Sunday, March 11, 2018

I Walk The Line

Lately it feels like I can't get anything right when it comes to my girls.  We walk a fine line between continuing to discipline them and giving them grace due to this path of grief we are all walking.

I know that many times that our 10 yo becomes whiny and frustrated it is because she doesn't really know how to process all of the feelings she has about the passing of her brother. Thankfully she finds great solace at the barn and riding horses.

Our 12 yo daughter is another story. She has deep feelings of guilt and some symptoms of PTSD. She has started cutting on her arms. She isolates herself from the rest of the family and is always tired. I don't know how to help her. I do remember being her age and that most of what my parents said went in one proverbial ear and out the other.

The other night, after a family counseling session, my oldest daughter, Emma, knocked over a full glass of sweet tea all over a drawer full of knickknacks. I completely flipped out.  Even as I was yelling, I knew I was handling the situation incorrectly. I knew I was being irrational and that it was truly just an accident.

But wait, it gets better (well worse, then better). I proceeded to engage in an argument with Emma that was the same argument I had had with Logan at least 100 times. An argument I knew would not end well. I was in pain. She was in pain. We were both behaving badly.

But in the aftermath, we hugged each other tight for several minutes, neither one wanting to let go, and I apologized for my behavior and she apologized for hers. I spoke love to her, and she reciprocated.

This is not the end of this story. There will be days like this again. And I will make mistakes. And she will be defiant. But we will get through this-one day at a time.

That fine line we are walking right now will gradually become wider and more clearly defined. But, love will always be our top priority-whether it is loving by showing grace, or loving through discipline.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Little Things

The other day I was walking our new pup, Fiona, and on the sidewalk by our next-door neighbor's house was a cigarette butt. And I was covered by a wave of emotion.

I know it sounds silly, especially since we did not approve of smoking, but I knew Logan smoked cigarettes occasionally and I wondered if that was one of his that he had left behind.

We went to a friends' house last weekend and had a wonderful time eating a delicious meal and playing cards. The plan after that was to watch Deadpool (one of Logan's favorite movies). About halfway through, our 12 yo daughter (please hold you judgment about the fact our 12 yo was watching Deadpool) told us she wanted to go home because she couldn't watch anymore because it reminded her of Logan. So we left.

At the barn this week, a couple of the "barn moms" were talking about how their children are approaching the age when they can drive and how that made them nervous. My heart ached because Logan passed away before he could get his driver's license.

Working in my office one morning, I had to stop because a song on Logan's playlist had unleashed a barrage of tears.

I am finding it is not the "major milestones" that impact me the most, maybe because I have time to mentally prepare for those days.  Instead, it is the little things, the everyday, inconsequential things that I would have probably not even given a second thought to before his death.  Now those have become reminders (sometimes painful) of the gaping absence in our lives.

I know that one day, this will become easier. It won't ever be easy and the pain will never be absent, but it will not take center stage in our lives forever. And someday, the memories will bring a smile to my face instead of tears streaming down my face.

I will always miss him.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Waiting in the In Between

My whole life seems to be stepping (sometimes leaping) from one major life event to the next.

My husband and I met in high school and became engaged before I left for college. 4 years later we were married on September 30, 2000.

About a year into our marriage, we (okay, I) decided we were ready to start our family. Our son was born on 5.31.02, followed by 2 daughters born 5.25.05 and 1.21.08.

While all of this family-making was going on, we bought and sold our first house and then bought our second house. I went through several job promotions and my husband started his own landscaping business.

Just when things seemed to ready to settle down, I received a job offer for a promotion that would relocate our family to North Carolina. So in January 2009 we packed up our family of 5 and moved to Greensboro.

A few short years later and another job change and promotion for me and a return to college to complete his degree for my husband and we built our dream house way out in the country.

And then in 2015 the bubble popped. We both lost our jobs, had to leave our home and start all over again. After that, it felt like one crisis after another, finally culminating in the heart-shattering loss of our 15 year old son, Logan, on 1.2.18.

Since then, it seems that we have been in a constant state of flux. Standing in a hallway lined with closed doors, just waiting to see which one would open. And during this time, we grew stagnant, operating under the mistaken belief that God only works through open doors.

But that, my friends, is not true. Some of God's greatest work is done "in between", waiting in the hallway for what may or may not happen next. And sometimes, probably more often than not, the door that He opens is not one we want to walk through.

Right now, we are in a season of waiting. Still learning how to walk this journey of pain and grief. Waiting in the hallway to see which door opens next and, to be perfectly honest, fearing what may lie beyond that door. But God exhorts us to "be still", even in the in between, in the hallway while we are waiting. Because there is purpose in the waiting.

I don't know what lies beyond the next door, but I know that I trust that He has a plan. It is not mine to understand, only to obey.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

She Laughs Without Fear

A common phrase in the Bible is "fear not" or "do not be afraid".  I have read so many passages that start with this commandment from God. My mind understands why we should not fear the future, in fact Proverbs 31:25 describing the ideal woman states "she laughs without fear of the future".

But something I never expected on this grief journey is fear. I am not always afraid, but I am battling fear of what feels like such an uncertain future.

When your world is rocked by an unimaginable tragedy as ours was on 1.2.18, it feels like you can no longer trust the future to be safe and secure.

I worry that my oldest daughter is headed down the same path her brother walked and that I won't be able to help her, either.

I am fearful that some other type of tragic accident will rip more loved ones from my life.

I am afraid that if I let my walls that I have built come down, that I will not be able to stem the tide of grief and pain that flows forth.

I worry that there is still the potential for this tragedy to tear our family apart.

So, no, I do not laugh without fear of the future. I know I should and I know that God has a plan to use this tragedy to glorify Him.

But right now, right here, I am afraid. And that's okay.

Because at the end of each day, I come back to Him and His word and find peace and solace there.


Monday, March 5, 2018

She Is Clothed In Strength and Dignity

Each time I share the story of our grief journey, I inevitably hear how strong I am and how well I am dealing with the life-shattering tragedy that occurred just over 2 months ago.

It is hard to believe we have lived without Logan for 2 months. Most of the time it feels like I am in suspended animation, watching the world continue to live when I am stuck-barely able to get through the motions of daily life. I am on autopilot.

Here's the thing, I am not strong and I am not dealing with the loss of our son well.

I have created a virtual prison for myself with the words "I'm fine" or "things are good". I have locked myself behind a wall of polite responses and forced smiles.  The truth is so far from the image I portray as to not cause others discomfort by telling them what is really going on behind that wall.

Every time I see teenagers moving on with the next steps-driving, dating, homecoming, prom, graduation-my heart breaks just a little more knowing that Logan will never experience these things. I know he is in a place where the things of this earth no longer matter, but I am not in that place and they matter to me.

I have to clothe myself in strength and dignity because there is still life to be lived here, even with this gaping hole in the middle of it.  My husband needs me to be strong. My daughters need me to be strong. I have to be able to focus on my job and produce good results.

But sometimes, in the rare quiet moments when I am alone with just me and my thoughts, I break. Actually, it's more like I shatter. I have to wait until I know I am alone because I fear that once the flood of tears and emotions starts, I will not be able to stop it.

So, while I may aspire to be clothed in strength and dignity, right now I am simply a shell of a wife and mother trying to patch the cracks in my armor.


Sunday, February 25, 2018


In the days immediately after our son took his own life, we were overwhelmed (and very thankful) with people calling, texting, contacting us on social media, visiting, making meals, and so on.  Standard practice for grieving and other major life events (at least in the South).

But now things are different. 6 weeks ago today, we memorialized our son who died on 1.2.18. Six long weeks.

It still feels unreal. As I sit in the silence of our home when it should be busy with dinner preparations and teenagers asking for things and making sure homework is done and school clothes are clean and forms are signed. It is too quiet.

The calls have pretty much stopped coming. I still get the occasional text from some of my closest friends. We are making our own meals now. And all of this is normal. People have their own lives to live and, while they may have known our son and while he was important to many of them, they did not lose a child to suicide. We did.

I am sometimes jealous of our them, the friends and family that have taken care of us over the past few weeks. I want to be able to snap back to normal. I want to be able to say, "Okay, that sucked, but now back to my normal life." I want the pain and loss to slowly fade into the background.

But that is not how it works.

Sometimes it feels....awkward. Like we are "that family" that lost their son to suicide. People don't know what to say as life moves forward.

But here's the thing.  I don't know what to say either. I don't know how to live without Logan. It's like I am stuck in limbo, watching the world move on while I cannot.

 It hurts more every day. Each night I try to push the thoughts of him out of my head. We don't really talk about that day, but I can call up the memory of it in an instant and be right there with the flashing lights and crime scene tape. I can here my husband on the phone saying "Logan's dead, he blew his brains out!". I can feel the horror flow through me as I dropped the phone. My chest tightens, my heart rate increases, my breathing gets shallow.

Here's the thing. While everyone else moves forward (and rightfully so), we are stuck in this place, trying to find a way to rebuild our lives around this giant emptiness where Logan once was. I don't know the answers to how we are going to do that right now. And it will take a lifetime for each of this. The loss of a son and brother will always be a part of our stories.

So, we are awkward. And that's okay.

It's okay to not know what to say to us. I don't know either.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lies We Tell Ourselves

So, as we travel this unchosen (and also unwelcome) road of grief, I have learned that many things I have always believed to be true about the loss of a loved one are, in fact, not.  They are lies we tell ourselves because the truth may be too difficult to bear.

Grief is only an emotion.
This is what I have always believed. Grief is an emotion, like happiness or sadness, that was entirely controlled by one specific circumstance. But grief is so much more than that. Grief is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting. It drains my physical energy, and as that is waning, my mind sinks into a depression that I cannot seem to push away. I have a difficult time concentrating and remembering things. Sometimes it feels like I am in a state of suspended animation where the rest of the world goes on as normal and I cannot get back on track. Sometimes it feels like everything is just harder than it needs to be. This effects every single aspect of my life.

Time heals all wounds.
There will never, in my life here on earth, be a time when this pain of the loss of my son will not hurt like a fresh wound. In fact, as I travel this road, I am finding that it is getting harder to deal with Logan's death as time goes by.

He's in a better place, and that should be comforting.
Imagine a wall so high you can never hope to see over it and so dark you can not possibly see through it. Now imagine that your child is on the other side of that wall. You can hear them sometimes, you can feel there presence, but you cannot reach them. Perhaps someday the fact that he is in Heaven will be comforting to me, but right now I just want to hug him and feel his face against my cheek.

Call me anytime, I am always here for you.
Now before you get your nose out of joint, this is not directed to anyone specific. I am not trying to insult anyone and I do not expect (or even want) the level of attention we had in the days following Logan's death. However, I will say that it has become too quiet for me. I am naturally an introvert, so I have a hard time reaching out even when I have a need to. I also understand that people don't know what to say to me. Do you talk about Logan? Do you just ignore the elephant in the room? I don't know what to say to myself most of the time. What I can tell you, when a family has experienced the sudden, tragic death of a loved one, the support needs go well beyond the days, weeks and months that follow the loss.

I don't know how to navigate these uncharted waters, but I am thankful for my God, my husband and my friends and family who have supported us during this incredibly difficult time.