In life, things happen that are not suppose to happen. Young children on the street are starving, children making bad choices, sickness, homeless children, violence, racial slurs, children dying before their parents. I find myself asking why God, why? Life shouldn’t look like this. My heart shouldn’t have this hole that only comes from watching your child be lowered into the ground. I am now a club member of a group that no parent wants to belong. The Parents that have buried their child club - the club that brings nights of torn dreams, tears, and a heart that feels as if it has been ripped apart.
I remember waking up that night with an uneasiness; it was as if something was hanging over me. I prayed and dozed back off, only to awaken a few hours later by the buzzing of my alarm clock.
The feeling from the night still clung as I quickly dressed for work on the morning of September 8th, 2019. I remember feeling out of sorts. Worried, I texted the last number my son had called on, not expecting to hear back as it was still very early in the morning. Little did I know that I was texting the "friend," the very person that had taken my son's life a few hours earlier.
Work seemed to proceed as usual until I think about ten that morning - the moment they called me into the office. However, I don't remember the time because, from that moment on, time seemed to stand still, and I fell into the most bottomless hole that I had ever fallen into with no hope of returning or climbing out.
Journal Entry: A Call to the Office
I walked into the office; it was there that I heard the news. The feelings were rushing so fast, confusion, disbelief; what was I suppose to do - I wanted to vomit, scream and say no all at once, I was dizzy, then swimming; so many emotions - numbness. I vaguely remember the people in the room three - four, maybe six. I can't remember. I vaguely remember the ride home; a police officer drove me - even my dog knew something was wrong; as we walked in the room, he puked twice, something he never does.
The few days after that are a blur. There were phone calls to make, the hardest being the call to each of his brothers. Then his girlfriend and the extended family. A slow ball started rolling as each of us began to grieve together. Before long, there were multiple family members at my house.
We had many decisions to make. Decisions that as a parent, we generally don't plan for our children - things I had never asked my son. Did he want burial or cremation? What type of funeral did he want? An open casket or a closed casket? The cost of each was astronomical - for my son, we were blessed to have money he was saving toward a house purchase in the spring. We used this money toward a plot and casket in a cemetery. For many, this cost can cause them to cash out retirement savings or take loans. It is sad - a market taking advantage of the worse time in life - burying a loved one. The funeral was about a week later. My son had was murdered on the other side of our state. We had to wait for the required autopsy and my son's long ride home, a ride that was about 3 hours away.
The day finally arrived, though. So many things had happened during that week, and my house was packed. We had even opened up our camper for people to sleep. The day finally arrived. The day like many, is a blur - but I managed to get through the day.
Many people came, friends from the past, people from throughout our state, and other areas in the United States. Everyone shared memories and gave their condolences. Although much of this is a blur - it appears I mainly was numbed, in a state of movement, functioning but not. I remember touching my son's hair, the closing of his casket, and I remember my heart being torn in two. Then it was over. I guess life was to proceed from there, although I had no idea how it would.
Journal Entry: September
I cried when it rained; my baby was out there in the cold ground, and I could do nothing to protect him. I felt like I was drowning, suffocating, I want to throw up; my body was in such a state. I felt like I died as I watched his casket close, my heart stopped; it could not be happening.
Journal Entry October
I felt pain deep in my inners most parts, and my nerves seem to stand on end. Shooting pains come that are just random. Food tastes like cardboard, and the weight just seemed to fall off of me. I didn’t care; nothing appeared to matter - but I had other sons to think of, so I robot-like cooked meals and attempted to make decisions.
Journal Entry - November
The nights are the worst. I hold my head up as much as possible throughout the day, but the nights have no mercy. My pillow is soaked night after night; will it ever end.
I wake all hours and thrash throughout the night; my husband says I talk as if I am angry in my sleep - Hell yes, that man shot my baby, and he called himself his friend - REALLY!!!! I know the hurt, anger, and pain - it goes into my sleeping hours; I stare into the dark, my pillow wet with tears. Nighttime pain reliever has become my friend. Will this ever end?
A Few Months Later
The months after seemed to blur. I wake up each morning thinking I must be strong for the yet living. I routinely go through the day, putting one step forward - my son would have wanted that. He lived his life with his cup half full no matter what was happening.
Even with the forward movement, my weight seems to be falling off, over twenty pounds in only a few months. I was able to take a period off of work, but that is not an alternative for many. The time off gave me a healing period as my body could rest when needed - even after three months, I still cried myself to sleep every night. I find myself wondering if my life would ever be happy again.
New Puppy - A Part of Healing
Some believe the dead can direct you or show you things, and I feel my son led her to me. My son was an animal lover. As a child, he had so many pets I could not begin to count them all - from a dog named Carol, birds, lizards, frogs, and snakes. Eventually, he had a small herd of goats that he showed with the local 4H club County Fairs receiving many blue ribbons for showmanship. Maybe that is why a puppy sounded good. On my trip to see my younger son, I ended up bringing one home.
I had been looking at the Shicon breed for some time. I had even shown my deceased son pictures of various puppies during our previous conversations before his death. I could not find a local breeder. Before my son's death, I had planned a trip to his brother's house in North Carolina. I was sitting at his home just lazily looking at Facebook when a person asked if anyone knew of a breeder near the exact area that I was in, North Carolina. I was shocked to see a breeder not 20 minutes from my son's house.
We welcomed Charlotte into my home that day. I found this quote to be accurate during my grief "No matter how you're feeling, a little dog gonna love you." In my lowest points, my new puppy would curl up in my lap and snuggle with me. She would also keep me moving. She needed to go outside, be combed, and had to be given plenty of attention. I think my son might have brought her to me. While this might not sound good to you in my grief, she has tremendously helped my journey.
I am blessed to know that the man who did this is behind bars. Many people never find out - they are drive-by shootings or unsolved mysteries. I am so sorry that the door still hangs open to that person, causing more pain in the death of their loved one.
My son's killer was still on the scene holding the gun in his lap. A man with a gun in his lap and two men shot - one injured and one dead.
So there is court - I am not required to be there. With Covid, I have watched some of the proceedings via Zoom. Yet again, due to Covid, the proceedings have been slowed and then stopped. At this point, I can only speak to the pain that a trial holds as they attempt to prove my son is somehow at fault to lessen the other man's charge.
My son is gone, so his side of the story will forever remain hidden.
It is hard, and as a mother and a Christian, I have mixed emotions. One side of me hates the man for what he did - he devastated our entire family's life. We have a part of us that is forever changed. Yet the other side - sees that my son considered this man his friend. Drugs and alcohol can change what people do - Though could I ever fully forgive him? Maybe in time, I will tell more of a story, but for now, it is a road that I am still crossing - or an unfinished story.
One Year Anniversary
We are sitting around a campfire - all of his brothers and me. We share a drink - yes, maybe a few too many but, it is a quiet secluded campground, so it seems okay for tonight. The stars are bright overhead. A gentle cool breeze blows from the lake, creating a calming atmosphere. We laugh as we share our memories, we cry over some, but more importantly, we share our grief.
A Continuing Story
It is now one and a half years later, and I am writing this article, somewhat rambling, but it is still how my mind thinks. The hole in my heart remains, and there is a level of sadness that does not seem to go away. As I sit and write, the song in the background is Memories playing by Maroon 5. I hear the words, “we can’t bring back all the memories, but the memories bring back you.” My mind still thinks of you daily. Sometimes I can talk about you without tears; other times, I fall apart. Some days are more challenging, and as the writer in Reddit put it - sometimes I can see the waves coming. My journey with grief is a continuous story. It is not something that I will ever get over. I share my story to show that life can go on. A life forever changed.
A Closing Song by Maroon 5
© 2021 Susan Sears