What do you do on an anniversary of the saddest day of your life? There is no answer and nothing to ease the memory of the somewhat ‘warm’, to Minnesota standards, December day. The light snow and smell of the cool air rushes back the memories of the stabbing pain. Today hurts like any other, but the sting on December 3, 2011 of that sharp blade to the heart is so fresh in my memory. I feel it like it was only moments ago, but somehow the instant sting lessens and the numbness, rehabilitation and scarring remains every day. I try to hold onto my memories of Grant and create new ones with those I love so dearly. Since day one of the month approached I thought about how I should spend this sad day. I desperately wanted to sleep through it as I did days following the horrid news. I remembered hysterically crying myself to exhaustion to the point where I slept hour upon hour; Waking from another nightmare and crying myself back to complete exhaustion in a constant cycle. I re-lived the news in my dreams so often I couldn’t even count. My eyes were so puffy I could hardly see and I swallowed so much air through my gasps that I made myself sick. I got to a point of being so weak I couldn’t cry anymore and my whales of cries became tearless… I cried out every last tear in me. I hear sometimes people think I am so strong. I’d like to say that is true. I am actually weak… Really weak, but you can only cry so much. I remember by the time Grant’s wake approached almost a week after his passing I couldn’t even cry. I was so weary and I just couldn’t do it anymore. As time passed I had to teach myself not to cry; How to get through a story without the tears rushing down… How to get through a song… How to eat french toast as I did moments before I heard the news… How to see his smile and smirk in pictures… How to hear his voice and laughter… How to dream of him without sobbing myself awake.
I woke on December 3, 2013 with a few tears as I reached for my phone with the reminder of the date at the top of my screen. I wasn’t going to celebrate the day, but I wasn’t going to ignore it either… I was going to live it. I picked up Mom and we brought B-Dub and Ashton McDonald’s and ate lunch with them. Of course, the hot lunch menu option when we arrived was french toast… I think I have only had french toast once in the past two years and with my first bite I remembered I swore I couldn’t eat it again. The aroma of maple syrup is something I will never forget… We all have scents that conjure up memories with a vivid force no other sense can match… Mine is maple syrup.
Following lunch Mom and I picked up Benny and Greta to go on a non-planned adventure. Let’s see where the day takes us and head towards St. Paul. We told the kids we were going to a magical place and we did… I didn’t know how magical at the time. We ended up seeing the ice rink in rice park and with one mentioning of it Benny wanted to try it so badly and I wasn’t going to stop him. We tied up the first set of skates ever to touch their feet. This was a big moment for them; a milestone in their life. I held Benny’s hands and was his full support as he stepped on the ice with determination. He was going to do this and I could have not been more proud. Just like how I feel in my grief; with each fall you get back up and keep going. Sometimes you stumble and sometimes you fall hard. With practice and time you glide with more grace, but you do know that you might plunge again and that is OK. Even the best skaters fall and the better you get the more complex things tend to get. I had to remind the kids that they were going to get better and better with more practice. They would know what to do as they learn… My reflection of the day helped me realize that falling in life can’t make you give up on the rest of the adventure. The adventure may be long and some days I wish I had a river I could skate away on, but the adventure is easier when you have the hands of family and friends holding you up.
“Faster Daddy, Faster!” screamed the kids as we whirled round and round on the Mad Hatter Teacups at Magic Kingdom this last week. All five of us sat in this tiny teacup that I had waited all day to ride. A few years ago Karmin, Mom and Grant took a trip to Disney World and I promised to take the kids on their favorite ride at our first trip to Disney. I have an image in my head of the exact teacup that Grant sat in. Recalled from the photo that was taken of them I knew that we too would ride the white cup with teal décor. I stood in line plotting out my plan of attack, praying that nobody would steal my teacup. Grant’s teacup. As soon as the line grew shorter and I was ready to make my move, people swirled all around me, running to their favorite teacup. I ran, losing the rest of my family, but so excited to put my hands on this memory. As I sat there gathering the kids, taking their picture, I wished I had the joy of taking this ride with Grant. I closed my eyes for just a second to pretend I was back in 2008. Reminding myself I have to soak up the now I held my camera out and let it snap. I remember Weston saying to Anniston, “Keep your eyes on me. You won’t get dizzy if you keep looking at me.” As the ride started Weston took the wheel and whirled us round and round as fast as we could go. I have never twirled so fast. The kids’ laughter was priceless and I vow I will never forget the sound of those giggles. We twirled. We laughed. As soon as the ride was over we hopped off dizzy from all of the twirling. Ashton even fell into a bush! As I sat back to catch my breath from all of the laughing and get my head on straight I couldn’t help but think of the song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” It reminded me that the twirling of life can sometimes cause us to stumble, maybe fall into a bush, or a dark hole, experience sadness, or a deep depression. We need to remember to let our Father take the wheel and to keep our eyes on him as it is the only way to get through this life. If we can remind ourselves to sit back and trust that our Father will always take care of us our lives will be changed. We may not understand what peaks, dips, and twirls will come but we must trust that we will make it through this life and the ultimate goal is spending eternal life with our loved ones. Don’t close your eyes; keep your eyes on the Father, and soak up the now. Knowing that there will be struggle and there will be pain, enjoy the giggles in life. For today leave the laundry pile and dishes behind and be kind, share a laugh, give a kiss, whisper I love you, show someone how much you care for them; for we don’t know what tomorrow may bring.
“Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I’m on
Jesus take the wheel”
Carrie Underwood – http://youtu.be/lydBPm2KRaU
Day after day I ask myself how I will move forward without Grant. I get through the day thinking and talking to him like he is still here just not in my sight. For many that may seem weird, strange, maybe even creepy; for those that have lost deep it’s not only finding peace and understanding with their death it also includes searching for apart of yourself that you just can’t seem to find. Happy just isn’t familiar to you anymore and the moments you do feel a bit of joy feeling guilty. A mother would say their child is a very part of them. I could imagine that life would go on without one of my limbs, a breast, even all ten flanges, but never could I have imagined living without one of my children. All too often I hear the phrase “I couldn’t live without you” in a song, poem or letter. I have thought a lot about that saying except the end to that quote should be “but I still have to”. Some may say otherwise, but I find it to be truth. We just miserably have to find our way even knowing there is the reality that others have lost more than one of their beloved. Is their pain a deeper pain than mine? I would suppose it is… I can’t imagine the depth of those who have lost more than one love in their life. Grief is scary, it’s unpredictable, its dark, cold and cruel. One moment I may need a hug and at other times I may despise the touch… it’s hard for me to put words to that feeling. Sometimes a hug feels good and other times I’m too angry to appreciate any sort of comfort… Wearing my grief is like clothes… There are days I can walk out the door barring/excepting the reflection of how I really feel and other days I just want to pull the mirror off the wall and shatter it with my two bare feet…. There are days I can shake the devil off my back and other days I feel like he’s sitting on my chest… Days I want to get up and take back my deserved happy… If I could explain grief on a chalkboard I’d scribble up and down all over… Circle forward, backwards, and all around because that’s how unfamiliar grief feels. I have my moments of feeling some peace and the next minute am scared to death of life without him. Almost two years and it feels like yesterday… I play the days, weeks over and over in my head; good days, bad days, almost as if maybe I can still fix things. I dream so often Grant is still a part of my day; in a strange way I dream in the past and wake up to the present.
I pay attention to the awareness of prescription drug addiction; where it begins and where far too often it ends…. The awareness was something I didn’t really tune into 3-4 years ago. I’m not really sure if it just wasn’t as talked about or if I was just ignored it thinking like any issue in my life would find a way to fix it. That WAS NOT our family, that WAS NOT my child. That money or the right doctors should fix this. I was naive and believed that what Grant himself really wanted, sobriety, was an easy choice. 28 days and $30,000 later he be rid of the demon. I believed that desire and promises were more powerful than the monster he called Slick.
The second stay at Hazelden Grant and I sat down with his councilor to go over his recovery plan before his discharge, she did suggest that Grant do after care, which Grant chose not to and HIPPA held my hands tied.
“I would not move forward if it meant leaving Emmy behind. I don’t know how anyone can pretend a child never existed, take down their pictures, remove their things…No, I do not leave her behind and “move on”, I move forward, with all 5 children–one running a bit ahead…just out of sight.” ~from Today ~ Moving Forward 2/16/08
The following story was sent to me today and I could completely relate. I encourage you to take the time to watch this story and keep this family in your prayers. I know the fears they have faced and the nightmares they endure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDkFNQp7sL4
One meaning of the blog is to show how addiction can happen to anyone and how a fragile life can spiral so easily; how a few dabbling moments can turn into a much larger problem. Teens and young adults are abusing drugs long before they are mentally prepared to handle the implications that it is futuristically going to cause for themselves. Because it is a prescription most “kids” are not aware that this is a problem. Doctors are over prescribing medications to children, teens and young adults without educating parents on how addicting many of them can be, how popular sharing/selling prescriptions is, and what an epidemic it is to have parties with these drug to increase the effects of their alcohol. I highly encourage parents to educate themselves. Consider this story one more reminder that it can happen to anyone, guard your medicine cabinets, and be aware that pot isn’t the only teenage problem that they will eventually outgrow because “everyone’s kids try it a few times.” This isn’t a small problem. Friends are losing their children, small children are losing parents, loved ones lives are so quickly being numbed by this epidemic. One person is not going to change the world but if we all are educated about how big of a problem this is and how we cannot have the “it won’t happen to me or my kid” mindset we might be able to have an open mind to understanding the problem and help to make a difference.
Together, with the help of friends and family and sitting through a two day garage sale our team “In Memory of Grant Sawyer” raised $5,439 for MN Teen Challenge. We were so excited to be a part of the fundraising for this great organization. We hope that this money touches lives that are struck by addiction and pray that it saves many. Thanks to everyone who helped in our efforts! We hope to see you next year!
Grief equals klutz for both Steve and I. One moment it may be as cheap as a cup of coffee tipped over, dropping a $1500 lens or being so down and out on the anniversary of Grant’s death that you have a fender bender just going to pick up a pie in hopes there can be some pleasure found it the horrific date of December 3rd. These kind of mishaps as silly and replaceable as they are bring me to my knees in a puddle of tears. I know that my loss and sadness doesn’t come with a pass to a life of perfection, but God knows I have begged for mercy over the little things because some days I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I just wish I didn’t have to get up. Am I a stronger person because I have been through the dark valley? I guess… I mean, I still drag my ass out of bed every day and treat people with respect, but please don’t ever complement my strength. It has not been a bench I wanted to lay on nor did I choose strength over weakness because if it wasn’t for my brain telling my body to breath I would have suffocated myself by now.
3 or 4 years ago Grant and I were tooling down the road on our way home from Albertville MN. Okay, so the police officer said speeding. I’ll be honest the mean bone in me thought don’t you have bigger crimes to deal with than a mother in a minivan going 67 on a 55 in the country and then as Grant would tell the story… “Mom was a bawling mess…” And yes that is the true story. I remember as I cried my way home with a ticket of $130 to be sent in 7 days Grant was grabbing my arm with that big grin on his face with these wise words, “Mom…don’t feel bad <huge smile>. Think of it like this, if you lost your bumper back there on the road it would cost you more than $130 and you wouldn’t be crying you’d be pissed screaming the F-word all the way home. So mom don’t cry about it. The cop probably would have made me get out and walk a straight line… <ha ha ha>.”
Grant always found humor in just about every human error. I think he kicked himself so many times for mistakes that he found great compassion for others that were down and out. As parents we don’t always appreciate our children scolding us about our actions and behavior in life, but I don’t for a minute regret some of Grant’s wise words. Grant may have not always made wise choices, but I don’t think there is anyone that understood regret more than him. He was a young man that had a 100 “sorrys” for whomever he may have hurt and compassion for those who were down and out. On his own lowest of low days he would still tell a funny joke, give you the best shoulder rub ever, lift your feet from the floor, and the best bear hug ever. I miss these days and I try to cherish and adore the good days and moments like Grant did. I try to complement like Grant did and smile on the bad days remembering the good. I miss him so much.
Just more Mama thoughts… If God can move mountains, allow others a new breath… Why didn’t he save my son? I’ll never have that answer, but as each day passes I remind myself I’m a day closer to the open arms of my boy and finding peace with my agony. Many days all I could focus on was his struggle that robbed me of so many good days. I was always so worried and full of fear that I didn’t enjoy the many good days. I now consider it a gift… Grant taught me to be a better person; he gifted me with kindness, humility, love, companionship and a profound understanding for the deepest kind of sadness.
We just wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for donating to our fundraiser, helping with our garage sale, buying boutique headbands, and supporting us along this journey. Our garage sale raised over $1900 and with very generous donations from family and friends our current total is at: $3,974 raised. I am so excited to help this organization and know that this money will save lives and save families!
Not sure about you but I have lost too many people to the power of addiction. My friends have lost loved ones, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews. kids who are just kids are losing their souls. I can barely watch the news without this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that something is desperately wrong with this world. Innocent children and families are being destroyed by the power of drugs. Praise God some of them have overcome and won’t look back, but still others have lost their life, or others are in my daily prayers to find help and the families are left to wonder what this is all for. Why this world is so cruel to take our innocent youth and somehow before our eyes it is too late. Teen Challenge is such a good program, their year-long program is necessary for so many and without the support of you and me so many would not have the chance to go through it. Thank you again for honoring my brothers memory.
We would love for you to join us!! Last year we had so much fun and loved having the support of family and friends walking with us in memory of Grant and in honor of everyone fighting the battle of addiction. Show MN Teen Challenge your support by walking with us on Sunday!!! Come on, you can even register your pet!! The have a day full of fun…. bounce house, inflatable slide, balloon art, and face painting for the kiddos, cotton candy, lunch, concert by the choir! To do so…. go to this link http://www.crowdrise.com/inmemoryofgrantsawyer and click on join…. it’s that easy! See ya Sunday!
Harriet Island in St. Paul, MN
Sunday, September 29, 2013
11:00am-1:00pm: Registration, Fund Collection, Picnic Lunch & Kids’ Corner
1:00-2:30pm: 5K Walk
2:30-3:00pm: MnTC Choir & Program
Also, as I was sifting through the website of NM Teen Challenge I noticed the group “Know the Truth” and was curious what it was. It is a prevention program that speaks to our youth. In the month of November alone they will speak at 40 middle and high schools. They also have educational events for parents. Let us pray that this program touches many lives and saves some of our youth from following this path. http://knowthetruth.mntc.org/
This morning September 13th. God, Friday the 13th… I woke up to a text from my friend Barb, “call me Andy died”… Instantly I knew how. As l leaned over the bed trying to read once again what the small print said I just about threw-up. Hours later I feel like I am re-living the worst day of my life because today is theirs and know all too well what every minute of their day, weeks and months will be like. They will be counted by the minute, the hour, the day and every month after. Something I wouldn’t wish on this Earth’s worst enemy.
As I move in a rewind of my own emotions many things have flashed cruelly back at me. The numbness I felt and the complete shock of it all. If I could just wake up from this. I remember how I felt so cold, so dark. Stiff… Every breath felt like a boulder on my chest. I just wanted to fade away to wherever he was. I wanted nothing more that day than to close my eyes and just die myself. I remember chatter all around me for days and I couldn’t tell you a thing said. I didn’t want to be touched by anyone that couldn’t handle my whales. I could hardly stand a sweet sympathetic touch. I would have rather been slapped in the face because any kind of comfort felt cruel and I felt nothing but anger. I just wanted to beat the shit out of the devil. My son fought that bastard and I just wanted the final fight because I would have died in that fight. The feeling in my heart that someone I love is hurting deeply shatters my heart because I know there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, no gift, no anything will make this day better.
This morning has brought back thoughts and physical feelings that I didn’t allow myself to relive until today. The horror that rushed through my body this morning; all morning I felt in a fog of those feelings. I felt such deep sadness as I stepped into the shower. I recall it was maybe three days after Grant’s death before I could even dragged myself out of bed to take a shower. Today’s shower I re-lived a feeling that hurt so deep. The warm water that poured over my body was one of the weakest moments I felt in all of my grieving. My boy would not feel this ever again; warm water a feeling of pleasure felt cruel. My throat felt so swollen and the tears melted into all the rest of the wetness. Warm water was a feeling of pleasure and I felt horrible feeling any contentment; the taste of food, the smell of the flowers, a kind hug. I felt nothing but the deepest pain. Feeling this sorrow isn’t out of complete selfishness. Re-living this pain is maybe a sort of compassion and empathy for someone very special to me. My mind, body and soul aches for her. My heart breaks for the days I know she has ahead of her. I know what she is thinking… I know her fears… I know her emptiness… Many people had beautiful comforting words to say after our losing Grant. They were so well thought out… Well intended… I say, “Grieve hard. Grieve as hard as you can.”
I have had a lot on my mind today… Some days thoughts and feelings come from every direction. Usually I make it to work between the early hours of 5:45 and 6:30; thoughts and feeling run through my head and if I had a key pad on my steering wheel I’d be on the side of the road writing; arriving to work late and probably ramble more than I already do. Things I would like to write about so early in the day, but as the day goes by those thoughts just sort of melt into the rest of my ‘held on hold thoughts’. Most of the thoughts I keep to myself and others I am inclined to share. Some days my thoughts and feeling are no longer than a paragraph and others are long, painful… And yeah, maybe even mean. But it’s, I guess, my therapy of sorts. When I go back and read my guts pouring over or my raw humor I seem to reason with myself and find understanding in my anger, confusion or bitterness. I have great respect for counseling, but I also think it’s something very personal; like a friend. I think the best shrink would be the one wise and understanding to your situation and the first visit will more than likely give you the answer. My first visit… I think the poor lady thought I was going to begin with a sorry ass story of how my life was crazy at home, I had too much on my plate at work, or maybe my dog died and I couldn’t deal with the loss and emptiness I felt. When I looked at the empty cage thru the rearview mirror of my Subaru… For most that statement seems cruel and crazy, but when you have lost a child it puts a lot of emotions into perspective and that is what I mean when I make the statement some days I just feel mean and have mean thoughts… Little do people know how silly and thoughtless their statements are. I’m not trying to be callous in my thoughts and words that’s just how deep my pain feels. There was a time in my life these very things were my rock bottom and now I don’t give a shit about your beloved rabbit dying on the way to the bunny urgent care. I’m appalled you would continue comparing your grief. Geez, do I need a call button to pull? It would be inexcusable for me to say what I think or my thoughts. Those who have lost a child know exactly what I mean. Grant’s death opened a door to what’s really important. It’s as simple as how you ‘don’t talk about the fat lady when the fat ladies in the room’ and you should know better than to talk about a lot of stupid things with me. Boy, am I being honest today… I made it through one counseling session… Yes one. Wrong lady to see aaannnddd I should probably seek others, but this was where I left off. Those of you that are in this field I agree I didn’t seek out others or seek out the right person for me, but it is a funny story to tell… Things do make me laugh… Especially stupid things! Well, stupid to me… “Hello Kim”… right off the bat this was not a lady I would EVER roll with in life and the minute I walked in the door she was waiting to hear about my stress level at work and life balance… Not how I found my son in his room overdosed on oxy in 2009… What was shocking was how a person in that profession that prescribes medication was totally absent to the fact that Oxycodone was a drug of choice and a rapidly growing epidemic in our nation. In all respect to her she may have been 100% on her game to stress, death and dying; she was CLUELESS to the incline of drug use in the world of low/middle and upper class. Little to know that Adderall is abused as an upper and that it’s an epidemic… Those who know me know I respect intelligent and still can laugh at stupid and trust me… even the ‘book smart peeps’ have their book marker on the stupid page some days. Okay I’ll be nice… ‘naive’. Short and sweet, I was not counseled at all that hour… I informed her on the real world of addiction she seemed to be oblivious to. God bless her..… I wish I could write how I would imitate that visit.