Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My first post after Patrick's accident.

The other day I told Michael I was thinking of returning to my blog, but whenever I think about hitting the 'publish' button on a post now I feel insecure.

He looked curious so I kept talking.

I said what I really need is to be completely truthful and raw and unafraid with my words because I realize this kind of writing will help me heal. But what I mean specifically, is that I need to write about the accident. 

I need to write about the knock on our door at 7:30 that morning. And the horrific feeling in my gut when I threw open the door and saw a female officer and man in a brown tie and wrinkled shirt, standing there holding a clipboard, looking grim. Asking us to verify if we were Patrick's parents. Please. Please tell me he's OK I remember pleading. But instead of an answer the dark-haired officer asked to come inside.

I need to write about these moments because they happened. They are real and heart wrenching but I know that telling the truth will  mend my brokenness. And god knows I need mending. Even with the strange disconnection I feel with my body lately, I know there is trauma lodged inside every cell in my physical self. I see the signs of trauma inside my mind and in my heart spilling out in my ragged sleep and in the graphic images that invade my thoughts.

In case you don't know yet

The worst thing that-could-ever-happen-to-Me, happened.
And now, every second of the day I'm just trying to keep moving. Putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to string coherent thoughts together. Using distraction to ease the pain. But it's always there, this whirling vortex of disbelief and despair that's ready to suck me out of the present moment. And when I'm least expecting it, hurl me into a devastating new reality I just can't believe. 

Honestly, we're all still stunned.

I used to believe that God would never allow anything to ever happen to one of my kids because He knew I would never survive it. I think I actually uttered these words out loud, even allowed my Mama's tender heart to feel comforted by this sweet logic--so much that not once, ever-ever-ever did I prepare for the possibility of losing my child.

Anything else dear Lord, I'd quietly whisper.

I can handle anything but THAT.

And then it happened. 

On September 15, 2018--not even four months ago-- the unfathomable loss I said I could never survive happened and now my beautiful son Patrick is gone. Our brightest light. The most completely irreplaceable-bigger-than-Life person I've ever known, the one person I thought I could never live without.  Gone.

Taken in an accident that was so profoundly, deeply unfair.

Maybe you already know this. If you follow me on IG, I've slowly dripped out this shattering news in an effort to keep myself grounded in reality.

But even now as I tap out these words on my laptop they appear bizarre on my screen.

Even though I see the basket on our dining room overflowing with condolence cards that I've carefully read and cried over, Patrick's absence from our lives is still so achingly raw, so emotionally unbearable that I can't fully grasp the realness of it.
Patrick gone from our lives?

I just can't believe it.

Sometimes when I'm driving alone or walking to my car in the grocery store parking lot, I hear myself repeating those words.
Probably out loud, who knows? The odd thing about a heart that's been ripped wide open is that the boundaries between your inner life and outer life become blurred.

Was I sleeping or am I awake?
Was I talking to myself or talking out loud?

Either way it doesn't seem to change the words that spill from my heart. "Oh my God. I just can't believe it."

But then I feel Jim nudge me in the dark. Les, his voice tells me. You're moaning in your sleep again.

This is where I am right now and it's a surreal experience. One minute I'm trying to endure the worst kind of suffering my motherly-self can imagine. Being in a world without my son. Trying to justify my own breathing when I know Patrick's has stopped.

And the next minute I'm having an amazing conversation with Michael, and I'm being flooded with the kind of gratitude that shakes me softly by the shoulders and penetrates my pain just long enough to remind me of my blessings.

We were sitting on the sectional in the living room--Michael and I-- right next to the Christmas tree that had surprised Basha, my grief counselor. On that afternoon, bright sunshine had been pouring through the branches, saturating the ornaments in a yellow glow and Basha had blurted out,

"Leslie I don't think you realize how good you're doing. Just so you know. There are some mothers who wouldn't be able to get out of their beds at this point."

I think I offered a weak smile. I tried to appreciate what she was saying but since I know I am one of those mothers who could easily be in a dense pile on the floor--just not today--I say nothing.

This is something I've learned from these darkest days following Patrick's accident, and it's what Anne Lamott says about grace.

She says "grace meets you exactly where you are, at your most pathetic and hopeless, and grace carefully loads you into its wheelbarrow and tips you out somewhere else. In ever so slightly better shape."

I like this humble description of grace.

I have no other explanation for how I'm functioning besides being lugged around in a mystical wheelbarrow, leaving behind a trail of simple tasks. Christmas decorating. Visiting my 80-year-old friend. Going to the office even-when-I-cry. Writing these words.

It's a mystery I can only explain by Love. As hokey and clique as that sounds it's been the one consistent truth through all this crazy grief, all those unsolicited acts of caring and compassion--gifts of grace--that keep coming from everywhere, our families and friends, and Patrick's friends. People that Patrick touched from so many places. People that loved him and want to share stories of him. In person, by text messages, by mail.

This is how we've been surviving. How we made it through our toughest Christmas ever, swaddled in the love of Patrick's tribe. Now ours.

I always knew that love was powerful, I just never knew it could sweep you up and carry you along on those days when your feet can no longer hold you up. 

I never realized that love--in the form of an early morning text--from hundreds of miles away at the exact moment you're being flooded with heartache, could have the power to get you out of bed.

It's amazing really. So many inexplicable happenings that I consider to be small miracles since Patrick's accident.

I tell Michael I'm thinking of writing about these things on my blog but then I think about the kind of blog titles going through my feed and I start to feel doubt.

I stare at the fashion and beauty tips. The how-to style-your-home-after-Christmas tips that I used to care about, and I realize the absolute last topic that any woman especially mothers, want to hear about is the D-word.

And I don't blame you if you're one of those people.

I totally understand if you want to get as faraway as possible from the idea of losing a child.

In fact, I remember that feeling.

The overwhelming agony you feel for the mother in that situation and the relief and gratitude you feel about your own kids, and then the guilt about feeling so relieved that this horrific thing that happened to this mother didn't-happen-to-you-thank-god. And before you know it, you're texting your kid again just to exhale that relief all over again.

You can only be where you are 

The conversation with Michael that day helped me shed a layer of my self-consciousness. It's so crazy how we do that. How we look around at others for some kind of confirmation. Do I fit in here or do I fit in there?

Well I've decided that the real lesson I'm supposed to be learning has nothing to do with what to share and where to share it. On this blog or on another platform. 

The deeper lesson I'm supposed to be learning is that we can only be where we are. Right now.
Without any apologies, or denial or shame for whatever might be causing us pain. We have to keep living from an honest place and that's how we find our way through uncertainty and darkness.

I think that's why comparing ourselves with others can be so wounding, because we can end up feeling like where we are right-at-this-moment-in-our-lives is not good enough.

I don't know if you can relate to anything I'm writing about in this post, but maybe something I say here might help you feel less alone. That's my simple hope.

Because I don't know if I have anything to offer you. 

I used to think I had some meager wisdom to share, but after watching my big, handsome son walk out the front door on a sunny Friday in September, never to see him again, I feel the full weight of Socrates' words:

"I know I know nothing."

This is me. I know nothing now. I'm not saying this to put myself down or to make you feel a certain reaction, I'm just trying to express how outrageously upside-down and completely shattered my entire life appears to me as I write these words.

I used to think I knew what my future looked like. How my life would be. I once thought I had some control. I once was afraid of death.

Now none of those things are true anymore.

For Me, a woman who used to say to her friends over a nice glass of Cab, "as long as my kids are OK, my life is great," there is nothing more traumatic that could have happened in my life.

Do you wonder how you would go on living in the face of such an unbearable loss? 

Well, I do too. 

This is where I am right now. This is my journey.

sharing this post with old friends:
Inspire Me Monday
Feathered Nest Friday
Grace at Home


bobbie said...

I am so sorry for you and your family's loss ~
Please know I am holding a space for you in my heart filled with comfort, caring and hugs, if I may. May the wonderful memories you have of your son comfort and carry through this awful time ~
Beautiful post ~

michele said...

Right where you are, you are a light, lovely woman. What an honor to read your tenderness. To share your heartache as a griever. When I read this: "I always knew that love was powerful, I just never knew it could sweep you up and carry you along on those days when your feet can no longer hold you up" something in me softened. Oh my soul, YES. There are these seasons when we are held by a buoyancy I recognize as the prayers of others or even the prayers of the spirit within us! Our blogs are these sort of ongoing conversations that can go shallow or deep, and we never get to know the extent of the ripples and the healing. I salute you right where you are in the messy graceful dance of a mother despairing. The unspeakable topics to which you allude (how we are not protected from suffering by God...only sustained) are welcome, are sacred, are somehow recycled into beauty when expressed by you, lovely you, friend. Sending golden flames of light, a pocket of peace, and fierce grace. xox

Katie Mansfield said...

I'm so very sorry. My heart aches for you. I'm saying a prayer for you and for your family.

Susan said...

Dear Leslie- That you can share this with us, is a wonderful thing. You may not think so, but it is. My heart, and my prayers, go out to you and those who loved your son. Sending you God's Grace and Peace~

Simply LKJ said...

Sweet friend, in past two years we have experienced the loss of my sweet MIL, had to sell and pack up a home with 60 years worth of memories, deal with children's illnesses, my mother's Alzheimers diagnosis and her passing, and my husband's cancer and subsequent surgeries and career change. There were days I didn't know if I could do it. And then, something a sweet friend said when we were discussing what we hoped the women attending our next Bible study (12 Women of the Bible) would take away from it struck a cord. She said, "each of those women were given difficult circumstances, all uniquely individual, but they ALL just did what they could." Would it not be freeing for women to know that that was enough. Grace.

Goldie Stetten said...

My heart breaks for you and your dear family. I’m so sorry.

Brenda said...

You are on a terrible journey and we know we don't want to travel that journey alone. Your blog touched me and although I don't know what happened-I learned to avoid social networks when I was teaching-you have my prayers!!! Keep writing your blog for you and others!!!

Kim said...

Leslie, words cannot express how sorry I am for your profound loss. I am praying right now for peace and healing for you and your family.

Unknown said...

Nothing we say or do can change how you feel. You are in this on your own. You have to go through the process in your own way; in your own time.
But know we are here to hear you, whatever it is.

Stacey said...

I am so incredibly sorry to read this. Your words are so poignant and yet there's really nothing you could say that would make someone understand how it feels to walk in your shoes. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I have uttered the same words many times about my sons.. we've been through some hard things but nothing like you are describing. I'm so sorry.

Diva Kreszl said...

I have no words that can ease your pain or mend your broken heart. I almost didn’t comment, thinking what good could it do, I just wanted you to know that your words brought me to tears and my heart hurts for you. I have had these same conversations with God, how I could never survive this unthinkable loss and yet somehow you are putting onefut in front of the other and finding comfort in the words and stories of family and friends. As many have before me I have felt the pain of loss, losing my parents, a nephew to a hit and run accident, my niece to an untimely heart attack and my sister to cancer. My love for family carried me forward when I didn’t want to move and yet I know that the loss of a child would be the most unbearable. I am so sorry and am sending love, light and prayers to you and your family. Thank you for the courage it took to share your story.

Kathy Olson said...

I’m so sorry. My heart aches. We lost a son when he was four. I wish I could take your pain.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie, my brave friend, your words though painful and written with a broken and bleeding heart will touch someone that is a given. I have only known you through your blog and I have always been amazed at your love for family, your wisdom, kindness and empathy for those around you. I did not know Patrick but I am sure he was a lovely young man, as he was raised by you.

There are no words that will be written or uttered by anyone that can ease your pain. We can only say, " I am sorry and I am here for you."

Your light, and love for your beautiful boys is evident to all whom have ever read your blog. I am thinking of you and praying for you. I hope you find a little solace and peace my friend. Know that you are loved by family, friends and strangers whom you have touched and we are thinking of you and praying for you.

xo Elizabeth

Karen said...

As the mother of two sons, something that I identified with you right from the start, there are no words. No words of comfort or understanding because I cannot imagine. My heart breaks for you and your loss. You are an amazing soul and your words are so helpful to anyone who reads them, even during this time of sadness.

Please know that your blog "virtual" friends are hurting for you and your family.

Sandy By The Sea said...

I have uttered those very same words that you have written to God about my own children. It is beyond words or description what you must be feeling. My friend lost her son and I truly believe the only thing that helped her was being with other people who had lost their child as well. I pray you are surrounded by love and God holds you up as you walk in this time of immeasurable suffering.

Patty said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Gwen. I'm praying for you and your family.

Sarah said...

Leslie, your honest, thought provoking writing has always touched my heart as I think back over the years that I've been following along with Gwen Moss. Today's post is even more so, because you have shared the inner most depts of your heart. You are being carried along with love, love from those you don't even know. And love from and for Patrick. I always say that grief is the price we pay for love, and the more intense the love is the more intense the grief when the love is lost. The journey of grief is long and arduous. Keep talking about it with Michael, continue to share your thoughts through writing, keep putting one foot in front of the next as you move forward. And know that there are many of us wrapping you in our love.

cheri said...

Keep speaking, we're all listening, trying to find our way here on earth in light of our pain. My heartfelt blessings to you.

Jo in Chicago said...

Our children: their happiness is our greatest joy, and the harm that comes to them is our greatest sorrow. Your family has my deepest sympathy.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear, dear Leslie,

I am not even going to try to come up with any words because loss is hard to speak about. I had no idea, as I follow you on Instagram, that this had happened.

michelle said...

Leslie, I felt every one of your words in my heart. We lost our 23 year old daughter on August 23, 2018. She said, "Goodnight, I love you", laid out her clothes for work the next morning, but never woke up. She died in her sleep. I truly do know exactly what you're feeling. That stunned, sucker-punched feeling of loss is indescribable to anyone who hasn't experienced it. I will pray for you, because I know the prayers of others has carried me to this point. Much love to you and your family.

brenda murphy said...

You are a beautiful soul and have unwittingly and without desire, become our wise woman elder. In writing, in sharing your deepest truths, you give us permission to feel and acknowledge all those dark areas too. I am so sorry for your profound loss. Our collective hearts ache for you. Please take care. Please continue to feel, write and share. You honour your Patrick by feeling it all, and you honour us by sharing. May peace be with you, may peace fill and comfort you, may peace heal you. xob

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I'm just so sorry your family is going through this, Leslie. It's so good that you have been surrounded by caring, loving friends and family...I don't know how you could bear it without them. Sending love your way...

Unknown said...

Leslie dear,
Tears are spilling down my cheeks as I read this. I know it takes great courage to share the truth of your heart and soul after the most tragic loss of your dear Patrick. You have always been a gifted writer who inspires with your genuineness, wisdom and a true desire to lift others up. I do believe that writing, and sharing your experience will help to process and eventually heal the deepest layers of grief. Sharing your journey will also help others who have experienced a similar loss. You are brave, lovely lady, thank you for sharing your love with those of us who love you (even from a distance). Wishing you peace and comfort today.
xx, Heather

Carla from The River said...

My Dear Friend,
I have been praying and think of you often. I am blessed by what you write, I always have been, because you are honest and true.
I shared before, as a mother to two sons as well, I have always appreciated your words about the relationship with your boys and motherhood.
My heart hurts for you. Know I am here, we all are here to listen and sending love. Even if we have never met in person, you are a friend.
xx oo

mollie's mom said...

I am sure of this - if writing on this blog helps you where you are then you should do it. I will read along so you know it is being read - if that helps. If not I'll read along anyway because I am also sure that your words will help all of us in some way even if we aren't sure now how that help will manifest itself. I think sharing this time in your life in such an honest way is brave. Maybe you are just reminding all of us to be thankful for our children and to stop and say I love you when parting - no matter how busy we think we are. If that alone comes out of this then you have accomplished a great thing.

Debra@CommonGround said...

Leslie, you are so brave to share this with all of us. I'm so very sorry for your profound loss; please know that you and your family are in my prayers. Sending love and praying for God's grace and healing in your life. xo Debra

Lou said...

From an awfully long way away, I hear you. I don't know what to say - the reader has the same self-consciousness as the one who has written - how does one respond to this? All I can say is I am so very sorry, and we all feel it as we read this. Any mother, any human, can read your eloquent and beautiful words and know that this is your heart laid out on the screen for us to see. Writing is so cathartic, if you feel you want to write, then write, no matter what, and sending it out into the internet ether has an openness to it that is pure and real. Take those moments of distraction and ease; they will increase, I am told and maybe writing about it will get you there. Sending love, Lou x

La Contessa said...

IT's good for you to write about it!IT's good for ALL of us TO LISTEN!
I just SHARED MY HEALTH STRUGGLES on MY BLOG..............believe me it's HELPING ME!
IF At ANYTIME you want to CHAT I am HERE..........HUGS TO YOU!

Calypso In The Country said...

I can't even count how many times I have uttered similar words about my boys. Since the day they were born, I have felt that I could handle anything except having something happen to them. Your honest, beautiful words make my heart ache. It aches for you and your family and it also aches with the realization that we are all so vulnerable. What you said about wanting to "get as far away as possible from the idea of losing a child" rings so true with me. I won't even read novels or watch movies that have anything to do with losing a child. I've been thinking of you so often lately. I pray for you and I hope that each day you heal a little more. Hopefully, writing about your feelings will continue to be therapeutic for you. Thankfully, you have a wonderful support system between your husband and Michael. It warms my heart to know that so many people have reached out to you.
Sending you love and healing vibes.
xo Shelley

Ely said...

Sending prayers and hugs to you.
Ely from @mylittlehomeonthehill

Unknown said...

Dearest Leslie, I've been checking for months and now know why you've been missing. Several years ago, we experienced the same shocking news delivered at my parents house about my brother. I only know of the grief and sadness as a surviving sibling and could not imagine that there was anyway possible to feel any more shattered, but I knew as parents, mine were living what had to be the worst thing that could happen to anyone on this side of eternity. One of the things that came to mind during those long, hard days for me personally, was to remind myself that as painfully sad, gut wrenching, and life changing our loss was, I was so grateful that we knew and loved deeply,and shared life with my brother in ways that many people never know. That is such a gift. Hope this helps, if just a little. I will keep you in my prayers in the days, weeks, and months to follow. "God is near to the

brokenhearted"..... Like I said in a previous comment, I'll never stop reading you blog, your have so much to offer! xxoo, jill

Devin Grubb said...


I saved reading this for this morning (before work) because I knew your writing would once again bring me to tears. It’s not just because the topic is so close to home, but also because of how inspiring your writing is, even in the darknest of times.

I have always naively told myself “god would never let anything happen to me because my mother would not survive”. Reading you shared a similar montra gave me chills.

Please keep writing Leslie, it’s therapeutic for us too.

Love you!


Gils said...

My heart goes out to you. You are living through every mother's worst nightmare. There are no words but maybe it might console you a little to know that others (I) feel with you and wish you every ounce of courage to continue this enforced journey and hopefully to find some solace for your soul.

Debe said...

Through tears I read your brave post. Nothing I can say is enough except to say I understand the fear of losing a child. Every mother lives with that fear and I am so deeply sorry it came to be in your life. There is nothing to say except thank you for sharing your pain with us. Though we don't truly know each other, the fact that we reach out and touch each other even silently means we are connected and in this world, that means something. May you let God comfort and keep you through the rest of your life. Hugs from Texas!

Richella Parham said...

Oh, Leslie.

I am so sorry. Gosh, even as I type those words, I feel the weight of their inadequacy. But still I must say them: I am so sorry.

I wish I could take some of your pain--not that I feel like I have any particular strength to share, but just because I know you've been laboring under too much. And yet, you are still here. By God's grace, you are here, and you are moving in a good direction.

Thank you so much for being willing to share your story. You are right: we can only be where we are. See? You do have wisdom, and you have courage and strength to share it. Thank you.

Bless you.

Blondie's Journal said...

I think you are very brave, Leslie, just to have put your thoughts in writing and having them published. It can only soothe readers who have thought of losing someone they love so very much. And you have explained your grief and disbelief and at the same time writing about how you are on a path of healing.

Your posts have always said things I could never put in words. Your moments and experiences have helped me in many ways that you'll never know. And I think many of your readers would concur.

Sending love, as always,

Jane x

Julia said...

This is a journey we would never sign up for, but one we have no choice but to move through. I lost my husband in September of 2018. I can identify with your "I can't believe this !" I lay in bed sometimes and just can't believe this is all real. One moment I am so motivated to do my best with each day, and then I have a moment where I can barely get myself out of bed. I'm sorry you are without your son. We can be grateful for all the wonderful moments we shared and try to go forward with faith that everything will work out and we will be reunited. We become more compassionate, realize what really matters in life, and learn to love others with a depth we may not have known before. Things will never be the same again but each day can be special. We are strong and courageous. I'm learning to allow myself to grieve without judgement. I'm learning to embrace life and serve others. I'm sure my husband is happy and he would want me to be happy also. I send my love and hope that you will find comfort and peace.

Stonecropsister said...

Hi Leslie,
I hadn't realized you posted this, I came onto your site to comment on the newest post, and have now read this one. First of all, there has not been a day, a morning that has gone by, where I don't think of you. I hold you in my heart Leslie, and while I can't say I'm a true catholic girl anymore, I offer up small prayers for you and yours. Secondly, I am glad you have found the strength to write. It's selfish because when I see the instagrams (and I look for them), it makes me feel better knowing you're still trying to get through it. And this post is your truth. These are such inadequate words for you, but I send love to you. xx Nancy

penny said...

Dear Leslie;
We both belong to a club no one wants to join.
I lost my oldest daughter Feb. 6, 2018. I was lucky, I got to have her for 57 years.And I have the comfort of knowing that she had the best in medical care. But how I miss laughing with her.
She and her husband were raising her 5 year old grandson, so that has been our focus. We are trying to make life as normal as possible for him.
Nothing in life prepares you for losing a child. We aren't supposed to outlive them.I wouldn't wish on anyone the pain of this kind of loss. All I can do is keep getting up, putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to believe that it will get better.You probably are doing the same. No one can imagine how hard it is until they have to do it.
I will keep you and Patrick (and all of your family ) in my heart. I wish I were there to give you a hug, so I am sending you one from afar. We have a special bond.
Penny L. in Portland, Ore.

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