Living after loss

The Tangled Web of Confusion

Some years are better than other…easier, I should say. Some years are easier than others. Some years are more difficult than others. You would think that this many years into things I would be somewhere close to accepting the hand I have been dealt, but I’m not. The heart wants what the heart wants -and the heart wants anything but this.

This isn’t to say that there haven’t been some good moments sprinkled in, there have been good days, months, years even. Good times. But when this time of year rolls around, my heart gets covered with that black rain cloud and begins to wish for better times. Better days. Better years. Those better moments.

Last night while driving home I was overcome with the urge to veer off the road and into the nearest telephone pole. Ending it all. The pain, sadness, the overwhelming feelings of frustration and lack of control, all of it. It isn’t so much that I would do that -but the thought was enough to drive my already fragile mind over the edge.

I did all the things I am supposed to do -when life seems too much. When the desire to give up is stronger than the desire to hold on. I took a long shower, I thought about all the good, I told myself that it would be better in the morning. I reminded myself of all the quotes and sayings and stockpiles of happy times I have squirreled away for moments like these -but sometimes, in the deep, deep darkness -not even the largest amount of quotes can help.

Sometimes you just have to feel everything there is to feel -regardless of how difficult it might be, and trust that with the morning sun -there will be relief.

I straddle that line, so close sometimes -wishing for clarity, for relief…and perhaps, even for some answers. Some answers to untangle this mad web that I have created. The one that complicates things. The one that says “if only…” and “what if…” the one that becomes even more complicated as the days wear on and as the past comes up -again and again.

When the lines are crossed, when the feelings are intertwined, when its all rubs so close together that there is no seeing out…

I want to feel so badly, what he felt. To know, so strongly, what he thought. To get so close to know that there was absolutely nothing I could do -but the closer I get, the more I feel, the harder I realize the more I understand. I could have. If only. If only but a few minutes sooner. If only but a few days earlier.

The heart wants, so badly -to be close to her again. The mind, so badly -wants to understand what he was thinking.

The combination is confusing and frustrating, complicated and hard.

And the realization that the untangling of this complicated mess may never happen is enough to send me further over that invisible edge.

I just want it all to stop.

Drops in The Bucket

It’s been a week. A week of challenging days and rough moments. Nothing earth shatter or moving, nothing life altering -just normal, everyday life. With broken relationships and shattered dreams and crushed ideas of what this world should look like, what my life should look like. Selfishness getting the better of me, I don’t know. It’s been a week.

A week that I have went to bed way earlier than I even care to admit to. A week that I have pulled the covers over my head and wished it all away.

I tried to remind myself -over and over, that these things are just small issues in light of everything else. In light of people dying and getting sick, in light of so much else -these things are simple drops in the bucket. But the bucket is already so full, that these drops make everything seem like so much more than it already is.

Things are so carefully balanced upon each other right now, that the wrong move, wrong word, wrong look -can send me barreling over the edge…at a time in my life when I really need things to be steady, they are anything but. And I have to learn that it is ok.

I need to learn to take a time out, to properly manage my stress and frustrations and not turn into a basket case on people who are just starting to get to know me. I know that, for next time, but that doesn’t help -this time.

I get jealous, so so so jealous -of people who only have to deal with these seemingly simple issues, on their own…and then try to remind myself that they too, have other issues. They just know how to manage them better. Just last week, I met one of the happiest, friendliest, nicest people in the world. One of those people who ooze happiness on everyone they see -yet have a real deep sense of the world around them, enough to know just how to comfort you. And then I found out she is battling cancer.

With two young kids.

And a smile that could slay dragons.

…and here I am, bemoaning about my issues that could be here today and gone tomorrow yet somehow, bring me to my knees.

I want to be that person -who can smile and laugh through the worst of times, but I don’t know how. Because these small, insignificant problems I have today, seem like major mountains that will never be moved. I want to be that person -the one I know I can be, the one I know I once was. But I don’t know how to be. Because everything comes at once and threatens to overwhelm…and then it takes over.

There is no room for happiness, there is no room to see the light. There is no room for good. Because my life is so filled with the opposite.

But I refuse to let these moments define me. I refuse to be categorized as a negative person who refuses to see the light. I must come up. I must regain my footing, and I must do it quickly…because there are plenty of dragons out there that need slaying and I am tired of being one of them.

It’s Where I’m At

I’ve been trying to compile my thoughts for sometime. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. In fact, I think it has been well over a year since I have intentionally sat down to write something specific. Lately it has been more of a stream of conscious -write what you feel, write when you feel -sort of thing. But there has been something chewing away at me for a while now. Something that I am not entirely sure, how to say, but know it needs to be said.

I read something a while ago -about the dangers of thinking when you are tired. How when you are tired, it is easier to let the negative thoughts creep in because you aren’t strong enough to combat them. I’ve found it to be true. But difficult. Considering I am tired 99% of the time anymore. The article went on to say that when you are tired and those negative thoughts come, you can’t fight them so they sink in further -you begin to believe them and in a vicious cycle you become even more tired and beat down -because of said thoughts.

It is an interesting thought and one I have been actively trying to be aware of. Late at night -when those hurtful thoughts of guilt want to seep in I have been trying to tell myself that I will deal with them -when I am not tired. I don’t shove them off as not being true, because they feel so true -but I don’t want to fall victim to believing thoughts that aren’t true, just because I am tired. Unfortunately, this has also made me more tired -because lets face it, fighting off thoughts is never easy.

But it’s where I am.

Trying…and from past experience, trying is all you can do.

I’ve reached some really dark places these past few months -and while I could easily beat myself up for going there, I am trying to choose the option that says I went there -but I came back. I am still actively trying. I am still scared of those dark places -but fear, I have found, can be good. It lets me know that I am not completely gone, and on those days when I really wish I were -I can draw some comfort from knowing that I have fought to stay here…

Nine years ago, interestingly enough -I reached the place I will always refer to as rock bottom. The place where my life was so far upside down that I didn’t know if there was any coming back -or if I wanted to come back. While I would always have considered the death of my daughter to be my rock bottom -there was more life had to throw at me that would take me further, deeper and darker. Nine years ago I was ready to throw the towel in on everything. Quite literally steps away from calling it quits.

I won’t even know why, exactly, I chose to give life one final shot -but I did…and the result would be the past eight years.

Up until last year, I would have said these past few years were the recovery period. I worked hard to get out of the deep, dark hole that I had found myself in -and somehow, managed to come out on top. On top to the point where I was planning ahead. Looking to the future. Calling the shots. Moving on. After a stretch of challenging years, this seemed like the break I had been waiting for. The place I was aiming for. The landing place, if you will. Success.

Except that, last year happened.

I’ve taken this past year off. Given myself some much needed slack and just coasted for a while. I didn’t put myself in any positions that required additional thinking. Didn’t make any life altering decisions. Didn’t get back up right away.

But now that we have coasted past the first year, I am trying to pick myself back up again. Put the pieces of the shambled puzzle back together and make something of this tattered life I have been handed. I’m trying. Because that is all I can do…and all I know how to do. I don’t know yet -what that will look like. It might look like a whole lot of nothing, a whole lot of complaining, and a whole lot of whining.

I am still actively fighting off the dark thoughts. Still fighting with my shadows. Still arguing away those painful days where all I want to do is give in. But I’m still fighting. I’m still trying. I’m still here. If ever so silent. Because I’m trying. It’s all I know how to do.

I Saw You

I saw you the other night, and instantly recognized the look on your face. Unlike others, I saw past your sad eyes and happy smile and recognized that you were trying to hold it together. Your normally happy disposition was tainted, like a stained glass –what once was shiny and bright had become dull and sad. Others probably assumed you were just having a bad day –a hard time at work, a fight with a friend, something you would soon be over –but much like others who have been down this path, I saw the sadness that hung behind your eyes like a well-worn blanket.

I wanted to say something –but didn’t know what. I wanted to tell you that it would be ok, somehow. That while I didn’t ever know if you would be ok –it would be. But I didn’t know how, so instead I told you to have a good day and cringed as you smiled…knowing that it was like salt on an open wound.

I bought you a card to a coffee shop, wrote a note and left it on your door –not knowing if you would appreciate the thought or want to destroy everyone in your path because couldn’t I see you were suffering?

The thing is –I know how badly you are hurting. I know the pain and anguish in your soul. I know how horrible it feels to wake up in the morning and be forced to put on the “I am A ok face!” I know how challenging it can be to have to go out of your way to convince others you are ok –when really, you are falling apart and just wish someone would care enough to notice. To acknowledge the pain. I get it.

If I could I would tell you that it will somehow be ok. That it never gets better, and you never reach the point of no return. That the pain never leaves, but somehow, somehow –you learn to live with it, beside it, despite it. You learn to acknowledge your own pain when others won’t. You learn to adjust, adapt, change and conform. To live without your heart and with the pulsing pain.

Somehow, you learn to see the beauty in the rain, the sun through your tears and the purpose in the pain. I don’t know how, exactly –but you do, and you will. Even though I know it feels like you never will see the light of day again, and giving up seems easier than trudging through this sludge left behind. Honestly? It would be easier. It would be easier to give up then be reminded, day after beautiful day, that you –were left behind. While others were chosen to fly free.

Somehow. It will become ok again. You might never be ok. Your heart might never be whole again. You may still wake up every morning and have to convince yourself that getting out of bed IS the best thing…but it will be ok. Somehow. Please believe me when I say this –because I say this not only to you –but to myself as well. As one who is in the trenches beside you, yet somehow millions of miles away –I understand. I see your pain. I feel your sadness. I am not fooled by your smile.

Please know that someone out there understands. Someone out there realizes you have a pain so deep that you feel your own pulse in your fingertips. Someone out there understands that your pain is so deep that you don’t know if there is any point of return. Someone out there is balancing that thin line of pretending to be ok –and losing it altogether.

The coffee card was not to help you celebrate your sadness or pain, but rather remind you that there is still some good in this world –even if it only comes in a paper cup. Please hold onto the fact that while you may not know me really well –we are connected by a thread much deeper than meets the human eye.

I see your pain and your sadness, and have not overlooked it. I know that you are hurting. That there is nothing that can touch that. But I am not willing to let you be overlooked. I see your pain –and I acknowledge it, and hope that somehow –that will bring a small amount of comfort to you in this terrible time.

Yea, I’m ok

Someone asked me a few months ago how I was, I smiled, and made some smart comment about life then asked how they were. They never looked back. I sighed relief, because once again –I didn’t have to explain just how not ok I was. They ask me all the time “How are you?” and I keep saying my standard answer. I keep telling them that I am ok –how are you? And then eventually, they stop asking. Because they know my response will always be the same. I’m ok. I’m always ok. Because I always have chosen to believe that if I’m not –I will be. And that small glimmer of hope that someday, maybe, one day, somehow, I will be ok? Has gotten me through some dark moments.

I decided a while ago that when I was having a bad day –I was going to do something nice for someone else. I bought seven cups of coffee last week. I only drank one. I still don’t feel any closer to being ok.

For the most part, I ignore it. Whatever it is. I go out of my way to actively avoid it –because avoiding it is all I know how to do. I know that if I face it –head on like most assume I am doing, that there is no coming back. And quite frankly, back is the only direction I want to go. Back. To when life was somewhat ok.

Because the truth is that I am not ok.

I don’t say it because I want to draw all the attention to me, because I don’t. I would rather go see the dentist than have all eyes on me. I don’t say it because I think it will help –I know it won’t. If anything, it will only hurt worse. I don’t say it because I think I need to, or someone is making me. No, I say it because it’s true. And right now, I don’t know what is true and what isn’t. I need to start somewhere.

I miss them. I miss them all. I miss them all, so very much. I miss them all so much that sometimes I feel as if I just hold my breath, maybe just maybe the pain that is surging through my body will leave. I miss them so much that it feels as if I have a thousand volts of electricity racing through my body. I feel like I am holding an electric fence. Hugging a sting ray. I feel as though if my chest were to split apart –then maybe I would have some relief from the pain that is building inside.

…and I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how I am still able to wake up in the morning when all I want to do is just keep sleeping. I don’t understand how I am able to breathe when my breath has been taken away. I don’t understand how my heart can still go on beating, when my heart has been taken away. Multiple times. I don’t understand why I keep going, one foot in front of the other, when everything I ever worked so hard for, is gone. Just like that. No questions asked. No take backs. No do overs. Just gone. I don’t understand why people keep asking me if I am ok. I don’t know what they want me to say.

Because no. The truth is I am not ok.

I miss my wife. I miss my daughter. I miss my nephew.

But saying it doesn’t make it any better. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t bring them back. Saying just how much it sucks and how badly it hurts to wake up every morning and face another day without the ones I love…does not change the facts. It isn’t anything new. It doesn’t help anyone.

So instead I keep waking up when all I really want to do is die. I keep smiling when all I want to do is cry, I keep saying I am ok, in hopes that one day it will be true…and I keep buying coffee for the person in line behind me in hopes of making maybe one person’s day a tiny bit better.

No, I am not ok. But I don’t know what else to do except fake it until one day –I can finally hold them all tight and never let them go.

In His Absence

These are new grounds for me, this helping a child navigate grief. More specifically, helping an autistic child who is non-verbal, navigate grief. I don’t know how much he understands, or what all he really comprehends about the whole situation. I don’t know what questions he has, or what he is feeling. I don’t know what is going through his mind. I don’t know if he is experiencing the normal stages of grief -or if he is handling things in his own way -the way he does everything else.

I just don’t know.

I watch him, carefully, for some sort of clue. I look in his eyes when the opportunities arise, I watch him carefully open the containers that hold the items I have packed away. I watch him look through, selecting one or two things before hiding them away under his own bed -where he puts his most beloved treasures. I wonder what is going through his mind. If he wonders if he is next. If he wonders why his best buddy is suddenly just gone. Didn’t they have something special? Wasn’t he supposed to be there for ever and a day?

What goes on inside his mind -is beyond me. I try my hardest. I really do. I understand the importance of body language and tones. I know from the way he screams if he is happy or upset. I know from the way he twists his arm if he is frustrated or just tired. I know that when he starts picking at his eyes and hair that he is having a hard time understanding something. That he is frustrated. I know that when he slides under his bed -he doesn’t want to deal with people. That he wants to be left alone.

I know that he won’t eat in public, that he prefers to go with no pants and that he is his happiest when he has space to be himself without interference. But I also know that the bond he and Dylan had was something that can never be replaced and something that will always leave a hole. I know that he used to wait by the window, watching and waiting. That he followed Dylan around like a lost dog, that the small bits of favor that he showered on him went much further than any other action. He would do just about anything to be with him, to be acknowledged by him.

I know that if he could, or did, speak -he would have said that when he grew up he wanted to be just like him. I know that Dylan knew this -and while he was your typical teenager in many ways -he often would comply and shower a little bit of affection on his younger cousin, who might as well have been his brother. They shared many moments together and apart…

…and I am not sure how to go about healing the wounds I know were left behind.

All I can do is watch from the sidelines. Try and gather clues from the way he reacts. Try and be understanding when he has bad days -knowing that he too, is struggling in his own ways. Ways that are perhaps, much harder because he cannot verbalize what he is feeling. I can’t offer him help because I don’t know the extent of his suffering, even though I know it must be deep.

He loved him -and he was loved by him. They fought, they bickered, they argued. With each other, against each other, and behind each other. But they also had a bond that was unbreakable. In ways that I thought would carry them far. If for nothing else, they had each other. Regardless of what happened -they would have each other. They would have each others backs -in good times and bad, and that would carry them far.

Just not far enough.

While one boy got his final wish -to depart this world and no longer be shackled with the pain and aches that this world could not heal, another is left to grapple with his absence. I don’t know how to explain all of this and more to a boy who still looks out the window, waiting for his hero to step off the bus. So instead, I sit with him. I watch the horizon, knowing full well that he won’t be returning, but wishing -for just a moment, that perhaps -he will.

PICT0020

If for nothing else, to bring some answers to a boy who thought and still thinks, the world of him.

Rising Above

Close to probably five years ago there was a couple I knew. An older couple who had been married for years. Many years. They were, in my mind, the idol of marriage. They were what one should strive to be like. Their attitudes, outlook and perspective on life was something to be desired. About five years ago -the wife landed herself in the hospital. The particulars were hushed, the details were secret and the information private.

I brought them coffee and a news paper every morning, for no reason other than I felt absolutely helpless but wanted to do something. It was a small task that didn’t require much effort on my part -and a task that I didn’t even know if they appreciated.

A few short months later -she passed away.

It was only then that the details slowly began to emerge, details that literally -made me sick to the stomach and made me wonder if bringing coffee and newspapers only made the situation worse. It wasn’t even a few months after she had passed -did he show up at my house with a box of cookies and a card.

A handwritten note from him and his wife -thanking me for the daily coffee and newspapers. The “little bit of normalcy” in their dark days. I remember thinking how -in his deep pain and anguish -he had taken the time to thank me for something so simple and stupid. The task he performed did not go overlooked -simply going to a grocery store to buy something was a task I found to be a challenge at best -even years after my loss. Writing a note -with her name, and delivering it -holding a conversation in which he openly admitted to crying daily…

It is something I will never forget and something that will forever be etched in my mind and heart.

To do something for others is one thing -but to do something for others when you are hurting so badly -is another. It comes from a much deeper part of the heart.

Which is why I decided that instead of drowning in self pity and despair -I am going to choose to do things for others. Even, or especially when, I don’t feel like it. On those days when seeing daylight is so, so hard -I am going to put others first. I am going to do something kind for someone else.

I am going to kick this sadness. I am going to beat this despair.

I might not ever be ok again. I might not ever think of certain things without spiraling downwards.

The hardest thing in my life is knowing that while my life is seemingly out of control and I am completely crushed -there are other people out there. People who are hurting. Just because my heart aches, does not mean the rest of the world has ceased to exist. Instead of giving into my desire to pull the covers over my head and not face the world -I am going to face it head on.

I am going to push through. I am not going to be beat down.

Someone told me once that your life -your words -can have an impact on others. Your simple deeds can hurt someone so badly…or they can help keep someone from the despair of suicide. I am clinging to that hope. Clinging to the tiny shards of hope that maybe -just maybe -my actions will have an impact on others…and if not, at least I am not allowing myself to be swallowed alive -regardless of how badly I want to be.

be-kind

Opening the Door

With Josh coming home this weekend, one of the things looming on my to do list has been to clean out their shared bedroom. The door to this room has been closed since before I left for my trip, and hasn’t been opened for any length of time since. As if shutting this door would somehow shut out everything negative. As if shutting the door would erase all that happened. Would somehow make the day disappear. As if it would all somehow go away, with the simple shutting of the door.

But life moves on, and as life would have it -the time to open that door has come. Quicker than I would have liked, but here none the less.

I had somehow played up the moment of opening this door. As if something you see in the movies there would most likely be a fog…a distant smell that reminded me of him, and the few moments that followed would be that of remembering the happy times, the good times, the times that made this life worth living. The fog would lift and there would be a neat pile of things that somehow closed all the wounds that have been open these past few months.

…and then like magic, the room would clean itself up, pack things away and life would move one -with the door wide open.

As bizarre as this may sounds, I really can’t think of how else to explain it. But when I opened the door, as you probably already knew -there was no fog. There was no magic moment. And the only smell was that of cat pee and misty crackers. Which is probably best, because the odors of a teenage boy are not those to be desired.

The room was exactly how it was -six months ago. The thing is, he wasn’t in that room six months ago. In fact it has been close to two years since he has been in that room. Things of his have been moved, and pushed away, rearranged and shoved aside. While the room was always ready to accept him -when he came back, it also doubled as Josh’s room and for the past year and ½ it has been his room only. With the exception of Dylan’s things -piled along the side, pushed under his bed and shoved in his drawers.

The goal today? Was to box as much of his stuff up as possible. The plan has been to box it all up and sort it later when Madison is here. But I didn’t make it that far today. I made it across the threshold, set the boxes down and sat down beside them.

…and instead of boxing things up, let my mind run wild.

It doesn’t take much these days. Doesn’t take much to get the thoughts running and all the feelings feeling. I thought about the first time he talked about suicide, and how I did nothing about it. I thought about how he probably danced around the topic so many times, yet I failed to realize. I thought about how often he would have tried to get help -but was turned down. I wondered if he was really ever happy. I thought about the past ten years. The bad and the really bad…

I tried to think of happy memories. I tried to pull out the good times, but like some sick joke -those memories have vanished and the only things that replace them are the many ways that I have failed and let him down…and as if there was any need to elaborate on these feelings, I started to think about putting all of his things in boxes. As if boxing his things up, was the same as boxing him up. As if his life didn’t amount to anything but a few boxes in the corner.

I closed the door, leaving behind the empty boxes.

Today I opened the door, crossed the threshold and brought in some boxes. Tomorrow I will put some things into those boxes and try to put away some of the guilt and regrets, and maybe in doing so I will find those happy memories that I know exist.

Somewhere.

Three Months

Three months, came and went. Without a mention of his name, or a whisper of who he was. It came and went as if he never existed, as if he were right –that it wouldn’t matter now that he was gone. Except that it does matter. It did matter, and it always will matter.

Except that, as time slowly ticks by –he is forgotten. By everyone. I am expected, in a sense, to forget him as well. To move on. To not remember. To ignore. Because this loss? Isn’t mine. It isn’t for me. It isn’t about me.

To anyone else –he was just another boy. Another number. Statistic. He wasn’t closely related to me, therefore, the loss is not mine. While it isn’t said in those words –it is implied. Heavily. In the tones of voice and change of attitude. He was just my nephew. But as the numbness gives way to the intense pain that comes from losing someone –I am reminded, painfully, that he was more. So much more. Yet I don’t have the words to say this.

My heart skips to an irregular beat, my head spins with memories that shouldn’t belong to me. My mind, filled with should haves, could haves, would haves –is silenced. The pain I feel is not warranted.

Why would I seek out help –when I know there is none?

I am not afraid to admit that I am not strong enough to be rejected, once again. Friends have returned to their otherwise busy lives, and stopped asking –mere days after he died. It was as if there was a silent relief that filled their minds…because finally, I could stop talking about him. Finally, I could just admit that he was a lost cause. Finally, I could return to ‘normal’ –except…

He wasn’t a lost cause, and there is no normal.

He was hurting. He, among countless others –was not given the help he needed. The help that everyone says is there –but isn’t. The help that is ‘just a phone call away’ is too far. Especially when you are hurting that badly. When you can barely keep your head above the water –there is no point in making a phone call, because you just cannot handle the rejection –again. All over. Once more.

I have searched just about every avenue I can, looking for something –someone –to relate to. But instead I am met with empty doors, and silenced friends. As harsh as it sounds – I cannot bear to hear their happy news. I do not want to know how well their children are doing, or how successful their job is. I don’t want to hear how great their lives are –because it contrasts just how horrible mine is. It isn’t that I do this to be mean, or selfish –it’s just that the hole in my heart from losing ‘just my nephew’ is so large –I cannot fathom that anything good can be happening.

I don’t need people to fall over backwards, I don’t need people to say his name everyday –but a simple acknowledgment –really could do wonders.

Tell me you remember him. That he wasn’t a lost cause. That his life mattered. That he was important. Tell me that he didn’t die in vain. Tell me that you don’t know what to say. Tell me anything –just don’t ignore the gaping hole that has swallowed me alive, and expect me to acknowledge the goodness that has surrounded you.

Because I am just barely keeping my head above the water…

…and don’t know how much longer I can.

When The Walls Fall In

2f803f3fa71ab35b018623a239fc7c65I woke up last night in a deep panic. It took a few hours of talking myself down before I was calm enough to make sense of what was happening. The main reason being that I couldn’t argue that the things I was dreaming / thinking about, weren’t true. Because they were, in fact, very true. There were fractures of untruths scattered in, but in the moment of panic -deciphering truths isn’t my strongest suit.

It’s ironic that on the one day that I just want to bury my head and not be ok -I have to get up and show the world how its done. For reasons that are still unknown to me.

It’s terrifying to know that I’m falling -and this time there is no safety net. Nothing to stop me. I simply don’t know if I am strong enough to save myself from falling deeper and deeper.

It’s as if the entire world has forgotten already. Two short weeks later, and the entire world has moved on. It continues to spin -uninterrupted. Lives continue to move on unobstructed. And as if I am supposed to somehow be moving on with them I try. I put one foot in front of the other. I smile when appropriate, and laugh on demand. I say I’m ok, and inquire about the status of others. I listen as they tell me the details of their own lives -their own unobstructed lives.

…and at the end of the day, I pull the blankets up over my head and stare into the darkness.

Because there is nothing left to do.

There is no walking away from this. There is no being ok. There is no recovering. There is nothing anyone can do to make it better -so why put that burden on them. Why seek out answers when there are none. Why seek help when there is none. Why attempt to be ok when there is no definition for ok.

As if it matters, I attend meeting after meeting. I hear the words, and recognize that people are talking to me. Asking my opinion. Looking for my input. Hoping I will make the decision. It’s up to me, they say. It’s in my hands. His future, his school, his education, his life. The very thing I worked so hard to achieve for them all -and failed, miserably at. Is still somehow in my hands. The only difference is I no longer feel adequate to make these decisions.

It isn’t a matter of what if, it’s a matter of when. When will I screw this up. When will I fail this. Again.

Against my better judgment, I make the call. Not because I think I should, but because at this point all I can do is keep on pretending. Until that day arrives and I can finally admit the very thing that everyone already knows: I am not cut out for this.

These kids were the only thing keeping me from drowning, ten years ago. The weight of the responsibility, enough to drown me, was the very thing that kept me afloat for so many years. And now it is gone.

I get up, I get dressed. I carefully walk the thin balance beam of routine that has been carved out to help the remaining kid, and then we go our separate ways. I wonder how much longer I will be able to keep up the persona that everything is ok. We are ok. Until that too comes crashing in.

Relief, perhaps.

When I no longer have to carry the burden that I know what I am doing. That I am ok. That this life is just fine. That we will make it. Because when it all comes down to it, the only thing that is left is to give up.

There is no coming back.

Not this time.

Not ever.

But until then, I am fine.

We, are fine.