Where is “me”?

It has been three years since I have known the person who lives inside of my head.

When Willie starting down that spiral, I became nothing more than instinct. Raw and simple. I focused on what needed to be done. Day after day it was just survival. Appointments and meetings and trying. So much effort and so much energy focused into that one singular goal of keeping him safe and getting him help.

Then he died. The person inside my head shunted to a new level of survival. A focus of one foot in front of the other.

The months passed, the years now pass.

I sit now tonight and wonder where I am hiding inside of me. So buried underneath the hurt and the grief of missing him. Anger, so much anger, fills me, hiding me.

I don’t recognize myself anymore. I have spells of time that I am me again but they never last.

Gone, seemingly, is the woman who believed in – and knew -her strength. The woman who didn’t doubt that she would be ok, that she could be ok. The woman who had sought out her own dreams and hopes and who had the drive to know she would make them happen… disappeared now it feels like.

I look in the mirror and see eyes looking back that I don’t know. Windows to a soul that is changed and that I can’t quite connect with anymore.

I wonder if who I am now is this…and that thought scares me.

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the “now what?” date

With remembering anniversary dates with regards to losing Willie, the big ones tend to hit loud. The day he died, the day after when I saw him in the morgue, the next day when we went to the funeral home to make arrangements, the day of his service … All dates that are remembered and that, as they come around every year now, hurt with the pain that those dates carry.

But there’s another date. A date that is quieter in its hurt. a date that anyone who has lost someone integral and a part of their daily life knows.

It’s the day after it all. It’s the day after the final service or memorial. The day that you wake up and the quiet awareness is there inside of you that asks the question “now what?”

The shock is still so present that You don’t recognize that date then or even a year or two after. It’s the day that there isn’t any more details to deal with or plans to make or things to plan. It’s the day that life, for everyone else mostly, starts to return to “normal”. It’s that date that you look back on eventually as the day that you were truly stumbling.

I remember waking that day and looking out the window as I had been for hours everyday and wondering what I was supposed to do. And not knowing the answer. How do you live your life from “before” now? How do you out together the puzzle pieces when you’ve never seen what the picture is supposed to be?

So you start trying. False starts and steps forward and huge careening slides back. You wake up every day and just do.

Today, February 9th is that date for me. A day that I realized today is a day that sits a little differently for me. Not a date that screams of his death but a day that whispers to me of the loss of him. A day that speaks to the reality of how it is … Now. After the shock, after the disbelief and the rawness. A day that in some ways is more sad in how quiet it is. Maybe because it’s a day that solidifies the finality and the unavoidable reality of what has happened. A day to reflect on the “now what”.

What’s worse than living with it?

There’s a commercial a while back now that starts with scenes of teens stomping off and slamming their bedrooms doors in anger and frustration at their parents. Images of teens yelling and parents hollering back. Eyes rolled and general upheaval that is supposed to encapsulate life with a teen. The catch phrase of the commercial is that the only thing harder that living with your teenager is living without your teenager. It’s a commercial to bring awareness to teen suicide.

My son’s actions to end his life three years ago make that simple concept hit far too close to home for me. I watch that commercial and remember. The yelling, the fighting, the temper flares of his, the words he would say in anger, the hatred and fear in his voice as he slipped further into depression and his own living hell. Then the silences. The growing fear inside of me as he stopped yelling and fighting and just simply and quickly started to slip further. The morose cloud that seemed to wrap him all the time. The sleeping, the closed bedroom door and the meals skipped because he no longer wanted to be near anyone.

The emptiness of his room when he was in the hospital. His bed, finally made but looking even more wrong than when it was a jumbled mess. The coldness of it without him in it. A hole in our family life every day that he was missing.

So hard and so painful and so full of stress and tears and fear.

He’s now silent and his presence is moved on. I hear people say he’s still here in a different way and I want to believe that. But the truth is that his voice is silent. His place in our family is empty now.

I would give anything to have another of him driving me crazy with arguments or even just his silence and sighs of frustration…because what’s harder than living with that is living without it.