Thursday, June 26, 2014

Permission, Thank You and Signing Off

We are almost to the six month mark without my beautiful boy. I don't even know how I've survived this far in a semi-functioning state. If nothing else, the last fifteen years certainly prepared me to get up each day, put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on whether I want to or not. I guess I can do hard things, right?

Since Jack died, many people have shared with me their thoughts on where I should go from here, what I can do next and how I can share Jack's journey going forward. I love and appreciate the people who love and care for me. However, I decided early on that for at least the next year I'm giving myself permission to not have a plan. Permission to not try and make sense of this journey, of Jack's life or of Jack's death. I'm giving myself permission to grieve and be sad and unfocused and angry. You have to know that there is no one who places more demands on or who has higher expectations for me than me. But I'm cutting myself some slack because I just can't make sense of it all right now and I can't pretend everything is okay.

I started this blog almost eight years ago with the intention of keeping family and friends updated on Jack's spinal fusion surgery. After surgery, I continued to write and share Jack's journey and inevitably, my journey as Jack's mom.  Based on the connections I made through Jack's blog and the feedback from those who followed Jack's journey, I felt that I had something to offer. My experience as a seasoned parent of a child with complex medical needs helped some people. I appreciate that Jack and the Internet gave me that opportunity. I appreciate that people came to know and love Jack through this blog. But, Jack's journey is over. This blog was never about - or was never intended to be about, me. What made Jack's journey unique was Jack. I can assure you that there is nothing unique about my "journey" without Jack. One thing that has been made abundantly clear to me is that grief is universal, it's predictable and it's by the book. If you want to know how I'm doing, you can pick up any book on grief after the death of a loved one and you will know how I'm doing. I'm not unique. I'm by the book.

What I have learned over the last almost six months is that there is a threshold for how much of my story and my grief most people can bear to hear. I get it, I honestly do. I'm living the life that is every parent's worst nightmare. My child died. It's something many of my friends have contemplated, faced, and feared. I make it too real. I get it.

Which brings me to this: I'm giving myself permission to close out my writing on this blog. I really feel like there is nothing more I have to share. I miss Jack, I ache for Jack and I cry for Jack every single day. There are only so many ways I can say this. It will never change. I suppose that over time, my aching and crying may ebb, but my missing and grieving the loss of Jack will never end. I will never be the same person I was before Jack died. The grief of losing a child is inexplicably different than the grief that comes with being the parent of a child with special/health care needs.

I belong to a different club now. I went by the cemetery this evening on the way home from work. As I was sitting at Jack's grave, a woman came up to me and asked about Jack because she had noticed that he was young. I knew of her because I heard that she sits at her daughter's grave for hours every single day. I learned that her daughter was killed over two years ago in a car accident at the age of 20. I learned that her daughter attended the same high school as Hilary and Mary and was there the same time my girls were. I learned that years two and three post-death are harder than year one. I immediately connected with this woman and we talked for close to an hour because we belong to the same club. We are the mothers of children who died too soon.

I'm not going to stop writing, but moving forward, I will write privately and make decisions as time goes on as to what I want to do with what I've written over the last eight years and what I have yet to write. For those who are on Facebook, I will continue to share pictures and updates of our life without Jack. I'm not checking out - I'm just opting to be more private. I know I have in real life friends who aren't on Facebook and who follow this blog. For you, please feel free to email or call me anytime. I'm happy to share updates.

As I sign off, I tender a heartfelt "Thank You" to everyone who has followed Jack's journey. Your care, concern, support and love have unquestionably carried me through the most difficult times of my life. I love you and I appreciate you.

For the remainder of my days on this earth, I will miss my Jack, I will ache for my Jack and I will cry for my Jack. But, sustained by his spirit, I will continue to inch ONWARD.

ONWARD, my beautiful and amazing friends, ONWARD.


E Fischer said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

Ann, take time but nothing done can be UNDONE! Your love and stanch journey both Yours and Jack's journey will be ever ending! Jack will always live deep in your heart, take that love and hold fast... as the dreams really do come true!

Your Sister

Dana said...

Love You! (Hugs)

Anonymous said...

i will miss reading your writings, but completely respect your need to "sign off". i cannot imagine the feelings you're going through. be well. may you find peace and always be surrounded by love.

ssouth said...

Oh, I will miss this place, dearly. But I know it isn't the end of my relationship with you. It's just where I got to know you better.

Though I get your point about grief being universal, I'm not sure I agree it isn't different. That's the beauty of our unique souls. You are the only YOU who has lost HIM. That makes it unique. I'm not tired of sharing your grief.

I've learned so much from you, and yes, it's hard to face the truth that I'm more likely to lose a child than most parents and it's easier to push that thought away than face it. But facing it forces me to appreciate what we have while we have it and that's a good thing. I can't thank you enough for allowing us into your thoughts and feelings all these years. If nothing else you've improved my empathy.

Good-bye to Jack's Journey. I'm so grateful to have been a pebble on the path.

Love always,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ann, for sharing Jack's Journey. Your writing of this journey that was so intimate, passionate, intense and eloquent made me realize that life is so complex. If you didn't know, you gave many the true definition of what commitment and determination. And most importantly, you defined the word ONWARD.

I will miss this blog. I will miss your beautiful thoughts of your Jack.

Thank you...Dominica

Susan said...

Oh Ann, I'm sorry to hear that you intend to stop blogging. But I do understand that you have to do what is right for you and your family right now. Your writing about your life with Jack has helped so many. Unfortunately many of us will eventually be members of the "mothers of children who have died too soon" club and I think your sharing this part of the "journey" has been helpful too. And it has reminded those of us who may be members some day, that we are not members yet and the best thing we can do is love our children every day we have them. Your love for Jack will never end. He will be forever in your heart and ours. Although Jack is no longer here I still consider you president of the "trach mom" club. I'm glad you are allowing yourself time to grieve without expectations. Please don't stop telling people how you are doing. Although there is nothing we can say to ease your pain we care and will listen any time you need an ear or shoulder. XOXO. Your friend always~Susan.

Anonymous said...

There goes Jack....opening yet another door for you.

I hold you, all of you, in my prayers in the days, weeks, and months to come. Thank you Ann, for sharing Jack with all of us.

Your Sister-in-Law, Ann

Anonymous said...

I will miss reading your blog. It has been wonderful resource for so many reasons.

Karen Gerstenberger said...

I hope to keep in touch with you via email (and/or on facebook, if you'd like). God bless you as you listen to your heart's leading - you are a great woman and I'm glad that you are trusting your intuition.

Anonymous said...

You have shared so much with us over the last several years. And, I thank you for that.
I hope in the coming years you can find solace in reading back over the postings. Nothing will ever replace writing about Jack's daily happenings, but I hope you will continue to write about your feelings and memories. A lasting legacy. Best wishes to you, and your family. D