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Wow it’s been a loooooong time…let’s see, yes one year…yep loooong time. How do I do this again?? Haha. I’ve almost started a dozen times. So many things have gone through my head that I thought “Ooo, gotta remember to write about that…”
Journal Entry May 17, 2017 – At one point I promised to write about Mothers’ Day 2012, after losing our middle son, Brandon, in Sept 2011. Today is the day for that. Today is also the day he was born, 21 years ago. So, may I say, “What a week!?!” As much as a person (like me, for example) may try to ignore or downplay a week like this, or just really try not to get dramatic about it, sometimes you just can’t help how you feel. That’s just gotta be ok. It is what it is.
Thought #1 – Today Woulda Been Brandon’s 21st Birthday
- I know some could get technical that it’s not his 21st birthday, as he left us all at age 15, but it is technically 21 years since he was born, so I can celebrate that! I will say that I’ve been cautious, trying to avoid any “shoulda, woulda, coulda” and “what if” thinking, ever since his passing. It seems unproductive to let myself go down the path of thinking:
“He would have been 21 today”
“What if he was still with us, what would he be doing?”
And it’s too heartbreaking to wonder:
“Who would he be dating or marrying right about now, like his older brother did by this age?”
“What kind of job or schooling would he be in?”
And imagining his life is kind of fun, but in the end depressing when I realize it’s not to be:
“Where would he celebrate tonight for his 21st?”
“Which friends would he still be closest with?”
And in general:
“How would our family’s lives be different if he never left?”
“What would we each be doing, where would we live?”
And for that matter:
“If only x maybe this wouldn’t have happened, or we should have known x, or we could have tried x.”
- But we didn’t know, and as the head of Fraser Health Authority said to me in those darkest days of Sept 2011, “If the doctor didn’t catch it, how can you expect that you would have? You simply can’t go there”. It was atypical, he didn’t have all the symptoms, it all happened so fast, it’s nobody’s fault (including the doctor’s), and it is done. We found him passed in his bed, and we didn’t have any clue what from for over 24hrs. Prelim tests came back positive for Meningitis, final tests were inconclusive, best diagnosis Meningitis. Case closed, and that has to be ok. No shoulda, woulda, coulda, ifs, ands, or buts – no blame to anyone. Including me. Can’t take it on. Not productive.
Thought #2 – That First Tough Mothers Day Week 2012
- Friday May 11, 2012 – The day even my banking portfolio confirmed he was gone. Brandon’s education savings fund had been closed a few months before and shared out to those of his older brother & younger sister….but that account continued to sit at zero on my profile. Until that day. For some reason when I opened my banking and saw it gone, it just hit me really hard, like wow, even my banking portfolio confirms he’s no longer around. Deleted. Now, fair enough, that’s just what happens on the banking app, but it really hit me, nonetheless. That night I emailed myself this very journal entry:
- Fri May 11, the day my portfolio confirmed I only have 2 kids…the splitting of his RESP between the other 2 is complete, so it has collapsed, disappeared off my list of accounts…just as suddenly as he did… Now it’s leading up to this weekend…Sun May 13, will be the 19th Bday of the little girl that inspired me to want to be a mother way back then…and the milestone of the “1st” Mothers Day…my heart truly aches, almost dreading the day & wishing it would just maybe pass unnoticed…the loss feels too great to be able to celebrate what I do have. Next year should be better… And this next week…Thu May 17, will be a very busy day, I’ll be fussing to get all ready for a big conference call at work…have to give my feedback online for my job performance for this year so far……and then there’s the matter of Brandon’s sweet 16 birthday party (?) that night…we’re all stuck to know what to do with it…it’s creeping closer, can’t go unnoticed, we want to get together to do something…but it’s still up in the air…hard for everyone to face the pain…his friends & family alike… Throwing it all up in to your hands Lord…only place for it.
(below is how those days actually played out)
- Sunday May 13, 2012 – Mothers Day in Canada. Fell on the birthday of our god-daughter we were really close with when we lived back in Kamloops – so the date always brings a smile. This day, however, was extremely torturous and I couldn’t control it, couldn’t talk myself down from it. I knew in my mind that I had 2 wonderful children and my husband to celebrate the day with, and they would be ready to shower me with love, much spoiling, and was grateful we could have a wonderful time together. I knew that I could call my mom and wish my mother-in-law a Happy Mothers Day, and that I was so blessed to still have them around in my life, as many other people didn’t. BUT even with all that, all my soul could compute was LOSS. Although I loved my precious 2 kids, and would never want them to think they weren’t enough, I was just suffering inside. It was totally irrational, but I literally felt like Motherhood had been entirely stripped from me because I no longer had 3 kids (those were the words going through my head…I remember vividly). We went to church, I cried, got hugged, got comforted, and worried my kids were thinking they weren’t enough. We went for brunch with dear friends, a mom and her boys that are like brothers to our kids. I remember it was soooo nice, and so soothing, seeing all their sweet faces, and hearing the laughter of these dear ones that were like my own sons. Brandon was still missing though, and everyone knew it. They were no strangers to grief, having lost the dad in their family a few short years before. We tried to have some fun, and did accomplish that, and many warm hugs were shared around. BUT my grief was still so overwhelming I’m sure I was a damp blanket on the outing, and was evoking much pity no matter how much I tried not to. My dear friend suggested that her and I steal away afterward to get our nails done. I’m sure she could see my pain, and that I needed to hide it away from my family for a bit, to process and let it out. I sure did. So thankful for all my sweet family and friends above that carried me through that day.
- Thursday May 17, 2012 – Meanwhile I had been pulling together an event. And WOW, this was a first, a birthday party for Brandon, that he wouldn’t be showing up for. In all our minds this “shoulda” been his 16th birthday. It was surreal that he wasn’t there, wasn’t going to be getting his drivers license the next day, and wasn’t going to be moving forward with all of his plans. His friends and family didn’t know what to do, but to get together for his birthday. There were friends he had known for years, some since kindergarten, that had come every year for things like swimming, hot dogs, cupcakes, pizza, silly games, soccer, sleepovers, you name it. So we invited them all. Many who we hadn’t seen for 8 months since his memorial, and some who had made it a weekly habit of coming home for lunch to hang out at our place (so awesome, thanks boys <3). There were about 30+ friends & family, pictures of Brandon spread all over the table, an amazingly life-like huge 2’x3′ sketch of him made by his friend, picture boards from his memorial displayed in the band sound room downstairs, and in his bedroom we set his soccer gear, and some clothes that his friends were welcome to dig through and/or take as a keep sake. Then we just sat around our large great-room, each sharing a good memory of Brandon. We laughed, we cried, we choked up and couldn’t finish some of our stories. It was hard, but precious, and important to all of our grief processes I’m sure. I really felt like we all needed that chance to open that wound of loss, talk about him a bit, feel the emotions, realize we could survive feeling them, remember some happy memories, and in turn take another step toward healing.
So what’s my point? Not sure, other than to say, sometimes there are tough days, tough weeks, tough moments. You are not alone if you’ve felt or related to anything above. If you can’t relate, that’s ok too, and it’s enough to just be aware of others that may be experiencing tough times. (Thanks N. for being there with a tissue and a nice squishy hug during my unexpected short meltdown at work today – I really thought the unexpected one I had last night at home and the “expected” one I had this morning were going to be the extent of my emotional reactions). I’m really not looking for pity, just looking to share openly, as it helps my process, especially if it helps someone else who is grieving to feel they are not alone, know they are not crazy, and know they are not going to always feel as bad as they may now.
At some points this past week I have thought to myself, “Just get me through this week, and I’ll be ok”. I’m happy to report, I’m almost through this day – which should be the end of this day-after-day of triggers – and I’m smilin…and I’m makin it…and so can you. <3
Please…face your grief, take healthy steps forward, talk about it, it will be ok, you won’t actually implode or explode…you may cry, which is good, then you’ll likely take a deep breath, feel more clear again, so keep moving forward step by step, and keep breathing in and out.
There really is endless HOPE…pass it on…
p.s. Love you Bran #21yrs