Two of Joshua's favorite bluegrass performers were featured on Austin City Limits tonight. Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz. She sings a version of "Shankill Butchers", the rather dark song featured on the video I posted the morning after his death. The song plays over and over in my head, along with a few others. Tonight, MCK performed "Michigan", another of his favorites, and the lyrics at the end of the song resonate.
"What am I supposed to do now, without you?"
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
All around me, there is natural beauty. Summer bursts with color, fragrance, sounds, and flavor. Yet, through my profound grief, there has been an overpowering blandness that shrouds all that I see, feel, and do. Your pinks and purples are my muted gray. Yesterday was by far the worst day yet. No reason. No catalyst. I could barely breathe through my sadness. Today, the day was a little bit easier to bear, and tonight I saw a vacant house on an evening drive. The earlier storms lit the sunset sky with brilliant color. And tonight, it looked a tiny bit brighter. The house....it was completely empty; but tonight, for a moment, I could see the beautiful color surrounding it.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Tonight, my life marches on. I return to work. It feels so strange to be resuming my life right now. I love my job, and I love the people I work with. Going back is important to my healing. The normalcy I crave. It's still a very odd feeling to be picking up from where I left off on July 10. I still feel his hand in mine. I wish I could feel it.
But that part is gone, and it's time to see what comes next.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Each day, I move a little farther away from his death. It almost seems like it's still a dream I'm having. A week ago, I saw his poor, broken face. I held his cold hands. I touched his lifeless feet. For the last time. Seeing him then; it seems like a lifetime has already passed by. I never knew there would be a last time. Or a never again. Or a no more. I never knew I would see him empty. Sometimes I feel like once I get back to life, some of him might fade from my memory. I might forget his voice, his expressions, or his laugh. There are already parts of this experience that are fading. Almost too much to bear. It is so hard.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
These are the ones who loved him. The strangers who accepted him as he was. The people who made him their family. I can never express what is truly in my heart, but I hope they know how much their presence meant to me today. The whole time we were there, in that little Taos coffee shop; I kept waiting for Joshua to walk in the door.
Sometimes, waiting is so difficult. We are in Taos today; waiting to retrieve Joshua's personal belongings. My gut has been wrenched with anxiety all day. Part of me wants it to be "time", and part of me wants the clock to slow down. I want his things in my hands, but I'm so afraid that once all of my tasks are completed, I will forget some of this pain. The pain helps me realize this is real. This did happen. He is gone. And, looking back on the years that have passed by so quickly, I long to have it to do over again. Not that I could ever change what has happened; but that I'd like to experience him one more time.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Today, I'm standing in line at the USPS, preparing to ship Joshua's ashes to his dad. I spent two hours this morning deciding which box to send, and which box to keep. They packaged him in two boxes as a courtesy. I weighed them. One was 8 ounces heavier than the other. I looked at them. They looked the same. I touched them. They felt the same. I talked to them. Neither said a word. So, I got in line with both boxes, and sitting on the counter was a penny (thanks dad). I picked up the penny and started to cry, in line, during lunch hour, at the post office. There was no way to make the right decision. No matter what I did, which box I chose, half will be here, and half will be there. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. When it hits, reality hits hard. 8 ounces difference. Joshua would laugh at my dilemma. So, in the end, I flipped the coin. Box "2 of 2" stays with me. And box "1 of 2" is on its way to Michigan. Decision made. No looking back now.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
And, sometimes the grief just completely takes my breath away. Unexpected things; its triggered, and I'm caught off guard. My precious son has been turned to ash; sitting quietly in a box. He walks away from me. So quickly life can change. Rest my eyes for now. It's all I can think to do.
In January, we bought a bonded leather reclining sofa for our den. Unfortunately, it the material did not hold up, so a few weeks back, under the warranty, I ordered the top grain leather model, and scheduled pickup/delivery. Apparently, today was the day, because I received a call from "Furniture Row", and distinctly heard, "Funeral Home" (it was a cell caller who was driving with windows open). I immediately jumped up and panicked, shouting, "I'm not ready yet....I'm not ready yet! I want his ashes, but I can't do this NOW, why are they coming HERE??" Suddenly, my husband realized it was the furniture store calling, and no, they were not coming to the door to deliver my son's ashes. Those poor guys arrived to me freaking out, apologizing, and crying. I've never seen two delivery guys remove furniture and set up a new reclining sofa so fast in my life....ha
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Friends, I wanted to post a brief update after a very difficult morning. I don't feel up to talking to anyone today, so I'm sending this message to all of my dear friends and family.
I was able to sit with my sweet Joshua this morning for a while. I touched his hands, his feet, his scruffy red beard, and some of his beautiful face. I saw his blonde hair and got a lock for a keepsake. I have his clothing, pendant, and a drawing that was in his pocket. It was not easy, and the images playing on a loop in my head didn't quite prepare me for the reality of seeing him. But, as time passed, his face came into focus for me a little better. Thank all for your thoughts today. I feel tired, but a sense of relief is washing over me.
I do know that I could not have imagined walking through this grief without each and everyone of you touching me in your own way. It's been a little overwhelming, the sheer volume of emails, text and phone calls I received over the past five days. Please know that each of you hold to special place in my heart and my mind. And please know that I thank all of you for your continued support. Although I'm quiet now, I will need to lean on many of you in the coming months.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
"Everybody likes it. Everybody loves that song" -Joshua
Well, I've got to run to keep from hidin', and I'm bound to keep on ridin'. And I've got one more silver dollar, but I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no, not gonna let 'em catch the Midnight Rider.
-Alman Brothers, Midnight Rider
Many of you may know this story, but I want to share for those who do not. For many years, I have always "looked for signs" in life to help guide decisions. Beginning around 2004, hummingbirds have been a special sign for me, telling me it was okay to move on to the future, for whatever I was contemplating. It's funny; hummingbirds have shown up in very odd places, including the tarmac at Sunport Airport in Albuquerque in 2010, when we were trying to decide on moving to New Mexico. I have had signs from my dad since shortly after his death in 1994, but he always left pennies for me in odd places. Over the past four days, I have struggled with the emptiness left from my son Joshua's suicide; trying to come to grips with the lack of feeling in my gut. The other day, his friend sent me pictures of a pyre they built in his honor; a pyre is a ceremonial place where in other cultures the body is cremated, but in this case, they took a few physical remains left behind, as well as some personal items that Joshua owned, and they burned them on the pyre. This morning, as the embers smoldered, someone placed this rose on the pyre, and as they took a picture, a hummingbird flew into the frame. I am astounded and feeling overwhelmed by this picture. Finally, I feel like it is a bit of peace for me. And, I hope after I see my beautiful son one last time tomorrow morning, I think I can connect with him on another level, and start to grieve and heal. Hummingbirds have always been a love of mine, and so many times over the years, they have come to me for various reasons. Maybe this is his "sign" to me that he has moved on and is at peace. Maybe I can use this image to start moving towards my own healing. These precious, fragile birds remind of of Joshua's hurting, friable soul, and now have an even deeper meaning. Peace.
Monday, July 13, 2015
It's very surreal to sign papers to release your sons body from coroner, give information for a death certificate, and then sign authorization to have him cremated. It feels so wrong.
I get to see him Wednesday morning for 30 minutes, to touch him one last time, and say goodbye before they take him away forever. Most people don't seem to understand this need. But it's something I must do to start to face the reality of this situation. Until then, his music continues to play in my home, heart, and mind. Keep playing music. It will heal me. It has to heal me.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Yesterday, my son Joshua could no longer handle the pain of his mental illness. His mind is quiet now, and I will never, ever recover from this. I will love you forever Joshua. My grief expands beyond anything I could have imagined.
This is a snapshot of him, his life, and creativity. He was a beautiful soul, heart, and mind. And just like that; he's gone from us for the rest of time.