I was given the challenge of creating anything associated with Spring. Anything. There were no limits to the imagination and it could be anything I wanted to make. Anything. Yet, I literally can’t think of anything to create because Spring is definitely my season of sadness.
Warning: this post has nothing to do with my usual DIY or recipe sharing. You won’t hurt my feelings if you scroll on past my season of sadness and get to my friends sharing their amazing creativity at the bottom of this post.
You would think that living in the mid-west would give me every reason to love Spring as we enter the winter thaw but I really dislike everything about the season.
As a Christian, I know it’s supposed to be a joyous time of rebirth and new life however, grief and mourning the loss of my son overpower my joy the moment I hear a bird chirp.
My son, Cody, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep 3 years ago at the age of 23. He went to sleep and never woke up due to a brain bleed.
It was Spring Break 2015 and we were taking our 3 girls on a road trip to Arkansas to visit my in-laws however, Cody couldn’t go with us because he had to work. We planned a future RV trip in the summer and Cody would go with us to the Grand Canyon.
12 hours into our road trip we received “the call” from a family friend and just like that my world went dark, my body completely went numb and I honestly don’t remember much about the trip home. My Fitbit said I had over 10,000 steps. That’s an awful lot of pacing in a 31 foot RV.
I don’t know why but all the way home I kept repeating the ending lyrics to the song Bohemian Rhapsody “nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me”.
We came home to be embraced and showered with so much love from our family, friends and neighbors. The non-stop food, phone calls and texts were beyond overwhelming, in a good way.
My sweet best friend slept on my couch in the same clothes for 2 days. My family flew in and drove in from all over the country.
My body and mind went on autopilot as we made funeral arrangements for our first born child and the days went by in a blur.
Every night my husband and I collapsed into bed exhausted and emotionally drained. We held each other and cried ourselves to sleep each night.
My eyes were swollen from crying so much. I endlessly searched for signs of Cody’s presence. I replayed every word of our last conversation. I reflected on 23 years of happy memories.
I used all of that emotion to write his eulogy with lots of help and guidance from my girls and husband.
The wake was a steady stream of family, friends, neighbors, his brothers in blue and people I had never met. We learned that he made people laugh and smile as much as much as he made us laugh and smile.
I remember what I called “the look” I received from the mothers that came through the receiving line. No words needed to be spoken as we exchanged “the look”. I knew what they were thinking just by looking into their teary eyes.
The funeral procession was lead by dozens of police cars from departments around the county and the church was standing room only. His brothers in blue gave him an amazing farewell that I will never, ever forget.
I sat in the church pew clinging to my husband’s arm and trying to comfort my 3 girls as they sat to my left, oldest to youngest. They were and still are my true strength.
My thoughts were wandering as I relived all of the times we sat in the church as a family for First Communions, Confirmations, Graduations and Mass. I couldn’t help but think that this would be the last time we were in church as a complete family. All 6 of us together for the last time.
My husband and I agreed that the eulogy would be funny because we couldn’t deliver any words to our friends and family if we went the sappy, emotional route. Besides, Cody gave us lots of material to laugh about on a daily basis. He was definitely a funny guy.
We laughed. Everyone laughed. We cried. Everyone cried.
My tunnel vision took over as we walked out of the church behind the casket. Everything around me went black and it appeared as if I was walking in slow motion down a long, dark corridor. People to the left and right of me with unrecognizable faces.
Burial was never an option. He was cremated so we could sprinkle his ashes, plant trees and bring him with us to Texas when we retire.
For two weeks we were completely surrounded by family and friends. Lots and lots of love, compassion and kindness lifted us each day and suddenly we yearned for alone time. We yearned for family time with the girls. We yearned for our routine.
Slowly the girls went back to school and we went back to work except nothing was routine. Everything was different. Forever changed. We were functioning in life “after death” mode and sometimes we weren’t functioning at all.
On the outside, I looked like I had my act together but on the inside I faked my way through every single day. Fake smile. Fake laughter. Fake emotions.
And then I snapped. I had a huge meltdown at work and walked out the door with no intention of ever going back. I sat on a bench and cried (really, I was sobbing) on the phone to my husband who eventually coaxed me into going home to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.
My thoughts swirled around my lack of tolerance for people and petty bullshit. Dealing with people was a waste of my time and I didn’t have time to waste because “nothing matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me”.
I became hyper focused on time. How I spent my time each day and who I spent my time with. Was anything or anybody worthy of my time?
I started seeing a therapist as the shock set in and I entered the grief cycle which felt more like a grief tsunami. Huge waves would unexpectedly pound me down so hard I felt like I was drowning. Some days I could barely keep my head above water.
It made me angry when people said I was so strong. Strong? No, I was in shock and living my days in blackout mode. I literally don’t remember 5 months of my life and I certainly didn’t want to be the poster child of strength.
Although there is no timeline when it comes to grief, getting through the first year was a big deal to me because it meant we “survived”. We made it through all of our “firsts” without Cody and yes each and everyone one of those special occasions hurt even more as I saw my husband and girls face those moments with broken hearts. Together we “survived”.
As a mother, I not only grieve for the loss of my son but I grieve for the entire family. I grieve for all of the special moments he won’t physically be here for. I grieve for his hopes and dreams that won’t come true. I grieve for my broken family tree.
The shower holds my tears and silent screams. My car holds my inchoherent babbling and one way conversations. The wind holds all my wishes for the future.
My eyes know what it feels likes to cry 365 days in a row. My heart knows it feels like to be broken. My lungs know what it feels like to gasp for air as I try to catch my breath. My brain has experienced sleep psychosis, more than once.
It wasn’t until we made it past the one year anniversary that it dawned on me how much I had developed a dislike for Spring. Spring has become my season of sadness but also a season of strength as each anniversary comes and goes. We “survived” another year.
I never realized how deeply my thoughts and emotions were tied to my surroundings during all of this because I was so numb through it all but literally everything leading up to March 29th floods me with such a heavy sadness. What makes most people excited and happy makes me sad.
Warmer weather. Green grass. Blooming flowers. Chirping birds. Blue skies. Sunshine. Spring break. Easter.
My oldest daughter Sarah shared these words and I couldn’t agree more…..The weird thing about a devastating loss is that life actually goes on. When you’re faced with a tragedy, a loss so huge that you have no idea how you’re going to live through it, somehow, the world keeps turning, the seconds keep ticking.
Yes, it has been 3 years since our family experienced a loss like no other and time has gone on. Graduations have happened. Babies have been born. Weddings have happened. Life decisions have been made. The Cubs won the World Series!
The waves of grief still come but less frequently and I’ve since learned how to tread water. I am far more selective on how I spend my time. I focus on being present in the moment. I appreciate more of the little things in life.
As a family we will continue to make happy memories together because in the end, all we have are memories. Why not make them happy memories?
On a positive note, we finally made it to the Grand Canyon last year over Spring Break. We all brought something with us that reminded us of Cody and ironically we spent the anniversary together, on the road and in the glamper.
As time goes on and we continue through the grieving process together, I am hopeful that Spring will no longer be a season of sadness for me and my amazing family.
In the meantime, baby steps will get us through this season of sadness as we grow and heal together.
Now that we have all of the crying and sadness out of the way, please make sure you visit my friends to be inspired by their Spring creativity.
The Inspired Makers Tribe are bringing you all the
spring decor and inspiration you need to kick the winter blues!
Lisa @ The Purple Hydrangea | Sarah @ 1915 House | Kim @ Farmhouse Made
Toni @ Small Home Soul | Susanne @ Pearl Street Designs | Sherri @ Savvy Apron
Stephanie @ One Mile Home & Style | Denise @ My Thrifty House