At first, following anything with more than two steps was impossible.
The grief would surround me and literally take me to the floor where I would try to escape it. Like I could squeeze out of its way or hide from it. The emotional pain was so intense, it hurt physically.
I was not a great driver. I came way too close to having a major accident or causing one. Very close. I did back into a post in a parking lot.
I got lost going to the drug store and had to use the GPS for every single destination no matter how many times I’d been there.
I yelled at the windshield, cried in the floor of the shower, curled up on the floor in despair.
I walked into walls, broke out in hives, got hot flashes, lost a lot of hair and weight.
Looking back at a video of a presentation from three months after his death, my face looks weathered and hollowed out–the loss etched on my face. My muscles ached, my head hurt, my mouth was often dry no matter how much water I drank.
I was angry at the world, myself, God, heroin and then no one in particular.
Stunned, shocked, disbelief, anger, sadness and every emotion in between descended on me and sat on my heart.
I would get ready to text Charles and then realize he was no longer alive even wanting to call him to ask him was he really dead.
My dreams about Charles were bizarre and finding peace in sleep was often challenging.
I didn’t care about much of anything because didn’t have the capacity. I watched some of his old videos and his most recent ones. Rocking back and forth holding his backpack, I buried my face in his clothing trying to smell his scent, lived in fear of losing someone else I loved or something he owned. I sent pieces of clothing to people who loved him–friends who wanted a piece of Charles to remember him by.
People gave me suggestions to follow up on things, gave me names that didn’t stick, and otherwise talked to me like information would actually stick to a brain suspended in grief.
I read every card I got, and saved all of them in a shopping bag.
But I got through those early days and weeks, searched for support and asked for help. Writing my way through my pain, I posted pictures of Charles didn’t apologize for my tears and learned to answer the question, “How many children do you have,” by sharing that Charles died by suicide.
I didn’t try to avoid the grief. Sometimes it was put it on hold to make it through a meeting but otherwise it had free reign.
I had trouble remembering anything, trouble concentrating and struggled with what I wanted to do going forward.
We moved out of our house that had sold before he died, beebopped from one airbnb to another and then moved into our new renovated home ten weeks after we moved away from the home where Charles and Richard grew up.
I faced the first holidays, first birthday, first mother’s day, first death anniversary.
When meeting other moms who’d lost a child, I was amazed at how normal they looked. More support groups, more writing, talking, crying on the shoulders of my friends and listening to others tell their stories of addiction or mental illness, helped me heal.
Then one morning I made it several hours without crying. That gave me hope. And little by little I came back to life. Part time at first.
There was a point where grief was no longer my enemy but my friend and my connection to the son I loved.
And that journey continues. That healing continues. Until the day I die. Which can wait. Because there is so much to be accomplished.