living without you here

Good Morning:

First and foremost, I survived the dreaded, highly anticipated, first Mother’s day without you here. You gave me your sign the day before, a tiny set of angel wings I had lost while gardening last year. They just appeared in the corner of the yard while I was planting bulbs for you. So, maybe, my meditations, maybe, those little signs of you around us will keep me breathing and moving. You see, my Mikey, I try so very hard to stay present, to be in the moment, and not break down and surrender. I will admit, I bolted upright yesterday, a huge sob, choking me in my sleep. Perhaps, I dreamed of you…perhaps, the reality slaps me hard and I am forced to accept you gone from here. Somehow, I sucked it up, or pushed it down…and I got up and went into a hot shower. I knew your sister was coming to take me away for the day. She planned an extra special High Tea and lunch, followed by a hike in the beautiful woods of Avalon Park in Stonybrook. She insisted we go to the vineyard up the hill and have a glass of wine. I don’t say it often enough, that kid saves me, over and over again. She just knows, she feels and reads my heart, not many people take the time to do that. Honestly, my daughter, God bless her strength and her compassion and her love for me. Her wisdom is beyond her years. Perhaps, she inherited our female,family intuition. Perhaps, I’ve done a good job raising a beautiful, caring woman. She gently carries me through my grief and my heartache, filling our days with laughter and beautiful gifts and long walks. We kid each other about that hashtag – #Blessed, but, I know, without a doubt it’s true. I knew from the second I found out I was having her, I would be truly #blessed. So, she whisked me away from my private hell. The tea house was like a fairytale. It was something I would dream about, and there we were. Enjoying the “moment”. I glanced around this quaint restaurant and saw beautiful women, strong women, with their Mom’s, friends, sisters. I thanked her 100 times, it was THAT special. The sun was shining and we laughed how the weather forecasters predicted a horrible rainy weekend. She fed her ducks and geese and birds and talked to all of them, telling them, they were her friends. She loves nature, just like me. She and I hiked up the trails and chatted about her new love, her plans, and oddly, with her by my side, I feel the stress and anxiety subside. The heartache is there…but with her next to me, I can still smile and giggle and joke. She is showing me, teaching me, helping me to go on, to heal, to accept. I am very proud when I look at her beautiful sparkling blue eyes, that she also is grieving, and accepting, and trying to build and adjust to our new life. we just do it one day at a time.
We visited the Vineyard, and enjoyed a glass of wine, and took a walk to the harbor. Snapping pics, and drinking in the beautiful sunshine. It was magical, it was soothing and peaceful. She is all of those things to me. I’m fascinated by the fact that as we spent this near perfect day together. We both stopped and offered to take family photos of people we met along the way. I stared at their beautiful children. I stared at the beautiful couples and told them what a beautiful family they had. We were glad to capture a moment for all of them. Yes, I privately grieved mine..but I kept reminding myself, I had 31 years of Mother’s day with Michael…never, will they be enough, but, I had them and we were never apart. Secretly, I will wish for 31 more, but, I also stare at the two Hydrangea plants he gave me and think about my beautiful son. I can still hear him ask me. Mama Bear! What do you want for Mother’s day??..and I would say..flowers, plants! But! Don’t spend a lot of money. My Mikey, he bought me many flowers, many Mother’s day gifts and cards, his heart and love is such a beautiful part of him. I missed him every second, as I do everyday…and I suppose I will for the rest of my days. I went to church in the morning, trying to pray and find my peace. I sat in the pew and heard the pastor recite the people we pray for. On that list again, was Anna Lisa…..soon, we will find out if they are answered.

Love & Light to all the Mommies in the world

Love,
leelee

Surviving another day

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We, us survivors, are on our own journey. No one can navigate this for us, no one can tell you how long, how hard, how painful, how life changing it will be. The journey of grief and healing is an ever evolving merry go round. I remember when my brother Thomas died, I was terrified of waking up. Each morning my feet hit the floor, I stumbled to the bathroom and I would just cry. The tears came like clockwork. I started to get abit frightened of my own self. I was scared of my own grief. I let them come and truly mourned the loss of a brilliant, healthy young 55 year old man. I could not make sense of his suicide. I could not find peace or the “why” or relief. My siblings and I grieved together. We dissected his reasons. We shared our feelings about why he would violently take his own life. It was so painful, I read a dozen books about suicide. Clinical books, sibling books, loss from a suicide books. I read anything that helped me digest and accept his suicide. The road is very steep, it cuts you to the core and rips your heart apart. Really, us survivors, we just secretly wish we had the magic word. We scream inside, Why didn’t he just reach out to me? After awhile, you realize. He is not here to answer any of these questions. The answers are within the deceased. We may never fully uncover all of them. We eventually comes to terms, realizing, mental illness plays and dictates the tragic ending. You can not read somebody’s mind. You just have to come to a point of acceptance. Then forgiveness. Oh, and you have to cry. A river, an ocean, whatever it takes. For me, it was finding a group of compassionate souls who also lost their loved one. Sharing our pain, our love, our broken heart.
My son Michael died on December 24th. He, my first born, healthy, young 31 year old, he struggled with heroin for over 2 years. The progression of his addiction was mock speed. He lived in a secret hell, trying to hide it from all of us. By the time we discovered the truth, he was deeply and physically dependant. I watched him suffer. I watched him cave. We tried everything and anything to help, save, persuade. He tried 100 times so very hard to stop. To recover, to run from the demon. Unfortunately, Heroin overtakes everything. His mind, body, life, everything he was and could have been, gone..vaporized, all lost to this drug. Tomorrow, will be 4 months that Fenytanol, poison, stopped his life and killed my boy. I can’t begin to tell you the anguish. I can’t begin to pen the pain and loss of losing my son. I do know, without a doubt, a part of me, my heart, went with him that very fated day. The loss and confusion and trauma will always be a part of me. I can share, there are days now, that are so dark, so heart wrenching, I wonder how I make it through. But, I do. I am somehow, still able to breathe. I still have my job. I still cook and clean and work full time. I have dreams of him, tainted with his addiction. I write a lot about my grief, my pain, my thoughts, nightmares, I write a lot to him. It is my therapy, writing, it is my way of figuring out this nightmare. I have a lot of trauma. It is part of the disease of addiction. The parent agonizes daily, nightly, as each day ticks by and they are on the street, relapsing, in rehab, it is a never ending mindfuck of hell. The range of emotions, well, you better get to a shrink. It takes everything to sustain and survive, living in and with addiction. The private hell that a family endures, is like no other. So don’t be so quick to “judge”, how could he? why couldn’t he stop? You haven’t a clue, till you live and breathe it with them each day. All I know is, we would have severed our limbs, burned down our home, to save our son. We, all who loved him, tried. Mikey just could not beat the demon in his body and mind. I read that less than 1% can….he really didn’t have a fighting chance. But, I will tell you, he tried 100 times…praying he would not yearn, crave, go back. He did, over and over..living in shame, guilt, hell, physically beating up his body. I watched Heroin eat away his brain. I can’t tell you the HATE I have for this drug. It doesn’t matter, apparently, it’s killing our kids, daily.
Somehow, I lost the rest of this post. I wrote for an hour…my heart pouring out onto these pages. I will do my best to recover my thoughts.
When I had my son’s service, two beautiful souls entered. I had met them a couple years prior at a support group. They entered the church with a set of beads. A handmade set to hang over your rearview mirror, that said ~Look Up For Michael Anthony ~ a beautiful sparkly set of beads. They gently hugged me and whispered…these are from our group “The Beading Hearts”. We make them and give them to Mommies who lost their son, the very same way we have. They told me about the foundation; ” Look Up For Adam ” is the name, & His Mommy, Linda, started this foundation, in honor of her son, Adam, she lost also to addiction. They said, when you are ready….reach out to us. We are here to love you through this. We are sisters, and we bead together. I was touched, moved, by these two beautiful women. Eventually, I reached out…and Linda texted me.
Come to my house for a meeting…Dinner @ 6:30. We all need each other…we all need the love~….and so, my readers, I will attempt to share with you just how the magic begins… <3 Beading Hearts <3 unite!

I attended my first meeting last month. I am greeted at the front doorby this infectious energy, the founder, Linda. I must share this truth. Linda gave me the most warmest, longest HUG, I have ever received in my life? IT's true…and immediately, I felt the magic…and I was surrounded by incredible loving energy. We ate, and chatted, cried and laughed. Then we all do a guided mediation.. incredible, loving, gently guided healing meditation..and she even has a Masseuse on hand! For the first time, in my grief, I felt at home. I found my person, my angel with the blue eyes…I had been searching, clawing, desperate to connect with other Mommies. I needed this bridge, this love, this hope, if you will, I need them. She held me, and whispered, we are all sisters, we NEED each other to get through this. We make these beads. Come back..and I did. I made my first set of beading for Nate. I don't know Nate or his Mommy, but I heard Nate loved blue. So I wanted it to be beautiful for her, with shades and hues of blue and sparkles. I was so proud and honored to do it. I felt "good" for the first time in months.
A few days later, Linda called and asked me if I would like to present a set of beads to a Mommy at a funeral service. I just knew…immediately, I would meet her and give a set of beads to Sean's mommy. I met her and few other members at the funeral parlor and we gently made our way to Sean's Mom. She seemed grateful and moved by the offering. We shared with her, we all lost our child to addiction and overdose. We listened to her, comforted her and gently told her, we are here to love you, when you are ready. Ahhhh..can you feel the magic? I sure did. When she casually pointed out another Mommy who recently also lost someone to overdose, we were guided over there…and we comforted her, and she shared her pain and loss…and then, we met a Dad who lost his son 3 years ago, and there you have it…~Beading Hearts~ is growing. My heart is growing with each bead we give…Truth..I think we are on to something here…

Mikey, my love, my heart, guide me with these beautiful women. Make me an instrument and a comfort to all who need and suffer…like we have suffered losing you my son. Eternally, loving you & honoring you
One bead at a time ~ Love, Mamabear

Peace & LOVE to all
~leelee

I’m still standing…

Spring has arrived, and the tulips and daffodils are sprouting and the earth is preparing for sunny, warmer days. My heart, iced, distant, removed, tries desperately to appreciate the signs. Grief has a way to block, abolish, remove any joy. I push myself to the surface, very much like a bulb. Forcing myself on the daily to produce, to perform, to show up. I am acutely aware, that every part of me wants to cave, to hide, to retreat. Grief is isolation and sadness. It is like a dark cloud, that looms, and it often grows if you focus on it too much. Sometimes, grief can be felt, but, off in the distance, just over the horizon. In other words, it may fade for a brief moment, but it is always there.
As this Easter weekend approaches, my anxiety heightens. I feel a mix of emotions and a sense of not knowing, not feeling, not belonging. I share in my grief group about my feelings. I don’t want nor feel any reason or need to celebrate. It feels strange, having or thinking about a holiday without my son. Our holidays center around the food and menu. That was one of his most favorite things, food. So, I hesitate in cooking and preparing dishes he liked most. I don’t see the purpose really. I also can’t bear sitting at a dinner table, just 3 of us, without him. It just feels wrong and I am torn about it this week. I had a dinner for my daughter and her boyfriend a few weeks ago. We had a lovely evening getting to know him. I especially felt a very loving connection between them and it did my heart good to feel that for her. I remember feeling sad throughout the night. I remember mentioning my son a few times during dinner. I have struggled over the last two years with holidays too. My brother dying, left a vast hole in our family. It left an empty place at his table, the house where we all gathered to celebrate holidays. Now, he was gone, what should I do? His wife, my heart hurt for her. I did not want to leave her alone. I made every effort to be with his wife and kids as I felt very bad for his children. Now, I am the grieving Mother, yet, no one seems to take much notice. His wife was invited to dinner somewhere else. I get it, almost everyone has avoided me like I have a disease. Thank God for my sister and for my daughter, they realize how wounded we all are. She suggests a walk on the beach, and catching the sunset. I wonder, what do I do with the 8 hours before the sun sets? Then I remembered the memorial tree.
We received a gift when my son died. A few co workers of Mike’s sent a memorial tree kit. It comes in a box. I briefly remember how touched I was by this gift. How thoughtful and meaningful we all thought it was beautiful. I tucked the box in the spare room, as it was the dead of the winter. I awoke this morning remembering the tree, and maybe it was time to be planted. I just have to find a place for it. I think for me, it is about honoring and remembering my son. Perhaps, this will be a way to do that. I will still be sad, and lost and missing Michael. I don’t expect to feel anything else. Nothing feels the same, because it simply isn’t anymore. I won’t be spoiling his baby with Easter baskets and dresses, at least, not yet. I will be thinking of her and her Dad, my son. I recently was reading how important it is to try really hard to start to live in a “moment”. It can be small, the sunlight, a new flower, a baby laughing, sweet sounds of nature, just try and take it in and allow yourself to enjoy it, even if it is only for a few moments…I can’t help but smile, afterall, this blog was created and based on “leelee moments”. I shall do my best to find one. I am certain, without a doubt, that my heart will be thinking and loving and missing him, and perhaps dreaming of him…

Love to all

~leelee

I fight for you…because he couldn’t

I am sharing my heart here, my last post was and is by far, the most difficult for me to write and share. Today’s post, I hope brings that little drop, that small glimmer of hope that I search for daily. Our beloved son, Michael had a child on New Years Eve a little over 2 years ago. Our little angel girl came into this world and hope and faith were restored the moment I laid eyes on her. She was a tiny baby, just 6 lbs, and as far as I know she was born healthy. She came a week after my brother died, so her silky velvet skin and soft sighs and suckles just made my heart swell. I saw hope and renewal. I saw big dreams and beautiful moments of love, and family. I swear, the moment I held her, I felt an overwhelming love. This child was not planned, they only knew each other a few months. I remember my son bouncing upstairs with his new girl, smiling and nervous. He announced they would be parents and I remember him saying, your dreams are coming true Mama! I just stared at this waif of a girl. I didn’t know much about her. They both said they were In Love! She was happy about her pregnancy. I immediately asked, are you planning on getting married? Well, not right away, but maybe after the baby is born. Hmmm, I said. I am somewhat a traditionalist, and hoped they would plan a wedding. Something in my gut, stirred, and I quickly pushed that aside. I remember his father’s face, his concern and worry. I prayed that my son would mature and handle all of this responsibility. I admit, I was secretly Over The Moon, that I was to be a Grandmother. God was paving a new road, and I intended to support and love them all. I remember my son telling me for 6 months daily, that the girl was sick. She didn’t feel well. I didn’t see much of her or him. Again, my gut questioned the isolation. He just protected her and said she was throwing up and tired.

She also announced she would have a scheduled cesarean birth. I asked why, and she replied. I have a vein in my head, and the doctor does not want me to push. Strange, I thought, but I did not want her to feel uncomfortable. She promptly moved into my home. She continued to work and he was starting his new career in the city, working for my brother’s electrical firm. When it came time to plan a shower and get prepped for a new baby, she was adamant about having it at a restaurant. She did not want her Mom to stress. She did not want a low key event. She basically told me, she would pay for it herself? Strange, I thought. But she was standoffish and quite strong about what she wanted. She informed me, that her Mother had no money, and no means to pay for anything. I offered to chip in, cook, make favors, be involved. Her family seemed upset that she left her childhood home, the one she financially supported for her brother and Mother. I remember asking if she registered for gifts? Over and over, they did not have time, they were going to register. I asked about invitations and a guest list. I tried to get involved and be supportive. She was always secretive and vague.

The shower happened, she got so many beautiful gifts. My husband ran and bought a $400 stroller she chose. I remember her family speaking Greek at the shower, although, they spoke English. Fast forward, she is getting ready to deliver. She planned on returning to work and having her mother care for the child. The crib was assembled at her old house. I didn’t see them much. I did not see friends or family come by. I remember how controlling and cruel her mother and brother were. Things were slowly starting to unravel, lots of whispering and covering…I just prayed all was ok. She scheduled her delivery date, and suddenly moved it back, they wanted it before the New Year, for tax purposes… Strange, but ok, the Doctor approved, so it must be safe.

She gave birth on New Years Eve. We were there, to meet our Granddaughter. Anna Lisa, was born by C Section, 6 lbs 12 oz and had the most beautiful healthy rosey coloring. I remember my son putting her in my arms, I remember her family, frantic, rushing around her, stating she had an aversion or condition that caused a blockage to pain medication. I found that odd. Needless to say, I watched the nurse IV morphine into her and within a few minutes, I asked if she felt the relief, she said Yes!, ahhh She was ok. The baby seemed peaceful and perfect to me. We all held her and bonded with her. We fussed over her in the hospital. I will never ever forget that moment. The love my son had for his new baby girl. The absolute joy and it was a moment, that a parent never forgets. On the 2nd day, Joanna announced that I overfed the child (2 oz) and she had a bad night. She also mentioned the baby was going through withdrawals from Cigarettes. I said from what? Cigarettes, the nurses were holding her all night and comforting her. Hmmmm… I got that familiar stir in my gut. I visited and fell instantly in love with Anna Lisa.

They brought Anna Lisa home to our house and settled in. My son, seemed filled with anxiety? Hyper? He announced to me that her mother had called her phone over 256 times, and my son was upset about the constant harassment. I remember, me and my daughter waking up the next day to check on the baby and my son bit my head off. He screamed, they are sleeping Mom, don’t bother HER, she was up all night. He was on the couch, and very agitated. I burst into tears and ran upstairs. She came up and apologized and told me he was cranky. Strange..I thought. I was confused, afraid to approach or interfere. I thought he had insomnia. They made many trips to the pediatrician and changed formula’s several times. She was PERFECT to me. I worried about my son, on the couch, isolated? I loved to help and feed and love her. I rocked her everyday, and sang to her in her nursery. I wanted them to “rest”. I noticed, they had no friends or visitors, no family came over. It seemed dark. I also noticed the apartment was filthy and in shambles and the kitchen was piled to the ceiling with dishes and bottles. That familiar stir in my gut again.

He quit his job, stating he was unhappy. The basement was kept dark and closed off. They went in and out and she visited her Mom a couple of times. I remember telling my family. Something seems so strange. I was watching the baby everyday, and we were more than happy to help, but something seemed amiss. The smell of cigarettes permeated into my home upstairs, all night. Darkness loomed below.

When Anna Lisa was 2 months old. Joanna came upstairs and sat down in my living room. She announced she was giving my son 1 week to get his act together. She said, she would leave if he did not. NO details, nothing but, He was acting strange, saying strange things, not helping, isolating, etc.. and he was removed and depressed. I said, well, this is your child, you need to do what you feel is right. I informed my son. Searching for answers, questioning what was happening? I Asked him why would she say that? He promptly ran downstairs in a panic.

One week later, she packed a diaper bag, and told him she was visiting her Mom and never returned. Never spoke to us, or contacted us. He was suicidal and depressed. He laid in his bed for 3 days. Crying, sleeping, and deeply depressed. Suddenly, our life was upside down. I begged him to let me take him to the hospital. I could see he needed help. He refused and became obsessed with getting her back. They had an altercation a week later, and he was served with an order and to appear in court. Sadly, she and my son split and before she left my house, she was very upset and then sat down and admitted HE had a drug problem. That night, was the beginning of the end. We never saw the baby again. Ever.

I can’t tell you the pain, we felt. Distraught, desperate and grieving, quickly, I am discovering and hearing about her hidden addiction and secret. Losing her, is very much, just like a loss, I cried and missed that baby every single day .I kept my distance and did not want my son put in jail. Mainly, our family was devastated, watching our son slowly sink deeper into his addiction. We were in a battle every single day with my son and his addiction. We were desperate to seek treatment, to keep him alive. She never once reached out. She blocked us on social media, they left their home and she hid from everyone. Letters, messages, unanswered, all of them. My daughter bumping into her in the grocery store, she remained silent and hidden. My son, suffered, and was removed from their lives, instantly with a drug test. She however, remained unscathed, not tested and awarded full custody. She claimed domestic abuse, and shut out our entire family. I come to find out, Joanna was a heroin addict, along with my son, the father of this child. She had lots of reasons to hide and escape and try and disappear.

I am now in court, awaiting her arrival for Grandparent visitation petition. Sadly, she doesn’t speak to me, console me, she rolls her eyes and runs away. Her brother attacks me in the waiting room. They show up 2.5 hours late each time, cold, and looking pale and paranoid. Hmmm… I know I am in for a sad, painful battle. They are strange, distant & she denies my petition. I am determined to meet my Granddaughter again. I know I have so much love to share. I know my son could not get well, or be a father to this perfect innocent being, so, for me, I am doing this in honor of him. I feel he is guiding me now. I know, and witnessed how He loved that baby, and she left when she was 2 1/2 months old. I believe, the abandonment and punishment in court made his addiction worse and worse. He had a loving heart, a soft spot for children and he was banished from seeing her. Her 1/2 brother tortured my son. Her Mother abused her and my son. We only gave her love, a warm home and support. She forgets all of that and denies me our granddaughter. Truthfully, he was sick and I understand her leaving. I truly do. She won’t be able to block me for much longer. She did not show up again to our court date (3rd date). One more try and a trial will be scheduled in June. She may be clean, or not. The child appears healthy in the pictures my friends find on the internet. They are guarded and paranoid. She was shaking head to toe on the first date. I wonder if that is nerves or Heroin. I plan on finding out. I have NO fear now. No reason to not pursue my rights. NO reason to not meet her and show her our loving, crazy, Italian family! I am preparing for trial and obtaining an attorney. I only wish to know her, to love her, to enrich her life, to tell her about her beautiful, Daddy. She has the right to know. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, or when I will be able to reunite. I wake up in the middle of the night, wondering what will happen. I don’t really have control over the outcome. I just know, I Love her, we Love her and will do anything to prove that.

Wish me luck and love and God’s speed. Wish that the mother of this child is clean and sober. That her living conditions are healthy and happy. I know my son could not live with himself. He unraveled and sunk deeply after losing them both. He never knew the joy, the most important thing in this world. To love, and nuture a child. I know, Mikey, down deep inside, what your heart was. I know what your loss did to you. I know you tried 100 times over to get well. I don’t forget a moment, I don’t forget you or your baby. Keep guiding me son, we will get there one day at a time. I love you to the moon and back <3. xxxx

leelee