My Grief Challenges

“Mom, where’s my …” December 13, 2014

ef8df838d80f5ceb17b1dea88e9e2eda                                                          First, just a few things to put out there:                                                                *** Some may wonder why I am being so public with my grief journey.   Many of the people I know tend to keep most of their angst inside.  God just didn’t make me that way.  It is my hope that when I communicate,  someone out there,  might read a phrase and be comforted by reading about someone else working through a rough situation and that they would be encouraged to work through their own struggles.   As time moves forward, I hope my grief growth journey will be more encouraging than depressing, but “Not Right Now” ,which is a song title by Jason Gray.   I have had many gulp episodes since being told my journey is going to be a long, hard, complicated process.                                                                                                                      *** Many of you may be wondering why I put so many posters in my posts.   Simply because  I am an extremely visual person.          Whenever someone is speaking to me, I am making a filmstrip in my head. If a detail is left out, I but in to get that information, so my picture is complete.  And when I am answering a question, I am trying to find the correct folder-in my minds eye, so I can replay the situation in hopes of answering correctly.  I do better if I do not have to answer on the spur of the moment.        Anyway, I try to find posters that say what my words might not.    I hope this explanation made some sense.                                                                                                       *** In the past, when I came across songs that are right for my emotions, I would you-tube share. I have been concerned about copyright laws, which are hard for me to figure out. So, from now on I will share the name of the artist and the title of the song.   Maybe someone, sometime will be able to explain what the copyright laws really mean.                                                                  My guilt load is heavy enough as it is.   e7764c65ec94cd0c7d3f405b4b37d75d

Shawn in igloo 2012

In past posts, I have mentioned that Shawn could not talk because of the tubes down his throat.  After my November 15th, post, that night I was very tired and sure I was going to get some sleep. Nope,  a memory came bounding in upon my rest.         This has to do with one of the many times I believe  I failed Shawn.   My sleepy mind replayed ,vividly, the details.                   It was a day in February 2013.   I had just gotten to the hospital, the medical staff told me they had tried to explain to Shawn about his left arm, he just couldn’t accept what he had been told.                     Other family members had been instructed as to how to talk with Shawn about his left  arm.          I am writing this from my experience.   In no way do I want folks to think I was the only one who was working with Shawn.                     Anyway, back to the replay.       When I arrived in Shawn’s room, he clearly asked me: “Mom, where’s my left arm ?”        How was Shawn able to get those words out so clearly ?    Then a guilt trip, I felt so bad that I had not been able to understand any past efforts Shawn had made trying to talk.   What was my problem ?            My sleepy mind continued the replay.      I remembered how frustrated Shawn had become that day.  He was demanding me to push him out of the hospital. I think he was worried about what else was going to be done to him, at the hospital.  He was also worried for his family and about his job.   I told him the doctors didn’t think he was well enough to leave.     My mind then recalled  the verbal lashing Shawn gave me.    It hurt-I so hated it then, now, even those awful words would be music.                I  just stood there unable to say anything, tears started and I had to leave Shawn’s room, to compose myself.           2a16e63333e63666728691f24f22e5cd         Another guilt trip:   had we made the right choice   ???        All I could think of was: I had my sons arm cut off.     I knew of one medical person who really didn’t think it was the problem -thus the reason for my doubt.                     I recall the gut grind  of not being able to figure out what to say or do.  The medical staff said to explain things as best as I could.   Shawn needed to hear the details from me.   I asked if his arm was in pain. They didn’t think so.                                                                    I went back  to Shawn’s room. I was going to do the best I could to help ease my son’s questioning mind. I reminded him of the metal plate that had been in his arm, from a skateboard accident. I told him that the screws were calcified and that the doctors were concerned that infections might be happening from the plate area.   I told him how damaged everything was from the deep burns over more than 73% of his body.     I said that it seemed the best decision, for his health, to remove the worst part of his arm so he could heal and be with his loved ones, outside the hospital.      No, I did not hide my tears or whimpers. I DID make it clear that I was going to be at his side, as much as he would allow.  And, we were going to make this work so he could get back to his family.                                               18561b2dbc8b0a13fedd4dee554e7596                  Thankfully,  the Physical Therapist (P.T.) came in.  She seemed to know I was pretty spent.  She joined in our conversation, helping me to encourage  Shawn.  She asked me to hold Shawn’s little arm. I was worried I would cause him more pain. She instructed me  on  how and where to hold.    After that,  I made it a point to hold Shawn’s little arm, as much as I could.  I told Shawn that once he was better the doctors were going to help us with a new arm. The P.T. went into great detail regarding the possibilities. Then I told Shawn about my cousin, whose left arm looked like his. I told Shawn all the things my cousin had learned.  I told Shawn I wanted him to meet my cousin and see how he could tie his shoes-one handed. I wanted him to be able to watch my cousin catch a baseball, through it straight up, toss off his baseball mitt, catch the ball and throw it-one handed.  I was always so proud of my cousin for all the things he had learned.   Then Shawn let the corners of his mouth curve up. I asked him if it bothered him when I used the words “little arm” ?  He gave me a precious smile.  Then he moved his cheek to my hand and rested peacefully.  c31b547cf9239afbc47f68945f095067.jpg

On December 5, about 4:45 AM,  I was walking  toward my bus to drop my belongings before hitting the track. I saw headlights coming toward me. It was unusual to see any rigs driving around the bus lot. I knew the mechanics were in the shop, so it wasn’t them. I was getting anxious. I was near a door I could bolt into if this person had ill intent. It was a sheriff car. The officer told me that he saw the gate unlocked and wanted to make sure everything was okay.   As I started loopin’, I saw the sheriff car park in the school lot above me.  I kept my flashlight on, but you cannot imagine the comfort that morning, from the sheriff’s presence.  3ca0bb4bf01751076f260fba20135a39  It had been a rough few days and I was just feeling drained. Then, low and behold, a friend joined me for the last 2 loops.    I think it was God doing a work of support.

                      $_1    Oh My Gracious !!!   I tried this walk DVD of Leslie’s:      It was a blast !  Leslie’s Walking Crew were wonderful !!!   I made it through 2 miles.   What fun !!!  And yes, I sweat !!!  I think it is worth a try !!!     I am very thankful TV is one way view. I have no rhythm and do many extra steps. 


Regarding My Ornaments: part 2 of 3 September 6. 2014

To start off, I need to explain about The Nativity Tree / The Advent Tree. It was my take on the original from: .     Melissa, Shawn and I just painted the ideas rather than cut them from felt.  I used to hang it up after Thanksgiving.  I, also, used it in the 2 & 3 year old Sunday School class I had taught for a few years.  Now, it is more of a treasure because of the memories attached to it.

The 1st ornament 2003 /  Wire Star.  On the 3/3 post,   I will have a list with each ornament year and it’s name.

2004 / The Rose: the words on the card are from a song Bob likes, sung during Christmas time. He gave me the idea for this ornament .  

From the song: "Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming"       Christmas time 2003, Bob thought there should be some kind-of ornament I could come up with, for this song.

From the song: “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” Christmas time 2003, Bob thought there should be some kind-of ornament I could come up with, for this song.


2005 /  King Of Kings.  I had visions of this turning out wonderful. I did not buy fabric suitable for the Pretty Punch tool. Oh well.                                                                                                      Each ornament takes a lot of thought. I like to make them so I can work on them, anywhere.   I get the  various parts ready for assembly time.

Used pretty punch

2005 / King of Kings


2006 / Heart / Names For God-were on the card.  I hope to find the original. The dark type and dark paper made it hard for folks to read.  My apologies.

Names for God


2007 / Star.   It seems that Shawn was the only one to realize the lighter paper and that if held up to the light the star showed through the orn shape design on the paper.

Shawn was the only one to realize I had made the card out of lightweight paper and the star could be seen through the ornament design.

2008=JMJ. Mom and 2 other  people, out of at least 150, were able to figure this design.    Joseph with his arms around Mary and  baby Jesus.

First time at sauteing. Kind of a puzzle.   Out of at least 150 of these sent out, I think I recall about 3 people figured the shape of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

First time at sauteing. Kind of a puzzle. Out of at least 150 of these sent out, I think I recall about 3 people figured the shape of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

2008=JMJ. 3 people, out of at least 150, were able to guess the design.  Joseph with his arms around Mary and  baby Jesus.

     Regarding organizing:   Since a friend has asked for my help, I have put off my personal organizing. It is my hope that we can make her apartment a comfortable place to be. In time, I hope she will be able to use her cooking and sewing talents, to bring joy to others. The goal I keep pushing for.   Through our time I will share tidbits to help bring encouragement to others who may need to organize.                                                                                                                             I have spent some time shuffling items.  I have a place set up for sewing items.  There are containers of clothes that we will sort through. When an item needs to be given away or returned, it goes to the front door area.   Each week I ask her to accomplish 3 tasks for me.
Before I started helping my friend, this is what she said about her living situation:   She would come in;  bathe, sleep, barely exist.  She saw no way out. She was drowning.  She had no hope-of having a place she would love to come home to.   Then the first day happened.  During our 2nd get together, I had plans of going through the spare room-I wanted to have a place to organize from.  My friend had other plans for the day, but was willing to let me stay and shuffle.   I use the shuffling time to think of ways to make the reorganizing work best. Since school is back in session, my time is limited.                                                                                           I, also, need to make sure I am not being to pushy about the process.   Since Shawn’s death, I am very aware of things being overwhelming.  Plus, when it comes to letting go of items-when one is in the grief process, some of us have a harder time letting go.                                 I have made my friend cry a few times. The day she had been gone while I worked on the spare room.  The day she was gone and I shuffled , in the kitchen.                                                      During one of our talks, my friend mentioned about her front door. The manager didn’t understand why it looked so awful-tape marks from delivery people.  In a few minutes,Old English Scratch Cover For Dark Woods, 8 oz. gave the door a refreshed look.    I have encouraged my friend to find a couple of items to have outside her door-that are cheerful. I want her to be able to see those items and take a deep breath and be glad to open the door. Down the road, I will be thrilled for her to open her door for guests.                                                                                                       My friend  has worked on her own to make the kitchen area a place she can enjoy. She was so thrilled about what had been accomplished, that she made a pasta salad, put cooking things away and even made pickles.          Here are some giant steps:  she has been opening the curtains !!!  That is a huge deal to me—I am one of those folks that needs to be able to view out windows.  She has been taking garbage out regularly-might I say-she was cheerful when she told me.  She has been working on assignments.                                                                              For now, the progress has been amazing. The happiest thing for me is that my friend isn’t dreading going to her apartment.    I am thrilled that she is making efforts with our weekly assignments.

Exercising: today is 1 of 33, for part 2 of Walk it off in 30 days.  I  really like this program.  I am not losing the weight as I would like, but I feel so much better after a workout.  Not giving up— Forward On !!!
Bye for now, K


My Grief Challenges

Baby Blue Eyes !!! February 8, 2014

Last Sunday, at church, I was seated in the balcony. Bob was home sick. It was the time in the service where folks go down to the front of church and get communion elements. There were two young men getting ready to head down. The last one looked right at me. What I saw broke me, to the max. I saw Shawn’s baby blue eyes, looking right at me, just how Shawn would look. I was pierced to my core. No one else looked at me. For that matter,  it is very seldom, that anyone looks our way, as they head down for offering or communion. Why this time ? How can another person have such a resemblance, making me to wonder-maybe my Shawner is just in disguise ? Maybe he is still here. Then I am yanked back to reality.  

I thank God for a precious young woman, who sat down next to me. She just sat and sang the hymn, ever so gently and sweetly-I guess I must have broken down-I don’t remember. I did apologize that I wasn’t positive like her and her relative- who is going  through a difficult time.  How can God, ever, use someone like me ?

On purpose, each day,  I check  my calender.  I have the days numbered, since Shawn died,  A kind of reality check-if you will. For some reason, I keep mixing up the days -or misplacing them. 

I know,  in my head, why my heart is so torn.  My heart does not want to accept  Shawn’s death, he is not “safe in my arms”, this all seems, so wrong.  Many have told me, Shawn is better off.  I just cannot see that right now. Am I so wrong ?

I, often wonder, if I am  the only one struggling with being positive through grief ?

Thus, started another challenging week. I don’t know why I get caught off guard, but, I hit a wall, hard, in the middle of the week.  I hit another wall on Friday. No, not actual walls.  A grief slam. When I looked back, over events, to see why it was so hard, and how could I do better, I realized, Wednesdays and Fridays,  continue to be hell days for me. Oh how I hope Shawn didn’t think I was “torturously” keeping him alive. Such torments. Or, as I said last post, did I not have enough faith for God to heal him ? There seems to be no peace, just gut churnings of guilt. I know folks tell me it is a false guilt, but from where I am, as a mother-I, totally, failed my son. This is something that plagues me, constantly.  Am I like an addict that can’t get above the need of a fix, in my case, a guilt fix ?   How does a Mom truly find peace, with the choices like  I had to make ?  All of you must get pretty frustrated that I cannot just let things go ?

I have been told I am not trusting God.  I feel like Christian, in the “Slough of Despond”. Do I need to calm down, to find the steps out ?

The truth of the reality of Shawn’s goneness, is increasingly more real, each day-no matter how hard I try, I cannot stop it. I do not want to face the actual knowingness of Shawn’s death-it hurts so much !!!  I have seen others come through this type of storm. So, I know it is doable.  For now, it seems so impossible. Then, again,  I am hit with the perfectionism, in me, another task I am failing.         I also, often, wonder what Psalm 23 means in verse 4: “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me ?” Is it happening and I am just unaware, right now ?

Thursdays have been strange. Each one, since Shawn died, forgottens, have been popping out of my memory folder. Books Melissa, Shawn and myself had read during our home-school reading times. This past Thursday, for whatever reason, I remembered about a book we had read, together, titled: “Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   In the story, ivy hid the secret garden’s door. I ended up watching the movie, on youtube.

I was taken back to the time when Shawn had planted some ivy for me. I wanted it to grow, over the trellis that was over the pond. When Shawn came back, Bob and I were going to pay him to do various tasks for me, until he found a job. We were in the process of figuring out our schedules.  Shawn being Shawn, was eager to get some work done. It had not entered my brain to have tools outside, in case Shawn came over while I was at work. Upon my return home, one day, for some reason, I had gone to the back yard. There was Shawn-he had not heard me, He was on his knees. No gloves, no tools, just digging a hole, in the rocky clay soil, and placing the ivy, in. My eyes filled with tears, as I watched him.  He, then, stood up, embarrassed that I caught him. He was hoping to have it finished, before I came home. His fingers were bloody from digging in the rocky clay soil. 

That ivy, and the trees that Shawn helped me move, make it hard for me to ever want to move from this house. I pray God will allow me to stay with these memories.  All this made me wonder: How do others, show us, they care ? What precious memories do we pass along to others ? What actions, of love, speak louder than words ?

2013-05-10 15.46.41K

My Grief Challenges

Who did we see ??? May 16, 2013

!!!   Who Did We See   ???
My original post of this event , is no where to be found, so I am rewriting it, hoping my memory is close.
It must have been close to May 16. I was pre-tripping the bus and had been talking to Melissa. We were both trying to get back to life. Near the end of my bus checking, Melissa’s call cut out, a lot. I thought she had hung up, so I went on my way. We would touch base, ASAP. I made it through Elem run-was able to hide the tears. MHS run started fine. I was driving on 82nd,heading to the expressway.. I had cleared the Costco light, the dip, then I saw a young male walking on the path, he never looked up-strange, that close to a big rig-I sure look. He had on a white tee-shirt, light blue jeans-baggy. a baseball cap and hair like Shawn’s. His walk, the way he held himself, and his  facial features, there is no way it wasn’t Shawn-he never looked up. What I noticed is that there were no burn areas, he had both arms, all his hair, his nose didn’t have any missing cartilage, he was wearing tennis shoes-so his feet were fine, doing his Shawn walk-deep in thought. I know I gasped, tears fell, I had to keep driving. This scared me so bad.
You see, I had peeked into Shawn’s room-when told not to-when he was being put on the morgue table. The guy-he looked scarey-let Shawn’s head bang on the steel, cold, pillow-less table. Shawn’s head hit hard, I thought his neck must have broken-I haven’t told anyone- my heart sank as I saw how heart-less the movements of the medical staff were. How could they handle my precious child that way. It took every ounce of the energy, left in me, to not go in Shawn’s room and carefully ~~~
Anyway, how could there be a Shawn walking around as if never having been burned-deep tissue-over 73% of his body ? How could Shawn be walking around, just fine? I made it back to the bus lot. I went in to speak with D. I didn’t think I could drive the bus, just yet, I was too ???  Our boss overheard and said he would make sure all details were taken care of-he knew how pickly I was about my work record, he assured me that the time off would not affect my work record. He was going to be retiring in a few weeks and wanted to make sure EVERYTHING was done right so I was not to worry. And so, D helped me gather all my belongings, she spoke to dispatch, so I would not have to. As it turns out, my boss died the day of his retirement party.I miss him- he had been a support in many ways.
Later, that day, when talking to Melissa. I told her I hadn’t understood what she had said upon her arrival at school. She had been telling me that when she got out of her car, at school, she saw someone with a skateboard, he looked like Shawn. I gasped. How strange that we both had the same experience near the same time.  My hope is that some day Melissa will remind me of her side of that day.
Many have told me when these sightings happen, take them as a type of comfort. I had looked at it as God taunting me—I do not know why. There is not a lot of information about life beyond-in the bible. I do know,I do not need be so defensive.  At the same time, it is moments like that, which make it hard to let go.
Is this “the valley” ???