It’s been 6 months and I am beginning to understand my new normal. It is normal for me to cry at the strangest things. Walking down the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, hot pockets and pizza rolls get me every time.Seeing a guy walking around in shorts in the middle of winter. Hearing some hip hop song I used to wish I would never hear again. I hate our new normal. I hate that Molly is missing her Bubba so much. I hate that my family will never be whole again. I hate that Madison is going to only get the brother that tormented her, they will never get the chance to be friends as adults. In the months before Drew died I could see that their relationship was starting to change and evolve.
Part of my new normal is that mind wanders. It wanders to the past and remembering all the things I can about Drew. I worry I will forget, I will forget the way his laugh sounded, I will forget how is eyes twinkled when he smiled. I won’t forget the essence of Drew just the little things as life goes on. Molly won’t remember him at all and Madison may not remember much but that too is the new normal for us.
I try to hard to think positive. I work hard on not letting the darkness creep in, I worry that once I let it in it won’t go away. I will be consumed with it and will have nowhere to go but within. I do not want that. I want to feel as if my life without Drew still has purpose, still has meaning. For the last almost 21 years I have been Drew’s Mom, what am I without that. I know I am still Madison’s Mom and Molly’s Mom, I am still Randall’s wife, Maxine’s daughter. What am I to this big world. I feel pushed to be Drew’s legacy keeper, to be the person that keeps his name on people’s lips. I feel driven for strangers to know my wonderful son and to know what light the world lost when he died. These feelings of overwhelming inadequacy is my new normal. I don’t think I did enough when Drew was alive and I am trying to make up for it now that he is gone. Oh I know I was a good mom, at least as good as I could have been. I know that Drew knew I loved him but I still didn’t quite hit my mark on other area’s.
The normalcy of life that I once took for granted is like a faded dream. The being free to laugh without feeling guilty that you are here and he is not. My new normal is being afraid that you will lose another child. Wondering if once a tragedy has touched you that it left a light in its wake so that it can find your family once more. The new normal is not being able to enjoy the happy times quite as much because you feel the cloak of despair around you. I want to get to the point that some of these things are not normal, I will be able to think of Drew with just love and awe that he was mine. I want to not feel the black hole in my heart as if part of it was ripped out of my chest. I have heard this can happen. I have heard that after the loss of child you can find laughter, light and happiness. Don’t get me wrong I am not a complete mess all the time, it’s kind of like when your foot falls asleep and takes a long time to wake up. I can always feel the tingling of Drew not being here.
I do know that I am working on these things. That I would like to find a happy medium for our normal. I will always feel the loss of Drew. I just need to find some normalcy in this path of grief and learning to live with the loss.
This day 6 months ago I found out a part of my world was longer here. To be honest I don’t remember quite a bit from that day but that is not the day I want to remember nor tell you about today. Today I want to tell you a story, this story is about Pepe’. Pepe’ was abandoned at birth. He wasn’t wanted because he was different than the rest of his family. His past was quite sad and dreary. That is until Drew rescued him from a dark box and brought him to the light.
Now you are probably shaking your head and thinking to yourself that is a Lego man. Nothing more than a toy. To Drew he had a story to tell and Drew was the gatekeeper of his tale. You’re also probably wondering how old Drew was when he found Pepe’ and found his life long friend, 4 maybe 5, nope he was 16 and his imagination ran with the story of Pepe’.
Pepe’ went everywhere with Drew. He stayed in his pocket or on the brim of his hat. He would have full conversations with him just talking about their days together. I think he liked to make people wonder if he was crazy. Nope he was just Drew. If he had a passenger in his car the person in the passenger seat had to hold Pepe’ in the palm of their hand so that he could still talk to him, and he may or may not talk to the passenger (right T.) He would sit with Pepe’ in his lap while he played video games, did his homework and he even had dinner with us most nights. We heard many wild stories of Pepe’s adventures before he came to live with Drew, I think at one point he was a squirrel hunter, a ninja, and a stunt motorcycle rider. I am pretty sure there are a set of boys that know so much more about Pepe’ than I do, one of these days I hope to hear all the tales.
This was Drew, he loved to tell stories and make these fantastical tales of whatever held his fancy at the moment. Drew had a wonderful imagination from the time he was little he would exercise it and I loved to hear what was going on in his mind. My mother is the one that fostered that quality the most in him. She would tell the best stories to me and my sister and she did that with Drew and Madison too. He was a kid and person that he put everything he had into whatever was the “it” thing.
Drew had big dreams, as he got older reality started setting in and he realized he probably couldn’t be a archaeologist ninja warrior or Batman, he really wanted to be Batman. Even with growing older and knowing that some things weren’t possible and they were fancys of your childhood he kept his imagination and his playful spirit. Drew had just entered the part of his life where adulthood smacks you in the face. You have to make those hard decisions as to whether you will be responsible and go to work or be a flake and go off with his friends. I can proudly say 98% of the time he chose to do the things he was supposed to do.
Not long before he died I was lucky enough to have one of our first adult conversations may have been our only one. The conversation wasn’t me telling him what he needed to do and how to do it. The conversation was his plan for the future and how he was going to get there. He even told me that he made his list of pros and cons. He was realizing he had probably taken the harder road but he was starting to see that there was more than one road. I am so glad I got that with him. I miss that I will never have another but I do know he heard me when I was telling him things when he was younger. I was also proud that he was becoming comfortable with himself. He was becoming an adult and I felt like I had done something right. Looking back I wish I had known I was only going to have a limited time with him I would have listened to the stories more. I would have enjoyed them more than just tolerate them so that I could get dinner done. I would have worked a little less and enjoyed the moment. As the saying goes hindsight is 20/20. I hope I am doing thar more with Madison and Molly. I hope I am enjoying them more.
Definition of serendipity:
(n) : an unsought, unintended, or unexpected discovery, made by accident and sagacity; the discovery of something by accident while investigating something quite different.
I always wondered how serendipity worked. I used to think it was just a used cliche that was used for romantic comedies. I am not sure I had really thought about the definition of serendipity and whether or not if I ever noticed it happening to me before. Today I had a moment of true serendipity. It was so evident that it almost knocked me on the ground when I realized the power of what had happened.
I had a “friend”, someone I probably had not seen except on Facebook for 8 or 9 years, put a request for help moving this weekend. Like most weekends I had tons to do but for some reason I felt compelled to offer my help. I thought to myself that is the part about paying it forward is doing things for others when it may not be convenient for you. Stepping out of yourself and doing for others. I also know how much it sucks to move and have no one help. Moving is not my favorite thing to do anyways.
I hadn’t been feeling real well all week so much so that I ended up going to and Urgent Care because I felt so bad. Ends up I have kidney stones, if anyone has ever had them, then you know how painful this can be. Normally I would have messaged this friend and told her I wasn’t feeling up to helping her and apologize. I would go around doing as little as possible but not let it cross my mind again that I chose to not help. I had reason to not help, I wasn’t feeling good. I kept picking up my phone this morning to just do that, but I kept having a this voice in my head telling me “get off your butt and just do it, you said you would now just go”. That’s what I did, I took a shower and drove the 30 minutes to her house to help her move. What I didn’t plan on is that I needed her more today than she needed me. I found this is the funny thing about helping people is the action usually turns around and blesses you in some way.
My friend was a hairdresser that worked for me at a salon years ago, we were friendly with each other and did a few things outside of work. Life took a hold of us and we never saw each other unless it was a chance encounter at the store. She is a wonderful person, inside and out. She is Native American and does some absolutely beautiful work with birch bark and jewelry. I get to her house today and we are talking and I am telling her about my life since we last saw each other and she is doing the same. We decided to get to work and I said something to the effect of “at Drew’s memorial”. She stopped me and she asked me what I said. I just assumed she knew Drew passed away. She didn’t, she stops what she’s doing and sits down with tears in her eyes and tells me how sorry she is. She hugs me and we have a moment. It’s hard to describe how the conversation went. All I know is for the past several weeks I have felt that a breakdown was on the horizon. The loss of Drew has been so heavy that is was hard to think clearly. She started telling me about what she and her people do to help honor the people that have died, to help them find there way to heaven if you want to call it that. She said that in her culture that they believe it takes about a year for them to make the journey, and it takes that long for them to be able to contact you in one form or another. The way she described this ritual it was so beautiful and it made more sense as to why I may not be “feeling” Drew around right now. She said that on the year mark of your loved ones death you make a wonderful meal and feed yourself and your family from the same bowl, then you put some food in a bowl and put it under a tree (she mentioned what kind but for the life of me I can’t remember). Then when the first star that comes out that night, that is your loved ones star and they are thanking you for the nourishment. I loved the idea that I can do more for Drew and he would be able to know that I still love him and will always try to nourish him. Of course by the time she gets to that point in her story I am a blubbering mess, so when we get closer to the year mark of Drew’s death I am going to get her to tell me again and I can do this for Drew. I would love to be able to look up in the sky and see something tangible and say Hey there Drew, love you and thank you for watching over us.
This was my moment when I realized my friend helped me so much more than I helped her. That the urging in my mind was someone pushing me knowing I needed to hear this today. W. thank you so much for telling me your stories and I hope to learn more from you.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and its even more true when you are trying to honor the memory of a child lost. When Drew was younger he had some great mentors and adults in his life. It is just as true now that he is gone. There are so many people that have touched my life since Drew died. But there is another Angel Mom and crafting friend that has been helping with some of the technical things on Drew’s page. I want to give a big thank you to Tiffany Ivanovsky. She made Drew’s template for his Pay it Forward cards. Her daughter Emma passed away not long after Drew and she is working on getting Emma’s cause heard also. You should check out Emma’s page and see what a wonderful girl she was and what a great family they are. http://agiftfromemma.com/
I have noticed that some days it is easier for me to help others than think of how much I have lost in Drew’s death. I am also a giver, always have been. I like to do things for the people around me. I have to say that is a trait Drew got from me. He loved to do things for the people around him. That is why it is so important for me to get the word out on Drew’s pay it forward mission.
I still have a long way to go to get all of it off the ground. I need to get his logo finished so we can make t-shirts and decals. I also need to get his website finished. In my mind it’s not a matter of wanting these things to be done it is almost an obsession. I figure if I can’t do things for Drew anymore I will be doing things in his honor instead. It helps me get out of my head, helps me realize that the pain I am in is only because I loved him so fiercely. I am going to try to protect, nurture and grow his memory as much as I did when he was alive.