focus on that kid.

My daughter needs a lot of care. Now that her brother is gone she needs more. She told me yesterday that with the split/divorce and then her brother dying the last two years bombed. I don’t want her to feel that way about her whole life. I want her to dream. I want her to grow. I want her to learn through tragedy, not stay in it. But, it’s hard. It’s hard as an adult, let alone a child.

I rarely make cookies, but my daughter enjoys them. Being gluten free makes cookies a little bit harder to do well. But, I want to try. I want to give her a chance to enjoy life, to enjoy the little things. to learn to live life, not stop. So I write schedules, and budgets, and make plans to live life.

And I ask my daughter to make cookies for Cameron with me.

Words About My Son’s Death

My son died. It’s been three weeks since I’ve written, and two and half since he died. Mostly, I don’t know what to say. It was a horrible car accident, and in the hours that followed we waited to hear if he was dead or alive. In the days, and now weeks that followed we prepared his funeral and said good byes. The news of his death spread to effect a wide community of people.

He was loved, he was always smiling, and most of all, he loved well. He lived life to the fullest. Everyone was family to him. He was the protective big brother to so many people. He was a son, and boyfriend, and a heart to his sports teams.

He was 8 days short of turning 17. He did not have an easy life. He worked hard to get where he was, and become better than he had be taught. He worried about grades, as he made plans to become a forensic annalist, then join the military. He played his heart out on the football field, and on the wrestling mat.

I was not his mother by birth. I became his mom through love. I fell in love with him, as a tiny boy learning to walk. I fell in love with his dad, and we married. I took care of him, and loved him as though he was always a part of me. Because really, he was. I loved him as he grew into a man. Late night talks, and texting, and so many sports events brought me closer to him. There were a few years that we were absent from his life, and they were such hard years. But, when he let me in, he did it with a fierce love that will never be matched.

In the days that have followed his death I have seen traumatic things that no parent should ever have to see. I have made plans, and bought reminders for family members, and fought battles to see my son honored. I have wadded through so much grief, and so many questions. I have ended rumors, and been targeted, because everyone needs a place for their anger to land.

Normal life has been hard to get back to. How do you do normal when part of your heart, your family, is missing forever? I don’t know. But we are trying to learn. Sometimes I take life one hour at a time. I make plans, and cancel them, or leave early. I wear out quickly, and I still don’t sleep well at night. My heart aches all of the time. The loss of a child is something no one can handle well. But, I keep trying. I keep going. I am slowly adding back into my day the things I need to do; work, home school, appointments, and fun with friends.

We take things in pieces, because we are in pieces.

Dream Something New

I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to go to Africa, and help the sick, the poor, and the oppressed. I wanted to write about it all, and be published. I had grand dreams. None of it ever fell into place though, and I reworked my dreams to instead include a husband, children, and living a life with them. We got married, and loved well, and filled our days and nights with each other.

Then it happened. Those dreams were gone too. He was done, and had already moved on. I was stuck. I moved out. I started businesses. I continued to home school,to work, to go to our son’s football games, and run our daughter to her appointments. I started building a new life.

This life was harder in some ways because I no longer had my husband. He was my friend, my confidant, and my lover. I had lost all of that. But, I did have the freedom to stay up late and work. I could be busy, and not have to think about how that effected anyone but me and my kids. It wasn’t an even trade by any means, but it’s what I had.

So I keep going. My kids are watching me. I work hard. I play sometimes too. I keep busy. I live in the life we have made, full of writing, and knitting, and school, and the never ending hustle. I work out. I try to keep my thoughts to myself. I avoid drama, and I march forward. Because that is what building a life again looks like. It looks like work, and relationships, and finding new adventures. It looks like trial, and error, and learning, and questioning, and exploring who you are, what you want, and how to get there.

I’m not a doctor. I rarely travel. But I am changing things around me. I am working to have a life that I am proud of and happy with. I am working to build something that I enjoy. I am building businesses. I am cooking, and writing, and creating. I am taking old dreams, and building new.

Just because your dreams didn’t come to pass does not mean your life is over. Keep going. Build something new. Go back and start over. Build something that you’ve always dreamed of. Just live.

In The Waiting


I hate waiting. It’s hard, and it gives me time to overthink. Today, I am doing a lot of thinking, and overthinking. Things may be changing in my life again, and I hate waiting to find out. It makes my anxiety go crazy.

When I’m buried under so much anxiety I have a routine to keep going. I grab my schedule, and start working my way down the list. I answer emails, and make my posts for my businesses. I write, and I read, I work out, and I make plans. I put myself (as much I can) into a robotic mode, and I work.

Keeping set goals for my life helps me to function even in difficult circumstances. It provides purpose when I need to keep moving forward, and gives me an outlet for some of my feelings. When I pour into my goals instead of sitting in my worry I am doing something to better my life.

Bettering our lives is what I am trying so hard to be about right now. I have reduced the amount of junk in our home. I would now consider us minimalists. I have worked on healing my body, and making it strong through working out and eating well, and occasionally taking time to rest. I have taken a little time everyday to write for me personally. Some days that means I journal. Some days I write out plans for travel, or what I want my home to look like,or my future, or goals. Sometimes I just color, or knit, or do something that gets my creativity flowing.

Bettering our lives also means that I say no to things a lot more than I used to. I guard our time. I take things slower. I don’t take on the drama as much anymore. There are people in our lives that we have a mutual give and take relationship with. Then there are those who will just take. Those are the people that I just can’t live in peace with right now. So I make our circle smaller so that everyone benefits more in our relationships. I take more time to rest, and watch a movie with my daughter, or sit on the beach because those things are just as important as the work and goals.

I have spent years waiting, and not living. I am now trying to find a way to do both. I can’t change waiting. It’s a part of life. I can live while I wait. I can work. I can move toward my goals. I can learn to breathe in the space I am in. I can better our life, make a life, and live a life while I wait. Who said waiting couldn’t be active? What do you do while you wait?

Rebuilding A Life

Thoughts don’t stop. I’ve been divorced a little over three months. He is already talking about marriage, kids, and building a life with his current girlfriend. I’m still stuck.

This morning my daughter woke me up early. I laid in bed, and I could remember exactly what it felt like to be held by him. The temperature of his skin, the way I lay in his arms, the smells, and how it felt. That’s all I have now are memories. They drive me crazy. Now I imagine someone else making those memories, and it haunts me.

My big question lately has been-What do I do with my life now? I have plans. I always have. But he always came first. Now I have the opportunities to fulfill those plans, and they seem lacking. Living a life of business, and making a name for myself was grand when I shared it with someone. But now what?

Now I make a name. I build a business. I show my children what working hard for a life that you want looks like. Yet, it all seems dull in comparison. So how do I keep going? The short answer is….I have no idea. The better answer is….You just do it.

When things are hard, and your thoughts don’t stop. When what you thought your life would look like has changed, and you don’t know how to deal with it. When your memories are becoming someone else’s reality, and it breaks you. You just do it. You set your intentions. You build a plan. You stick to a routine. You acknowledge that you are the only one who can do exactly this. Then you do it.

Because not doing it is worse. Not doing it means that you show your children that it’s okay to give up. It means that you show the people who brought you down that they have the power to control you. You do it, because not doing it means that you give up control over yourself too. You do it because it’s a better life than doing nothing.

What am I going to do with my life now? I don’t have a complete thought on that. But I know that it will be action. Every thought toward building a life that you are proud of has to be followed up with an action. Without action there is no progress. Without progress you stay stuck. I do not want to be stuck. So I move my thoughts into actions, and my actions become a life worth living.