The last day of 2020 started 7 minutes ago. It’s 12:07 am in the Pacific time zone. (Note: I wrote this on New Year’s Eve.) I completely forgot today is New Year’s Eve, I guess because it’s not such a big deal anymore. Celebrations of any kind are not the same anymore. It’s so quiet now. Hold on, I keep saying to myself, hold back those tears Elaine! Not yet, because I know once I start letting tears flow they don’t stop! So, I push them back down then let go once I’m alone.
My heart hurts just as much today as it did yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that day, it hurts all the time. Doesn’t matter what day it is, or the time of day, or where I’m standing or sitting at the moment; it’s constant pain. The only difference now is I’ve become good at masking. I love my daughters way too much to show them my pain, because they are my sole purpose for living.
A new year has arrived, I can’t think too far ahead or my whole body starts to shiver when my mind is telling me Joe is still not here. Doesn’t matter how busy I try to keep myself, Joe is at the forefront in every thought.
This is life today. I will keep trying, Joseph Anthony. I Love You to no end.
Losing Joe has changed my life, there is so much of him missing every minute of every day. Joe gave my life air.
Sometimes, I lay in his bed and I close my eyes and I imagine him walking into his room asking me, “Ma, what are you doing? Why are you in my room? You’re being nosey huh?” I wish I would have knocked on his door more. I wish I would have came into his room and sat next to him, more. I wish I would have forced him to tell me what was going on in his life and whatever it is, we can get thru it together.
I recall one day I sat on his bed, as he was on his laptop, I told him, “a penny for your thoughts?” He just shook his head, “nope, got nothin today Ma.” I knew he was lying to me, I felt it in my soul. Are you sure, I asked him. Yupp, I’m good he told me. He was not telling me, I knew he was trying to make me believe he was fine, but I knew he wasn’t. I went outside to the garage, I told my husband somethings not right with Joe, I feel it. He needs to talk but not to me, can you please talk to him? There’s something wrong. Take him to go have a beer, or hit some golf balls, or go see a movie. Don’t worry, you’re always worrying, he told me. Leave him alone, Elaine! If he wants to talk, he will come to me but stop hovering! I walked away angry, hurt, fearful…that wasn’t the response I was hoping to hear. Tears rolling down my face, I walked back inside and knocked on Joe’s door again. Yes Mother??! I Love You, I said to him, just want you to know I Love you, Son. His response, “Momma, I know and I love you too. I’m fine, ok.” My heart knew he was not ok.
Sometimes I can feel my heart pumping so hard, I just know it’s going to burst out of my chest at any minute. But, then I get these feelings inside of me. I cannot put them into words, it’s as if I can FEEL him beside me. This light air will suddenly touch my neck. Or, a breeze floats by my face. It’s not the wind …because it’s 90 degrees outside! If I’m very still, I sense his breath and I look to my left then my right. Sometimes, I’ll put my arms out in front of me as if he is touching my hands. I’ll close my eyes and I feel as though he is right there before my eyes. As my eyes remain closed, I see his smile and I can feel my whole body floating as if I’m weightless! It’s absolutely the most beautiful feeling and I’m crying as I write this because those moments come and go. They don’t stay very long. I wish I could hold my son one more time. But, I got that wish already God granted me “one more minute.” I’ll share that minute in my next piece. It’s quite phenomenal!
Tonight I drove by our house on Kamloops, parked my car across the street from our house we lived in for 15+ years and I cried. I cried as I imagined you walking out the front door. I cried as I could see us all eating dinner in the dining room. I cried as I looked at the driveway and thru the fence I could see the lights in the backyard, Daytona Beach was back there (your nickname for our giant-sized beautiful swimming pool) and I cried more. I turned off my car, looked over at the neighbors house and they both still live there in the houses across from ours, both neighbors. I wanted to go knock on their door and cry more. I wanted to see and talk to them about you, try to live thru their memories and reminisce how our kids lived life with laughter and fun growing up together. I cried because their houses were dark, no lights were on and I knew it would be a mistake to go knock on their door. I cried thinking of when you would ride your bike home from Jr. High school, then driving your truck home from High School. I cried thinking of so many memories we created in that house. I cried as I started my car and drove away, thinking of my life today without you, My Son. I cry missing you and cry harder because all I have now are memories. As I drove home, I cried. Took a shower and got in bed, my tears they wouldn’t stop, Joseph! I’m now in your bedroom, laying in your bed looking at everything here that is still yours. My tears now sting my eyes, it hurts. I’m getting sleepy now, it’s 12:34 am, I think I’ll close my eyes. I’m still crying, it still hurts.
Joseph, please come to my dreams tonight my son, please help me.
Fear, does it scare you? If yes, what is your greatest fear in life? Name just one.
Fear makes thinking hurt. Sometimes it hurts so hard I can’t breathe. I often fall to my knees …in silence.
Fear is real.
Life. It can blindside a family in a blink. Fear, what do we most fear in life? This one has been inside my head for a very long time. It sits quietly inside my soul, hibernating until something triggers panic and suddenly it all bursts!
Memories of the past are constant, my mind spins in circles, it vibrates and vibrates all day every day. It’s torture to live this life without one of my children.
Fear is real.
As a Mother (or Father), we have children, raise them with every ounce of love in our entire being. We create beautiful memories over the years, we talk to them about life and all the beauty it has to offer. We also talk to them about the dangers and how bad people are out there and to always be cautious. If you have to think twice about doing something, uncertainty, then don’t do it because it’s probably a bad decision. But, nobody’s perfect, we teach our kids to learn from those mistakes. Not fear them.
Fear is real.
Do we ever think it could actually happen? Could our worst FEAR in life as a parent really come true? I’m here to tell you ABSOLUTELY it sure can and it happened to me. One day my son is here laughing, loving, giving, living…saying I love you Ma I’ll be home later. Then, the next day he is gone. Forever. Just like that….gone.
Fear is real.
Hold on to your children and loved ones, embrace their love and love more. Forgive more. Enjoy the tiniest of things more. Put your cell phone down more. Listen more. Be in the moment more. Slow down more. Turn off the television more. Checkin more with your kids even if it annoys them. Ask questions more. If you can “feel” something isn’t right with your child, then it probably isn’t, so keep on …more. Let them know whatever is going on..it’s fixable, say it more. Say I LOVE YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU more, out loud every day.
Fear is real.
Yes, Fear is real. But so is Courage, and Strength, and Determination, Joy, Confidence, Bravery, Love, Fearlessness, Faith, Happiness, and so much more. If Fear is haunting you, change it before it’s too late.
I woke up this morning (6/30/2020) at 4:00 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. My mind began racing. I picked up my phone and looked at the date, 764 days. It’s been 764 days of life without our Son, Joseph. Feels like 7 hrs. 64 minutes, or 7 minutes-64 seconds, what it doesn’t feel like is 764 days. My mind keeps racing, I cannot seem to calm it, so I begin to read bible verses and I pray. Suddenly, I’m feeling relaxed. Unfortunately, time doesn’t slow down and it never will. God, I wish you could give me a moment to catch my breath. But, it doesn’t work that way. Not today. So I pray.
After 764 days, I still cry before I go to sleep. It’s become my new nighttime normal. I hold on to my tears most of the day, I don’t want to worry those I love most. So, I save them and every night they flow slowly down my face, alone with my own thoughts at the end of each day. Tears also flow as I think of all the beautiful blessings in life; my husband of 35 years, my 27 years with Incredible son, Joseph (not long enough), my beautiful Daughters who are healthy and thriving and make me so proud, my beautiful Granddaughter who gives us all so much joy, my soon to arrive beautiful baby Grandson…we can’t wait to see him, my amazing family, my lifers, my Joe’s friends and my new friends who walk this journey of grief with me. My tears are bittersweet, but I am thankful.
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance. There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.” Ecclesiastes 3:4-5 NCV
After 764 days, my heart still hurts, it will hurt forever until my last breath. My soul has a missing piece and my body cannot move sometimes, but life keeps going and I will keep trying. I will always keep trying. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I continue to leave Joe’s room the same. The hats on his wall, his desk, his dirty clothes in his hamper, his dresser with his clothes in each drawer, his nightstand with my picture he placed so carefully on the side so he could look at me. What was he thinking when he stared at my picture? I tell myself he was thinking, “Mehh, I love you so much. Goodnight Mehh.” I am thankful.
After 764 days, I can still smell his scent every time I walk into his bedroom. It’s not as strong, and I know it’s fading but I can still feel his scent of funkiness! It is the best funkiness of air. His dirty footprints remain on his walls where he would put his feet, I treasure those dirty wall prints and they will remain there as long as we are here. Every night I take his aftershave lotion and I pour a dab on my hands so I can smell his favorite scent. Then I close his bedroom door to savor it until the next morning. I am thankful.
After 764 days, we still say Joe’s name. Allie, Julie, Izzy and I will find ourselves all together in his room or in the living room or eating out for lunch and every time it feels like Joe is right there with us. We talk about moments that make us laugh, make us cry, and make us laugh again and again. It’s as if we can literally feel his presence in the room with us. It feels good when we are all together, because Joe’s there too. I seriously feel his spirit laughing with us (or at us!). I am thankful.
After 764 days, I have slowly found my way back to my faith. The anger at God has subsided and I discovered an extremely critical part of grieving…I cannot do this journey alone, it’s absolutely impossible without God. God has placed so many people in my path that help me, pray for me and my family, it’s an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so much love. I am thankful.
“The LORD is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home. He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock. You will walk on lions and cobras; you will step on strong lions and snakes. The LORD says, “Whoever loves me, I will save. I will protect those who know me. They will call to me, and I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue them and honor them. I will give them a long, full life, and they will see how I can save.”” Psalms 91:9-16
After 764 days, I feel ready to share Joe with everyone who loves him. I never thought I would be able to do this, but, I had a moment one day and I acted on it. My heart strongly feels like this one spot by the Grace of God “suddenly” became available at the Fountain of Chimes was actually chosen by Joe. I just have a feeling and now I’m going to make his wish come true. Took me a while to get it, but I believe our bond continues and I heard him loud and clear. It’s his place, his Fountain of Chimes. I am thankful.
After 764 days, Joe’s close circle of friends still remain connected to me. I know it’s hard for them, because they miss him too. He touched so many lives. I love when I get a text or phone call or an “I love you Momma Suarez” it’s a beautiful feeling! They are still here, by my side, even from a distance. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I’ve learned that life really is fragile. Every moment we share with those we love is truly a blessing. I take nothing for granted and I continue to keep trying to find my way thru this uninvited journey of grief. Doing what I absolutely know without a doubt, its what Joe would want me (us) to do. His love and joy lives in all of us. I am thankful.
After 764 days, I think healing is here, just a little bit. I can honestly say, if I move forward we all move forward, together. The best part is Joe moves forward with us too! I am thankful.
As I wake up to this day, I can hear my phone pinging one after another. It’s Mother’s Day. Text messages are coming in to wish me a beautiful day. I look at my phone there’s 23 text messages, I look forward to reading each one, somebody’s thoughtful words sent my way gives my heart so much joy. I smell coffee brewing downstairs and I hear Juliana talking in the kitchen. I close my eyes and fall back to sleep. When I wake up there’s a freshly brewed cup of coffee on my nightstand, a toasted bagel with blueberries perfectly placed one by one around the bagel. And, an envelope with “my wife” written on front. This Mother’s Day has begun and you’re not here.
My eyes begin to fill up with tears, I tell myself, don’t ..no, no, no, no I don’t want to cry. If I cry it won’t stop. My mind starts racing, I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I take a deep breathe in and out several times. God please make it stop!This goes on for several minutes and it feels like several hours. Calmness starts to flow slowly thru me, little by little everything in me starts to calm down. I close my eyes again, lay down, and begin to doze back to sleepbut tears are rolling down my face. I cry quietly. You’re still not here.
You were always the first one to give me a Mother’s Day card, hug,or a kiss on the cheek. Always the first to say Happy Mother’s Day out loud. Always the first to give me my gift. You were always first to wish me a beautiful day. As I look outside, people in cars drive by and the noise is loud from the street. Tree branches and leaves from my prayer tree whoosh from side to side. I turned around and crawled back into bed. You’re still not here.
Juliana comes into the room and loudly shouts, “Mom! C’mon get up it’s gonna be 11:00! It’s Mother’s Day! You have gifts to open!” To my surprise there’s flowers and a gift bag. She went out of her way to buy me the perfect card and a bag full of my favorite things. She is my one that loves each holiday and loves giving gifts. Her heart is so big, I thank God for Juliana. She gives me a purpose. We need to get out for a little while so we leave to visit Papa & Kika and eat breakfast with everyone. It was nice. But, You’re still not here.
It’s the end the day and Jordan BBQ’s a fabulous dinner for us. It was nice, we sat around talking and the best part of the whole day was that last moment. Dad, Allie, Julie, and I were sitting in the living room talking and laughing as we shared our beautiful memories about our life on Kamloops Dr. and Walnut Grove Ct. We had a good life all of us together. Everything was normal, no tragedies had hit us yet and every holiday was beautiful. Every Mother’s Day was a blessing as I would read each card that had been carefully picked with heartfelt words that meant so much to me I would cry every time.
THAT moment with all of us together laughing and remembering moments of joy together as a family, THAT was the perfect Mother’s Day gift. We are still a family, we still have moments of joy, we have to for You. You’re still giving us your love. You may not have physically been here, but I felt your spirit with us at that moment. YOU WERE HERE.