The peace prayer…

Good Morning

TGIF..and all that good good stuff. I have been thinking about sharing my thoughts, penning my woes. I have a crazy busy schedule, & much of this, is totally on purpose. Busy hands my Nanny would say make the mind quiet…
I just booked a weekend getaway, to one of our private islands here on Long Island. I can describe it as a secret gem. It is in the middle of the Great South Bay and the Atlantic…how much better can that even get??? really?!! These islands forbid any vehicles or motorbikes. They are remote enough, accessed by large Ferries, perk* the local town delivers anything you want via Ferry boat. Oh, and its super pricey. The fancy oceanfront house in peek season runs between 5-10K per week. Yeah, its that nice and secluded. When I think of Fire Island, (off season!) I think of total nature & serenity and quiet. Wild deer and birds and butteflies. No, I am not making this up. The architecture and design of these dreamy homes are unique and special. All the blocks connect byhandmade walkways. Each home has its own theme and name. Mermaid heaven, or Never Enough, or Tiki palace. So dang adorable, I simply can’t get enough. There are many private islands to explore and all of them are stunning. It is truly a photographer’s dream. So…The locals and the trendy young and rich City folks & foreigners & families pack up and go back to reality and school and life, and we sneak in! Perfect timing for sure.
That is when the Island shines for me…. raw and breathtakingly pretty. This truly is why I will always, love and call it home.
I can watch each sunrise and sunset. I can sit and reflect. Write, read, lounge, sip, grill and Nap! I require very little. I appreciate every little thing nowadays…I can smell the ocean and feel the sun already. Blinks 3 times.. whew, ok, back to reality Leelee. Just breathe.

I feel grateful for these getaways. I have acknowledged that travelling has helped tremendously with managing my grief. A new city to explore. No work demands. No social media or drama. I can absorb myself with gardens and flowers. Hiking and a new beach or gallery. Sampling amazing seafood and listening to soothing music. For a moment, I am amongst the living again and I feel free. I often describe grief like the ocean and the waves and tides. I accept, that every day, I shall grieve privately and I may feel sad for awhile. I am told, that is completely normal. It is safe to say, I have changed, and I don’t always feel “normal”, I just feel different.
I have been gentle with my heart. I have reached out for support. He led me to find beautiful Mommies that suffered the very same loss. I have found Reiki and Meditating and Yoga and journaling and profound books about healing, loss of a child, addiction and faith and God. This has saved me and become my mantra. I stare at his face, everyday. Yes, it makes me cry. Yes, it is hard and I feel so lost without him near us. He is physically beautiful to stare at <3…So, I am coping. I am honoring him and here's the thing; I have loved him every single minute, deeply connected to his heart. I am consumed with 31 years of Mikey and of all the memories and sadly, some recent flashbacks that are heart wrenching to relive. I share some of them sometimes with those that can bear my loss and pain. I learned that he is always & forever in my heart. That is where he stays. That is forever where your children remain. The reality of his loss, weighs heavy in my body, my soul, my eyes. Heart broken would be a good description of my insides. I say this often. I am trying my very best, just for today. I lean in and hold tight. I sleep hard now. He is in my dreams sometimes. I weep for him everyday..and talk to him in private. I am doing my very best today…. I am a survivor. Grief is a long journey, so I do not rush. I sit. I listen and wait for a sign or a lesson.
I guess what I am trying to say is, I am here. I am alive and I am surviving & trying to find my new place, here, on this earth, without him, for now.

Love & Peace

leelee

Serenity in the midst of turmoil

I was reading a serenity quote this morning. Lord, you know how much I crave to be in that space, that place of knowing and accepting. Peace! Will I ever truly be there again? So… It’s been awhile since I last posted. I was absorbed and consumed with many court appearances and hopeful to be reuniting with my Granddaughter. Two 1/2 years ago, she and her Mother, disappeared. She managed to go to court to encourage my son to give up his parental rights. She, obviously had another agenda. Sadly, she wishes to erase that part of her life. She thinks she can shield her daughter from us. She certainly tried to persuade my son. The son I lost to an overdose 7 months ago. One of my saddest, painful memories of my son, is him coming home from court. He appeared so defeated. So down, depressed about that day…it still haunts me. I remember speaking to him that evening. The weight of the world and all his problems were suffocating him, consuming him, he was so sad. I told him that night. You do not have to relinquish anything. It is never too late to become a Dad. Even if it takes you years to get there, it would and will be worth it. Children only know love and they are innocent. She will want to know you. He said he was tired and didn’t want to talk anymore and he went to bed. My beautiful, 31 year old son, relapsed 4 weeks later, and he died. He silently suffered for over 2 years with addiction. I watched him suffering. I watched him slowly descend and become overwhelmed with addiction and the inability to deal or recover. It is heartbreaking watching someone fall apart. It is painful to not be able to stop them. Saving him, was our job. Every time he relapsed/failed, so did I. So… After 6 long months of petitioning for visits in family court, we were awarded a visitation. That never happened. In fact, she decided to stop contact and disappear again.
Tomorrow, I return to court. She violated the court order. Here we go again. I often wonder how am I doing this? Where do I get the strength, the patience, the ability to keep fighting? I choose to believe that I am being guided and protected. God, is carrying me, my son is guiding me. I often pray and ask for guidance. I cry and tell him. I am doing what you could not. I just want to love and spoil your baby girl. She deserves to know and feel that from our family.

So, the quote today; Respond with Serenity says:
When you’re confronted with turmoil,
respond with Serenity, it will lift you to a Higher level of
experience and accomplishment….

I sure hope so. After losing a child, you immediately are forced to become a pro at letting go of so much. Disappointment, forgiveness, acceptance. Each one is painful, difficult and I have disconnected myself from so many people, & many loved ones. Honestly, I truly thought they would be there, They would be compassionate and be helpful, They would be there for ME. I needed so desperately to lean on them and grieve. I was so very wrong. I automatically expected them to show up and to not let me go. To understand and hold me, listen to me, talk about him & support me and my husband and my daughter. They would reassure me…I just needed all them to love me through this. This has been the most painful realization to date. The reality is, they distanced themselves. They stopped calling, reaching out. They disappeared, vanished and they shut down on me. I analyze or rather rationalize their lack of compassion. They are unable to confront or speak about death. The most painful, heartbreaking reality is, they do not say his name or speak of my son. Ever. I am internally, deeply, offended by that. My new reality is perhaps too painful for them to be supportive. They have no idea how much pain and sorrow they have created inside me. I am forced to feel alone and isolated. My trusted inner circle has shrunk. It’s very small now. I will not let them consume me, that in itself is a daily struggle. People often say; I Can’t Even Imagine! No, you can’t, I certainly get that. So, I found new friends and support groups who “get me”. This is how I am surviving…finding support and therapy and compassionate women who love me and understand loss and death. This is a crucial and an important step to my survival and existence now. I have also found a blessing in this. I can be compassionate, understanding, comforting to others who are suffering. I can say, I’m so sorry you lost someone, and mean it. I can hug a stranger and listen to them. I can offer to help them, cook for them, anything to help them make it through another day. No one tells you to learn to self soothe yourself when your child dies. It’s a harsh lesson for me. Some days, I am so heartbroken, I can hardly focus on much else. My job keeps me very distracted and busy, #grateful. I spend a lot of time reading, writing, volunteering… it helps.
So, a little prayer, if you care too, for tomorrow, I again appear before the court. Begging, remaining silent, and hopeful something good will come of all this drama and turmoil. I keep my eye on the prize. My Anna Lisa.
<3 Nana loves you and I continue to fight for you, for my son, for our family.

Namaste~

~leelee

memories…letting go

Hello, from sunny New Hampshire. It went by in a blink, picture perfect, brilliantly sunny, breezy, warm and luscious! 4th of July celebration and our annual trip to the lake. You see, this trip, we all knew, would be our last trip to this lakehouse. They have sold their beautiful lakefront home and are moving on! So, for over a decade, we have gathered and bonded and watched fireworks ignite. For over a decade, we made memories, and sought refuge and healing at this lake. For over a decade, we brought our families together to “make memories”. I photographed every single one. I took too many pics and annoyed the kids to no end. I thought the house held magic and hope and sunshine. For many, many years it did. Sadly, last year, my son’s last breath was taken there, at the lakehouse. It now holds precious memories and tremendous grief. I guess, perhaps, it really does give them reason to move on. So, the house was sold to a lovely blended family. They call it their summer house, the new owners. They will move in in a few weeks. They will now make their own memories there. Another testimony that life, goes, on. No matter what!
So, I knew this year would be different. This would be hard, scary in some ways. I knew, I am not the same woman who sat by that lake for years, dreaming, laughing, celebrating, living and loving. I also knew I had to sit in my grief and acknowledge that my son died there on Christmas Eve. There is no avoiding this horrible reality or not fully acknowledging it was very traumatic, devastating. This, sadly isn’t my first rodeo, I mean in experiencing or surviving sudden death, but, he is my first born child. You simply do not recover, you adapt. Any time I am asked or I feel forced to “let go”, to release him, I cry and feel sadness. Maternally, I instinctively want to protect him, hold him, save him. Letting go makes me feel like I abandon my baby, my beautiful son. My Reiki master suggested that I do a guided meditation when I arrive there. She gently encouraged me to find one on Forgiveness. Hmmmmm, I pondered that. She said to me. Forgive what happened there that night. Forgive him, forgive yourself. When you are able to let go and forgive him, he will then be able to forgive himself. You will release him, and you will be able to move forward. I had never truly thought of it that way. I was so focused on the pain and trauma in my heart. Then she said this. Instead of grieving and carrying all that anxiety and pain, why don’t you have a little ceremony. A celebration of his life! Honestly, I hadn’t thought of that either. Bring some of his ashes and sprinkle them in the lake. Tell stories of fun memories and send his lanterns up to the sky and think of him. Remember the person he always was, his whole life.
That moved me. It helped me re focus and gave me a purpose. It made my son shine in my heart and I was not consumed with his final moments there. I decided I could do that, hold a small, intimate ceremony with a few family members. His Dad was ok with it too. For me, I carry this boy in my heart, 24/7. It felt right to honor him with his family. I felt a surge of courage to climb the stairs to the guest room. A tiny part of me felt he was lingering there waiting for me.
I slowly walk upstairs. Me and Mike, we go to sit and grieve our son. We go where he took his last breath. We were not present. We were not there to say goodbye or hold him. The room is illuminated in the most beautiful hue of sunlight. So golden, it takes my breath away for a moment. I see his picture, it always takes my breath away too….
The breeze by the rocking chair is strong, cool and I swear it feels like heaven. I forgot how beautiful that room is. I forgot how the sun sets deeply there, warming the entire floor. I rock and stare at the picture his Grandmother displays. The little angel candle is next to him that I gave her to hold. He is so beautiful physically, I could stare at his face all day. I sit and rock, and the meditation plays softly. We both listen and cry and honor our child. It is peaceful. I can’t explain why, it just is so peaceful and serene. I feel love in that room. I feel the sun, the cool breeze. I feel him. The love he had for everyone. The struggle he silently suffered, trying so very hard to beat addiction. Forgiveness…..for me, it is hard, it is a constant struggle. We have no control over anyone, yet, as a parent, we must let go and forgive. Complicated, a day by day battle internally. What really impressed me was his Dad. He tells me, he forgives him, and he is passionate about that forgiveness. to me, he didn’t even seem to struggle with it at all. Simply, Amazing really. We sit and cry there for awhile. We mourn him so deeply, but love him even more than grief. He was a lighthearted, loving, caring soul. We miss him …. more than words.
That evening….the stars are sparkly, the fireworks are magical. A beautiful night on the lake, we feel blessed. We are surrounded by love and family. That is how we make it through.

So, we send up the lanterns, they soar up to the stars, we watch until we can’t even see the orange glow. Magnificient & they were beautiful. But, then again, so was he. They soared so high, into heaven, & I loved thinking about him and wondered if he saw them too. We sprinkled some ashes over the lake and I read a poem that I found and framed for his Dad & I love to believe that one day, we will embrace this:

~ What moves through us is a silence, a sadness,
a longing for one more day, word, touch and we may not understand
~ why you left us,
but, little by little, We begin to remember not that you are gone
but that you LIVED and that your life gave us
~Memories too beautiful to forget.

in loving memory of Michael Anthony.

I cried a lot today. It happens now, I noticed immediately after I return from vacations, when I come back to reality, & I return to my “new” life and to this house, the grief swells and overwhelms my heart. It is always painful, coming home and not seeing his smile and sparkly blue eyes waiting for us. He is loved, he is missed, every single day, I live with that now. So… I fully accept and share with people, how I survive each day. I tell them; This grief, longing, mourning…for my child,this is what I live now inside, I accept it fully. I don’t expect it to change, not as long as I live on this earth without my child. I walk straight into the storm of grief everyday. Some days, are softer than others. I am living day to day, trying my very best. I am grateful for any support and love I receive. Not many people will talk to me about my son or his death. I accept that now too. Some will never be able to comfort me or console me. I gravitate and seek out healers, survivors, other mommies that lost a child, anyone who can guide me on my path to healing. I am lucky to have found a few amazing women in my life. I truly believe, because of them, I have been able to continue breathing for 6 months. Thank you all. Each one of you is unique, special, appreciated, valued and validated. I am truly blessed to have a Mother in law who is an angel on earth. She is a true testimony of survival. She lost 2 of her 6 children. I have hope when I sit and talk with her. She comforts me and validates me and tries her best to help me accept and honor my son, her Grandson who she adores.
So memories, they come and go, but they remain forever inside us. Comforting to know, they never leave us…leelee Moments are just like that too. We embrace what we see. We let go alittle bit each day. I was never good at goodbyes. I get attached easily. I glanced one last time from the porch at the sparkling, pristine view of the lake and thanked her for her natural beauty, for all the happy moments, for the clear fresh water, for providing a place we all gathered together, family, friends, children, animals, fire pit, fireworks, amusement park, we had it All! & many generations gathered together, 14 years of memories there. I thanked her for all the moments we healed together on this lake and even witnessed our beautiful niece marry there last fall. The sun setting behind her and her husband. A moment, etched in time, I will never forget how beautiful that day was. We shared so much there, the very best, and ironically, the very worst, but we all held each other up. We all showed up and celebrated LIFE. I am pretty sure that is how my son lived his life. Certainly on his own terms, doing his own thing and being silly, happy and crazy. He loved his family tremendously. I was so proud when he sauntered into a room. He always lit it up. He kissed everyone and smelled like a rose. He was special, beautiful, genuine. He was good. Of course, he was abit mischievious and was the goofball, silly, a bit daring, and very cherished by his family and cousins. I am pretty sure he demands that we all continue to celebrate, love and make more memories…and celebrate him some way too. Maybe, we can find another lake to reunite at? I continue to ask him to guide me. To show me tiny little signs that he is with us, guiding us and watching over us all. I continue to find Heart rocks everywhere I go, thank you. I stare at butterflies, dragonflies and hear the turtle doves coo and I think about you, always.
Cheers to the lake house and all the love and sunshine it gave to us all. It’s beauty etched into our minds and hearts forevermore.

Love & Light

~leelee