September morn….

Well, here I am. Once again, awakening wayyyy to early, but, also relishing in the quiet stillness of pre dawn. It wasn’t the lonely dove that woke me. It wasn’t a hot flash (oh aren’t they something!) It was you…surrounding my thoughts, my heart, swirling around in my head. I toss and turn and whisper I miss you so much, like I often do when I wake up to another day. Another day, the tears flow @ the mere realization that you are not next to us. You are far away, somewhere, where it is still so difficult for me to picture you safe and sound. Oh, my Michael, I yearn for you always….When I think about my quote I wrote to you yesterday… ~tu me manques~ which translates to, I miss you in English. I discovered the French translation is “You are missing from me”. That is what a grieving mother feels deeply, every single day. I am not fully at peace because of your physical absence. I wish I could fully understand Heaven, death. But, I don’t. Maybe, I don’t truly want too. I know one thing for sure, I will forever miss you here with me. I will forever awake and think.. is this a dream? Did my beautiful son really die? Last night, we had a vigil at the ocean. August 31st,- is now labeled National Overdose Awareness Day. I woke up yesterday and thought, is this really me now? It is. It’s 21 months since my son died. The reality stabs me over and over again. The grieving mother would do anything to turn back the clock. After all, we still sadly digress, and our mind sometimes wanders back & we go over & over & over in our minds, dissecting all the insanity and trauma of addiction. It’s a vicious cycle. Your brain says, You did everything possible to help him. The grieving mother feels differently. Truly, there is no solace. He is missing from me…that is what my heart screams silently. Yet!, I aspire to believe and embrace fully that a Heaven exists! & I wholeheartedly pray it does, I will see him again. Somehow, that tiny bit of faith, keeps me going. That thought of him hearing and watching us gives me a bit of comfort. The brave souls I have met and come to lean on and love, my support group, my beading sisters, that give the best hugs, and make me laugh and teach me how to celebrate life again and find my JOY again & above all, connect and honor our child, heals me daily. I am surrounding myself with other Mommies, who get it, without explaining anything. Last night, at our ceremony on the ocean, we floated messages into the ocean, we proudly held our child’s photo and cried and hugged a whole bunch. Music played all night, Linda delivered her heart and her purpose and message of hope and strength and LOVE. The whole night, All I felt was you. I brought the hydrangea flowers he bought for me on Mother’s day, and butterflies and a Rose from my Mom’s garden with us. Yes, of oourse, we all had tears of sorrow for the life lost. I also embraced for a moment that I felt a touch of gratitude that God blessed us with you. They all commented about how handsome you are. I reply, when he walked into a room, he lit up the entire room. I miss that, your charisma, your essence, your silliness and handsomeness… I miss it all. This morning, I said to myself. You seem to avoid spending long amounts of time, alone in your grief. Nowadays, you volunteer, you work, run around, and keep super busy and productive. I don’t often allow myself to write anymore, to sit in my grief or sadness. I figure, if I keep moving, keep active and busy, I don’t think as much. It won’t hurt as much. The truth is…time helps soften the sharpness of a sudden traumatic death. Time, gives us space to heal the heart. Our brain insulates us, and somehow we learn again how to live. I didn’t think I would feel “anything” when you died. Now, I feel everything. A mother’s loss is a very lonely, dark, desperate place. Many people tell me “I can’t even imagine”. I want to say, yeah, I once felt that way too. They don’t mean harm, they are just afraid to reach out or support me. That is what I need, support, love, a hug, a card. Say his name, remind me of a funny memory, instead, society has stupid rules and patented inappropriate & silly phrases that don’t really help. Many many family and friends have faded from my life now. Hiding from my loss, or rather their deep fear of loss.

So, I learned, many years ago, to Plant my own seeds and water my own Garden. I am a Survivor. I had to learn and often force myself to take the steps to help me get through a traumatic loss. My Faith in God, a few good safe support groups, a qualified good therapist. Surround yourself with people that allow your feelings to surface. They just listen, that is all you really need. Just that LOVE….& COMPASSION…that I found, is how you make it. The other option? I think, and have witnessed sadly..some choose to drink or drug yourself to death and avoid all feelings and emotion. I have witnessed addiction and lived watching many people succumb and die because of it. Perhaps that is why it is so very difficult for me to fully accept that he could not overcome his addiction. No matter what I, or “we” did to help him. It was his addiction, and I wanted to will it out of him! Slay it for him. I simply could not. Sigh…I carry that around a lot. A mother’s cross to bear. Today, I acknowledge that I need to share these feelings, not bottle them up or suppress them down. Funny, when he was sick and suffering, I penned and journalled my thoughts daily. I filled volumes of journals with my pain and his pain and our suffering and fears. My greatest fear was that he would die from an overdose. He did. I hate that I carried that for so long. I admit, I spoke to him many times and begged him, desperate for him to recover. I read him every article about the epidemic of Heroin, then the lethal, deadly doses of Fentaynol . My son and I, We talked a lot, I cried to him. I wrote him volumes of letters.. anything to penetrate his sick brain. My sweet, beautiful boy, He assured me, reassured me & promised me that he knew how not to die. Sick isn’t it? I lived in constant fear and anxiety. Here’s the thing; I think about him. He just turned 31 years old, the month before he overdosed. So young.. my heart breaks, shatters at how young he left us all. Yet…I seldom acknowledge this very important reality…My brave, sick son… He tried 1000 times to regain his life back. I watched him struggle and fail and relapse. His shame, guilt, left him empty and desperate. BUT! I never say it enough. My son, tried over and over again, for 2 years to find peace and recovery. I guess he didn’t get lucky. Even with his stunning, sparkly Irish blue eyes. Ya know, Statistically, sadly, only a few percent recover. He told me, I want my old life back…I understood his wish and supported him the best I could. When he relapsed and died on Christmas Eve, he left so much here. His pain was so great, he succumbed and I was gutted. People often comment to me that “you’ve been through so much!”. Yeah, my world was shattered. Don’t be sorry, just know I hurt every day. I still smile and feel love & joy. I’m still me, just an altered version of who I once was….

So now…almost 2 years later…and every single week since then, we get another call that someone else has died from overdose. We grieve right along side them. Addiction is flattening. It is destroying many innocent children, adults, unborn babies…this epidemic is so big, so out of control, I am frankly overwhelmed how it will ever stop or end? I lost my son, I carry that loss and trauma every day. Now, I stand with other parents who lost their child. Together, we realized we can still live. We can carry a message or hug a family who recently lost their child. That is our purpose, & now I make beads for families. We honor their child & give them the beads and whisper. We are here if and when you are ready, we are here to Love you and support you. I tell them, we too, have sadly suffered the very same loss. It helps, I am witness to that. They brought me beads and they saved my life and my heart….The only way to get by, & to survive is finding your tribe! Reach out and make the call. Show up, Cry, and share your heart and Love. Then watch the miracles unfold.

I’m no expert here, I have a story to tell. It’s about losing someone you love and learning to cope. The road is long, the climb is steep and exhausting. I don’t sugar coat that. It for sure changes you, pain often does. This journey of grief (sucks) but I was already brave and nutured and loved. I believe those things have carried me on my most darkest days. I quote something I read the other day…We don’t get over a loss, certainly not the loss of your child…it just needs to be carried ~….God, how heartwrenchingly true that is! It’s freeing, saying, No, I won’t get over this! I’m not supposed too!, our loved ones and friends really can’t relate to that, but that’s ok! me reciting to myself, ~we just need to learn how to carry it~. I like that, because I am constantly learning. There is no pressure or time stamp or stage of grief or graduation! Here is what I know now…My son, Michael, He remains deeply embedded, and the love grows and continues to grow, I call that a gift from your child. Eternal love <3. He is my anchor, we are forever connected.

Oh, most importantly… I only do this shit like…
One day at a time~ that's all I can do.

Peace & Love to you ~

leelee

collecting beautiful moments

Good Morning from hotass NY! Yep, a real heatwave here on beautiful long island. We didn’t have much of a spring, so BAM here it is. I look at my flower gardens and know they are truly my happy place. Like my kitty cat, Lila, they don’t require very much at all. Just love. I am desperate to remember this…Love is all you need. I have wanted to reach out and touch base…it’s been a minute. I’ve been wanting to share and catch up for awhile… I know it’s important to share my journey, my process, my heart…the slow transformation. For the last year and a half, I gently and bravely dealt with the loss of my son Mikey to an overdose. There are still days when I awake and think Did this really happen? I suppose a part of me will always feel the trauma and shock. I suppose a part of me will never truly understand how swiftly he left this world. I also know that he will be forever in my heart and mind. I sometimes think I will see him again someday, let’s put it this way, I hope and pray I do.
Grief is a tedious and painful process. Some, choose or rather are raised not to focus on grief or the pain of losing someone you love dearly. I found support groups and friends that understand and grieve with you. I found unconditional love and understanding. I volunteer and reach out to others who have suffered the very same loss. It helps, it heals, it sustains us. We are a grateful, loving bunch of mommies. It’s ok to say his name, to speak of your struggles and grief. I believe it has allowed me to survive this nightmare and tragedy and hold it all together. Notice, I did not say, hold it all in. My experience with suicide and overdose has shown me so much. Most people can’t articulate or offer comfort. In my world, most don’t speak at all about him. They, the silent ones, have no clue just how painful that is for me. I’ve come to terms with a lot. Not acknowledging my son is perhaps one of the most surprising and painful experiences for sure. When my tears come, I see the terror in their faces. I see them avoid me…I want to scream! Don’t be scared, the worst has already happened. Nothing, no one can ever replace my beautiful boy. His daughter, now 3, is my joy and heart. She is a sweet little girl and I am grateful for every second I spend with her. When I look at her, I see a glimpse of him. I sometimes cry when she leaves, grieving that he is not with us, with her. I fought for her, and I don’t regret one second of that process. Her mother has even softened and perhaps can see the benefit in us loving her. She smiles the entire visit and blows me kisses and touches her tender heart and whispers…I love you. I’ve often think to myself…this little child doesn’t even know how much she has healed our broken hearts. She truly has. Our precious little Anna Lisa, Nana loves you to the moon and back.
So my title today ~Collect Beautiful Moments~ it’s true. I had to learn how to do that again. Slowly, I am learning again, without my son, to collect them again. When I was a young and began writing, I remember I wrote this in a journal. ~ Life is made up of a string of little hearts, over time, memories are all strung together, to create One beautiful life.~ When I saw that quote in a wedding store (more on that!) I immediately was drawn to it. Then, I remembered…ahhhhh, this is what I wrote 30+ years ago. I purchased the little framed quote and it meant so much to me. My bride to be was Not so convinced! In fact, she insisted it did not “match” her theme or color scheme! lol. Ahhhh, I have learned to pick my battles, therefore, I let it go. I proudly display that quote in my kitchen now and look at it everyday. I am now allowing myself to live in the moment again and truly feel the joy. I am so thankful that I can now share that here, again.
Speaking of weddings! My daughter is engaged and getting Married! She met a kind & loving gentleman and will wed next year. I see and feel her total happiness. We all want our children to be healthy and find love. She is head over heels and so are we! I will admit here that I was terrified that I would not be able to feel true joy. I was so scared that my grief would prevent me from feeling. I was wrong. Just watching her, planning and shopping and picking her wedding gown, flowers, caterer, bonding over every little detail has brought me enormous joy and excitement. She, my beautiful child, has been a constant support and strength for me. I am so very proud of everything she has become. I know now, the best is yet to come for her. So, we continue to collect beautiful moments, as I have learned time and time again, that is really all we have today.

Peace & Love

xxxx leelee

Survival and miracles

Good Morning sweet blogland. I felt strong enough, and compelled and driven to write and share my heart again, here. Not an easy feat, being vulnerable and raw. Penning your innermost secrets, pain, and grief. I continue to do it, knowing it is a very important part of my journey. I continue to write because, that is what makes sense to me. I continue to write, so I look into a future, my future, one I don’t know anything about. You see, when my son died of an overdose last Christmas Eve, my world stopped. I didn’t know if I could ever take a deep breath again. Yet, I was able to sleep soundly. I didn’t know if I would ever feel joy or peace again. I found prayer and peace there. I found other mommies who lost their child too and we hold each other and support each other. I practiced meditation and self care. I reached out and volunteered and found joy in the simple act of giving. I filled a 500 page journal with my deepest grief, anger, fear, sadness, hope. I focused on just today. I reminded myself often, be gentle on yourself, your heart, your broken, wounded heart. I prayed for healing and relief. I cried more and let the tears fall. I quickly realized… as much as this hurts and no matter how scared and afraid I am, I must allow my grief to come. Some say, tears are cleansing. I get that. I don’t think crying is bad. I am surrounded by people who do. I am dealing better with that now. We all grieve our own way. In our own time. I am swallowing some of that theory now. When my Michael first died. I felt like I had 100 pound backpack on. 24/7. My own cross, the weight of his young passing. The overdose from Heroin. I carried it everywhere. The greatest fear is acceptance and the harsh reality of death. They will not return. He is not in rehab or detox or jail or living in a sober home. He died from drugs. There is no bargaining with God anymore. Pleading, threatening, begging, pretending, judging. Death is something we all will face. I never in a million years thought I would face a death of my child. Ever. Afterall, I am his Mama. I am bred to save and protect my children. I suppose, I will struggle the rest of my days with that. Powerlessness. Addiction. A hard pill to swallow, everyday. The demon, addiction, wins. I can’t put into words how devastating that is. I somehow thought, with all the love and rehabilitation, he would “get” it. WE would conquer and win. I was wrong.
So, I am beginning to educate myself. I crusade and involve myself with the staggering, startling and scary reality, The Heroin epidemic. It isn’t only “here” in NY. Sadly, there isn’t a state, a city, that hasn’t been poisoned and possessed with Opiod addiction. My son, quickly became a statistic. He tried 100 times to run from addiction, to chase it away, only to relapse and live in the pain. Some days, I try and imagine his inner pain, the physical need, his desperate attempt to hide it all from us. Today, I am able to remember he did his best. Over and over he completed detox’s and 28 day stays and sober homes and inpatient/outpatient, he tried his best. I think perhaps, I need to work on some forgiveness. I need to study the disease of addiction to fully understand his battle. You see, I have learned this much; it was NOT my battle, although, I felt responsible and determined to beat it, to cure him, to save him. Love, sadly, could not alone save him. I am thankful for the Love, as I believe, our bond is still intact, eternally.
I read his text messages a couple of times. He must have texted I Love You 100 times over a few months. & So did I. As painful as it seems, our Love remained even in his darkest moments. That brings me some comfort. I also learned, that Love remains and strengthens, every single minute, even after he died. Those ties are not broken, ever.
A few days ago, I asked him to stay close to me. His passing on Christmas Eve is difficult for all of us. I did not want to focus on the day he died. I will not judge and base his entire life on the day he overdosed.So, I quietly prayed to Michael. I whispered for him to walk with me through the holiday. I opened my blinds and saw a big Blue Jay sitting above the angel outside. I smiled for a moment. The blue jay flew to the bird bath and splashed for a minute. Hmmm, I thought, maybe that is a sign.
The next day, I opened the blinds and the blue jay was there, in the very same spot again. I’d like to think it was a sign. A deep calm had been with me for days. I again, was grateful for not falling apart.
The next day, his beautiful daughter came over to open gifts. Her big eyes and light hair and soft giggles warming my heart. The miracle, the gift, after all the pain and agony of going to court has ended. The love that radiates within is overwhelming, peaceful, calming and full of joy and beauty for her. Our Anna Lisa…She is precious and soft and innocent. I sat and reflected over and over. Do our loved ones sit above and are able to be with us? Do they all experience this joy and love with us? Did he somehow orchestrate the reunion of his precious daughter with us? Did he soften the mother’s heart enough to let us in? I do not know the answer. I may never know. I do know, someone, somewhere has given us back HOPE and Joy….she may only be a toddler, soon to be 3, but she has a beautiful soul, and she resembles her daddy in so many ways. I feel blessed. Something inside of me feels strongly that he was able to give her back to us. I believe his love transcended us all and we are extremely grateful to love her again.
So, call it a Christmas Miracle…or special gift. She is now a part of us.

Yesterday, we took his ashes to our families cemetery plot. I engraved his name on the stone and placed some of his ashes there with my parents and brother. I whispered to him yesterday. Someone told me you are with Nanny. If that be true my son, then I can rest peacefully, knowing you are by her side in heaven.
Till I see you and hold you again… Merry Christmas Mikey <3

~mamabear

hope & miracles

It was most unexpected. It was like a dream. You see, after battling in court for almost a year, standing next to her in silence and dealing with tremendous grief, a tiny miracle happened.
I don’t care to explain every sad detail. I don’t want to berate, accuse or dissect every word. It was hell, the stress and anxiety, enormous. Today, however, I just want to share abit of goodness. A moment of pure love, joy and a tiny bit of hope. I shared in previous posts about petitioning for visitation of my late son Michael’s daughter. She was just 2 months old when she exited our lives. They, the mother and daughter, left abruptly one day and never returned. She moved and blocked any and all contact with our family. This was shortly after the sudden and tragic loss of my brother to suicide. The next 2 1/2 years are a blur of grieving, discovering a hidden addiction, sadness and tragically another loss. I can’t begin to tell you the sleepless nights, the tears, the searing pain, the accusations and hatred that flowed. All of it unhealthy and unproductive. There were some days when I questioned if I had enough strength to endure another court date, another kick in the gut. I just kept praying. I would write and cry. I would plead with God and my son to guide me on this journey. I lay awake some nights alone, feeling so abused and punished. I desperately fought to be a part of this child’s life, my beloved son’s baby girl. He never got to enjoy her or father her. He lost his own life to an overdose. He lived in addiction, pain and suffered everyday without her. I…her Nana, desire to just… love her. She is the most precious, adorable little girl. She resembles him so very much, I still am in shock and in awe of that.
This past Sunday, out of the blue, her mother contacted us to meet our granddaughter. We were reunited with our precious little girl! I still feel shocked. It was like a dream really. I still can see her smile and her sweet disposition. She literally smiled the entire visit and warmed to us almost immediately. Praise be to God. I’ve had a whole congregation praying for us. I wrote volumes of letters to this little girl. I vowed to myself, my family, and mainly to and for my son. I would do everything I could to bring her back to us. To make her part of our family. I vowed to do what my son could not. Just when I was beginning to lose hope. Almost a year of being ignored, and battling the mother just for visits. I was repeatedly humiliated, accused, disrespected. It felt like a Springer episode in family court. It drained me each time. I was so sad and confused. Then…a miracle happened. I hope we have more visits. I hope she meets our extended family and wiggles that absolutely adorable wiggle dance she does when she gets excited. I hope she feels an abundance of love and safe and spoiled and special. Because she is. I once called her, our little drop of hope. I remember rocking her in her nursery. Listening to her sweet sighs and caressing her perfect, silky skin. She was perfect and precious. We had just suffered a horrible tragedy, losing my brother Tom, and she was this little ray of sunshine and hope. Anna Lisa, I prayed for you. I longed for you. I grieved for you. Now you are here! …hopefully, to stay and play and rejoice in the miracle of love & family. I long to see you again, and stare at you in awe. I hope to laugh and play and love you all over again.
~love, your Nana <3

Tiny drop of Hope <3

Fair, pale skin. Golden wispy curls
Big Eyes like saucers, just like he
Vibrant and happy, sparkling & giddy
God, so very much like you
She shines and she wiggles ever so cute
She is tender, gentle, sweet, like you
Wrapping her little chubby fingers around mine
My heart melted, just like the day I held you for the first time
& I smile inside, for the first time in awhile
That part of her that is you, is so very precious
I can feel you around her, around us. Thank you God.
I promised and vow to love her. For you, for me
forever my son. Thankful.
I look up to the heavens and hope you can see
That love is truly eternal, tis how I will honor thee
<3