You Smile I Smile

You Smile I Smile
Sonshine: My Journey After the Loss of My Son

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mother's Day...

I was dreading this day so soon after Andy’s death. It was always my favorite day of the year, which I reminded Andy of each Mother’s Day in a message I always wrote him. So I had to have a plan. I invited Andy’s cousin, Lexi, to come down and stay with me for the week and decided to have a little graveside celebration. It was wonderful having Lexi here. She is a beautiful sweetheart of a girl, and having her here made all the difference.  She helped me brush up on my knitting skills, so I’m back in the groove with that again!

So, on the big day, I invited Andy’s friends to the cemetery for a celebration of his life. We all gathered graveside with brightly colored balloons.  Two of Andy’s friends, Bianca and Jasmine, brought their babies. It was wonderful having them there, and they were enamored with the balloons. It brought a big smile to my face.  Who’d have thought I could smile on this day?  Ah, the joy of children! We all took a balloon. I said how much I loved my boy and all of them and that when we let the balloons go we were releasing sadness and grief and sending up love to Andy.  Then we counted to 3 and let them all go at once. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  We watched for a good, long time as they floated up heavenward. Several of the kids gave me Mother’s Day cards and gifts and flowers. Bianca’s Mom, Bibi, had come earlier and left Mother’s Day balloons and flowers for me and a beautiful bouquet for Andy, including sunflowers in a bottle with a smiley face on it. It was perfect. There are some beautiful people in this world.

A word about Andy’s friends…I simply love them. They are some of the kindest, coolest, most wonderful people I will ever know.  They have been a Godsend for me. They all keep in very regular touch with me and they give me the love I so miss from Andy.  I don’t think most kids would do that. These are some incredibly special kids, each one unique and wonderful in his/her own way. I hope they know how incredible they are. Kids, YOU ARE UNIQUE, SPECIAL, AND WONDERFUL, AND I LOVE YOU! I’m so proud that my son had such incredibly good taste in friends.

Some of Andy’s friends haven’t been to his grave yet because it’s still too painful and that is PERFECTLY OK. We each grieve in our own way and in our own time. And it will take a long time for all of us to have any semblance of happy or normal again. Grief is a very personal and individual thing, and we will all do it our own way. Me, I still need to go most every day to spend time with Andy’s earthly body. The cemetery is a lovely, quiet place to meditate and talk to my sunshine. My cousin, Linda, said something  beautiful to me that I think about every time I’m there…”when you feel the sunshine on your face, that is Andy (your sunshine) sending his love to you.” Thank you for that Linda!  Ok, now I’m crying, but I’m smiling through the tears. Let there be sunshine!  J

Friday, May 6, 2011

After the funeral...

Before we left the cemetery, Andy’s friends all sang “You Smile” and “We R Who We R”, 2 of Andy’s favorite songs. It was beautiful. We went back to the house where there was enough catered food to feed an army. I understand Paula, my manager, coordinated the whole thing along with donations from many friends at work. Bless their hearts, again, everything taken care of. I will never forget what they did for me.  All of Andy’s friends were there, and it made my heart a little less broken to have their young energy in the house.  I still love when they spend time here…this house was meant to have young energy!

The house and patio were filled with friends and family, and it was nice having them all there. I talked to as many people as I could, reminiscing about all the happy memories. I also spent some time alone. As the evening wore on, my brother, Jeff, pulled out an iphone application called “Fat Booth”, which basically adds 100 lbs. to you. We had more fun with that application, and it felt really good to laugh. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard…it was a great release. My neighbor, John, fixed my back patio gate, which I only found out later. I remember thinking, “Who is the kind person who did that for me?”  John and Patrick continue to take care of me still…thanks, neighbors! They are not just my neighbors, they are dear friends. People stayed pretty late, and I was glad. Eventually it was time for bed.

I spent another couple of days with my family before they had to leave. I hated for them to go. They were a huge source of support and love for me, but they had to get back to their lives. Ken and I headed for a cabin in Todd, NC. It was peaceful and healing. He took care of everything. I think it was one of the few times in my adult life that I let someone else completely take care of me instead of being the responsible one. He cooked, made me eat, cleaned up, drove, figured out what we would do, made a big fire every night in the fireplace. I could truly just be, and it saved me. He saved me that week. We went to downtown Boone several times and walked around, ate at restaurants, and tried to feel normal. We were both just shell-shocked.  After 5 days, we came back home to our sadly quiet, empty houses.

I went back to work after 3 weeks. I could have easily taken a year off and lived in a cabin in the woods healing and figuring out who I am now, but real life must go on.  They continue to ease me back in gradually, which I am deeply grateful for as I still grieve so badly, and my memory and sharpness are still not back to normal.  But I have faith that in time they will be.  I search each day for at least one thing that gives me joy and gratitude because I must go on, like it or not. I want to live my life fully, not mourn what I’ve lost forever. It’s what Andy would want for me, and so I go on.