If you have just discovered endless HOPE, you will want to read OUR STORY first on the top tab, then maybe posts #1-18. Welcome…
Today is Sunday April 13, 2014, exactly a week until Easter Sunday. Exactly 75 days since I’ve had the courage to hit “publish”…even then only on what was just a status update of sorts…having hit 5500 pages viewed on this blog. Through February I slowly wrote parts about the beginning of the hardest day, but couldn’t find a way to frame it, end it, or publish it that seemed appropriate or right. In March things were busy, I wrote nothing and we were away for a few weeks, so I mentally gave myself the month off I guess. Last week I wondered if this was completely over and just a fad, so gave myself permission to let it go and not feel pressured or obligated to continue…maybe that would be better for everyone anyhow. Then today…an historic moment…I had about 8 free hours alone, staring me in the face. I enjoyed a very long, well deserved nap, I have my taxes to do next(nerdy girl here still likes to do on paper herself), and some errands on a list, and, and, and….but felt I needed to pop in here and give it another chance. Mind blown once again with 1000 more pages read since I posted the last blog end of January. Ok, maybe there is cause to continue. This hard day is only going to come out in portions, but feeling compelled to continue – it is part of my process, and sharing it with others is part of redeeming the great loss of this beautiful life lived on earth. Begging forgiveness from any family this is too hard for…don’t read it if it hurts too much…that’s ok.
(Journal entry Monday February 3, 2014 – Just going to start typing quick before I think too hard and change my mind…here’s the Tuesday…my most life altering day…)
Tuesday September 20, 2011
6:50am – I was up early, determined to go to work early, so I could come home early and be with Brandon. My husband Cam and I were both supposed to work today, and he wouldn’t be home until midnight maybe, so I wanted to be around as much as possible. Brandon had taken a couple of doses of antibiotics by now, so would be on the mend, and he was a big guy of 15, but he was still so sick last night. I was feeling bad to even have to leave him at home this morning, while the other 2 kids would head out to school and just check on him at lunch. Well that was how I imagined it would go… (deep breaths Janine, I can feel the anxiety building so high as I finally have to type these horrid words).
About 7:15 – At some point while I was in the shower, my husband went to check on Brandon. As I stood there, my big mop of hair still full of shampoo…I heard an awful sound. It was Cam’s voice, I finally figured out after a split second that seemed like forever, (melting down here mentally, and burning up physically) and it was letting out just a horrid sound. I did a one-second-rinse to get some suds out of my eyes, hopped out frantically, into my robe and started to dash out of the bathroom to see what was wrong. It was while I was coming out of our ensuite (my heart is just pounding, and uh-oh, here come the tears) I heard him in the hall screaming out “He’s cold! He’s cold!” Everything within me froze as I tried to compute what he meant by that…the wishing inside me thought maybe Brandon was really cold and needed another warm blanket (quietly but frantically typing here trying to keep up with the memories), but no, the logic in my mind knew that the horrible tone in my soul mate’s voice meant something unspeakably worse. With a frantic look, Cam stepped momentarily into the master bedroom then back out into the hall shouting “Someone call 911”, and darted back into Brandon’s room. I was not far behind him now as I ran the few steps to the threshold of Brandon’s bedroom door to see what the emergency was. As I caught a glimpse of Brandon, I wailed “No!” and dropped hard to my knees – the immensity of the situation hitting me like a ton of bricks. Cam had tried to wake him, then had rolled him over from his front to his back…and there Brandon laid stiff and lifeless in his bed. It was the most frightening scene of our lives.
It’s a surreal memory, it seems like a different life, like someone else’s life maybe. When the reality hits and I relive this moment, it still takes my breath away, and is often accompanied with a frightened gasp.
Stupid little things I remember too, like the rug burns on my knees from dropping to the floor in that moment of revelation – they lasted for days and days. The red “eyeliner” that developed on one eye within those first couple days…my doctor friend said it was just an inflamed tear duct, from crying so much. The mirror in the bathroom on the main floor that day…every time I walked in there I couldn’t look at it or it would mock me. You see, that morning a billion things flooded through my mind, one of them was those homes you visit where they have pictures of their kids on the wall…one kid’s wedding picture, another’s family photo, another’s university grad pic and yet another one…faded by time, from decades ago, frozen in time…the one they lost. I desperately didn’t want to be that family. I hated that whole idea and that there was nothing I could do to change it. If I dared look up at my reflection in the mirror that day, it would mock me at any chance it got. “You lost your son” it chided, to the tune of “na na na na na” we used to tease as kids – so I determined not to stare that in the face…not that day. It would be a reality to come…later though, in its own time, with what will become our outdated photograph…but not right then. That day it had to be about getting through the moment, the hour, and maybe the day.
Who would have guessed that horrible day would have led me to a most amazing encounter more than 2 years later. It was February 28, 2014, and I was meeting up with a stranger, not usually a good idea, but a divine appointment I think in this case. It was a friend of a friend kind of thing. At Christmas I had agreed to have my name passed along to another mom who had just lost her son. After a couple of months we were finally going to meet and talk for the first time. I was anxious, a mix of excited in case this went well, sober at the thought of finding out her story, uneasy in case this was all really awkward or we didn`t connect. Though I was willing, and hopeful that our meeting would give even a shred of hope, I was feeling very inadequate. You see, all I had been told was that he’d had a lengthy battle with cancer…and I had no experience with that kind of long-term pain, exhaustion, and grief. I could only imagine it, and not well, having read of others’ journeys recently. The loss of a son was our only common ground it seemed, plus a mutual friend.
Thank God for Starbucks – what a great place to meet, feel relaxed and enjoy the company of a stranger/new-friend over a coffee (or grande no-water Chai Latte in my case). I told my story of loss and the happenings in the early days, and then she recounted their years of ups and downs leading to a very recent loss. We shared about all our kids that we love so much, how we’ve tried to show love and attention for our whole family while juggling the emotion and attention naturally centered around our sons. Though we hadn’t known each other from a hole in the ground, we had a common bond, though of pain, and we had instant credibility with each other. I was able to share about the last couple years of my life and that there is growth again after total devastation. Sharing examples of times ranging from a bleak survival, to the budding of life, to moments of thriving…moments like this when you can come alongside someone else and say with compassion and conviction “You’re going to make it”. Our planned two hour maximum coffee meeting, soon melted away to a three hour speed chat! Without even realizing it was 10pm and we both had to then rush off to other obligations. We had an absolutely wonderful time together, despite the tragedy of having to meet, and were both exclaiming our thankfulness for the opportunity. Sharing our most meaningful and raw thoughts and at the same time the glimmers of hope in the midst of heart-wrenching circumstances, was somehow uplifting to both of us. Someday I just know there will come a time when she will hear of someone who’s child has just received a diagnosis, and where I could only be genuinely sympathetic at best, she will be able to put her arm of compassion around them. I imagine she may shed a knowing tear, and tenderly encourage them that no matter how things seem, or what happens, there is hope, and they can make it through, as she has.
Ahhhhh, on that note, I’m finally at peace enough to hit publish…there’s that familiar thing… I like to call it…endless HOPE…
p.s. At those times I want to “turtle-in”, give up, hide out, and allow myself to wallow, I am reminded of moments like these (sharing with someone else, as well as blogging) when I have felt really alive…like I’m fulfilling a piece of my purpose in life. I’ve heard that we are at our best when we are giving – that’s felt true for me, for sure.