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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Nature of Triggers

It starts like this:  I miss Cory.  I think I'll look through all the pics that were on her phone.  I notice so many selfies!  Silly girl!  I smile.    Suddenly I sit halfway up, heart galloping in my chest, as I spy one that clearly shows her hands and her arms laddered with bracelets from wrist to elbow.  Her hands...I have no way of explaining how much I love looking at her hands.  I am joyous at this unexpected treasure.

So I pulled it up this pic and enlarged it, looking the bracelets over closely, naming as many as I could to myself, and before I could blink, the flashback had begun.  I was no longer safe in bed, covered with a light sheet; I was standing on West Michigan Avenue  in the baking sun, being held back firmly by strangers as I craned to see that it was indeed my girl, it was my baby lying there, face down, motionless.  From there, I was being led, by the hand, into a viewing room, by a quiet man named Mark.  He spoke to me gently, cautiously, as if he wasn't sure just what I would do next.

My mind would only accept a few key images at first.  Many followed in the next few years.  But one that has never escaped my mind was seeing her at the funeral home for the first time since the road.  They had left her bracelets on...the ones that had not been ripped off or broken in the multiple impacts...of the broadside of the car, the windshield, and finally the pavement.  The tears just flowed, hot and scathing, down my cheeks as I remembered the eyewitness reports of how her body had flown up into the air.   Sobbing- by then I was sobbing- to think of my sweet and beautiful girl, whose hair had ended up caught in the lady's windshield.  You think that's a little unpleasant to read about?  Try holding it inside.

So, there she was at the funeral home, my firstborn, lying on a table.  A sweet man I really didn't know, who somehow reminded me of my father, escorted me to see her body for the first time.  And there she was, my Cory Girl.  My brain just couldn't take it what was happening or the level of pain I was experiencing.  I want to die now.  I want to die.   There is no other way to tell you of the horror of seeing her lying there, looking very different from the way I'd seen her on the road, but still vulnerable, still motionless, many of her bracelets that she'd loved so much still on her arms.  I wanted to take up the chant I'd tried on the road, even though it hasn't been successful there:  "She's only nineteen!  She's only nineteen years old!"

In a broken, jagged, 8 mm film gone awry sort of way, this is how the triggers come.  One image, which in itself brings joy, can take you on a unwelcome warp-speed tour of disturbing images that infiltrate your thoughts, take up camp, get nice and comfy, and leave when they're damn good and ready.

It's hard to avoid what you don't realize may be a trigger.  Sirens?  Officers in uniform?  I am aware of those.  A picture of my daughter's hands and arms...I never would've thought.

The despair slipped in stealthily, and and I could feel it gently pulsing, filling every space from my fingertips to my toes.  That is how I found myself at the cemetery for several hours last night, apologizing to her for letting her walk to the store for the hundredth time?  Thousandth?  I walked around trying to ground myself in the present with the sights, feelings, and smells around me.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it does't.  Finally, I sat in the car and drew for awhile, my heart aching and my throat tight.  I stayed until the fireflies came out.  Then I kissed her monument and drove away, the guilt, the horror, the sorrow lining my throat like a bad taste I couldn't swallow past.

I went to sleep and dreamed of the road.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Holding On

Okay, this has been bothering me so badly, I have to share.

When I heard about Chester Bennington's suicide, I was terribly sad, just as I am whenever I hear of anyone taking their own life.  I was devastated by Robin Williams.  Since I haven't been a huge fan of Linkin Park in the past, I found it odd how much Chester's death has affected me.  I really never listened to their music, but one song of their songs, right after the accident, had gotten right inside my skin, all the way to the bone.  "In The End" embodied every feeling I have had about seeing Cory through her mental health struggles only to lose her in a stupid, freak accident. It spoke my darkest frustrations and guilt about not being able to protect her at the very moment it mattered the most.  Like seriously, what the hell?  Not a single thing I had done up to that point seemed to even matter anymore. Don't placate me by telling me it's not true; let me be angry.  You would be angry, too.   I never really explored any of their other music, and man, did I miss out.

So as I started looking up songs and listening, reading the lyrics, the chills came up my spine, one right after another.  It was a complete tragedy that someone who has obviously given a voice to those who struggle with their mental health is now gone.  I began to wonder if he was in treatment.  Had he quit?  Was he on meds?  Did he stop taking them?

I watched an interview where he described some of mental health struggles.  He said this:  "Music is what has kept me alive."  Panic erupted all over my body in icy waves, each larger than the last.  His coping skill stopped working?  All I could think about is how I KNOW, KNOW, KNOW that writing and art are what have kept me alive since Cory died.  What if someday writing and art aren't enough anymore?   My scalp began shrinking on my head and I could feel all the hairs on my arms suddenly stand to attention.

I went from my normal response of sadness, empathy, and  anger towards the  idiots who say suicide is selfish to being scared out of my fucking mind.

I have never lost someone I love to suicide. But I have watched people I love cope with losing someone they love to suicide and that's a special walk of hell I hope to never see.  I have deeply loved people who have battled depression and suicidal thinking:  Cory's father, Jake's father, and Cory.  I have battled it myself.

Unless you have been that close, in that dark, dark place, where the flames are burning your flesh everyday, all day long, while other people walk around oblivious, maybe you don't realize that how much you love other people aren't enough to keep you here.  You think I didn't love my son?  My dear, sweet parents?  My sisters?  My friends?  I loved them more than I could ever explain, but they were not reason enough to stay.  In my mind, I had already worked out all the ways they'd be better off without me or how I might even make things worse for them by staying.  All I knew is that I couldn't bear the pain anymore.  I wanted it to end, regardless of the price.  Let me out.  Please let me out of here.

It was developing coping skills that helped me manage the pain that gave me the strength to go on.  Yes, my mom provided me unparalleled understanding. Yes, Jacob has provided me purpose.  But in the end, at night, when my head is on that pillow, and the image of Cory torn up on that road rises it up yet again...her arm twisted in on itself...her legs dirty...her hair in her face...the blood...her lips so blue...well, Jacob and my Mom can't help me with that.  Those images and the suffocating guilt that plague my mind day in and day out are mine alone to battle.  It was writing and art that have helped me process that trauma and combat all the triggers.  The thought that one day they won't work anymore?  Absolutely terrifying.

So as I read this over, I can see that Chester's suicide has triggered my own past dealings with suicidal thinking.  I hope it doesn't have a ripple effect on others out there who may currently be struggling or have struggled in the past.  All I can say if it does, I beg you to please talk about it.  Please tell someone.  Let someone hold you up.  Keep trying.  And if you feel like one day it's not enough, please seek professional help and don't stop until you are past the crisis and able to think more clearly.  It's a tragedy what has happened to Chester...for him and all of his loved ones and all of us who have benefited from the sheer genius of his coping skill.  In short, keep holding on.  You are have so much to give.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hush Now

So here's the thing.

I kilt it this year on the death-aversary.  Is "kilt" a verb?  It should be.

I was all over the place, up early, going places, sitting in the sunshine, posting all over social media like I am's gonna be okay...this will be okay.  I've got this covered.  I was a walking, talking social story.

Hilarious, that bravado, considering the pics I didn't post (or take) happened after 11 pm when the strain of holding it together and trying to be strong just deflated.  I fell.  And I fell hard.

I had to listen to her funeral songs because they were hers and because I only listen to them about once a year.  It's a ritual.  You know I have to have my rituals.  So you guys missed the part where I dissolved into a ball on my bed, sobbing my heart out, the pain as fresh as the day she died.  When your child dies, you are never really any farther from the day...maybe on the calendar, but not in your heart...not where it counts.  And all the stuff you do in between...things you buy, hobbies you pick up, movies you watch, books you's all really  just noise to drown out that one voice that tells you she's dead- that solemn, chilling voice that says this is no dream and now you have to live this way, without her, until you die, whenever that is, and you answer back, well, please, then, could you hurry up with that?

I will give myself a little credit.  No meds this year.  I left my bed.  Hell, I left the house.  I went outside, on purpose.  But then, a day or two later, it hit me how shitty this business truly is.  If you do better, what is your reward?  That you get to do it all over again and she still gets to be dead?  It is sort of like working a job and doing really well, but instead of giving you a raise, they give you other people's jobs to do, too.

That's my anger, front and center.  It's funny how poignant and beautiful it sounds to say that when you think you have no more tears left to cry, there are always more.  Well, buddy, I'm here to tell you, when grieving the loss of your child, there is always more rage, too. And it ain't pretty.   It spills out sometimes unexpectedly.  It gets away from me; it dominates.

So then, I put this post away and came back a day later, after a conversation with a friend about comfort objects that dissolved my anger enough that I could step back from it and look a little closer.

It's true- getting better at coping does not bring Cory back.  Nothing will.  God or supposed God, included.  But the hobbies, the movies, the books, the tools...they bring comfort and they help me express my pain and live in healthier ways.  I didn't take a handful of Ativan and dive under the covers this year...a first.   I grabbed my Daniel Smith water colors and a cup of coffee and sat in the sun.  I chose to live.  I chose to feel it all, pain included, rather than feel nothing by muting it or hiding from it or running away (even if my bed was the only place I could really afford to go).

That's something to be proud of.  It is.  Maybe my art supplies and my interests are just noise to drown out that voice, but guess what?  That's a pretty damn good trick.  That voice isn't going away, so if I've found a way to live with it...with art and words and good quality paper...a caddy full of art supplies...well, then, shush you, I've got art to make.  I've got things to say, too.

What did Cory do when the voices got too loud?  She turned up the music.  She danced.  She turned her attention to something else. She painted.  When she could, she laughed.  When she couldn't, she cried. That's all we can really do.  She set a great example.  And it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Questions Answered, Questions Remaining

Tomorrow it will be five years since my brave and amazing nineteen year old daughter was killed while walking to the store by a driver who wasn’t watching where she was going.  She suffered front and back multiple skull fractures, a broken neck, a broken arm, and two broken hips.  She was knocked out of her shoes.  When I got them back, they were still tied.  They sit now in a drawer near my bed, along with her belt, and the frames of her eyeglasses.  As I have shared many times, I arrived on the scene before the rescue workers.  No one would let me near her, and although I didn’t go to church actively at that time, I cried out for God to save her.  Of course I did.  I prayed because that is what my parents had taught me to do since I was a small child.  But I felt nothing on that road.  There was no presence that I sensed.  There was no divine intervention. There was a firefighter who reluctantly spoke six words to me that I will hear in my head until the day I die.  The hot pavement underneath my knees when I fell to the ground, by contrast, was very real.  In my flashbacks, I can still feel it.  I can smell it.  When told this life-altering news, I automatically turned my head upwards to the sky as I screamed as if someone up there should be able to negate the entire event.  But that never happened.  

Months later, maybe even a year or more, I went to each of my parents individually to ask them how they were able to reconcile this loss with their faith.  I was beginning to discover that my anger as part of the grieving process was deepening into a fundamental questioning of the existence of God. 

My father, although he cried as he spoke, told me he was a mere man and God was all knowing.  He told me that God had known the date of my daughter’s death and the way she would die since the day she was born.  He said he did not like it, and it hurt him horribly, but it was not his place to question the will of God.  He said he liked to think that God was protecting her from some deeper hurt in the future, but it was not for him to know.  It was for him to trust in God’s plan.  I love my father far too deeply to argue with him.  Instead I cried across from him in his living room, humbled at the sight of him weeping openly and the slump in his posture that I couldn't recall before he'd buried a grandchild.  I think I first remember seeing it on the road that day.  He had reached over to pick up Cory's shoe and an officer had yelled sharply at him to drop it, that it was evidence.  He had obeyed, dropping it back where it had lain far from her sheet covered body, and then straightened up, walking away, but his shoulders had remained rounded in a way I had never noticed before.  My father is a private person, and whatever overwhelming thoughts he'd had in response to  the horror we encountered that day, I have never fully known, but they'd shown in his walk.  That day at my parent's house, as we discussed how it could be that God had allowed such a thing to happen, I was struck by fierce love for him and a lump formed in my throat upon hearing the shrill tone his voice took when defending his belief system.  I left his house, respecting him as I always have for his deep commitment to his faith and that he could continue believing despite his incredible suffering.

My mother, also, has never strayed from her faith.  It was a few days after my daughter was buried before she felt strong enough to enter the house of God again, but she returned and praised him as she always had, with love, devotion, and reverence.   When I caught her alone to ask her how she could do this (because if there was anyone who loved my daughter nearly as much as I did, it was my mother), she said she could not understand why this had happened, but that it was the first question she plans to ask.  She told me, also with tears streaming down her face, that she will continue to serve God because that is her faith, and it is the only way she can bear this horrible thing- the most horrible thing that has ever happened to her, and at that point she had already buried most of her immediate family- but that when she stands before His throne, she plans to ask Him just why Cory could not be spared.  She wanted and needed to know.

I respect each of them immensely for the unfaltering devotion to their beliefs.  Sometimes, I wish I could share it.  I suppose if I did, I would at least have the comfort of believing I will see my child again someday. 

Not too long after, a young man in town got into a horrible car accident.  He had to be cut out of the car and was in a coma for months.   He awoke and  struggled to resume his daily activities, but he lived. He has since married and has a child.  He is a husband and a father.   He eats and talks and laughs and cries.  He breathes.  To this day when I think about how I have come to be agnostic after years of careful training from babyhood to be a Christian… I sometimes see that young man’s face in my mind.  I think of how his parents witnessed joyfully ( as anyone would) to everyone about how blessed they were to have received such a miracle and then  I wonder how God could choose to spare their child, but not mine. Was she not deserving of a miracle?  Was she not worthy?  Was she not worth the effort to make the break happen somewhere other than the C4 vertebrae?  My daughter was a believer.  She went to church.  She did everything she was asked.   How am I to think there is a God who looked down at Cory...Cory...the dear, sweet, long suffering, brave warrior that she was...and decided not to spare her, but to instead allow her to lie broken and bleeding on the street for the passersby to see as they drove by?  To die alone?

It is a much more personal confrontation of the problem of evil, but so similar to the way I felt about 9/11, about the Holocaust, and about the horrible things that happen to innocent children every day during peace time as well as during wars.  People think I am angry with God and tell me with an indulgent smile that it's okay, God doesn't mind, his shoulders are big. He can handle it.   What they don't realize is that I've gotten to the point that I'm not really angry with God, I am no longer certain there is such a being, and that is a much different thing that being angry.  I think that when something so horrific happens to you, you are faced with a choice to either rebuild your faith system brick by heavy brick, bearing the pain all the while or walk away from everything you have ever believed or at least entertained.  I don't think either choice is an easy one.  It all boils down to what you can believe in.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Here I Go Again

And here we are and I.  If you have a few spare minutes, maybe we can talk about the significance of the calendar and the bird in my chest that is beating itself to a bloody death.

Grief is hard enough, a rigged game, if there ever was one.  There is never an end no matter how hard you try to forge one for yourself.  Traumas you thought you'd laid gently to rest are all too happy to appear suddenly like the jump scare in a horror movie.  They never sleep.

We give so much significance to the special dates in our lives:  marriages, birthdays, anniversaries...even the less well known to others are sometimes special to us... the first kiss,the  first day he told me loved me, the first day we became exclusive.  What comes from these dates?  Pride.  Joy.  Even when the relationship is no longer intact, it brings a bittersweet smile at dreams that were never realized.

So then what about the other end?  What about the day she died?  What about the day she was buried?  Especially, if the one you lost was your child.  What is conjured up for you with these dates?  Pride and joy?  No.  And hardly necessary,  I feel joy and pride for her every single day.

A long time ago, someone told me we had birthdays all wrong...that the person who was born gets all the recognition, what about the mother who worked so hard to bring him or her into the world?  Shouldn't they get a co-starring role, at the least?

So my child died.  How responsible do I feel about that?  More than I could ever express.  It's an unfortunate coincidence that her death-versary occurs in the season of graduations  and weddings..  People are posting pics of themselves next to their shiny faced, hopeful children about to embark on careers and create families.  What shall I post?  Another dozen pictures from my desperate little time capsule where I try to live?  Certainly there is nothing about July 5, 2012 that is prideful, shiny, or hopeful.

I hate when July makes its dreaded appearance.  It's like walking along trying to stay chill and having someone come around the corner and hit you in the face with a brick.  There, that's for you.  See what you can do with it.

My mind, craving balance as it does, says if the mom gets a nod for the birthday, what is my responsibility for her death?  It doesn't take long before that bird of panic is loose in my chest, ramming into walls and unable to find a way out.  I was her mother.  I was her legal guardian. And she died.  What's the nod of acknowledgement for that?  Not good, let me tell you.  As I scroll through those graduation and wedding pics some nights, I get the crazed urge to call up one of the parents and ask them how they did it.   How did they keep them alive?  Cause I thought I was doing all the right things.  I thought I was really giving it my all.  I even thought I did some extra-credit.  So what did they do that I didn't?  Please someone solve this puzzle for me cause it's driving me batshit crazy.

And the parties?  They are triggers, as well.  Not only did Cory never get an open house, or a bridal shower, a wedding or a baby shower, I have to accept that the only large scale party I ever got to throw Cory that recognized her for more than the passing of a single year was her funeral.  That's what I got to throw.  How fucked up is that?  I still have the hard cover journal I used to plan it on a shelf of my nightstand, full of scribbles begging for this not to be true, splattered with tear stains, and heartbreaking notes written to her at four a.m. that she would never read.  That is my connection with parties.  No wonder I avoid them like the plague.

So here comes July again, brick in hand.  I am down.  But while I'm down here, I'll write and draw and paint.  I'll cry and sleep too much and feel, as I always do, that I should have and could have done something to prevent Cory's death.  Most of all, I will be brought back to the sheer panic I felt in and around my heart nearly five years ago when I realized it was not a nightmare and that I would never see her again.  She's never coming home.

I know it's no fun to be around someone who is so depressed.  And that's okay.  All I ask is that you don't try to tell me how I should feel or that it will be ok or how most of my days are good now.  My pain is my love for Cory- they are intertwined, like it or not.  It will not be ok.  It will never be ok.  If you find yourself thinking that by now, I should be doing better...just take "by now" out of your vocabulary.  There is no by now.    And most of my days aren't good.  There is good in some of my days, but in EVERY day is an overwhelming and unrelenting pain and longing.  I know you love me.  And I love you.  But you don't have to fix me.  You can't fix me.  The old me is never coming back.  If my smile looks a little fake and my laugh is a little hollow, at least I made an effort.  Just be there.  Be there even when I'm hard to be around.  And I know I am.  I know that seeing me in so much pain makes it possible to imagine yourself in my situation which is not something anyone likes to think about.  But bear it out.  Be there when my ptsd makes me irritable, agitated, and unpredictable.  Because it is harder than you think to do this.  And it's even harder if you feel alone.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

If My Child Died...

Before Cory died, there were a few times I pictured what it would be like if something happened to her or her brother.  You have to remember that not only am I the definition of a worrywart, but Cory suffered from a mental illness that carried some pretty scary statistics of suicide.  Her death wasn't something I ever wanted to picture, but her illness forced me to seriously imagine that outcome.  I did it the way any other mother who has never lost a child has:  I took a minute or two to imagine what that would be like, horrified myself,  and mentally ran away from that scenario.  I  went into the next room, grabbed her up, and covered her with kisses and hugs, not thinking twice about her dubious glances in response to the sudden ferocity of my affection.

I remember telling Cory once that if anything ever happened to her or her brother, they'd have to put me away....and there I'd live out the remaining misery of my days in institutionalized care.  I wasn't kidding, either.  I was positive that if one of my children died, I would be unable to function on my own.  Ever.

Then the accident happened.  All those careful lock ups of the med box, hiding of the sharps, appointments with the therapist to address the depression and suicidal thinking...and then her death had nothing to do with her illness.  One lady, in a hurry to get home, didn't see her crossing the road.  I'd made no mental preparations (feeble attempts, though, they may be) of any kind for such an outcome.  It was random.  It was a "fluke accident" as some people called.  It was a "horrific tragedy".  Yes, it was all of those.

Almost immediately after being told the news, there on the road, my brain quickly and neatly solved the problem of this horrifying new reality.  What did it say to me?  "Okay...okay...well, that's it, then.  We are all done here."  We.  We are all done.  If she's out, I'm out.  You jump, I jump.

It wasn't two days later that I was up at dawn standing in front of cars on West Michigan trying to make my feet leave the curb.

See, my earlier prediction of how I would handle losing one of my children was way, way off.  Forget institutionalized care, buddy, screw your psych ward, just get me the hell out of here, permanently.

So, now almost five years later, imagine my surprise that I am still here.  I have continued, albeit not always gracefully, but I have continued, trudging one heavy foot in front of the other down this Godforsaken path.  I have fallen on my face more than once, but people have helped me stand to my feet, I've righted myself, and continued on.  I've even gone back down the path a few times just to be sure I knew what that scary section of woods was all about.  Foolish?  Maybe, but there will be no more surprises for me, if I can help it.

People get frustrated with my journey.  They miss me.  They want me to catch up to where they are.  Yeah, I miss them, too.  Hell, I miss me- that pretty-much-put-together-woman I used to be.  I wish I could give everyone what they want.  It's not that I don't wish I could walk faster.  It's not that I don't wish I could be happier in my walk.  I don't enjoy this trek through hell anymore than you would.  But I've been doing it long enough to know to watch out for the dips in the road, the fallen branches, and the cliffs just ahead.  Sometimes I have to sit down and rest.  The ones who love me will wait for me to catch up. They may even have to be satisfied with the fact that I'll always be a few steps behind.

Anyone who has thought to themselves, "well if my child died, I would...." should just stop right there.  I am here to tell you you don't know WHAT you would do.  You don't have the faintest idea.  You can't.
 And I hope you never do.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Good, The Bad, and The Awful

It is closing in on June.  As the days march steadily towards July 5th, my anxiety has been popping unexpectedly and much more frequently, until I am now standing in its shadow all the time.

What is good right now?
Jacob.  Jacob is always a reason to stay in the game, to feel pride, to smile and laugh.  Last weekend, I took him to an empty parking lot and taught him the basics so he'll feel more comfortable when Driver's Ed starts this summer.  He was exactly as I had thought he would be:  quiet, calm, and in control.  I doubt I will ever fear driving with this boy.  To see him sitting in the driver's seat, not pretending this time, but actually moving a vehicle of his own will, even if only simple turns from one end to the other, was bittersweet.  He is growing up.  He will be a man soon.  I was happy, proud, and sad all at the same time (totally normal response). And immediately followed the feelings of despair that I never had those moments with his sister (a little extra emotion for the bereaved parent, hey don't forget your other child died before you could do this with her!")    I hung my head for a second in the seat and would you know that Jacob knew immediately what I was thinking about?  "I wish she was here, too, Mom."  He touched my hand ever so lightly and for a millisecond.  " I wish we were taking Driver's Ed together."  That boy is mature beyond his years and incredibly empathetic.

What else is good?
My grief group.  No, I'm not going to a community sponsored gathering.  I am getting together once a month with two of Cory's best friends since kindergarten.  It is a couple of hours every month where the focus is Cory.  Her name is said (the best type of therapy I've experienced yet).  We tell stories.  Sometimes we laugh until we are spitting out our beverages and afraid we may pee our pants, as we were the other night when one of them shared what Cory said about one of her crushes at school, "Mmmmhmmm, girl, break me off a piece of that!  One of these days, I'mma have his babies,   watch!"  Other times, one or more of us will begin sobbing out of nowhere.  Guess what?  It's totally okay either way.  There is no judgment in this safe circle.

We are able to talk about all the amazing things Cory said and did.  We are able to rage against the people who hurt her in any way.  Stupid boys.  Adults who failed her.  The driver.  Debate the existence of God.  We sit and ponder the fairness of it all.  We wonder if her biological father thinks of her still and has regrets or if he is too busy marveling over his second child, discovered after Cory's death, who will graduate this year, his whole life in front of him...Bob's self proclaimed "second chance" and the door God supposedly opened after shutting the door on his firstborn (his words and tasteless facebook post).

We have, through these frank discussions,bridged the gap between being "Cory's Mom" and "Cory's friends" to becoming friends ourselves.  It is an amazing thing.  I only wish we'd thought to start it years ago.  But honestly, I may have been too scary back then.

What is bad?  I have had dreams of her being alive the last couple of weeks.  The dreams where the whole accident was a mistake or a bad dream and she is just chilling in my living room or wandering around the house looking beautiful and whole and magically, unbelievably alive.  Why is this bad?  Because my joy is so great, my relief so immense, my soul  so completely restored, that waking up and realizing it was a dream is devastating.  You could chop off a limb and it would hurt no more.

If I could lucid dream, I would sleep the clock right around.  I would quit my job and no one would ever see me again.
That is how great the pain of losing your child really is.
I've often thought of people who become delusional due to their mental health problems and go about life having hallucinations of their loved one, ala Norman from Bates Motel.  Would I give up my standing in reality and every day life if I could comfortable secure myself in a make-believe world where Cory still lived,,,one in which I could see and talk to her every day? Umm, hell yes.  That may be the best way to describe the immense pain of losing my child.  I would give up reality, full participation in my current relationships, and even my freedom if it  meant Cory would not be dead anymore.  Please lock me up.  Give me substandard food and the same four walls, if I could just see her again.  And I would be cheeking my meds every step of the way, lest she start to disappear.  There's some perspective for the people who think that by now I should be trucking right along doing all the things I was doing before.  That's how bad this hurts, people who think that by now I should be doing more or better or what they would do in my shoes.

What is ugly?  It's ugly that when I woke up this morning and laid there in my bed with the warmth of my little dog snuggled up beside me, the image of Cory in her casket came to my mind and the way I asked so many people, "Doesn't she look beautiful?"  I was so desperate to have it be something else...that she looked beautiful or that she looked like herself...not that she looked like she was dead.
I wrenched away from image, making my puppy wake up and inch closer to me in his sleep, but that horrible image followed me.  The sensations invaded my mind...the way she felt, ice cold and hard as marble under my hands.  Please don't let this be true.  Please don't let this be true.  Notice, of course, the absence of God's name in those pleadings since he didn't do jack shit on the road side.

The flashbacks are back.  The images hit any time of day.  It makes me want to go to sleep until July 5th has past or longer.  If the shaking of my body from standing next to a uniformed police officer in line at Starbucks is any indication, PTSD does not have a specific cut off, any more than grief does.  I am doing the best I can, but it may be time to dust off my anxiety meds.

And the last part to share sort of fits all three categories:  Jake and I took flowers out to Cory's grave day before yesterday.  We threw away the old, cleaned the cut grass off Church's statue, and arranged the new offering.  We stood there, as we always do, beside each other, knowing it is never enough.  "Is there anything you want to tell your sister?"  I asked him.  He gathers himself and says, "Cory, Mom took me to drive in the old Toys R Us parking lot and I did really good....Umm, I had my fitness test in gym the other day, I'm 5' 6 1/2" and 110 pounds now.  I miss you so much, Cory.  I wish you were here."

Good.  Bad.  Awful.