On July 29th, 2018, my life changed forever. My second-born son died at the age of 16.
The car he was driving hit a tree, and he and our family dog died instantly. I couldn’t understand what I was being told. The words made no sense to me. I was in shock.
I made my husband repeat it about three times. This can’t be right. I had so many questions.
Why was he driving on that road?
Why was he going so fast?
Why was the dog with him?
Could I have prevented this?
I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
In the months after, I was told that I was strong; but I didn’t feel strong. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t lying in my bed in the fetal position as they expected.
I felt like a piece of my heart had been ripped out.
My heart hurt.
I couldn’t breathe; it felt like there was a weight on my chest.
I had no appetite, and I couldn’t sleep well. I was having trouble believing my son was gone for good and that it wasn’t just a bad dream. I kept thinking I would wake up from this nightmare.
When I would go into his room, it started to sink in; it was too real. All of his things were there, but he was not.
I missed him so much – there was an ache in my heart that wouldn’t go away, and I cried and cried.
I felt like I had failed him as a parent; it was my job was to protect him, and I hadn’t.
In time, I realized that he was a teenager that craved his freedom, and I couldn’t always be there with him. I had been giving him a little room to grow and make his own mistakes. Unfortunately, his first mistake with driving too fast was fatal.
It wasn’t fair that he wouldn’t live to learn from it.
I was grieving, but I just wasn’t showing it in public.
I struggled with being told I was strong because it made me feel like I wasn’t grieving hard enough for my son.
My husband and I were very strong because we did the things that no parent should have to do: We planned a funeral, thinking of him with every detail.
We chose a lightly stained wood casket with a camouflage lining. I paid as much attention to the details of his funeral, as I did to the details of the Graduation party for my oldest son two weeks before.
We made it through calling hours and then buried our son.
We were also there for our other two boys, trying to help them get through their grief. Indeed, you don’t know how strong you are until you have no other choice.
There was no other choice; I had to be there for all 3 of my boys in whatever way they needed me.
I have been working through my grief and feeling whatever feelings come up. Sometimes the waves of grief hit me out of the blue.
Usually, I talk to my son in his room because I feel close to him there. I talk to him in the car, like I used to when he was practicing for his road test.
I think of him every day, and I will love him and miss him every day for the rest of my life.
I know that he wouldn’t want me to be miserable and he would want me to live every day to the fullest as he did. I try to be as positive as possible and do things to remember and honor his life.
I can feel that he is at peace, and he is with me. Knowing that does make me feel stronger.