Grief/Healing

Be Still, My Heart

“Dear Julia . . . there is no easy way to tell you this . . .”

.

On July 3rd, I learn of my friend’s suicide

.

The savage truth delivers a violent punch to my heart

and fractures my core

.

For others, the days ahead bring fireworks, art fairs, and festivities . . . even The Rolling Stones

.

but I’m here still trying to get up off the floor

.

Reality comes in waves now; acid waves which leave me breathless

.

I can’t talk about it yet, or say his name aloud, or share his wonderfulness with you

but I know that soon the grieving will begin and it will be better than this

.

In a single moment everything can change

your perspective . . . your world . . . even the person you are

.

To the muffled backdrop of exploding fireworks, I weep

for his pain

and my loss

and the tremendous tragedy of it all

.

It didn’t have to be

.

This life . . .

is magnificent and beautiful

yet fragile, tentative, and temporary

and ever so bittersweet.

aFLOWER PANSY WET156WMD

*If you are in crisis, PLEASE call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-HELP (8255). They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They really care and can help you.  Or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org   .

Because you matter.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Grief/Healing, Michigan | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

IT’S BEEN A LIFETIME

The heart is the most important muscle there is, but it does more than just pump blood.

It creates memories.

“Muscle memory” is when a movement is done repeatedly over time and your muscle creates a sort of memory for that movement which allows you to do it without really thinking about it too much; like riding a bike, or typing on a keyboard.

Emotions are born in the brain . . . but they live in the heart.

That’s why it swells and overflows when we feel joy. And that’s why a “broken heart” physically hurts when we lose or miss someone.

It all happens there. Some would argue the accuracy of this, but it would fall on deaf ears. I know my heart and what it holds.

And today it is aching.

I thought I knew what love was.

Until I had a child.

And everything changed.

I fell in love with my son the moment I knew of him.

Our life together began with his first hello . . . a small flutter from within; and with every passing month, I talked to him and he responded with little poked messages of acknowledgement, as we secretly conversed in our own Morse code; with me talking and him tap, tap, tapping in reply.

Until the tapping stopped.

And it was all over.

The dream ended; the gift withdrawn.

And I was left with nothing but empty arms and a broken heart.

When you lose a baby, you lose a lifetime.

In my case, I also lost a lifeSTYLE, because I couldn’t have another child.

And the trouble is my heart already started loving him.

My heart memorized every single moment of him. Every movement, and every hope and dream; his first steps and his first bike ride, when he learned to drive and when he went off to college. My heart remembers the sound of him calling out, “Mom!” as he returned home from school; and the way his dark hair fell across his forehead when he was asleep. I remember when he fell in love with my daughter-in-law and they had my first grandbaby; and how I marveled at my blessings and the opportunity to relive it all again.

Oh, yes, I fell in love with him.

And my heart remembers the life we were supposed to have.

The one I had imagined.

Our beautiful babies aren’t supposed to die; but mine did . . . on the day he was born.

He was in an incubator . . . and then he wasn’t.

Then he was in my arms.

Then I was allowed to hold him.

And in those few moments . . . we lived our lifetime together.

Those powerful few moments have sustained me for 30 years.

I’m not burdened by the weight of grief every single day anymore.

I’ve learned how to live with the reality; you get used to feeling the pain, I guess. I actually embrace it at times. And memories of my son are kind of like breathing for me – I don’t consciously think about breathing, but I do it . . . all the time.

Needless to say, 2014 has been a “numbers” kind of year for me.

Six years without a cigarette, 5 years without an egg, a piece of fish, or a steak, and 4 years without a script for pain meds; I turned 55 years old, my son, Michael, would’ve been 30, and this is the year my matrimony is “a wash” – 12 years married, now 12 years divorced.

I’m not sure what it all means. But I’ve never been good with numbers, so I’ll leave it to the experts.

As for today, I am thoughtful.

I am grieving the loss of my son on his 30th birthday, I am sad for what will never be, and I wonder what motivates me to rise each day.

But I do. And I will.

And I will continue to grab the little bits of joy I happen upon, and I will embrace them. I will work hard to be good and to be kind. And to be better than I am.

Because I have a son. And I want him to be proud . . . just in case there is a heaven.

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

ANOTHER YEAR

Things I’ve realized this past year:

For every personal issue that I address and overcome, three new things replace it.

I don’t know if I have enough time or energy left to become the person I always dreamt I’d be.

My expectations cause most of my pain.

There’s a difference between being kind and being a people pleaser. I’m both. And I don’t like the latter.

The man who will befriend me, accept me, celebrate me, and comfort me, probably doesn’t exist and I will most likely spend the rest of my life alone.

I need to let go of the dream for a better life, but wonder how I will face each day without that hope.

Old, childless Aunties are left to the wayside.

It’s hard to be humorous while my heart is breaking.

Good customer service is becoming the exception.

Common sense is not common.

With the blast of new technology and social media, we now communicate instantly and ineffectively with millions, and rarely talk honestly with the person right next to us.

Somewhere along the line, “Please” and “Thank you” were replaced by, “I gotta go pee” and “My bad”. We are advancing into a new form of ignorance that is less than charming.

Nature and nonhuman creatures have nourished and saved me this year.

The instincts of motherhood, the potency of a hot flash, or the intensity of grief, could power a city.

New body ailments crop up out of nowhere every couple of months. Apparently, I can no longer raise my arms above my head without getting a cramp in my ribcage. Makes for an interesting chest x-ray. And mammogram.

Grosse Ile has a secret mafia consisting of a well-organized, well-established gang of gray-hairs called the Grosse Ile Garden Club. Although we’ve never met, word has it that I’ve stepped on a few well-manicured toes by competing with their annual fundraising calendar. I also hear that although they will not break your legs, they may kick you in the shin. Or pull your hair. Haha.

I didn’t have my annual “curative date” this year – the one that cures me of my relationship-envy for a while. Last year’s was with an online man who was the most physically unattractive person I’ve ever met. I know that I’m an overweight, under average looking old woman, but this guy was reminiscent of an animated version of one of Rocky’s Siberian boxing opponents, and although I was stunned at first, I’m nothing if not gracious, and surprisingly, he had swagger, so we proceeded to have a good dinner and a few laughs. At the end of the night he gifted me an open-mouthed slobbery face-kiss. I waited until he left to wipe away his drool with my sleeve. Funny thing is, I actually considered seeing him again, but he never called. Haha. Joke’s on me.

My 15 pound Pomeranian and equally girth-y cat, Allie, have trained me and now rule my residence.

My last lover probably thought himself God-like with all the noise I made. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the moment we commenced, I got a cramp in my ribcage, my calf, my toes, and my back.

The last time I went to my closet, I could only find one dress that still fit, and I had to Fabreeze it because it smelled musty. And the bright red patent leather heels that I keep on my dresser as a reminder of my girly girl? Still unworn, but regularly dusted. An optimist? Hardly. Maybe a die-hard.

I love quickly. And I can’t live a guarded life. I guess it’s just not my way. I’m sure I could learn, but I’d rather take the hits than become cold and bitter. Upside? My recovery time is improving.

It is a testament to my restraint and some version of good mental health that I haven’t punched someone in the throat.

I will probably continue my New Year’s Eve tradition of watching, “The Twilight Zone” marathon on the Sci-Fi channel, but I will fall asleep long before midnight.

So much has happened this year. New friends. Reconnections. Endings. Too many hurt feelings, lost loved ones, turmoil. Too much spinning my wheels in place. I’m exhausted. Maybe people go out and drink on New Year’s Eve because they know they’re getting ready to start it all over again in January. Ugh.

Last year’s mantra of, “Just breathe”, has been replaced with, “All righty then . . .”

I once wrote about how I wanted to be remembered after my passing; the things I hoped that people would say; my generosity, kindness, honesty. That was over a year ago, though it seems like a lifetime, and boy have I changed. No words need to be written, there is nothing to video tape, or read from paper at a podium, no collages need to be made, and no one needs to sing for me, as I once wished. I know that there have been two times in my life when I sat bedside while someone died. Because of me, they were not alone. And I think they died easier. If that’s the best I do in this life, then that’s okay. I will say, though, it would also be nice if someone laughs when they think of me, and no one spits when they hear my name; or maybe the spitting is okay too . . . at the very least I would’ve riled someone. Haha.

“…every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.” – From the movie, “Vanilla Sky”.

I wish you all the best in the New Year.

xoJulia

SHOES ZOOMD ME

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Humor | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

SHOVELING SNOW

On a cold and rainy Sunday morning, and feeling restless, I drive to the park to shoot some photographs. Most times, I try to capture certain images, but usually find that nature has other plans. She can’t be controlled or predicted, but she’s always generous.

Today I hope to photograph the birds, and although they are teasing me with their joyful songs, they are shy and hiding.

But I am gifted other images in their stead:

“View through the Railing of a Bridge”.

great PAGOTA SHORE THRU BRIDGE

.

“Fragile Life”. So precious, tentative, and beautifully vulnerable.

GREAT BERRIES SNOW

.

“Tender Heart”.  The grey is pretty, but also serves to amplify the brightness and warmth of the sun.

greatRAIN DROP ON BRANCH

.

As I’m leaving, something washes over me, overtaking me like a craving or a hunger pain, or nausea, or vertigo. It is Sadness. Acute. Profound. Demanding. It consumes me, pulsates through me, leaves me breathless, and finally rests on my chest.

I drive home, crying.

Christmas week comes and I am quiet. I will not be that person who schedules her grieving for the holidays. I will not be that person who is determined to dwell on everyone who isn’t here. I will not fault those who are blessed with family and festivities. I will stay home and be still. And I will give my grief the space that it needs for just this time. And not one inch more.

The day after Christmas, I awake restless and lonely. And although it’s unpopular to admit such frailty, today it’s filling more of me. I feel the largeness of my emptiness. Who would think that absence could take up so much room?

I cannot sit on the sofa and suffer. I must do something, so I drive to my parent’s house for snow shoveling therapy.

I shovel my parent’s corner lot.

And their Police Officer-next-door-neighbor’s lot.

And the house next to his.

And the one after that.

And the one after that.

I am proof that a cranky, grieving, obsessive, manically driven 54 year old woman can shovel an entire city block of snow by taking it one cement-sidewalk-square at a time.

As I smoothly push forward, I keep catching on the uneven parts of the cement. I am finding those spots where the sidewalk is cracked and lifted and I have jammed my shovel into them, jarring my momentum and hurting myself, as all of my force is unexpectedly and abruptly halted.

It gets me thinking about how we all expect life to be easier.

And how we are surprised when bad things happen. We feel betrayed when our bodies fail us or become diseased; we are dismayed when economies crash, unemployment flourishes, and daily life is a struggle; and we are overwhelmed and grief stricken when someone dies.

I think that life is like this stubborn, long-ass city sidewalk that I’m shoveling. Every couple of squares, some cement will rise up and stop us right in our tracks. We trip over it, we jam our shovels into it, and we cuss at it, wanting it to be smooth.

But we should expect things to be difficult, and inconsistent, and even tragic, and anything else . . . everything joyous, beautiful, or easy . . .  is a gift.

Once we accept that our journey will never be an easy one, it’s just a matter of learning to adjust and maneuver.

I am not performing good deeds today. I am thinking firstly of myself and working off this twisted emptiness. And although I enjoy knowing that someone will be surprised, it is a secondary, happy consequence.  Later though, I will remember and wonder if anyone is curious about who has favored them with this act. Or maybe they will mistakenly think better of their other neighbors for gifting them this labor of love? I hope so.

The best deeds are the ones you can’t be thanked for.

I complete my task, feeling calmer, and go home and put on my sweats and my grungy old greyish-white CVS bathrobe, and pour a cup of coffee.

Now, as I sit here writing, the muscles in my back begin to tighten . . . really, like . . . A LOT. I half-chuckle and open the blinds to let the light in.

It has begun to snow.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

“The Woman, The Warrior.”

SHOES ZOOMD ME  ME BOOTS ICEa

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Photography | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

A VIDEO SLIDESHOW – WALKING OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Misery loves company.

A miserable person likes to be around other miserables so they can all congregate and be miserable together, right?

The ailing and broken-hearted can assemble, share their horror stories, and dwell on their misfortunes as a collective rather than singularly, right?

Being of the strong-natured, private type, I never felt the need.

Sometimes those who need help the most, don’t even know it. And sometimes, we don’t know what we need, until we find it.

Or it finds us.

I’ve learned that it’s not that misery loves company; it’s the Alcoholics Anonymous thing. It’s the, “people just like you . . . helping you”, thing.

Because there is a healing that happens only when you gather with those who share your unique brand of suffering.

For those of us who have lost someone to suicide, our pain is difficult to explain. We don’t dwell on it; we live with it.

Last year I attended the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” which raises funds and brings awareness to suicide prevention. And even though I lost my sister to suicide, I didn’t attend for any other purpose than to blog about it.

Oddly, I hadn’t anticipated the overwhelming emotions I’d feel. The moment I arrived, I wanted to leave. But I didn’t. I stayed but I was tightly wrapped. I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t share my story. I never said my sister’s name. I walked the walk, took my snaps, went home, and blogged it. Please read, “Out of the Darkness”, at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-gC.

It didn’t touch me. Too much.

This year, I didn’t know that I was ready.

And on Sunday, October 13, 2013, at the AFSP Downriver “Out of the Darkness Walk”, I found out that I was. Ready . . . to be touched.

I had planned on my usual modus operandi of hiding behind my camera, but soon found that instead of it being my shield, it was providing an unintended gateway.

I took my photographs alright, but I was talking to people. And sharing. Repeatedly, I heard myself say, “I lost my sister, Chris, to suicide. I understand and I’m so sorry for your loss”.

There were hugs and tears, and names and laughter, and more hugs. There were strangers who became friends, and then as friends, we became a kind of special family.

We weren’t there to dwell on our misery.

We were there to feel the comfort of being with people who understand and know our pain. We didn’t need to explain anything. And no one here would say the wrong thing or fail to understand. Or tell us to just move on.

We did not gather to share our misery.

We gather with all of our grief, pain, and love, and with the life and power of a tsunami, and we walk. We walk to change.

We walk to honor those we’ve lost to suicide. And to bring suicide out of the closet’s icy darkness and into the warm light of day. The ugly stigma cannot live in the light.

Only hope lives there.

So we walk. And we find community. And we make new friends, who understand.

And Out of the Darkness . . . comes hope.

PLEASE WATCH MY VIDEO SLIDESHOW OF THIS YEAR’S “OUT OF THE DARKNESS WALK”:  http://youtu.be/7gkddRgN8Ug.

***************************************************************************************************************************

“Thank you” to Event Coordinators Gerri Trager & Tanya Duffy, and their amazing volunteers for a truly healing event.

And to my dear friend, Pat Petroline, who knew what I needed even when I didn’t, and then got me there despite my excuses and all of my quirks. Thank you, girlie.

***************************************************************************************************************************

*The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org.

*Also see: http://www.outofthedarkness.org & survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

*Donations accepted at:

http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2358

*If you have lost someone to suicide:  http://www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, CALL: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)* 

*** BECAUSE EVERYONE MATTERS ***

***************************************************************************************************************************

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

This isn’t a sad day for me.

Grief comes unpredictably throughout life. It sprinkles itself on moments; heavy sometimes, lighter at others. I won’t focus on this day as one of heartache, and dwell on the sadness, or assign myself the duty of grieving. Instead, I will do better.

My life can’t be just about the dates anymore . . . a birth date, death date, anniversary . . . there are too many dates and life is just too damn short.

Life has to become about the joyous moments. Let’s cherish & embrace them.

It’s all so precious.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Today I chatted w/someone who read the blog I wrote (and sang) in honor of my son, Michael, called, “If I Can Get to Heaven”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-uC

A relative of hers had lost an infant long ago and is in need of healing. I told her about The Christmas Box Angel Statue* and how it helps me to visit my son’s memory brick there. What a special gift for today, July 8th, Michael’s birthday.

And once again the word is spread & the healing is shared.

It’s been a good day.

MICHAELS BRICK

My friend, Mary Kopke Wloch, sent me this note regarding this photograph:

“My interpretation: daisies = sweet innocence, the shadow on the brick = your unending love for your son, the hat = hope. With words and images you continue to touch my heart. Thank you for sharing.”

Your words are a gift, dear Mary. Thank you.

************************************************************************************************************************

*THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

The Christmas Box Angel Statue was introduced to the world in the book, “The Christmas Box”, a worldwide best seller and hit television movie by author, Richard Paul Evans.

In the book, at the site of an angel statue, a woman mourns the loss of her child. Though the story is mostly fiction, the angel monument once existed but is speculated to have been destroyed. Mr. Evans commissioned the new angel statue in response to reports that grieving parents were seeking out the angel as a place to grieve and heal.

Michigan Memorial Park has provided the setting for the first Christmas Box Angel Statue in the State of Michigan, here in the United States. ANGEL STATUE

**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

.

EVERY YEAR ON DECEMBER 6TH at 7:00 P.M., THERE IS A CANDLELIGHT HEALING CEREMONY/VIGIL at Christmas Box Angel Statues across the country, for those experiencing the loss of a child or loved one, to gather and honor them. The public is welcome to attend.

.

A PAVING BRICK OR MEMORY BRICK for the angel site at Michigan Memorial Park (and other locations) may be purchased in memory or honor of a child or loved one. The brick will include up to three lines of engraving for $100 with as many as 12 characters or spaces per line.

To purchase a memory brick from Michigan Memorial Park, please click here for a printable application: http://www.michmempark.com/pdf/Christmas-Box-Application.pdf.

Or contact Nancy Adams: (248)887-0327 for addtional information.

Visit Michigan Memorial Park at: http://www.michmempark.com/christmas-box-angel.asp

.

**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

**********************************************************************************************************************

Note: I am NOT professionally associated with Michigan Memorial Park or the Christmas Box Angel Statue, & am posting this blog for informational purposes only, to help spread the word and share in the healing. xoJulia

**********************************************************************************************************************

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

IF I CAN GET TO HEAVEN

I never bought a lunchbox MICHAELS WINGSwhiter

for your first day of school

or had a teacher conference

and saw artwork made by you.

.

You never graduated

or attended your first prom

you never got to marry

and you never called me mom.

.

We had just a whisper

and then you slipped away

I try my best to honor you

by living better every day.

.

If I can get to heaven

after paying my life dues

I will rush right into heaven

and find my way to you.

.

If I can get to heaven

I hope that God agrees

that I belong in heaven

with you right next to me.

*********************************************************************************************************************

* Although I am a writer and not a singer, I have made a recording of myself singing, “IF I CAN GET TO HEAVEN”, in honor of my son, Michael Steven Kovach, on his birthday, July 8th: http://youtu.be/J9HdClGW97E

**********************************************************************************************************************

The photograph in this video is by Fine Arts Photographer, Patricia Izzo, of Izzo Photography. Visit her on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/gbatch1?composeropen=1#!/PatriciaIzzoPhotography?fref=ts, or visit her website at: WWW.IZZOPHOTOGRAPH.COM. Her work may be purchased at River’s Edge Gallery, in Wyandotte Michigan; visit owner, Patt Slack, and her crew at River’s Edge Gallery on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gbatch1?composeropen=1#!/RiversEdgeGallery?fref=ts.

********************************************************************************************************************

Categories: Family, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

PLEASE, MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?

PLEASE, MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?.

Categories: Addiction, Family, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Love, Mental Health, Suicide | Leave a comment

IN A GARDEN . . . AS IN LIFE

We don our gardening boots and floppy hat

and brave the sweaty burning sun.

.

With aching knees and blackened hands

we love the dirt

that nourishes all our promises.

.

From the coldest winds

and driest heat

we protect our unborn bulbs

with acceptance

and a smile.

.

And long before she bursts open

and into glorious song

already we are in love

with the dream.

.

In a garden . . . as in life

our toiling makes no guarantee

of fairness or reward

.

but we do it anyway . . . on faith.

.

And sometimes . . . we are allowed

to glimpse

the gloriousness of a precious petal

only to have it

.

quickly fall away.

.

That is when

we must close our eyes

to see the flower.

LEAF TEARS upclose

Dedicated to all Mothers suffering the loss of a child.

Categories: God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.