Adjusting

As I settle in to my new direction and new city I am caught up in the busy life of adjusting to a new job and finding a place to live…discovering new shops and where to go for the staples of life in a city that has been great to visit but never had to live up to the demands of day to day living.
My days are filled to over-flowing with scheduled tasks to learn my new job…I spend the days with my mind busy and my body on over drive to meet the demands of all that has to be done. For the first time in months I am focused and able to deliver with regards to a professional standard that I hold myself to. I am proud that I’m able to and not all that surprised that I have risen to the occasion so to speak! It feels good to be “me” again in a way that I haven’t been since last November when everyone’s focus became Willie’s mental health then eventually, dealing with his decision to end his life.

There have been a couple of times this past week, during the rare quiet times when I am faced with a sudden and over-whelming compelling urge to cry. Almost like a sneeze…it’s just suddenly there and you can’t control it. Other times a friend has said something and it has been, literally, a single word or sentence that triggers a memory that brings up Willie to the forefront of my mind.

Even through all the rushed hours of each day and the exhausted times he is always there, present in my thoughts. Just no onger the prevalent thought in my mind like he has been. The odd trigger that brings him back to the centre of my thoughts are unpredictable and hard to deal with.

I have become adept at dodging questions about family, children and my past before I moved here. I am purposefully vague with new people and have actually found myself lying to some. It’s just so much easier to say that I have 4 children and list their ages and move on. If the question is not asked by someone who is going to have a place in my life as a close friend, there is no reason in divulging what is awkward territory! There are just a couple of friends here who know and they are a comfort.

I am finding it a double edged sword here though with regards to losing Willie. While it is very freeing to be not surrounded by people who know it also means that I am surrounded by people who don’t know! I hate making people uncomfortable and the fact is, very simply, that being a mother who has lost a child to suicide, you make people uncomfortable. People look at you differently and they worry about you and they censor what they say to you and they alter how they act around you. My new work colleagues and friends here are not impacted by what they don’t know of…It is refreshing and feels good to just be “me”, to not be “the one whose son died”.

The flip side of this is the nagging feeling I have been having the last couple of days that I was finally able to verbalize to someone yesterday. After a simple comment triggered an emotional out pouring that I didn’t know was coming I managed to put into words a horrible fear and thoughts that have been swirling in my mind this past week.

The fear that…no one here knows Willie… very few people know OF him and what our family went through…it almost feels like here, he never existed. Almost like he never was. While I know I will never forget him or what happened, there is an irrational fear that because he is no longer the prevalent and all-consuming thought in my mind everyday that he will somehow mean less to me than he did even a week ago when I lived where he had lived. There is a slight guilt of moving on and be able to be “ok”…even though the reality is that the “ok” that I am is tenuously held together right now. I am because I have to be. Alot of faking it going on right now!

As I was verbalizing this to my sweetie through my tears, he held me and told me a most basic truth that I could not see through my fears and through my resolve to hold myself together. He said very simply…. Every day and every moment that I am here is BECAUSE of Willie. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for his death. The irony of the fact that as much as Willie chose to die, he also was abundantly clear that he wanted us to go on and live after he was gone; and not just to live, but to live how we wanted. I made the decision to move and make changes in my life as a direct result in the belief that something good must come out of this.

While I still struggle with being able to believe that reality is what it is and that Willie did what he did I am faced with the simple truth that every time I look around at where I am I acknowledge that it’s because of him that I’m here and therefore, he’s here with me in that way. Because of that, he’ll never be forgotten.

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ahhhh, change is here

Less than a week until I move to Victoria and start on a new part of my journey. I am excited and anxious to get there and begin my new job and find a place to live and get settled.
Under-lying the excitement however is the glaring truth that without the events of the past few months this would not be happening.
While moving was something I had thought of for years, it wasn’t until my son made his decision to end his life here that I was catapulted into really looking inwards to the extent that I have these past few months.
I have been so busy the last couple of weeks with interviews and moving details that I have had far less time to dwell on grief and sorrow. The amazing fact is that however busy or focused I am on things that WIllie still has a way of popping into my thoughts and my vision…unexpectedly and suddenly….bringing a slamming halt to whatever is on my mind or whatever I am dealing with. I will be thinking of move details; what address changes need to be done, what packing I should get to or what needs to be dropped off at the Salvation Army and all of a sudden I will recall how Willie looked when I first saw him in the morgue or how I felt sitting in the room at the funeral home…his body in the casket and my mind not wanting to accept it. My mind unable to grasp that my son was lying there… never to move again, never to laugh, to roll his eyes at me again or storm away from me saying that I didn’t “get” him.
With my impending change and re-location it becomes very clear and impossible to ignore that, for Willie, there will never be change. He will remain, forever, 16, and stagnant. For Willie, there will never be any realization of his dreams or his aspirations. No chance for him to explore his options or make mistakes like we have all made. I will never hear him say “It seemed like a good idea at the time” lol! I’ll never see him realize who he would have been or what he would have done with his life. Never share in his joys or help him through his disappointments. He made a choice that he did not want to continue.
In the light of those truths, it brings clear to me that my choices and my decisions ring true with what I want and what will help to bring me happiness as I follow my heart.
As I encounter people who question my decision making process and even my ability to make rational, logical decisions at this time, I am reminded that one thing above all else right now is driving me to move forward.
The fact is simply that if I were to not follow what I know in my heart to be right it would be a mistake.
I believe that we are, at times, given signs and pointers to help us see what we just are not seeing on our own. Willie’s death is, to me, a massive sign to wake up. I have had other times in my life when my foundation has been shaken, when I have encountered adversity or hardship that has been a struggle. Times when the entire structure of my life has been thrown for a loop. At all those time I have simply picked up the pieces and put my life back together again and carried on. A little wiser and a little more wary…but, essentially..moving forward along the same path as I had been going. There were a couple of times when I did stop and ponder if maybe I should alter my direction and do what I knew in my heart was true but I didn’t…. it was easier to just keep going and plug along. I did make little changes here and there but basically, life just moved along as it had been.
This however is different. Losing Willie has shaken my life to a degree that I didn’t think it was possible to be shaken, and still survive. Even now, I have a difficult time believing that I wake up every morning and move through the motions of a day. That somehow, with the reality that my son is dead, that I am able to function – however altered or lessened it is – on a day to day basis. Even able to find little pockets of joy again and start to laugh and feel it, rather than just show it on the surface.
My conviction to make the hard decisions is driven by the fundamental belief that if I chose to ignore this sign and just put my life together the way it was I will be dis-honouring Willie with my actions. While I don’t believe in living “for” someone, I do believe in living thoughtfully.
It is without doubt that every moment of my life will be lived with Willie in my thoughts and missing him. It is equally without doubt that evertime I find joy or happiness I will experience it fully and embrace it even more because he never will again.
Not living for him but living more fully because of losing him.

In French, you don’t really say “I miss you.” You say “tu me manques,” which is closer to “you are missing from me.” I love that. “You are missing from me.” You are a part of me, you are essential to my being. You are like a limb, or an organ, or blood. I cannot function without you.

Re-visited

I went out for a run today in Oak Bay. I am in the process of getting ready to make the move to Victoria and decided that a run would help relieve some stress and clear my head a bit.

Running in the same area I did back in December when I was in town, trying to escape from the craziness of my life then. Attempting to find some solace and peace during what was a time of pain and confusion with my son.

As I ran today I thought of how things have changed in the last 6 months. The drastic and vast changes of the landscape of my life seems unbelieveable at times to me. In part because I don’t want to believe them, in part because they just seem so wrong as to be impossible.

As I meander on my run I find myself coming out towards the water and look around almost in amazement as I realize I am at the same beach that I arrived at back in December. The beach I sat on and cried and made a promise to myself that I would find a way to make it here eventually; where I longed to be and where it felt right for me to call home.

So I stop and walk down to the edge of the water; moving slowly and taking in the view. The last time I was here it was dark and the moon was shining starkly on the water. Reflecting and shimmering. Beautiful in its coldness. Today it’s overcast with a bit of a chill in the air. A aplash in the water catches my attention and a sea otter slips under the waters surface. Aside from that it is calm and quiet. Just a little nook of a beach really…small and lonely.

As I walk back and forth it strikes me that while so much has changed in my life, this area is unchanged. Still the same and still here. It feel impossible to me that when so much has altered, that anything can remain untouched and the same but here it is – the little beach, the same. The only thing different is me.

As the tears fall and my sobs come I feel such a sense of release. The feeling that I can’t change it. That no matter how much I don’t want it to be true, that it is. So I sit and cry and stop trying to make sense of it.