February, March and April.

February. A cold, snowy, bleak month. Always made bright and sunny by the birthday celebration of the one who always laughed and smiled and truly just made this world a better place. This is the first year I have not gone to the cemetery on her birthday. I thought about it. I even headed out intending to go there. I just…couldn’t this year. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe we (all of us!) are getting older and the painful stuff is just so much more painful. Also. The joyful stuff is just so much more joyful. But this February, I chose to celebrate her by remembering her and the impact she had, continues to have, on my life. Dude. I could tell some stories. And one day, maybe I will. But she was the best. Our Beth. The best.

March. Beth was diagnosed with the horror that would take her life. Spent a lot of time in the hospital with her. Spent a lot of time lying on her bed with her. Spent a lot of time sitting beside her bedside. I felt like an intruder. But I couldn’t stay away. It was a blessing in the same breath that it was a nightmare. I could do nothing. Nothing to help her. To help her parents. To help her husband. To help her children. I would not trade a single moment of that time. One day, I will write about it. I promise you…it still brings a certain…peace…to remember it. As horrible as it was.

March. Getting a phone call one evening that changes the very essence of a family. Four years ago on March 21. But every 21st day of every month since…a reminder of loss that is just beyond imagination. When I think of him, I picture him as he would be now…26…not 22. I dream about him. As I dream about Beth. And always…always…I am surprised in my dream that they are alive. And I always tell them so. Without fail, they tell me something of Heaven; of God. I know they are there. I know Andy is there. I know Beth is there. And it makes me smile. Lucky SOB’s.

I’ve written of it before. The pain that Andrew, Stephen and William endured at such young ages. The sorrow that my nieces, Court and Minz have lived. And the loss my own three children have experienced at such young and precious ages. I just never experienced any of that. Sure… grandparents, great aunts and uncles…but honestly…it is expected, isn’t it? But the young ones dying…so shocking. So not right. And I wonder…and I marvel. I know that my own Wild Boy has written many, many essays about losing a cousin so young. And the mark it has left on his life. And I wonder if we are better for it. Or did we not recognize it.

And April. The Boy’s birthday month. A time of celebration. And celebrate, we do. And we reminisce and we talk and we laugh and we cry and we live through…all over again…his life. And we will continue to do this for as long as we are able. As long as we remember.

Selfish. I feel selfish in writing this tonight. In sharing it with you. Selfish because we all have lived through, some times more horrendous than other times, loss and pain and sorrow and death. Mine/ours is not any greater or less than yours. Talking about it…writing about it…selfishly helps me get through it.

And I love you for being there with me. And us. And I selfishly beg your prayers and understanding. Thank you.

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The Aftermath.

Sympathy post-surgical gut issues. I’m pretty sure that is what has happened to me the last two days. My Wild Boy, who apparently is wise beyond his years, pointed this out to me. He was very kind and gentle about it. “Mom, you know you haven’t been sleeping since my surgery [or before, but he doesn’t know that, since he doesn’t read NTGTG that I am aware of] so that probably has your system all messed up.” Translation: you aren’t as young as you used to be.

I think he is correct. Maybe not the way he saw it, but certainly it is the my-baby-is-having-surgery stress let down. I won’t go into all the technical mumbo-jumbo, although I could because I’ve really researched it, but after a period of stress and anxiety and lack of sleep, the human body needs to rest and recoup and for me, at least, that usually means a period of migraine and gut discomfort. And mentally, I just kind of shut down. Also, I am not as young as I used to be even though 17 years ago at the age of 35 when I had my Wild Boy, I felt positively ancient.

The difference between now and 17 years ago, or even 5 years ago, is that I recognize what is happening. I’m not losing it; I’m not psycho; I’m not dying. Seriously, all of those things would run through my head, which just sort of adds to the overall shutdown.

Yesterday my body crashed and burned and I went with it. Fighting it can be ugly for all those involved. My gut and head hurt, my body was just plain done. Thankfully, this happened just as the Wild Boy was on the major upswing and had announced, “I think I’m pretty good now, Mom.” Coincidence? Doubtful. Permission to stand down? Absolutely.

Speaking of the Wild Boy. Thank you so very much for your prayers and calls and text messages and love. He, according to the surgical RN when I spoke to her the other day, came through the surgery part wonderfully. He was off all pain meds by the end of the second day and has only taken some Tylenol and Motrin for his back and neck pain due to the funky way he had to sleep for the first couple days. He did not handle the anesthesia well, but now we know and, if he has to go under again, that will be taken into account.

It’s also helpful that everywhere I have looked on social media today, there has been something that I would read and say, “mmmhmmmm…that’s exactly what I needed.”

These days, I’ve been trying to cut myself some slack. Not an excuse to give up or even give in, but to recognize I have, as we all do, a lot of stress in my life and some days, I just need to stand down and reset. I just had to do that with our church security system this morning. Randomly, the front doors relocked. Everything was in order. The system just randomly shut down. I disconnected the door software and reset it and everything was back to working order. Which I expect to happen to me by morning.

One last thing. If you have a moment, please toss up a prayer for the Bryan/Hetley family. Today is Beth’s 52nd birthday and while I know, without a doubt, that she is partying it up big time in Heaven, her family and friends miss her desperately.

Miss you Beth!