Live Like LucasThe non-profit organization Live Like Lucas was founded in August of 2015 in order to accomplish the goal of empowering youth to spread kindness. Our first official event was on January 16, 2016 where we had over 200 youth as well as adults participate in service projects and random acts of kindness in the Grand Rapids area. We served a pancake breakfast at Park church, made over 100 lunches and hygiene kits and distributed them to the poor along Division avenue. We made breakfast and did activities with the children at Hope Community, which is temporary housing for single moms and their children. We went to nursing homes and played bingo and bowling with the elderly. We distributed fifty 10.00 gift cards at Meijer as a random act of kindness. The result of just this one day was astounding. The volunteers had their eyes opened to situations that they had never been in before and met people unlike they had ever encountered. They saw people in poverty as real, worthy, human beings who weren’t just lazy. They saw the elderly, as one student put it “peppy and funny and mischievous.” They connected with people who were far outside of the Forest Hills “bubble.” And they wanted to go back. They wanted to do more. They asked, “When can we do this again?” Live Like Lucas is not just about spreading kindness out on the streets of Grand Rapids but also in our schools. We are currently researching programs and speakers to encourage our youth to practice kindness EVERY DAY- not just to their own friends but to those who feel alone and disenfranchised. We want to encourage friendships across all social, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Teaching kindness also needs to start young. We are working on a program with “Lucas puppets” for the social workers to use to teach lessons on being kind to others and encourage conversation about sadness and loneliness and bullying. The kids will be able to put letters to Lucas in a mailbox so they can express their feelings and in turn the social workers can address these issues. One especially powerful method of learning about kindness in a global way is through mission projects. Our goal for next summer is to fund or partially fund at least 10 trips to Guatemala for kids who would otherwise be unable to go due to financial concerns. Lucas went 2 years ago with my grandparents and it was life changing for him to see the utter poverty and lack of medical care that was available for these people they visited in remote villages. He was prompted to really think about what his future looked like- he had planned on going into the medical field and now felt drawn to the mission field. Live Like Lucas has a vision of youth who look outside of themselves, look outside of wealth and power and popularity as goals and really see the world as how it is- full of hurting people. Even a small act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. It may even change their life.
Author Archives: melissaconner2015
Ahhhh the woe of sleepless nights…
It is only 11:40 PM, but I have been in bed for two hours. I am tired but my brain simply won’t settle down. I don’t want it to think. I want it to sleep. It hurts when it thinks.
I have been trying to reacquaint myself with instagram. I haven’t used it in over a year. I am just an oldie who is stuck on facebook. I go on and see a picture that Lucas had tagged me in a long time ago and I so just naturally go to his page. As I am doing it I almost feel like a person who cuts themselves to feel better. Isn’t that a strange analogy? I know how deeply painful but somehow satisfying it will be. Except the painful far outweighed the satisfaction. I don’t know how many actual videos there are of Lucas out there, I haven’t really sought them out; we are kind of bad parents that way. I never take videos. There are probably quite a few older ones thanks to my parents and the good old video camera, but recent ones? I don’t know.
I do however know of the ice bucket challenge video on his instagram page. I forgot it existed. I watched it again. I didn’t even have the audio on, I couldn’t bear to hear his voice.
If I could pick one single thing that has caused the most pure unadulterated anguish since the day we buried him… it is watching a video of him. In the flesh (so to speak) moving and talking and…alive.
That was without audio- add that and I think I would be laying in fetal position on the floor. For months.
Have you ever cried for hours? Its really exhausting and painful. I used to just cry in spurts, like 5 or 10 minutes, really hard and then try to pick myself up and move on.
Now it just doesn’t stop. Hours and hours, as if each day he has been gone produces a gallon of tears.
There are many things in life I have not experienced. Sickness, for example. Cancer. Homelessness. Persecution. Hunger.
For some reason I am obsessed with thinking about these things and wishing God had just given me those (even all of them) instead of taking my child. You can go ahead and get mad at me if you have experienced them and think I’m being stupid.
I don’t really know what they are like. I do know loneliness, depression, relationship issues, body image issues, and the brutal chopping off of a piece of my being- my child. I would trade anything in the world for him. Anything. Anything. ANYTHING!!!!!!
So….I am still in the bargaining phase apparently. After a year. I am also still in PTSD mode. I am still “I can’t look your handsome face” mode. I am still in “I can’t celebrate your birthday by having german chocolate cake” mode.
I did however go into his room yesterday. For the first time in 12 months. It was for maybe 30 seconds. Things did not look the same. We had a roof leak in his room (of course) so the furniture was all moved around and wonky. Yet there were HIS clothes on the bed and HIS stuff in the closet and HIS stuff on the walls and HIS baseball trophies on his dresser.
I don’t know why I went in. I went downstairs to look for something. His door was open (it has been closed up until a couple weeks ago when it leaked) and I just walked in. It was kind of an out of body experience. I came back upstairs. Brady was playing with cars. I laid on the floor by him and tried to pretend I wasn’t crying. I made a feeble attempt at building with his building blocks. I tried so hard to keep the sobs in. Finally I said, “Brady do you want to cuddle in bed with mommy?”
Thank goodness he agreed. He promptly fell asleep so I could let out the grief that had been building inside me.
We had an incredible sermon on Sunday at Ada Bible, part of a series entitled “When you feel like giving up.”
Talk about appropriate. I go between “I can’t do this I’m giving up” to “I really really have to do this” about every five minutes.
Jeff talked a lot about fear, which I didn’t think applied to me. Then he started talking about the fear of living with something in your life that doesn’t have a happy ending. Bingo. I know that my grief will not have a happy ending nor will it ever go away. It will always be a part of my life until my dying breath and there is no cure. No solution. No way out. So yes, that does bring me fear. I do fear the future and enduring days, weeks, years, decades without Lucas. Fear is a very real part of grief for me, I just call it anxiety.
The main “character” so to speak in the sermon was Ed Dobson. I had not realized he passed away Dec. 26. He was a friend of Jeff’s and they had stayed in touch in the past years as Ed had deteriorated of ALS.
A clip was shown of Ed being interviewed as he was becoming more advanced in his disease. He was having a difficult time getting words out. The interviewer asked, “how did you feel when you were first diagnosed and you read about all the terrible symptoms and the deterioration and pain you were about to go through?”
Ed responded “I was terrified. It consumed me. I could not stop thinking about what was ahead. So every time I was afraid I would say Hebrews 13:6. I would say it over and over and over and over until I started to believe it. At first I didn’t. But after five minutes or so of repeating it, I did.”
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”
What to do when I am overcome with debilitating grief that I do not know how to handle?
What to do when the tears will not stop flowing?
What do I when I feel so very alone? When my heart is as heavy as a stone and grief follows me around like a stray puppy? When I feel there is no hope, no happy future, no freedom of this tragedy that has encumbered me and surrounded me to the point where all I see is desolation?
I will repeat Hebrews 13:6 over and over and over until I believe it.
“He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.…”
I have been tossing and turning for 3 hours now, feeling like I am submerged under the ocean dying for a breath and I just can’t seem to get to the top. I need him like I need oxygen. I suspect it will always feeling like this to varying degrees…from feeling mildly breathless to gasping for air.
He would have been 16 today. As i typed that my fingers didn’t want to, it was like slow motion; almost like if I didn’t type it it wouldn’t come true.
I keep thinking about the day he was born, and beautiful blonde haired 7 lb 11 oz baby boy and we were instantly bonded. I loved him fiercely and that never wavered. He was gorgeous, he was a gift from heaven, and he was mine. Mine to take care of and protect and nurture and I loved every single minute of it.
I delighted in everything he did, every little milestone, every little word and could just not get enough of him. I remember picking him up from the babysitters and I would hold his hand from the front seat just so I could touch him on the ride home.
It is different with a first child. Not only was he my only one for 3 years and 9 months, I believe he was the easiest little boy that ever lived. I don’t remember disciplining him. Ever. My memory is probably a little fuzzy on that but I distinctly remember the shenanigans that his sisters got into especially in those younger years and the exasperation that ensued.
No one is perfect. We are all sinners. Yet Lucas was a one in a million, and I don’t say that to brag about my wonderful genes or parenting skills. It is simply true. God made him that way and I have had many people say similar things about him.
This is what you do on your child’s birthday- you celebrate him or her. You focus on all the good things. You thank God for their life and everything they mean to you.
I can’t stop thinking about his beautiful curly hair and blue eyes. His impressive height and build. How simply exquisite he was. Because it shone through from the inside too.
I keep thinking about how he looked shooting his bow and arrow and what an amazing shot he was.
Seeing him swing a bat and have it go soaring over the fence.
Watching him bowl a near perfect score.
Seeing him sit on the couch texting and peeking over his shoulder to see he was consoling a hurting friend.
Hearing him talk about how he stood up for a girl who was being mocked at his lunch table.
Hearing the genuine concern and hurt in his voice when he was talking to me about what to do about a relationship and not wanting to cause hurt.
Seeing him cry because he wanted so badly to get straight A’s but his memory just kept failing him no matter how much he studied and he just couldn’t focus in class.
Being amazing at his incredible writing skills, his impressive collection of diverse music, his many interests that were so different from his peers.
The way he read his Bible app every night.
The way he hugged me and asked me every day after school how my day was.
I miss him like a flower needs the rain. Wilted and drooping.
He was an incredible gift. His memory is an incredible gift- although is causes more pain and agony to me right now that I every could have dreamed possible.
Happy Birthday baby. This will be your best one yet.
His picture- his face, his eyes, it gets me every time. I don’t keep pictures up of him around the house for that reason. Then I open the blog and POP! There it is- fresh heartache and a re-opened wound with salt poured on it. Such a beautiful face, a beautiful soul, I want to grab him right out of the screen and hold him forever. Never let go. Yet I sit here with empty arms and a tear stained face.
A New Year. I tried to ignore and dull myself to that fact as much as I did Christmas and Thanksgiving. It was too much. I went through the motions (barely) and just willed myself to get through it. My kids are probably starting to think Mommy lives in bed. I have been better some days than others. Yet the days I am not in bed I am simply existing, too exhausted and depressed to do much more than make a peanut butter sandwich and turn on their favorite shows. The thought of taking them ice skating or to a movie or Catch Air or some kind of outing- well you might as well ask me to dig a hole to China.
You see- I have been fighting depression for many many years. I have managed to stay somewhat on top of it, well at least to the point where I don’t spend days in bed. Too often. Yet it is one of the major struggles in my life. I have tried more medications and therapists than I care to admit. I wish more than anything people understood better; I feel even as I am typing this that I am going to be judged. I feel like people will look at me as weak. Even people very close to me still think that I should just snap out of it and pull myself up by my own bootstraps. It is incredibly hurtful. It is an illness.
I didn’t decide to blog today to write about depression. That is just a side note I didn’t really plan on adding. Yet as always my blogging is simply a steam of consciousness, not a book or a paper or anything close. I simply write it, quickly skim it for missed or misspelled words and bam! publish. I do not worry about grammar (as you may have noticed…)
So the New Year. It is simply a date on a calendar, people make a big deal out of it, I have never honestly understood why. Yes it is a symbolic date to “start over” “make resolutions” “be a better person”…but there is no reason that can’t be February 1 or July 15 or September 3. Am I right? Yes it is a chance to have parties and celebrate with friends and family. I haven’t done that since before I had kids. Now I see all of the pictures on Facebook of people having parties and merrymaking and I cry. Hard. Every year.
Wow, you must be thinking, I am so crazy for baring my soul like this. As I have said from the very beginning, I don’t care any more. When you experience loss that strips everything away from you the last thing you worry about it blogging about depression and loneliness. I have nothing else to lose. There is nothing in the world more valuable than your child. If I lose people’s respect because I am telling thousands of people my deepest innermost feelings…that is really insignificant. If they can’t love me for who I am then what is the point?
Here’s what I am working on…so intently…truly believing with my heart and soul that that the God of the universe loves me more than everyone on earth ever could…that he knows my every innermost thoughts and feelings and will NEVER EVER fail me. It’s called faith. It’s remembering that no matter how lonely and heartbroken and raw and hopeless I feel he is right there next to me. Faith is HARD. We live in a world of the tangible- friends that can sit across from us at the table and reassure us. We can’t see God. We can’t call him on the phone. We have to open our hearts and minds completely to his presence and allow him to work in our lives. We have to be completely open, transparent, and humble. It goes against our every grain to let a being we cannot see take control of our lives.
That is what it comes down to for me…I lost the control I thought I had on January 16. I thought my life was MY life. I thought is was MY life that I could kind of fit God in where I wanted him…in a corner here or a corner there.
I could not have been more wrong. There is nothing about our lives that is in our control.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[a]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
I cannot base my happiness on anything in this world. Not even my children. I lost an incredible young man almost a year ago- a pure-hearted, kind, giving, compassionate, intelligent, funny, sweet human being who I thought was my whole world. He showed me constantly how much he cared about me and my feelings. He was, as I thought so many times, almost too good to be true.
I don’t have him anymore. What I have had, is God whispering in my ear for nearly a year “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b.
That is my “New Years” resolution. To have faith and trust that God will NEVER leave me. That I am not in control and never have been; I have been given the greatest gift ever given; Jesus.
I am reminded once again of the Heidelberg catechism Q1 that I quoted on TV a few days after Lucas’ passing. It holds true just as much that day as now- and just as much to you as to me. No matter your creed or denomination, each sentence comes straight from the Bible.
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1 but belong—body and soul, in life and in death2—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10
I struggled this past week- hard.
I hope tomorrow is better.
I have sunk slowly into more of a mire than I had been before- that depression mire that sucks you down slowly and makes you feel more helpless and powerless with every passing second. I’m tired- so tired all of the time. I feel angry and irritable at my other kids. Which in turn makes me feel guilty, horrible guilty for not being a good Mom to them when its not their fault. It’s not their fault that their brother died.
I thought I lost our (Lucas’) ipad. I searched for awhile and then just decided to get a used one to replace it. It came yesterday. I set it up with my apple ID. Everything seemed fine until it asked for the password for the firstname.lastname@example.org. His apple ID had been used to get many of the apps on the old Ipad so I think that is why it wouldn’t stop asking for it. I would hit cancel over and over and over and it wouldn’t stop.
I was so angry and upset and frustrated it took everything in my being not to throw it. Then I started talking to it. “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I don’t know his password! He’s gone! He’s gone! He’s never coming back and no one will EVER EVER EVER EVER know his password!” It’s all locked away in cyber land like his Facebook page and Instagram account and all his emails no one will ever check again.
Its one of those things that makes the fact that he is no longer with us so very real when I want to pretend that it isn’t. To avoid the horrific horrific pain that goes with facing it head on. It is easier just to ignore it, not think about it, think about it in abstract terms as it if was just something that happened to some other family. I have to do my fair share of avoidance just to stay sane. Then something happens that is so in your face you can feel your heart being ripped out of your chest. It hurts so PHYSICALLY in a place you can’t reach or take a pain pill for. Like a phantom limb that’s been cut off.
I did not realize that some of his imessages were on the ipad. I guess I never thought of checking. I was trying to text myself from the ipad so I could hear my phone. I typed in my number and the ones from him to me came up. To see the words that we communicated to each other, just all the mundane little jokes, and when are you going to be home Mom? and Mom can you get this from the store? He didn’t have an iphone until the summer before his freshman year. I can barely, just barely look at those messages.
I never, ever, thought such pain was even possible.
I gaze out at our backyard where his chicken coop used to be, and the pond he used to fish in, and the spot he used to shoot his bow and I feel so angry and betrayed. That God gave me this wonderful boy and then ripped him out of my arms. Why he picked me to take away my child. Why Lucas had to be the one. Those are the hardest questions and the ones that tear you up and make you bitter.
I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t want to remain forever in this limbo feeling like God loves me and died for me and yet he gave me the shaft. Someday I want to feel like I am done wrestling with God and feel completely at peace. Some days I wonder if that will be when I’m 80 and senile and don’t remember I have any children.
I knew Lucas’ heart. I can feel his heart although he is gone because I knew it. I knew it well. It beats along with mine. I cannot claim to be half the person he was. Yet I had the immense privilege of being his Mom and of having a deep sense of who he was. That is a Gift. and a tremendous encouragement to me- that his heart can live on.
Two ladies came overlast week and cleaned my house. For free. They were a tremendous blessing to me. God’s love in action. One of them who had recently been going through some very tough times said to me the only thing that helps her is serving others. My heart skipped a beat. “this is what I want,” I thought to myself, “for LiveLikeLucas.”
There is no way that someone can give of themselves and not feel the effects; of knowing they helped someone else and not have it touch their heart. What better answer to the ails of our society and more specifically our youth. I believe in my heart it is the answer. We can talk all day about being kind and it is wasted breath. Maybe they are not ready to give of themselves; maybe they are the ones who need to be given to. The ones who need to be lifted up; Or maybe they are the ones who need to sign up to deliver meal baskets or read to underprivileged kids and feel that tug on their heart.
The thought of building that organization that can teach kindness, empower kindness, BE kindness is what keeps me going on the darkest days. The ones that are so dark there is no light at the end of the tunnel- the tunnel of my sadness. Those days when I feel like I am turned inside out and my insides are exposed to the world. Everything hurts and everything feels raw and I am like a wounded animal. Those days I still have hope. The hope does not go away. Grief is either bad, worse, or purposely pushed out of my mind. The hope of a legacy does not go away. A legacy of kindness.
That is where I need you. We need to start building from the ground up.
If you have ideas and talents that can be used by LiveLikeLucas, please contact me. I need a village. If you have ideas on how kids can serve and how that can be executed, I would love to hear it. If you know of a need in our community -or others, send me an email at email@example.com.
What do you do when you can’t sleep because the sobs keep wracking your body and your pillow is soaked with tears…
I just don’t know how to do this.
This Christmas thing.
There is a tree in my living room with ornaments from every year of his life, from little baby shoes to shiny dinosaurs to workbenches to baseball players to, last year- a weightlifter. My children and husband put the tree up while I was in bed, too despondent to even think about laying eyes on those ornaments, hanging up the stockings, putting up the decorations…
I finally got up later and went downstairs to see that the girls had only put up four stockings. I was irate. “Put his up! Put his up!” I exclaimed a combination of impatience and irritability and pure sorrow. “He will always be part of our family.” I said with a crack in my voice.
I just don’t know how to do this. It’s too hard.
As I was lying in bed a song began playing in my head captures exactly how I feel.
“Held” by Natalie Grant
(Fifteen years) is too little, they let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We’d be held
This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
W’ed be held
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
W’ed be held
It’s appalling. It’s unfair. It’s bitter- when the sacred is torn from your life-
And you survive. I will survive. I may not make it more than a few hours without the salty tears falling into my coffee. The lump in my throat may not go away. My heart may swell with agony until I have reached my breaking point but somehow I know…
I will be Held.
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior
I do believe that hope is born of suffering. I believe that suffering is more than it implies; that in many ways it is also a gift. The harder it is to hold on, the more intense the pain, the tighter we must hold on. The harder the suffering the more we grow. The more we change. The more we are molded- if we let it.
Psalm 34: 17-18
The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.…
I wrote this ten days ago and never finished…
I dreamt about him last night…
for the first time that i can recall. I wish I could say that something amazing happened in the dream or that there was some kind of message.
It was just that he was there. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t do anything, he was just there. In my dream I looked at him and knew that he was, you know, NOT supposed to be, but yet he was and it was like a reverse dream. Like in my dream I thought I had woken up from a dream and he was really still with us.
Waking up from something like that is devastating. Like losing him all over again. As I woke up the tears started flowing and the nausea started. So much nausea in the last 9 months. I feel it more often than not.
So many things lately…I cry out to God “HOW MUCH CAN I TAKE!!!!!! HOW MUCH! HOW MUCH!”
I was talking to a friend last night who works at a hospital and I was telling her how I didn’t think I could ever step foot in Spectrum again. Ever. I think about the day of the accident almost every day. I have constant flashbacks of things no parent should ever see. Over and over I see myself walking out of the ER into the waiting room. When I had gone in, my son was hanging on to life. When I walked out, he was gone. I lost a part of me in that two hours or so…a piece was ripped right out and I was left broken and bleeding.
I feel like it starts to heal…then gets ripped right open again.
The horrible unspeakable images that will not leave my mind. Of that day. What I would not do to erase them.
Having to pick out a marker for my son. Going to Lowell Granite and walking amongst rows and rows of slabs of stone meant for people who are dead. This cannot, cannot cannot possibly be for MY baby. Then having to open email after email of designs to approve. Every time I open the email…rip. Gush. Bleed.
I think about…………………
The Holidays. Oh Jesus help me. The slightest thought sends me into a complete and utter panic.
If you would have asked me a year ago what would happen if I lost one of my children…I am sure, absolutely sure that I would have said I would be in Pine Rest. My mental status then was not exactly healthy. My depression was getting the better of me. It was survival mode.
I would never have thought that I could lose Lucas and not be catatonic in a mental ward.
Why am I not?
I think- I know- because the day that Lucas died a pastor came to our house and told us, this is going to to one of two ways. You can become bitter and angry and hardened, or you can just let everything go and let Jesus hold you. Up to that point in my life and I had not known how to do that. I guess I wasn’t willing to let go. It’s very very difficult because we want more than anything to be in control.
I knew that I wasn’t in control. I realized right then and there that I had control over NOTHING. I was a stripped down, broken, shell of a person but there was a God that loved me enough to sacrifice his OWN son. A God who loved me enough to make me whole again. In whose eyes I was a beautiful impeccable creation.
Again we are reminded that we are not in control. Coldhearted, inhuman, vicious attacks on the people in Paris. Innocents. The tears, the rivers and rivers of tears that are flowing down the streets in France.
Darkness continues to pervade our world.
Every day I remind myself: this lifetime is just a blink. This is not our home. This is not the final destination. We are in a battle with Satan and he may win over some people but he will not WIN.
I try desperately for him not to win in my heart by filling it with hopelessness. Hopelessness that the pain will never stop, that I will have to suffer forever in this valley of the shadow of death. That I will never stop crying myself to sleep. That I will never again be able to look at a picture of my son’s face with out tremendous, tremendous agony.
This is my mantra, the song that keeps my soul alive:
Your Not Alone
Some days I barely hold on
When life drags me down
I wanna let go
But when my spirit is weak
You come to my aid
And strengthen my soul
I’m lost without You
I’ll never doubt You
Your grace is beyond compare
And though when it rains, it pours
You know all I have is Yours
You smile when you hear my prayer
You rescued me and I believe
That God is love and He is all I need
From this day forth for all eternity
I’ll never wander on my own
For I am Yours until you call me home
I close my eyes and I can hear You say
You’re not alone.
You’re not alone.
Today I stared at a peanut butter jar and wept.
I wept because that same peanut butter jar has been in my cupboard for weeks now. I mean, its a big jar, but we used to go through those like nothing. I would be buying a twin pack of the even bigger jars at Sam’s at least once a month. I was at the store getting four gallons of milk once a week. Now the milk just…sits. The only one left who really likes milk is Brady. He’s only three. He drinks maybe 12 ounces a day. So the milk just sits.
Oh my Lord, there was a person who who used to go through our food like GANGBUSTERS. No wonder he was so big.
What I wouldn’t give to have that huge grocery bill again.
What I wouldn’t give to have him pester me to get more almonds or hummus or guacamole for Pete’s sake. OH WHAT I WOULD NOT GIVE.
He always wanted to go to the store for something and it pretty much annoyed me. Well that and the gym, and I was like DUDE! I cannot handle any more running around right now!!
I would drive him around for the rest of my life if I could.
Sometimes when I am lying awake at night and it hurts so bad, so bad, so BAD I play bargaining with myself. I don’t know why, it doesn’t makes things better its just something I do. I say to myself, I would give up every. single. thing. I own, every penny I have, I would walk on hot coals every day just to spend one more day with him. Even just a day. I try to imagine the most extreme pain and misery and deprivation I would go through just to have him back. I have thought, what about jail? Would I go to jail? Yes, yes I would. The strange and bizarre games my head plays.
The reminders of him are everywhere I look and everything I live. Halloween. Every costume he wore flashes through my head. Who he trick or treated with. Last year at his orchestra concert he was supposed to dress up, so as the on- top- of- it Mom I am, I went and got him an old man mask and dorky cardigan sweater that day. He was less than thrilled but he wore it. At least while he walked out on stage and then took it off (so he could see his music). He later went to a Halloween party with friends. He was here a year ago. He lived and thrived and ate lots of peanut butter and went to parties. I could give him a hug and rumple his hair and hear his voice.
We have a bathroom downstairs that no one uses to get ready in. Anymore. He used to. I opened the drawer for the first time a few days ago and saw his deodorant, his toothpaste, his cologne. The cologne he had gotten for christmas that year. Untouched since he last used them on his last day on earth.
What is the moral of the story today? I don’t know. I just have these moments, times, hours of sheer unadulterated misery and I don’t know what to do but sit down at my computer. I usually cry silently but today miracle of miracles there is no one here. I can scream at the top of my lungs and wail and moan. Yup scary I know but it helps. It helps that people cry with me. That others miss him too. That people actually click the link and read this because they want to know how I am doing today…even though its incredibly sad. Then if they see me later I most likely have a smile on my face. Not that it is a fake smile neccessarily. It’s that I grieve, and I grieve hard and then I have to get with my day. Not that I won’t see 20 things in the grocery store that stab at my heart but I have to keep going. You just keep going.
You just keep going. I am sure that many many people who read this, maybe all, have something heavy that lies on their heart. I have a friend who is having breast cancer surgery today. I am praying for her, right now this moment. That is scary as hell. Life is scary and hard and heartbreaking. You just keep going. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
Today as I got my three girls off to school-combed their hair, helped with their lunches, laughed with them, hugged them, kissed them and sent them off on the bus-
For the first time in 10 months I thought, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Then I sat on the couch with my snuggly little three year old in his fuzzy jammies and he wrapped his arms around my neck so tight and I thought-
I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
They are so so so precious. I knew it all along, I never forgot. It was just that the pain was so large and looming it over shadowed any feelings of wanting to live this life. I knew I HAD to. I just didn’t WANT to. I put one foot in front of the other because cerebrally I knew that there simply wasn’t another option but my heart wasn’t really it.
I guess that is the only real way that you can explain the extremity of the pain and devastation of losing a child- it overshadows your entire life, even the really good things, and makes it hard to see what is really in front of you. I imagine it a little bit like having cancer and the pain is so unbearable you just want to die despite the fact that you still have children to live for. Forgive me if that is an insensitive comparison.
Except it’s not really like that. There are no drugs for grief.
Only those who have lost a child will truly understand.
Brooklyn is the last to get on the bus and as she was getting her stuff together I playfully slapped her on the booty (am I wierd?) commenting on how she has the tiniest butt in the world.
I used to say the same thing to Lucas. He was 6 foot four and had NO BUTT. It was a running joke. Immediately pain flooded me like acid through my veins.
It is a constant paradox. Joy and misery. Comfort and sorrow.
Yesterday I was searching through a basket of junk I hadn’t gone through in a long time and found the birthday card I had give Lucas for his 15th birthday. His last birthday. The check he had received was still in it.
How…to even wrap your mind around that fact. She sheer wrong-ness of it. I curled up into the fetal position and begged for God to take me to heaven where I could see that baby whose birthdays were now going to be spent there.
By the sheer grace of God I was able to recover from that blow and still make it to my Live Like Lucas foundation meeting. My board is amazing. Phenomenal. Mind-blowingly talented. They lift me up, they carry me, they comfort me, they give me hope. They are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help carry out the legacy of my son. They are all working like crazy people to make things happen- awesome things- that will soon be unveiled.
It is a beautiful thing. It is a beautiful thing when God provides for us exactly what we need.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
I have been asking myself, over and over, why the pain has not subsided one tiny little iota. Why I simply cannot just move on with every tasks and every day parenting without it feeling like I am dragging a boulder along with me.
It has after all been nine months. Isn’t it supposed to get a little better by now?
A very important person in my life told me, “I just can’t be reminded every day. I cannot go through the trauma every day. If I don’t move on I can’t function.”
I wish and yet don’t wish I could do this. Of course it would feel so great to have one day without being under a heavy blanket. One day that I don’t cry in the car so no one can see me. One day that I feel like I don’t feel like I can muster up the gumption to be what I need to be.
Last night I could not fall asleep and I was going over and over in my mind how badly I wish I had a documentary of Lucas’ life. Every minute of every day. A snapshot of each moment I could flip through and see his moments of joy and happiness and accomplishment and even just the mundane moments.
That I could relive with him so many of those moments even just one more time.
I took him for granted.
He was my baby, my hard fought for baby that I raised by myself until he was two and I don’t need to tell you about what a mother child bond is like. The strongest bond on earth. There is no greater love other than Jesus’ love in my mind and the bonds are like steel. I would have laid down my life for him. Few parents would describe their bond with their children as anything less. He was also my firstborn. I always felt a very special connection with him. We were on the same wavelength. We had something very very special that does not always occur with parental bonds because I have experienced it myself.
Then one day that bond of steel was severed, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, chopped apart with a swift sharp blow.
Now as to having some sort of connection with his spirit or soul or yada yada I have no clue. I don’t even know what to say about that. I think I am still traumatized at this point to decide whether or not I even think it’s true. He is in heaven with God, what would his spirit be doing down here in this realm of sin and darkness. I just don’t know.
All I know is this, that in an instant everything I thought to be true became questionable. For a mother to lose her child shakes up everything I thought was good in the world.
I have to fight for it every day. It’s called faith. I have to have faith that God is good and he loves me and somehow this will all work out. That in heaven it will all be made clear. Its a fight that is taxing, exhausting, when all I want to do much of the time is lay down and die.
Because the singular thing that i want most deeply and resolutely is to see my baby boy again. Every human cell and molecule and atom wants to be with him. To give up EVERYTHING to be with him again. The other end of that broken steel bond is like a magnetic pull to which there is no resolution.
We weren’t finished yet. I was supposed to have so many years with him, I took for granted how much time I had with him and I had four other kids. There was never enough time for anybody. Regret. Regret is the worst thing in the world.
I HATE cliches like “you never know how much time you have” and “enjoy every moment.” Blech. The problem is you don’t really believe it. Not until after. Not until the time is gone and the moments are done.
Its no secret that the only way I get up every morning is my faith- that the incredible all knowing all powerful God that created US is still in control. That I know he wants me to be here and he has a plan for me.
This verse is amazing:
His compassions are new every morning. His love is there every morning. Every morning when I wake up to a racing heart with anxiety and feel the weight of another day without him- his faithfulness is still there. He IS yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I don’t think I have ever sat down to the computer to blog feeling this overwhelmed about what to write. I feel like I have described my pain in every possible way, ever angle, every description, every analogy…
Yet it still comes back no matter how many times I let it all out. It will never leave.
Yesterday I changed my profile picture to one of Lucas fishing when he was probably 11, I’m guessing, and the big ugly salty heart wrenching tears I cried while looking at that picture…if you’ve never cried so hard you couldn’t breathe you’ve never really cried.
I called my husband after coming back from an appointment because the entire drive I was bawling and just couldn’t get a handle on it and the kids were about to come home from school. I told him in between gasps that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I was waving the white flag, I was just done.
Which is of course completely meaningless. I was just dreaming and hoping that there was a way out…a way to be free of it… a way to anesthetize it.
He is on my mind day and night. I think “I wish Lucas was here” every time I have 1 child clinging to my leg crying and two fighting and one asking for homework help while I have chicken burning on the stove. Every time I feel like I need a hug. Every time I see or think about a person around his age and I think, what would be he doing right now. Every time I think about my family of 6 that’s supposed to be a family of 7 and its just not right. NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT.
You don’t realize how often people ask about your kids or how many kids you have. You don’t realize how hard it is to tell strangers that your oldest son is in heaven. Not that its so hard to say (which it is) but that don’t know what to say. So they kind of just nod or mutter they are sorry. Its awkward. But I will not tell anyone, ever, that I have four children. It’s simply not true. Maybe I should say I have 5 and leave it. But I feel the need to qualify it. I just can’t help it.
I CANNOT look at a picture of him, any picture without that knife twisting in my gut feeling. I cannot look at his smile and be happy. I feel agony. Pure, unadulterated agony. Every time. I quickly avert my eyes as if it will make it easier but the image is still imprinted on my brain.
Nine months tomorrow. Nine months since I have seen his precious face and hugged his tall lanky muscular frame and teased him about his blonde chin hair. I still have not stepped in his room since the day of his funeral. I have not been to his grave. I can’t. I just can’t.
I had to pick out his gravestone on Monday. I had to pick out a marker for my fifteen year old son’s grave. Is there anything more awful? I was absolutely sick walking past all the colors and shapes and textures and thinking, what difference does it make? It only matter that he is gone and that is horrible and shitty and I never want to see where he is buried. I cannot, cannot cannot think about him in a casket. I want to be sick. There is nothing worse.
I have one leg in the real world and one leg in hell. The mental hell of mourning and grief and feeling consumed by loss. The one leg in the real world has a heck of a time balancing without that other leg. But I try. I really try. Some people think it’s not good enough. That that other leg needs to come back to the real world. Yet it’s mired in. It’s deep in the mud. There’s an inch for every ounce of love I have for him. That doesn’t want to let him go. There is an inch for every piece of me that died with him.
I ask people why they read my blog and they say it helps them understand how to deal with people who have lost.
This is how it feels.
Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”