Thursday, August 7, 2014

Just Let Me Get The Date Behind Me

This has been one of the toughest weeks in ages and I'm dreading next week, but at the same time hoping that birthday preparations keep me too busy for the wandering mind that has plagued me this week.

My daughter's work schedule means this is my week with the 3Es -- getting up far too early and still unable to go to bed before 11. Those 18-hour days pile up and much of the time I'm alone, or at least the only person awake within the four walls where I'm surrounded by people I love.

Mornings the girls arrive shortly after 5, take over my bed and the crib in the playroom, and go back to sleep sometimes for as much as two more hours. I spend a portion of that time working out and caring for dogs in the kennel, and I'm fairly good at keeping my mind occupied the rest of the time.

By the time I'm left alone again for an hour or so at 3 p.m. between the time they leave and the time my husband gets home, my defenses have slipped a bit. I can only work out so much. It's too hot for the dogs to want to be out, or for me to start some outdoors project after being sidelined all day with little people. I'm at loose ends and find myself debating the social acceptability of alcohol after noon versus the calories I would need to burn to justify it.

Once my husband gets home I've got company another three or four hours before he goes to bed to be ready to get up for his early shift. By 7 or 8 I'm alone again with the evening stretching ahead of me. Some evenings I take a Zumba class, but if I work out too much or too late, I cannot sleep, so I'm left to grapple with the long hours and whatever form of entertainment I can use to distract myself.

This week there's no question that I'll cry during those alone times. It's just a matter of how often, how desperately, and when.

I hate this. I know it's just a date hanging over me. August 17. Yet it's a battering ram of emotions, a realization that it will be year and that each year I will tack another year onto how long it has been since I saw my baby and talked to him, since I was crushed in one of his terrific hugs, since I saw his smile or his blue eyes or the lost expression that so often crept across his face.

For the rest of my life, when I should have been watching him get his life together and find a young woman and have those blue-eyed, blond-haired children he wanted, I'll be marking off another year since I've touched him.

I hate that it had to be on E1's birthday. That I have such a firm date in my mind for when I saw him last. That it has to taint what should be her day.

At the same time, if I have to remember the last time we were together so plainly, I'm glad it's a good memory of one of his favorite family times. I'm glad I can think of him as he was that night and smile at the memory of one more hotdog, or a corner piece of cake, at him slipping up to me as I played hostess to ask a question, grab a hug, be my little boy even as he towered over me.

I'm also glad that it's a day when I won't be tempted to sit around and wrestle with my memories all day. The day itself will belong to the birthday girl, it's just the time before that is haunted with a much loved ghost.

This week, odds are that something on television, on the radio, in an MP3 I thought was safe and downloaded, or even in a mystery novel will bring tears to my eyes. I cry over the fictional characters, the broken hearts, the happy endings that aren't my own, when what I'm really crying over is the life cut short last December by an overdose.

I think of Ethan alone slipping away from us. My mom has wondered if he needed us and why he didn't call. I think he found peace, a high -- what he thought was another NDE (near death experience) the users call it and they seek it as the ultimate high, even though they are sometimes smart enough to be frightened at the same time. I don't think he was frightened. I doubt he ever realized it was not a NDE, but the real thing, until he shook himself free of his pain wracked body and mind.

I wonder if that was what he had been chasing all the time, and I'm sorry that I'm angry and sad that he's free. But that's where I am this week and where I may stay until I mark the date from my calendar. The waves of grief are lapping at my ankles again and I hope it just means I've wandered too near the shore, not that the tide is coming in.

I'm running at a frantic pace, desperately seeking distraction, and a little ragged around the edges. I hope in 11 days I'll be breathing easier again and that the waves don't pull the ground from under my feet in the meantime.


  1. I am so sorry for your grief. When I read The Fault in Our Stars the part that jumped out at me was when he said... "pain demands to be felt" I have spent a lot of years running from pain. Finally a good friend sat me down and said, "just let it be, feel it, embrace it and eventually you will walk through the other side." Hers were not just empty words, she had buried a son who in a moment of dispair took his own life. It may be too soon for you to try this but eventually it is what comes to us all. Your path is still so fresh... just keep walking. Sincerely.... Suzanne

    1. The pain does demand to be felt and by writing about it, I stop and acknowledge it. I've found that I run from it sometimes until I do decide to sit down at my keyboard, and only then does it begin to let me go. I won't allow it to consume me, but I do have to submit to its power.

  2. You have lived a terrible truth about addiction, it tries to detroy the whole family. It got Ethan and you will feel that forever but as each reminder dates passes by you will get a little bit stronger and while always painful it will dull to bearable. Please don't let it get you too by letting it win. Just let the pain roll over you like waves and get up Aug 18th and say yes I did it. It didn't win this time and on Aug 19th you be just a little stronger. Until that next date comes along and you do it all over again. You keep doing it until the ripping gash becomes a tough skinned callous. You do it for all the other E's that need you. You've did everything you could for Ethan and more. It will never go away it's like a scabby new tatoo but soon it will weather and it will just become a PART of who you are not the sum of all parts. I will be praying for you through this as always. I pray for your peace and your heart but mostly for your strength. Hugs my friend.

    1. I like the comparison to a tattoo -- they sometimes don't come out as intended either, but they are part of us. Thank you for your prayers. I'll keep getting up and going on, even with a hole in my heart that doctors cannot touch.

  3. There are no words that can comfort you. Pain really does insist on being felt. My heart goes out to you and all other loved ones who must go through this pain. I have been close to an addict and have a small idea of how helpless you must (have) felt. Hold you in the light and sending blessings.

    1. Dealing with addiction in someone you cannot stop loving, cannot completely give up on, is so overwhelmingly defeating. Nothing reaches them. Not your anger. Not your pain. Not your advice. And certainly not even your love. Thank you Carol.