WHY GOD?

This is my question; WHY GOD?

I have whispered it, wailed it, and wondered it over and over and over again.

On my knees, with tears that fall gently and slowly, and in my tears that run non-stop, down my face and into my lap as I spew trembling, devastated words.

Why my son?

Why this way?

Why weren’t my efforts enough?

Why didn’t you answer my prayers?

Why. Why . Why God?

Each WHY I cry seems to define the hole that has been blown through my heart a little more each time; a haunting, emptiness is created and its name is void. In this void I wait; like a pleading child that wishes things are not as they are, and I wait for my Father’s answers.

Audible answers do not come.

God is sovereign.
He doesn’t have to answer me at all; who am I to question God? But, because I am His child, He is patient with all my hard questions and loves me still.

The grief period has gone and I stumble like one groping in the dark, looking for the light switch; I am in mourning.

Hope is my mantra; I stand on the Rock and recall all I know in my heart; I mourn with hope.

Over time, as I still whisper, wail, and wonder, I consider these answers:

Why my son? Why in this way? I answer, why not my son, because God uses each of us for His purpose, even if we do not understand the reasons; maybe our son, because God knew I am his mother and I would be willing to tell our terrible story so that others may be spared this trauma and maybe another son or daughter might not die?

Why weren’t my efforts enough? I answer, because I am not God. I answer, maybe it actually has nothing to do with my efforts at all… enough is a way of beating myself up and I should not go there. I know I did all I could because I am his mother and I loved him more than anyone else. Except God. God loved him more and that brings me to my last cry.

Why didn’t God answer my prayers? I answer, He did… just not the way I asked Him to; God loved Caleb so much, that he spared him anymore suffering on this earth; God freed him of his daily pain and struggles and He saved him right into heaven. What more peace can I have, than to know my son rests in the arms of Jesus?

Yes. I will mourn til the day I leave this earth and that is when I will have the audible answers.

For now, I leave you with two things:

  1.  A telling of our story
  2. A song that is fitting

IF you share a similar story, I encourage you to have Hope and run to God, even with all your WHY GOD questions; May you know the bigness of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Grief; Get over it and Move on…”

Grief; get over it and move on…” This statement, sometimes accompanied by the coy-inpatient look, even without speaking the exact words, is both feared and despised by those of us who have lost a son or a daughter to a substance, overdose death.
You don’t know, until you know.  So don’t presume to know when someone should get over their grief and move on.
The fact that this mom is even out of bed and moving at all, is an accomplishment on some days…
…because GRIEF, never goes away.
This is my battle with grief; this is about my son.

I am in the egg that sizzles in the pan with a pop and a splat;
I am among the crumbs left strewn across the counter with drips of hot butter trailing off the counter.
When the moon is heavily misted, on a cool night, I am there in the exhaled puff of your breath,
And in the rise of tiny goosebumps.

I roll in your mind like the ocean tide that breaks on the pebbled beach,
tossed over and over and over.
As the farm supply truck passes by,
And the bearded friends walk past, I am there too.

I am in the lulls and quiet places; Always in the holding bear hugs.
In the chuckles and giggles…
In the cannonball jumps…
In the flipping of the anticipated burgers, and the crackles of the bonfire, I am present.

Body, mind, and heart remember me.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Another day,
each day,
today;
I am always as close as the warm, sweet, milk breath of an infant sleeping on a momma’s bare breast.

As the shades of night are pulled,
And when the dawn awakens with the song of the mockingbird,
I settle in upon e v e r y t h i n g.
In the trash piled by the backdoor,
In the gritty grind of the stones underfoot,
and in each clomping step up the bare wood stairs.

The measure of love is immeasurable,
unable to be weighed and counted because I am always pressing.
Grief matches the love.
I am in it all.
Especially when the refrigerator door is left open.

So, you see…
There’s no getting over my grief because memories are everywhere.

Move on? I do.

Every day I get out of bed and do life as it unrolls before me and I live; I live with the grief undergirding my experience of everything in my path, it has become part of my DNA. My way of living is forever changed and I may walk slower than before, I may forget the to-do’s and ignore the insignificant, I may choose a different path than everyone is expecting. Fact.

No. Grief never goes away. Even when I smile, or laugh, and look as if all is well, know…that at any moment, a lump is in my throat, a tear is trickling, or a good cry is on it’s way.

If you know someone like me, be patient, be understanding, and be ever so tender. Treat others the way you would want to be treated if the tables were turned. Just do me a favor, do not tell your grieving family member or friend to, “Get over it and move on…

3 Things Needed for Best Success in Recovery

National Recovery Awareness Month; right here, right now.

What is there to be aware of?

Three things…

Be aware…

Three things are needed for best success in Recovery according to three of my friends who are in active Recovery and succeeding well.

One might think it’s money…

a place to live…

keeping busy with work…

or maybe a really good counselor.

BUT, it’s none of those things necessarily, though each of those things are good to have.

My sober friends Croix and Evan both say it’s LOVE & FELLOWSHIP and they both found this in local AA style groups; being with people who understand and accept you with all your struggles and flaws. Evan says, “…the relationships that I’ve acquired in this program have been amazing…”

There is strength in numbers, as the old saying goes; Coals stay hot when piled together…. a lone coal fizzles out. SO if you want to succeed in Recovery, the advice is: don’t go it alone. Come into the fold of those who know your struggles, of those who support you and accept you, and find the love that makes it all work.

Beyond that, My sober friends say WILLINGNESS is key in turning a life around and keeps you on the path of continuous sobriety.  It’s the willingness to be reminded and to be helpful to others who are in the early recovery stage. Another friend, Travis, tells me, “I need reminders… reminders that only newcomers can give… reminders I get of someone working the steps and just getting honest for the first time.”

Evan adds to that : “I am able to be sober and available to show others that there’s another way to live. When I was out there in active addiction I couldn’t do anything without looking for something in return. These days I live my life doing selfless acts of love to help people find the road to recovery.”

To be honest, I am humbled by my sober friends. The commitment I see and observe is amazing. I know that each of my friends would do anything to help someone struggling with addiction, find sobriety; I have witnessed them taking phone calls at inopportune times and making it a priority to be a listening ear and give words of encouragement; I know they have driven old cars into the ground to gather people from wherever locations to get to nightly meetings, or to include another recovering friend in a fun sober excursion.  These men walk the talk with passion!

Croix ties it all together, “What I needed and need most for recovery is love, community, and the willingness to continuously share those things that were given to me, with others.”

I am not in recovery,

… but I met these dedicated and passionate men during my son’s struggle to stay sober; unfortunately, my son did not fully latch on totally to the fellowship of the sober community and he made one mistake, one night, and died of an unintended, overdose after 5 months of sober living.

I choose to love on Croix, Evan, Travis, and others in recovery and support them in any way I can. I urge you to do the same if you know anyone who struggles with addiction, or struggles in early recovery; encourage them toward love, fellowship, and willingness.

It could save their life!

Loving, accepting, and helping others is exactly what God calls us to do in all areas of living – it is what He did for us. God, in the form of Jesus Christ, loved us so much, he sacrificed his own life, in order to bring us into the family – the community – of God, the Father.  And He commands each of us to love others, as we love ourselves, and help others toward the understanding of  the Lord’s love for all people.

Today, right here, right now, is the day to be passionate about people and Recovery!

Be aware and do what you can to support those in Recovery in respect & honor of National Recovery Month.

 

I have connections with all of these groups that support those struggling in addiction and seeking sober living; Please, consider making a donation to any, or all, of these life saving helps and ministries:

Hampshire Hope (DART program)

Honest Beginnings (SOAAR / The Nest Recovery Center)

Northampton Recovery Center

Teen Challenge 

 

 

 

 

Why Be Aware of Drug Overdose?

“Someone dies every 14 minutes from drug overdose in this country.”

My son, Caleb, was one of them; He died of an overdose in May of 2018.

So….Why be aware of drug overdose?

I tell you the truth – no one is immune from this epidemic;

don’t be lulled into false security thinking: “this will never happen to my family…”

Because that’s what I thought… that’s what many other mothers who grieve their son’s and daughter’s thought… none of us ever wanted to be in this grieving-an-overdose-death-club.  I know my son did not want to overdose… he had plans for his life – but they were altered by one mistake, one night.

I want you to know that overdoses happen to good, kind, lovable people, like my son; too often, overdose is fatal.

I want you to know that some people are lucky to survive overdose and have a second chance at life; Evan, one of my son’s sober house buddy’s, is one of these survivors.

He says, “waking up from an overdose is probably one of the worst things you can experience…It’s so scary… it takes me a little while to cool down and come to reality and appreciate that I’m alive and apologize to whoever cared about me… All I can say is be grateful for the life that you have.”

So… you may ask…why does someone overdose?

Evan shares, “I would have to say depression and or heartbreak, stress (is what) pushed me to my limits… I (knew I ) had a way out of all this by using drugs as an escape.” I can concur, because I know my son suffered from these ailments as well and am certain that his feelings of despair drove him to relapse after 5 months of clean time.

So… what’s one thing you can do to fight this epidemic of overdose death?

Know what Narcan is and get trained in how to use it and have it on hand at all times.

Caleb’s good friend, Allison, came to a Narcan training during a local Vigil event put on by the local Sober house, Honest Beginnings and SOAAR group a few months after my son’s death. After making a luminary to honor my son, Allison was trained and equipped with Narcan – did she think she’d have to actually ever use it?  Hear her story from this past school year:

It was a weeknight at 9pm on my college campus here in Western Mass. Not the time that anyone would expect to need Narcan. I definitely didn’t….I was walking home (after doing homework with a friend). I heard someone yelling for help down the road. I went to check it out and it was two college aged guys. One was on the ground. He was really cold and clammy. His breaths were really short. I recognized these as symptoms of a possible overdose….I told him to call 911 while I went to my car to get Narcan. I gave it to the guy on the ground and the ambulance showed up not too long after. I honestly do not know what happened after that, but I do know that I am incredibly happy that I had the Narcan and that I had been trained to use it.”

Allison’s personal message to everyone:

I hope that someday there will be no need for Narcan, but until that day, everyone should have it and know how to use it. I also hope that some day the stigma will be gone so people can ask for help without worrying about the backlash.”

Get trained in Narcan and know how to use it… you could save a life!

Mostly, I want you to know that so many people suffer from all kinds of things and feel hopeless and helpless. Not everyone has the support systems they need, nor does everyone have the inner strength to choose the better ways of dealing with struggles and hurts and scars and they do make the mistake of using a substance to soothe their pains – this does not make them bad people or ones to be afraid of or shunned.

So, I urge everyone to value all life and show love to everyone… it is the second greatest command after loving God;

He says: love others.

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

Not some others, not the others that are likeable and most like yourself…  no…  love others – all the others.

What’s this got to do with overdose?

Maybe, just maybe if we as a people can master just these two commands of God, then maybe Allison could see her hopes come true – a time when there would be no need for Narcan – a time when all stigma is gone and people can feel free to ask for help.

Just maybe…

Do your part to soberly respect Overdose Awareness Month (August):

Be educated, get trained in Narcan & have it on hand, and LOVE OTHERS… really.

 

When the Person in Recovery is the Frog in the Pot

One year ago today, my son, Caleb realized he was the frog in the pot.

Apparently, if you put a frog in a pot of cool water, and set it on the stove and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will not try to jump out, it does not realize he is in danger, until the water is nearly boiling, then it’s too late, the frog is boiled to death and can’t jump to freedom.

One year ago today, after a time of contemplation at his accident site, my son, Caleb, realized he was in trouble; he felt the heat of the flame under the pot increasing; He had relapsed after five months of clean time. What began as medicinal use of weed during his last month of recovery, under the guise of keeping him from using his previous drugs of choice, in reality, led him directly back to old friends and old ways — and he knew it.

He knew he was in trouble; he wanted to change.

  • Earlier that day, Caleb met up with his brother and they made plans together to get back on track at the gym; previous to addiction, Caleb was an exceptional athlete.
  • Later that day, He met up with his friend from the Sober house and admitted his relapse, shared his feelings, and wept at his predicament – the water was getting hot and he was scared!
  • And yet, at 8:21 pm, he was frantically looking for his jar of weed.

A person in recovery, who is scared, is in a very precarious and potentially dangerous position. Emotions can be triggers for people in recovery – hard emotions can be the impetus for whole hearted change, or they can be the thing that drives them back to using cuz it hurts too much to make the change – fear, false confidence, and pain are a lethal mix; addictions’ claws grip deep and the power overwhelms. Helplessness and hopelessness are double whammy accomplices alongside addiction.

Deep inside, I knew my son had the heart desire to change his course and the ability to jump out of the pot… and I believe he thought he could too. Every person in recovery has a deep desire to be free of addiction and stay clean… no addict wants to be an addict.

Do you know someone in recovery who is relapsing and not listening, not acknowledging, or too afraid and is paralyzed in the moment and feeling the heat of the water increasing?

Stay close, if they will let you…

Do what you can to encourage them and take the time to meet them where they are at and do what you can to keep them out of the pot.

Are you in recovery?

Do whatever it takes to jump out of the pot – please!  Seek out a supportive family member or friend, go to a meeting… run, hike, bike, … take a long hot shower… eat spicy taco’s(!)… do anything to get out of the pot… just,

Don’t be the Frog in the Pot!

 

 

 

 

The PTSD of Grief

Trauma’s experience comes back to slap you in the face and knock you down when you least expect it while you grieve; this is PTSD.  Sounds, visuals, and even the time of day can trigger the pain all over again. This is one such moment for me:

moon thru the trees

Stepping out into the night air

this late at night

when all is quiet and still,

a chill reverberates through my veins.

 

The moon is high

and the damp cool breeze

freezes the memory even as my breath exhales a cloud

into the starlit space.

 

Visceral memory awakens

and I shiver and shake

back to the side of the road

on the night of your accident;

my stomach knots into a square.

 

The lights flash yellow and orange and blue and blindingly white

as trucks and cars are askew and many

blocking the way for everyone except us, your dad and me;

only we were allowed in.

 

Fear like no fear I felt before

overwhelmed me more than my imaginings

anticipated…

 

Waiting was hard.

Seeing was hard.

Comprehending was hard

and the ground beneath me was hard

and wet

and consuming me in the farmers’ meadow

like fermenting dung, and it all stunk!

 

I breathed deep

because I think I just stopped

from the shock of it all.

Disbelief and amazement stunned me

when I realized how close to death you came.

 

Even now,

as I step into this night months and months later

fear overtakes me

and I can feel the damp and see the lights and hear the confusion;

You were almost taken by the angel of death,

if it were not for the angel of life that carried you thru those juxtaposed poles

as you flew airbone

down into the belly of the farmers meadow.

 

Slapped across the face I feel the sting again, and again, and again;

PTSD for me

every time I step out into the night air

this late at night

when all is quiet and still …

and a chill reverberates through my veins.

 

You weren’t taken then,

but little did I know

time would only be yours for just so many months more…

and then you really would be gone.

Forever gone from my earthly-momma-grasp;

No more cool, moon-lit nights for you.

 

Deep, deep, deep it sits way down inside –

my fear was fully realized.

What I did not know,

was that night

was just a prelude to the worst night of my life.

I just can’t shake it; PTSD.

Fear like no fear I felt before remains within my bones.

One viscerally locked memory flows into the next…

 

Son,

I miss you so much.

***

 

So the question remains, “what do we do with the pain that re-occurs; how do we deal with this grief induced PTSD?”

I will tell you,

I just allow myself to feel it.

The pain and tears are what they are;

The hour passes and I am still me and I know

that God has been holding my hand

the whole time;

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13

As I approach my first Mother’s Day without my son, Caleb, I anticipate pain and sorrow to be heavily pressing upon my momma-heart even as I take joy in my other children both near and far.  I will not fear because I know God will be helping me get through the day.

If you are a grieving momma, I say, put your hand in His and let Him be your help you too!

 

 

 

 

 

That Dreaded in-the-Middle-of-the-Night- Phone Call

Hello?

Mom, is dad there?

Hello?

Where are you?

Where is your car?

Who is bringing you home?

Are you okay?

Why are getting into a strangers car?

What time will he be here?

Should we get dressed?

Is he okay?

Did he say where he is?

Did he say anything about his car?

Is that them?

What happened to your head?

Does it hurt?

Do you know you have an egg on your head?

How did that happen?

What town were you in?

What intersection?

This street?

This way?

How many tow trucks are there?

Is this your son?

Is he alright?

Should we call the ambulance?

Where is his car?

Down there?

He came from which direction?

Missed this pole?

Then that pole too?

How fast was he going?

Airborne?

How did he live through that?

He shouldn’t have?

Angels?

What were you doing?

Why were you even in this town?

How did this happen?

I can’t believe he did this?

Who will follow the ambulance?

 

***

All parents dread the phone call in-the-middle-of-the-night.

That was the night we realized just how deep our son’s addiction was and how dangerous it was becoming. It was the night we hoped would have scared him out of his denial.

Sadly, it did not.

If you have questions and wonder if your son or daughter is using a substance, seek counsel at your local Recovery Center or police station’s D.A.R.T program; do not let stigma or shame or fear hold you back.