Author Archives: grantsplacemn

A BIT CLOSER TO HEAVEN

I’m always thinking about heaven… I wonder how colorful it must be, if the rivers are blue, if rainbows are in full color all the time. Is it peaceful? What our loved ones look like, young, old, as I last saw them? Are they always smiling? If all troubles are light as air? Like the song rings… I can only imagine.

Before losing Grant, I never really tried to envision what heaven would be like, nor did I give much thought about the things I can do here on earth to feel a bit closer to Glory Land. Love more, stay in the good of others, forgive and seek forgiveness… I’m always searching to feel a bit closer to heaven, any bit closer to my boy that I can.

A tree house, an enchanting place high in the sky, a giant nest for my littles to explore, a resting place. It’s going to be a family effort, working together, sharing a vision, sharing a dream, getting closer to each other, and closer to heaven all the while.

For the next few months we’ll come, we’ll saw, we’ll put the hammers down, we’ll drill, level, and fasten… and slowly, measure by measure, the dream will take shape.

I Love you Grantie,

mama

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Detour

These past few months I’ve been forced to detour my usual way to work each day. I’ve had choices; left, right, follow the signs assuring I’d get there, or discover my own detour. I’ve allowed myself choices through these detours as well as the detours of life. That word “detour” it can feel so bothersome, because most of the time I just want to get from point A to point B without a whole lot of thinking.

Grief, the biggest detour of my life, nonetheless I’ve been given choices, sorrowful every minute of the journey or finding even the tiniest bit of good along the way.

Recognizing the bliss again takes time, months, for others it takes years. Yet, one day at a time I’ve begun to see more clearly through the tears, little by little the light of life has begun to shine through, I truly believe it’s a gift Grant would want me to partake in, living.

A few weeks ago, my mindless drive to work became a field trip of sorts. The big orange signs screaming DETOUR, find a new way, started my thinking that there’s more than one, much like life. When Grant died, there was no visible road forward for me. That intersection of my life became a brick wall with no detour signs or instructions.

Like life, grief is a journey. We’re born, we live, we die, we’re all headed somewhere. For the most part we choose how we want to live our lives, we either work to live or live to work, make meals at the traditional times, shop the same store, pray in the same church each Sunday. But occasionally, life throws us a curve ball, and sometimes that ball knocks the holy wind right out of us. It comes through sweeping your life into the darkest place imaginable with no warning. With death there’s no immediate detour route. You can read all the books, listen to those that have walked the road before. The only helpful advice I have even to this day, is ask others to pray for healing and God’s grace because I couldn’t pray from myself. It took the faithful, never-ending love and prayers of family and friends to breathe life back into me.

I believe joy is like a muscle; if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. I had to find the gap in my soul and regain the joy I once had. Happiness isn’t just a coincidence, it’s not just given to you, it’s entirely our responsibility to live with a joyful heart.

Over the years I’ve relived Grant’s death, the hours before, the hours after, over and over. I’ve replayed the play by plays of what if, should I have, could I have on auto repeat. One day in my replay I clearly heard Grant’s reaction to how he would have talked me through this grief. For those of you that knew him it truly would have been his words. “Mom, I’ve already died. There’s nothing you can do about it.” I’m not saying that I don’t have these thoughts still, but finally I have Grant’s response ringing in my head when I go to that place in my head. Those are the words I hear now, in his unforgotten voice, “Detour, find another way, notice the good all around you. Remember the good in yesterday, look forward to tomorrow.” No matter how bleak the day ahead may look, find something to look forward to. Grant’s death crushed me. Losing a child empties your every ounce of joy, yet on the detour I have found life in awe. I’ve been beautiful scenery and kind people. I’ve found the true feelings of empathy that some may never know. I’ve appreciated the joy in the little things.

I know I can’t have my boy back. I know he’s not physically a part of my future. But, I can finally appreciate the detour in my life as the journey ahead. That there is still joy, that I still deserve happiness.

I Love you Grantie,

mama

 

detour

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Sunrise

A few weeks ago, while vacationing in Mexico Sarah sent me a message with the attached photo below…. our hello from heaven. I do believe in signs. I believe that the presence of those who have gone before us are everywhere. Some may think the extraordinary wonders of the earth are nothing more than environment, atmosphere, or just a random happening. Until you lose deeply, I’m not sure it can truly be understood.

Here on earth, I can no longer hear or touch Grant but every now and again, I can still smell his scent. Still six years into this journey rolling waves of fear come over me. It’s an indescribable kind of ache of missing him.

As time passes there are more frequent brighter days, I focus better, laugh more often and the similar humor I shared with Grant flares up more frequently. In between those moments, reality will roll in like a tidal wave robbing me of every bit of breath. Death is hard, death of a child is crippling. It’s the darkest, most frightening feeling imaginable. The fear of knowing you’ll be living life without your child is a fight for your next breath. Only empty rooms, have heard the whaling agony of a grieving mother.

After losing Grant, I didn’t know for months, even years, what would become precious to me. Random things tucked and forgotten, old mail addressed to him, insurance cards, anything with his name. The curve of his handwriting, a well wish from the past, can drop me to my knees in the middle of a day. One may think a grieving mother to be crazy in her journey to acceptance. I’ve sat completely numb with his shoes on wishing I could feel something, anything about him. I still bury my face in his cloths begging to still a day in time or smell a scent from the past. Good days, bad days, photograph after photograph, toys, tokens, Grant’s things, Grant’s treasured items that I can still hold, his footprint. I grieve to see a bit of his excitement one more time. Telling myself he’s gone is still unimaginable, it’s still the most aching words I must tell myself when my eyes open each morning.

So, the signs, the hellos from heaven, a dime found, a message through a song, his jokes and gestures reliving themselves through his nieces and nephews, a sunrise, a sunset, a cloud revealing he’s okay; that’s how a grieving mother survives. That is how she gets through a day, that’s how she wears her smile, that’s how she finds purpose, that’s how she seeks the faith that God will see her through earth’s worst nightmare.

I Love you Grantie,

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Happy New Year

As I sit here thinking about the amazing birthday I just spent with my kids, I can’t help but be grateful.

After replaying the sweet sound of my family singing Happy Birthday to me over and over in my mind it took on a new tune… Happy New Year to me, Happy New Year to me, Happy New Year dear mama, Happy New Year to me. Why the changing up of words are running through my mind I’m not sure, other than maybe it was a tune Grant put in my head. Who knows, maybe it was his birthday wishes for me.

Having another birthday and being surrounded by family is reminder that another year older is nothing short of a miracle, and hey, miracles are worth celebrating right?

Another birthday was not something I looked forward to these past several years, not because I was another year old, or because I was spending more time in the age defining isles at Target than clothing. Not because the designer shoes that have taken over my closet aren’t red on the bottom or have pretty heels, but rather a designer by the name of Clark, a good for the sole kind of shoe. My apprehension of growing older hasn’t been in seeing that the reflection I see in the mirror every morning is slowly becoming more and more unfamiliar but rather the feeling of guilt that I was gifted another year to walk this earth that Grant was shorted. I didn’t feel deserving of all the miracles happening around me and I felt guilty for feeling happy.

As a mother I would give to my children anything before indulging myself. Their happiness always came before mine; serving them the bigger slice, making sure their needs came before mine and I was okay with that. Traveling and exploring the world, living the adventure through their eyes was even better to me but Grant’s journey to heaven before me….  not okay. I was angry. I was hurting.  For the first time in my life I was furious with God. And believe me there were many heated words… yet his presence never left me, he somehow calmed the bitter, he held me in the darkest days and comforted my every tantrum of unfairness.

Finding peace and solace that God will lead me through life without Grant, that’s taken faith. Appreciating a sunrise, hearing the birds sing or welcoming the sound of laughter, that’s taken time. Learning to listen, to really listen, to every bit of beauty earth has to offer I’ve found truly the most beautiful symphony.

I guess today rang a melody from heaven, another day without Grant still rings true, that’s my reality but the chimes of life, the music of laughter I hear, the celebration of good food, family and unconditional love all around me, the scroll of birthday wishes, the cards, having another birthday offers me a welcoming reminder that it’s nothing short of a miracle to be alive, another day to love, to do what I do. It only feels appropriate to say how miraculous life is. Growing older is a privilege, I’ve been given another year, gifted to grow more in love and wisdom, given another year to learn from my mistakes, time to experience new wonders. I’ve been given more time to simply have moments of quiet reflection and celebration, to really hear the quiet, to feel my emotions. I’ve been given the gift to be grateful for my abilities and the privilege to live life.

Happy New Year to me.

I love you Grantie,

mama

morning with words

 

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Grief Jar

The Christmas holiday will always have a shadow; a presence felt yet vaguely seen. I like to imagine the human-like shadows of Grant and my other loved ones walking me throughout the day. Sometimes these shadows are in front of me making my way on the hardest of days, other times behind pushing me to find the courage to overcome my fears. And then there are those moments in the day that the friendly person inside my mind makes his presence known to the side of me, walking me hand by hand through this frightening journey called life. Grant’s presence resides within me all the time.

This month brings yet another Christmas without my boy, missing him is no less, yet I’m finding great comfort and a sense that it’s okay to celebrate the season. Grant is always in my heart and I miss him deeply and yet in the depth of my own grief I can recognize very clearly, I am not the only mother making her way through life without one of the children that made her family whole. As I wrote that word “whole,” it was the first time I thought that a mother’s heart is full when she can identify her family as whole. But the loss of a child, there is a hole never to be filled again and that is something I just must be accepting of.

The other day on a piece of paper Steve drew a picture much like the picture below of how someone described grief to him. Excitedly he drew and explained the picture and I could understand why, for him too it was the perfect example.

Six years ago, the first jar was the example of how I felt. I was suffocating, filled with fear and sadness, and consumed with the fears of how I would ever live life without Grant. My entirety was consumed with sadness and a large ball of grief. Steve’s pencil sketch much like the drawing below made sense. It was the first example to understand my grief and for others to understand the jars of grief. Steve explained, grief will never lessen or get smaller. It stays the same, but as time goes on the jar gets bigger.  My love for Grant is no less than it was 6 years ago, the hurt is the same. In the beginning stages of grief Grant’s death consumed my entire space. I didn’t have time or room for anything but my sadness and I felt so broken I didn’t know if I could find the space to love or care for anyone.

But as Steve so eloquently explained, as times goes on our love for and grieving Grant is no smaller. God just keeps making our jar bigger; giving us more room… for the girls, our grandkids, our family and friends. I can now recognize even on my saddest of days there is hope, understanding and love all around me and that I not only share my jar with Grant and my grief, I share my space with so many other blessings I am thankful for.

I love you Grantie,

mama

 

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Photo courtesy of  The Little White Cat 

“The black ball symbolizes grief while the jar is the mind/soul of the sufferer, the idea being that grief isn’t something that gets smaller with time (the three little jars on the left) but rather that you have to grow in order to cope with (the big jar on the right).”

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New Baby

Our family will be welcoming a new member; the new baby of the family. A new little life we’ve all eagerly been waiting for since Spring; the new tiny someone that will make her own kind of difference in the world, a perfect little gem that God and Grant have been holding tight till perfected to place in the arms of her family.

I’ve gone back and forth questioning the most precious moments of my own life: the first moments of my children at birth, or emotion on the faces of my girls when they saw their own child for the first time, moments I’ve stilled in my mind.

I know when she makes her way into the world my heart will melt.  I know I’ll have moments of sadness that she’ll never hold Grant’s hand or hear his jokes. Yet I feel assured….  That Grant is with us, that in Karmin and Dan’s greatest moments of joy, I can close my eyes and see Grant’s radiant smiling face.

I am so excited.

I love you Grantie,

mama

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Birthday Boy

Each year we choose to celebrate Grant’s birthday, July 8th with cake, candles and with whatever other kind of fun we can add to the day. We celebrate him, we sing, we light candles and we watch the excitement in all his nieces and nephews as they blow out his twenty-some candles. I know this may sound strange to some, but it doesn’t matter to us, its Grant’s day and I’m still his mom. Him not being here to celebrate his 29th birthday changes nothing, it’s an important day, it’s the day a beautiful soul was placed in the arms of our family and so, we celebrate the best we can. The biggest challenge of July 8th is making sure it remains more sweet than bitter.

Whether it is Grant’s birthday, a holiday, any day for that matter I’ve had a choice every morning to make it a good day or not. I mean I feel the worst thing in the world has happened to me and yet, I do have to remind myself that it’s not. Knowing that fact doesn’t change the sadness I feel or the ache my heart has of missing my boy it just forces me to look at the good in my life and find joy that still really does exist, even in the midst of my sadness.

In my own strange way, I’ve worked at making happiness a habit each day. Searching for happiness is hard; coming up for air in the deepest pit of sadness has been grueling, truly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There’s no floaty on the side of these dark waters. Finding a breath of air after the death of a child is like treading in brown pudding and finding joy again feels as impossible as crawling out of quicksand.

I’ve tried to make happiness a habit each day, looking at the world and myself in the most positive way possible. It truly takes an effort to find joy and pleasure in each day, to seek out the good in every situation and to appreciate the blessings all around me.

There are days I still question if I can go on and the answer is… I want too. Some days hurt more than others, some are less clear but I find myself more and more searching for the moments of joy and I do trust that in this pain there is purpose.

Today, July 8th my Grantie would have been 29, to me he will forever be 23, and I miss him more than any grieving verse could quote.

Twenty-nine years ago I said hello to an amazing, kind, smart, lovable boy. For twenty-three years, I laughed with him, even cried by his side. I held his hand keeping him safe, as well as the ache of letting him go.

I have many picture of Grant, the many beautiful moments I’ve had the honor of experiencing with him here on this earth. I can’t let the years I’m missing with him take away from the gift of having my beautiful boy for 23 years. Some parents have their children a life time, some spend little time holding them, for others a life just beginning to bloom is lost. These losses aren’t to be compared, loss is loss no matter how old and grief is grief. Burying your child is burying your child and God’s Grace is just as sufficient for each one of his children, no matter how the disheartening death certificate states their departure.

I think heaven is lucky… on your 29th Birthday I celebrate a life that for whatever reason the Lord called you home served a purpose far greater than the oldest of old.

I love you birthday boy,

mama

 

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Soul Swing

Year five, feels like its spinning away. I’m five years past the first-year dreads. My thoughts were the second and third years would begin to soften the significant days… and here I am five and a half years later still overwhelmed that he’s missing. There’s a hole in my heart, an emptiness I can’t seem to fill. I guess I’ll call it Grant’s space.

This past Mother’s Day the girls and their families gifted me a wood swing for Grants Place; the exact swing we shared with Tracy for ten years or more. Our soul swing… placed between our homes as a shared Mother’s Day gift years ago, it was a place we shared our parenting stories, gardening thoughts, marital heart breaks, joys and fears. Over the years Mother Nature had taken a toll on our special swing and last year we knew there were no more wiring it back together, it was time to remove it. One would think I’d be happy to remove the rotting, mossed-over, creaking, eye-sore, but I wasn’t.

I think when you lose deeply so much of the past comes back in huge waves and one finds themselves spinning back in time to remembered places and conversations. That old swing knew many secrets. That swing held many heavy hearts. It was a place of soul-searching, a place you would often find my friend and I. Remembered most on that swing were the conversations I had with Grant; laughs, light-hearted conversations and many times deep heartache.

Months after Grant’s passing the breeze of spring arrived and soul swing took on a new heavier load than ever before… grief. It was a place many evenings you’d find me, and most days my friend did. Soul swing didn’t hear much laughter from us that summer, the rickety rotting wood mostly felt the dropping of tears and heaviest of hearts. Swinging would have taken energy I didn’t have, so most of the time soul swing would remain still til my friend would find me between the trees and the strength of her foot and heart would rock us both.

The memories made in that old swing will be remembered forever in my heart and letting go of the rickedy old soul that cradled my soul over the years was hard. That swing was my favorite place to be. I want to thank the girls for the thoughtful gift they gave, it’s more than a comfortable gift… It’s a place I can close my eyes, feel the breeze on my face and remember its place. I can sit, remember my boy and swing in the glory of new memories yet to be made.

I miss you Grantie,

mama

 

If I could wish one dream… it would be to see his face, hear his voice driving up to Grant’s Place… I’ve come to the realization it would never be physically possible but I wish for these moments in a dream anyways.

 

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I’ll Always Be With You

While my dreams of watching Grant grow older will never come true, I will continue to create new dreams that are inspired by all the loving memories he left behind.

The worst, unimaginable loss, the loss of my child happened, yet in the fragility of it all, I discovered strength within myself that I never knew existed.

Grant’s death has taught me that life’s too short to be anywhere else but in the moment. Recognizing how he has inspired my new way of living and focusing on the good brings a sort of peace for me. Not knowing exactly what my future will look like I am able to feel ready to explore what lies ahead of me keeping in mind that I can’t be anything more than who I am in the moment. As each day passes I have become a little better at finding the inner peace to be okay with just that. By grace alone I will someday find the courage to accept that great joy can be discovered from my deepest darkest sorrow. I want to find that because in those moments of wonder maybe I’ll understand the greater purpose of Grant’s destiny.

When I think of the word courage, I’m reminded of the thousands of tears, the weakest of days, the feelings of failure and most of all, the fear to go on.

 

Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

But, the larger part of the quote….

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart I’ll always be with you.”

 

I’ve kept this quote in the wedge of my heart through the deepest, darkest days of my grieving.  As selfish as I wanted to be the past few years, the many days I would have rather curled up in bed and quit… I didn’t want to tarnish the happiness my girls deserved to find in the midst of their sorrow.

My seeking and wanting happiness again will never lessen how much I miss Grant nor will it change the reality that there will be days with dark moments. I know that my heart will forever ache watching a mother-son dance or looking through photos where he would forever remain alive. These and many other moments will always be the slow bleed of my broken heart…

The whys, the questions that will always linger are things I try to spend less time thinking about. These questions will never leave me but I choose to focus on the moment and accept God’s grace and trust in his promise. Filling my heart with appreciation for Grant’s life, being grateful for the gift of being his mother, finding the messages I know are meant for me, asking God to comfort me with his everlasting peace, lessening the feelings of bitterness I’ve felt being robbed of Grant’s physical presence are how I try to spend my days.

When grieving a child there’s no instructions for healing. Prayer feels unanswered, there is no longer reason to wish upon a star as my only wish was impossible. As hard as it is for me to say there were days I was so angry at God yet on my weakest of days I somehow found comfort in his mercy and amazing grace.

I felt responsible for Grant’s addiction and later even his death. I was his mom and it was my responsibility to keep him from harm. I even felt a deep guilt for not protecting Grant from himself.

For me tragedy brought with it the unpleasant truth that I’m not in charge.

I think the most courageous truth I can tell myself is just that. God can and will grant me the peace, strength and courage to live the rest of my life without bitterness or blame. Tragedy will happen and I may never find understanding in that but He does have a purpose for us. Grant’s life had meaning and Grant’s death made a change. If I never knew this kind of pain, I would never truly understand compassion.

 

I Love you Grantie,

Mama

 

 

 

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Christmas Letter to Grantie

 Click to view Christmas Letter Video…

Christmas Letter Video

My Dearest Grantie,

I hope heaven finds you well. Dad and I are doing well, your beautiful sisters too; As good aes we can…

Your nieces and nephews are the delight of my life, when I see the twinkle through the laughter they share with me. I always know you’re up there admiring them.

I know the detail of your smile, off to the side of your face, smirking as your sisters scold them.

I hear you asking the boys if they’ve found that special girl yet, all G’d up from the feet-up…

I see you tenderly wipe the tears from the faces of your favorite lil girls.

 It’s these moments I’ve captured and sealed in my heart…

This is how I know, how I really really know… you never left me.

Your every gesture, your every beautiful bit has been encapsulated in my very living heart that will beat for both of us till the day mine too, goes to rest, and I finally, finally hold you again…

For those who have loss a child and wonder how life will ever go on… that’s how…

My boy lives through me every minute, of every day…

Growing up I’d remind Grant – Do me proud today – now it’s me asking at the end of the day, Grantman, did I do you proud?

On my desk… your pictures still remain just as they were when you left us… Because, you’re forever my child

At home your beautiful brown shoes remain in the same spot you left them… because, they make me feel you’re still home.

Your closet remains full of your clothes, not because you need them, but because I do… because for even a moment I can rest my face in a piece of your fabric, inhale… and for a second smell your physical presence.

I’m not the same person you once knew… I’m a better person.

I care better for others… for both of us.

I look at the shimmering stars in the sky, admiring the between… for both of us.

I’ll walk my journey finding compassion for the weak… for both of us.

I look for the good in the fancy, as well as the begging soul on a corner… for both of us.

I’m sure if heaven has a mail box of thoughts, love and conversations yours is full every day.

I miss you more than any kind of loss…

As time continues to pass I’ve found a different loving relationship with you that helps me fill the absence of you in a different way.

The terror that cut through my heart the first years on earth without you… have softened…

The overwhelming fears I had of losing your physical presence the day God took you home…

Have little by little been calmed by your beautiful tender memories…

In our quite moments together I can finally hear your voice again; I can close my eyes and see your smile…

When grief overwhelms me I can wrap my arms around myself and feel you breathe life back into me.

In these moments… you remain alive.

Merry Christmas Grantie,

Mama

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