483 days

After 16 months I think I’ve finally found a therapist that I’m going to like and that will actually help me!  I’ll meet her next week but she specializes in anxiety, depression and grief and those are all of the things that I suffer with on a daily basis.

I thought that I would be okay with just going to Art Therapy once a month but that isn’t the case.  The last few weeks I have been a hot mess; crying, not doing anything except going to work, not doing anything at home.  I hate it and I think that grief therapy is the only thing that’s going to help me.

I just want to have some semblance of normalcy in my life, whatever normal is for me now.  I don’t know what that is yet but there has to be some way to live my life that’s better than what I’ve been doing.

I know what I need to do but I just don’t have the ambition or motivation to get even the simplest of things done.  I had 4 dirty bowls that sat in my sink for 3 weeks and I just couldn’t bring myself to wash them.  Finally, one Saturday night at 10:30 pm I was like get your ass out there and wash those bowls, it will take 5 minutes; so I did.  Afterwards I felt so accomplished for washing 4 stupid bowls.

I’m so disappointed in myself for the things that I can’t do and I’m hoping that therapy will help me with that too.  I know that they can only give me the tools that I need and then it’s up to me to use them.  For the past 16 months I haven’t been able to use any tools that have been given to me.  I want that to change so bad, I want to keep my house clean, I want to go out and do things with friends, I want to enjoy my job again, I want to enjoy my grandkids and hanging out with them.

I am starting to meet with new people for Derek’s Place, applying for grants, asking for funding, I enjoy these things because it’s bringing us closer to being able to open Derek’s Place.  Recovery Cafe in Seattle is helping us to be able to get there too.  I’m so excited for this journey of helping people like Derek and I’m sure that he would have loved this place.

Derek’s Place is the only good thing in my life right now.  I want everything in my life to be good but can it ever be?  Is this what my life without Derek is supposed to be?  I don’t think Derek would want my life to be like this, he always wanted me to be happy, he also wanted me to meet a nice guy, that was good to me, and have a normal relationship.  I don’t know that having that kind of relationship is in the cards for me and right now I’m ok with that.  It seems that the guys I meet, no matter their age, just want to play games and not be with just one woman.  I don’t need another man like that in my life.

Our Board is growing with some great people from the community and that makes me happy!  It’s important to have a strong board with people that are passionate about helping addicts and that’s what we’re getting.

So I’m happy when I’m talking about or doing something for Derek’s Place but the rest of my life is a mess and I just want to find some kind of balance in my life.  I’m really hoping therapy helps me with that.

I just hope that Derek knows that I do all of this for him, I love him and miss him so much and I want to honor him in a way that he deserves.

Derek the world is a little darker without you in it and I miss the hell outta you

Looking for Joy

469 days

In the book that I love, Read This Until You Believe It, there’s a passage that says “a bright moment does not dishonor your loss; a difficult moment does not dishonor your joy”

My problem is that I don’t find joy in anything anymore; I used to love cooking holiday dinners for my family.  It made me happy.  I don’t find joy in that anymore and so yesterday, on Easter Sunday, I did not cook a thing.  We went out to dinner instead.

I feel like I’m in a fog and I’m just going through the motions, I go to work and do the things that I think I should be doing.  Going to Art Therapy is the highlight of my month where I feel understood and supported and I can work through all of the feelings that I have.

I know that it all takes time but I want to feel joy again, I want to have fun with my grandkids and spending time with my Girls.  But I don’t.  I haven’t seen Xander since Christmas and all I have to do is reach out and I can see him but I don’t.  He doesn’t like coming to my house and that makes me sad.

I used to find joy in reading, I haven’t finished a book in over a year.  I start reading and then I lose interest and don’t finish the book.  I think I have 4 unfinished books in my nightstand right now.

I used to find joy in cleaning my house and everyone knows that cleaning my house is the last thing that I want to do now.  I used to get up on Saturday mornings, drink a cup of coffee and clean my entire house.  It made me feel good to get that done and then I could spend the rest of my weekend doing what I wanted.  Now I get up on Saturday morning and move out to the livingroom and sit in front of the tv for the entire weekend.

There is one thing that brings me joy and that’s working on Derek’s Place, I’m meeting with people and sharing my vision for Derek’s Place.  So far everyone is excited for Derek’s Place to open and help people just like Derek.  We need this so badly here for the people that want to be in recovery, it’s a form of aftercare for them and that’s something that West Michigan is lacking, aftercare.

The last few days have just been so hard and sometimes I’m just tired, tired of this whole grieving process and what it has done to me and my life.  Tired of feeling like I’m all on my own in this.  I miss my friends, having dinner and drinks and laughing and talking.  Everyone is busy with their own lives and I totally understand that.

My Art Therapist told me that I need to find a grief therapist that I see once a week and I agree with her.  I don’t see one because I’ve seen 3 and I didn’t like any of them, the whole process of finding a therapist that’s a good fit is such a hassle and not something that I want to do.

I know that this is all part of the process, I know that there will be good days and bad days and I know that it won’t always be as hard as it is right now.  Right now I’m stuck in remembering Derek and wishing so much that he was here, I would do anything for him to be here, even if it was for just one day so that I could hug him and tell him how much I love him and what a great man he is.  To tell him that he deserves recovery and to be happy and that there is no shame in addiction and he can get through this.

I miss Derek so damn much that I just want to sleep in the hopes that I can see him in my dreams.  I think people are forgetting about him and that makes me so sad, he was such an amazing man that people need to remember that.  They need to remember how he was when he was clean, not after the drugs took over.  My Son was real, he was alive and I want people to always remember that.

I love you Derek and that will never change and I will never forget about you.


450 Days

Derek’s been gone for 450 days; in some ways that seems like a really long time but in other ways it seems like it just happened.

I mentioned self-care in art therapy last time and how I suck at it but Leara said that it’s not just self-care but people that are grieving need support.  I realized that I don’t have that.  Support being people in my life that if they came to my house and saw how cluttered it was they would say Hey let me help you with this.  I don’t have anyone in my life like that.

I want to be the person that I used to be where I would get up on a Saturday morning, have a cup of coffee and clean my entire house.  Unfortunately I’m not that person any more and cleaning my house is on the bottom of my priority list.  I’m working on it though I really am.  Sometimes I laugh at myself for the things that are small victories to me; on Monday when I got home from work instead of sitting in front of the tv I swept the kitchen floor.  Inside I was like Yay I swept the floor today go me!

A few months ago I thought maybe I was ready to start dating so I signed up on an online dating site, created my profile and was hopeful that I would meet a nice guy that I would want to spend time with.  I just went on my first date last week and it was an awesome date!  For 2 1/2 hours we laughed and talked, there wasn’t any of that awkward silence where you don’t know what to say, it was perfect.  I got a kiss goodnight at my car and I was excited for the next date.  We texted back and forth for a few days, he called me a couple of times but both times I was in meetings so I couldn’t answer.  Then the weekend came and I never heard a word from him until late Sunday afternoon and I haven’t heard from him since.  There are so many rules to dating now that I just really don’t know if I want to put myself out there again.  I’m not supposed to text him because then I look desperate or crazy or clingy?  This makes no sense to me, I am a grown ass woman who knows what she wants and I’m not afraid to let someone know when they are being a jackass.  However, him not contacting me for days at a time after such a great night is a red flag and I’m just glad that I saw it now instead of 6 months from now.  Again, Yay me! lol

I think of Derek every single day and sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry and both are ok.  I smile when I remember him playing with his niece and nephews, running around the backyard chasing them and making them laugh and scream in fun.  I smile when I remember the Christmas present that he made for Sam out of a huge piece of wood that was in the shape of a heart.  He was proud of that gift and you could tell that he put a lot of love into it.  I smile when I remember what a giving heart that he had, he really would have done anything for his friends & family and even strangers.  I cry for the future that Derek, or I, will never have, I will never get to see him and Sam get married and have a family of their own.  I will never get to see him be happy in recovery or be a successful businessman.  I will never get to hug him again or hear his voice or have a deep conversation about his hopes and dreams.

I recently did a podcast where I got to tell Derek’s story and talk about Derek’s Place; I almost didn’t go because I was so nervous.   But I did go and I’m glad that I did because Andrea made me feel so comfortable from the moment that she answered the door.  So we sat down at her dining room table with this big microphone sitting between us, that microphone was a little intimidating.  We chatted for a few minutes and then she said ok we’re recording!  She told me that most of her podcasts were between 30-60 minutes and I thought to myself I’ll be lucky if I make the 30 minutes.  But I told Derek’s story, what he was like as a little boy, his struggles growing up, when he started self medicating with alcohol and weed just everything about him from my perspective.  Then I talked about Derek’s Place and why I was doing this.  I talked for an hour and 18 minutes!  There were tears and laughter in my podcast and I am very happy that Derek’s story will be heard.

Today, I am ok and I’m thankful for that.

I love you Derek and I still miss the hell outta you.

Crashing Waves

416 days…

Shortly after Derek died I read an awesome article about grief and waves; here it is:

Someone on reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

Many people responded with words of encouragement, but one response in particular, by an older gentlemen, really stood out from the rest…

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love.

So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out.

But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

On January 8, 2018 those waves were 1000′ high and they kept coming and coming and I couldn’t breathe.  For months I couldn’t breath, then there was a reprieve and I started trying to live my new life and I was doing so well, or so I thought.

On Sunday, February 24th, those waves came crashing down on me and they were just as big as they were on the day that Derek died and they came one right after another.  I couldn’t breath and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, I mean I had been handling my grief with a balance and I was doing good.  I knew that there would be more waves and more bad days but I didn’t expect them to take me back to those first days and weeks and months.

On Tuesday I went to Art Therapy and I knew there were going to be tears that night and there were, a lot of them, but Leara always knows what to give me to work on to help me.  She asked me what I wanted out of that night, did I want to work through those emotions or not?  I told her that yes I did want to work through them even though I knew it was going to be hard and I was going to cry through it.

It was a painting exercise based on my favorite book “Read This Until You Believe It” and do you want to know what I learned that night?  I’ve been thinking that my grief is separate from who I am, I am positive and cheery and sunshiny so when those waves come and they knock me down I was thinking that that wasn’t me, the real me.  That was the grieving me that didn’t have anything to do with who I am.  But you know what?  That is so far from the truth….

Grief is a part of me now and it doesn’t take away from me being a positive, upbeat person, it’s just a part of who I am now and when those waves come, and they will again, I have to learn to embrace them, feel them and still take care of me because I am still me even when grieving.  There’s that self-care element again, until 2 years ago I didn’t really even know what self-care was but I suck at it big time.

Sometimes I get discouraged about Derek’s Place, I doubt myself a lot, and wonder why we don’t get the support that a lot of other non-profits do.  We volunteer for other non-profits in an effort to help those in the community that will come to Derek’s Place but it seems like people still don’t know who we are.  I know it takes time, a lot of time, for something like this to get off the ground and I just have to have faith that this is going to happen.  I am determined to make Derek’s Place a success and to help all of those people that are like Derek.

Derek visited me in a dream again the other night, I love those dreams where I can see him and talk to him.  I see it as a sign that he wants me to keep going and not give up on what I’m doing.

This excerpt from the book “Read This Until You Believe It” resonated with me the other night and I want to share it with you:

Right now is a hard time.  You don’t have to love it.  You don’t have to do this gracefully.  You don’t have to find what’s good in this moment.  You just have to make it through.

I made it through those crashing waves with a better understanding of who I am now.

I am a grieving Mom that misses her Son terribly but I am also strong and positive and working on loving myself.


My Visit From Derek

403 days

Wednesday morning my alarm went off, I hit the snooze and rolled over to get that last 9 minutes of sleep.  Once I was rolled over the edge of my bed moved, like someone had been sitting there and they got up.  I’m sure it was Derek sitting there while I was sleeping and leaving when it was time for me to get up.  I’m so happy to know that he visits me.

I still haven’t cried; well I do at night when I talk to him.  I miss him so much and still can’t believe that I’ll never have a conversation with him, get a hug from him or a text saying I love you Momma.  We were building such a great relationship and now we can’t build on that.

I miss his humor, he was so funny and always making us laugh with his antics.  When Derek was clean he spent so much time with his family, I know that he loved us and would have done anything for us.

My life is so different now, I’m more subdued and I don’t laugh a lot, I’m very careful about who’s in my life.  I’ve had to pull back from some relationships because they just weren’t good for me.  I am finding me in this process though and I like who I am and I’m learning to love myself just as I am and that feels good.

I’m finally quitting smoking!  I’m on day 7 and I’m taking Chantix so that helps a lot!  I’m eating healthier because the last time I quit smoking I gained 75# in the first year and I am not going to do that again!  I’m eating protein and lots of fruit, drinking lots of water and every time I want a cigarette I do some kind of exercise.  At work I walk laps around the office and at home I do crunches, squats and planks.  I’ve lost 7# so that’s a bonus!  I like smoking a lot but I know that I have to quit because I want to live a long, healthy life; I want to see my grandkids graduate from college and get married and be a great grandma.  I want to be active and do things with them.

Derek’s Place is coming along; I’m meeting with the heads of other non-profits in the recovery community so that we can partner with them and use them as resources for our members.  I’m going to do an interview for a podcast in the next couple of weeks; anything to get our name out there into the community.  We’re having a euchre tournament in a week or so and that will be a lot of fun.  Then we’re doing a casino bus trip; I can’t wait for that!!

I know that there will be good days and bad days in my grieving process and when a bad day comes I will go with it and feel it until it passes.  That’s the healthiest thing that I can do for myself.  I have learned that having a good day doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Derek and that I’m betraying his death in some way.  It took me awhile to get that but I finally did and that’s a good thing.  Derek wouldn’t want me to stay down in the depths of the darkness of grief, he always just wanted me to be happy.

I’m trying Derek, I really am

I love you and I miss the hell outta you

395 Days

It’s unbelievable to me that Derek’s been gone for 395 days.

I’m doing well, right now, but I do know that that could change at any minute.

I talked about how I’m doing in group the other night; I feel like maybe I’m not letting myself grieve and that’s why I’m doing so well.  I was assured that that isn’t the case at all.  Leara said that I have been allowing myself to grieve and that’s why I’m doing well now, that I have a balance and I know that there will be good days and bad days and that I allow myself to have the bad days when they come.  I told them that I haven’t cried in days and that worried me, she said grief doesn’t equal tears and just because you aren’t crying doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving.  She always puts things into perspective for me and I appreciate that about her.

I feel like because I am doing well that is somehow dishonoring Derek because he doesn’t get to have good days or bad days anymore.  But in the book Read This Until You Believe It there is a passage that says “your joy doesn’t dishonor your grief, and your grief doesn’t dishonor your joy”.  That is my favorite passage in that book.

I’m eating healthier, I’m sleeping better (with the help of sleeping pills) and I feel better about myself.  I haven’t made it to the gym yet but that will come in time.

I still miss the hell outta Derek and I think about him and talk to him all of the time.  I tell him that I love and miss him every night before I go to sleep but I wish he would give me a sign that he hears me.  I haven’t been very good about seeing any signs, so if he sends them I’m not seeing them.  I still don’t dream about him either and that bothers me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the day he died and I still wonder if when he went down to sleep on that rock did he know that he would never wake up?  I’ll never get an answer to that question but it still doesn’t stop me from wondering.  Even if it hadn’t been so cold he still wouldn’t have woken up because his heroin was laced with fentynal.  That really pisses me off and I want that dealer to pay for killing my Son but that will never happen either because nobody knows who he is.  He’s just a lowlife that stands on the street selling drugs.  I genuinely hate that man.

I hate that Derek will never have another chance to get clean and get it right, I hate that he won’t be able to be a part of his Son’s lives and watch them grow up, I hate that he will never be able to get married or have  the family that he wanted but most of all I hate that he isn’t here to love and hug and talk to.  I hate that my Son died and I have to spend the rest of my life grieving him

I’m still working on getting Derek’s Place open but it’s taking so long and I am not the most patient person there ever was.  Still waiting for our determination letter but there is still a lot of work to be done before we get that letter.  Working on programming and trying to get contacts with other non profit organizations so that I can meet with them.  We’ll get there but it just takes time.

One thing that I’m happy about is I can clean my house again!  That sounds so weird but it’s true; for several months I was not capable of cleaning my own house.  I would sit in my livingroom and look around at the mess and I just didn’t know where to start so I didn’t.  I knew that it needed to be cleaned but I couldn’t do it.  About a week after Derek died my friend Kelly came and helped me clean and that was so much appreciated!  A few months ago my daughters came and helped me clean and that was appreciated too!  They did such a good job!  Now I’m not only cleaning my house but organizing it and that makes me feel good.

Baby steps and before you know it I’ll be leaving my house more, going to the gym all while grieving my Son.  Maybe some day I won’t feel so guilty for feeling joy and being happy.

I love you Derek


Place Catchy Title Here

382 days

It’s hard to believe that you’ve been gone so long and I’m still here, living my life as if I don’t miss you tremendously.  I have no idea how I made it through the last year but here I am; 382 days of missing you, loving you and wishing you were here.  Most of those days were treacherous and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone; today, most days are easier at least I don’t feel like I’m in a fog anymore.

One day runs into the next and I go to work, then go home and veg in front of the tv.  I’m trying to get out and do more things; like I went out with a girlfriend a couple of weeks ago and had a great time.  Last weekend I went bowling with friends and Gavin and that was fun.  It’s hard in the winter though because it’s so cold and you know how much I HATE the cold and snow!

Grief is such a strange thing; I can be having a good day and then all of a sudden I think of you or look at a picture of you and BAM I’m a blubbering mess all over again.  I know that this is normal, or what my new normal is, but it still takes me by surprise.  They say that these days will become less and less and that they won’t affect me like they do know.  But I will always miss you and I most certainly will always love you and be sad for the life that you could have had.

I think about you every single day and I miss you so much, your voice, your texts, your hugs and even the chaos that went along with your addiction.  I miss how when I would call you you would answer the phone with “hello madre”…I miss you telling me your hopes and dreams of the future.  There is no future for you any more and that makes me so very sad.

I wish that you would visit me in my dreams; you’ve only come twice and the first time was awful but you did tell me that you loved me in that one.  That was a year ago, forever ago.  I’m jealous of the Mom’s that talk about their kids coming to them in their dreams and I wonder why you don’t come to me in mine.  What does that mean?

I’m different now, there’s not as much laughter in my life, I feel like I’m a lot more serious and things that once bothered me don’t any more.  I don’t stress about things that I can’t change and I don’t judge people for doing things in a way that I wouldn’t do.  I have my own issues to deal with and don’t have time for drama or attention seeking.  I’ve taken a lot of flack for my #nobullshitzone comments and maybe I said it wrong because when I say #nobs I mean no drama or attention seeking.  I seriously have no time for that and have so much more important things on my mind.

Like Derek’s Place, we’re in limbo waiting on our determination letter from the IRS; with the government being shut down I don’t know if that’s going to affect that department or not.  They said 180 days and that isn’t until February but I’m not patient lol.  Derek’s Place is going to be so helpful to people, like you, that want recovery!  I want to give them a place like you would have wanted when you were struggling to stay clean.  A place where they feel wanted and understood, not judged or turned away.  Where they can learn how to live a life without drugs and/or alcohol.  You would have loved a place like this and that’s why I’m doing it.  All for you…

My new normal is making me into a better person and I like this person in spite of questioning why and missing you so much that it’s a physical pain and loving you more than you ever thought I did….