It has been my honor to write this blog. Please follow this link and read on.
I look forward to hearing back from you on this,
It has been my honor to write this blog. Please follow this link and read on.
I look forward to hearing back from you on this,
Over the last few years – since the sentencing really — I have learned to give family members their space, even when I feel the need to talk to them, even when I really want to know that they are okay. I have learned my needs do not outweigh theirs. Hence when I went to send out “Merry Christmas” notes this week I deleted the one to a family member who has needed to put distance between us. And to my surprise I got a note from that family member, all on her own, a great Christmas present.
This family member was in need of chatting, processing the negative affect that infamous day is still having on many of our lives. I prayed I would have the right words. Prayed hard.
So I wrote: I know the positive stuff/outlook/attitude is a challenge at times. I stumble each week and tears often drip from my eyes many days of the week, often many times of the day. But the duration of the love drops that fall from my eyes is shorter, most days. But you are right “…nothing has been the same or even normal for 6 years.” I know the selfish people took joy from our lives… evident by this empty house I sit in, evident by the fact that my daughters and I have not spoken in year and 7 months.”
I thought to myself, nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Our E-man is gone.
I know we, this entire family, have a big whole in our hearts, souls and lives. Our family is now so disjointed, spread to all of the corners of the US and we are no longer tight. Add to this that many of my loved ones are not dealing with the death, let alone dealing well with the loss of such a positive part of all of our lives. But as I allow the love to stream down my face, as I wipe the love that drips from my eyes… I have chosen to do my best to not let those selfish people take more and more and more and more. They have taken enough from me, from us all.
I fake it ‘till I make it.
I am still faking it.
But there are now moments, moments that are added side by side now, that help me find the joys in the moments I am in. Temporary/limited … yes, but they are moments our boy encourages.
It was then she asked me if I was able to take a call. So I gave her my phone number (I think she was glad it had not changed) and two hours 29 minutes later we hung up. Tears were shared. Heck, the moment I heard her voice the tears began. She sounded good. We caught up. We re-ran through many things and clarity was gained for her. And some for me, too. Apologies were made. Apologies were accepted. Encouragement of more healing was given.
This life my son’s family and friends are now living is not a life we had thought we would be living. But it is a life that we must be lived. It is a life we must find a way to live. Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. Find a why to honor our loved one while not letting the selfish bastards continue to victimize any of us. I wish this progression in all who love my son, Ethan and all who have been touched by his story.
It happened again, just the other day — it was suggested that I “stop going onto those pages and stop helping others who are grieving because it is keeping you living in the past.” Like my grief is holding me back. Like my learning to live with my grief and helping to lead others out of a very dark place — that I had gotten to after the murder of my son — is a bad thing.
I shake my head, more at myself than anyone, at questioning, for a moment, if the lady who suggested this was right.
As I questioned myself and my own path over the last, nearly, 6 years. I began looking at my interaction with others. I will admit I even compared my interactions, a bit, with her’s. Now this is a church going, God loving person who is active in her church. So, I was surprised this came from her, on one hand, but … then again she has not suffered a heaven sent child loss – first hand – as I have. She has only been on the shirttail of it all since that 8th day of September 2010.
I have found that I think she, and many others possibly (because this has been said to me by a couple of other well meaning, loving folks) forgotten that in 1 Peter 4:10-11 we are told:
As each has received a gift, [we are to] use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—[should do so] in order that in everything [we do] God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.
After all, I openly admit that I couldn’t have made it this far without the strength of something bigger then myself. But maybe I missed effectively conveying this to those around me whom my grief still bothers, to those around me who are at a loss because my grief still hurts them.
Maybe they think I can turn my grief on and off like a light switch.
Maybe they think it would be easier to deal with me if I was not so open about my grief, open about my learning to live on this altered path, open about taking x-y- and z steps to regain what I can of me (the me that was here before the murder of my son)?
Then I find myself looking at Galatians 5:13-14:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
For many who know me, are coming to know me through this blog, the Hearts For Bereaved page (a private group page on Facebook), and one-on-one contact like the recent blessing of answering the phone, at my day job, to a wife who is reeling from the unexpected death of her husband – I am a loving person. I am a ‘Pay It Forward’ person. It has been my nature since I was born. It is ingrained in me to give so much, let alone it goes along with my personal faith.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been things (and people) that have happened in my life that have tried to break that loving kindhearted spirit within me. There have even been times I thought “that” might have won. But, alas, today, today I can say – those forces have not won. I have. And it is because of the strength I have gained from my faith which tells me at my weakest the strength comes from God.
I am reminded in Proverbs11:25: Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The reality is I have been blessed. I have not been nice and loving and kind and caring to others to better my place in the eye of the Lord. In turn, allowing myself to continue to be kind has helped me. It has “watered” my soul, as it is promised in Proverbs 11:25.
I am not blind to Philippians 2:1-5 in which we are encouraged to not be selfish if we feel encouragement from our relationship with Jesus. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, (which I have) any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit (which I have), any affection and sympathy (which I have), complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit (which I do not), but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (which I have be faulted by others for doing). Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others….
I am reminded that …we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
When one of us suffers a deep personal loss of a child or a husband, wife, sibling or friend we should not be alone in our grief at all times. That is not how it was meant to be. We need others to lead us, by example, by encouragement and sometimes by the hand — out of the darkness and down the new, bumpy path we are now thrust upon to travel. And that is what I am doing when I help others who walk, stumble and fall on the same or nearly same path I am now navigating.
I am sorry my grief has not dissipated and has not gone away – because it seems, even nearly 6 years later, my grief is still too much for others. I am sorry my grief brings pain to others. But I am better than I was, even if they don’t see it. I am healthier because I am able to share this grief aloud with others. I am healthier because I am able to be the shoulder for others. I am stronger in my faith, as well, as I do not question the helping position I have been put in (just wish others saw it that way too).
Yesterday, I was out with the Search and Rescue doing Hug a Tree presentation to the Boy Scouts. One of our local Explore kids joined us (okay there were 2, but only one was new to me). As we sat enjoying the generous meal the Boy Scouts offered us, we chatted about many a subject including Charlie Manson, his followers and other criminals that have hit the headlines of late. Sargent Dave, a fellow SAR member, brought up a few names that the young 18-23-year-olds did not recognize right away as residents of Crowbar Motels (prisons). This young Explore, I will call him WS, like many of them, have goals to become Officers; to stand up for others.
‘It is actions like these, the senseless murders, that make me want to be work in corrections,’ WS said. He further admitted that the taking of another’s life confounded him. It was then that I shared.
It was about then that the Explorer I know changed sides of the table and came to sit beside me. He had heard the tale once before.
“Yes, it does not make sense why someone would choose to, plan to defraud….” And I proceeded in telling a cursory set of details about a young 19-year-old boy, man the papers said, who lost his life, and his beautiful fiancé whose life was altered that day too. And I spoke of the Orange Blob and his Sister-wife; the children they produced and the fact that his mother was a Pastor.
WS agreed, shaking head, that these types of actions don’t make sense.
It is then that I said, “I know that actions like these don’t make sense, but the DNA collected that day, off my son, etc. helped solve more cases.”
Yes, this took WS by surprise. I did my best to not hit him over the head with the shock of the case I was talking about, but I have learned there is no easy way to let anyone know you are speaking of your own family when the discussion is at hand.
Then came a true and caring, “How is your daughter-in-law?” from the Explorer who was now sitting beside me.
I smiled, then proudly said, “She is doing well. She really is.”
It was then that WS looked at me and said softly, ‘You are the most positive person I have met. I am not sure how you do it, but I think it’s great.’
WS’s right. I am a positive person, most of the time. I have my down times. I admit it.
I have longer stretches, not limited to mere moments, in which I am not so positive since my son was murdered and the changes this entire mess has had on our “family” that is left behind in the wake of it all. Those are, most often, private moments, or at least moments I only let an extremely limited number of people witness; hence why I am not seen by as many people as before the murder took place.
But back to the positiveness of it all.
I have promised myself to keep the me I like, even if that means regaining me. Long ago I promised myself to not let anyone take that me away from me. And because it is a positive thing I am trying my hardest, at times, to keep – me. I am not going to lie — I am struggling, at times, to look in the mirror and see the me that was here before this tragedy hit our family. It has changed me. It has changed us all to a large extent, but I like being positive. It is part of me that was there before and part of me which I showed my children, all of them.
And then there is that one last thing: I am determined to NOT let the Orange Blob (the murderer) and his Sister-wife take that away from me … too.
“June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo along with his wife, Duchess Sophie. This assassinated started a domino effect resulting in World War I.
I grew up playing cards with mom, grandma and the sisters. I even played tri-dominos with my grandma Kay. But my love of playing games fell away and I don’t even know when. My enjoyment for playing games, the challenge was still around when I was 23. That is when I tried out for and was on the gameshow – Super Password – back in 1986. I played well, well enough to become a retired 5-time undefeated champion. But I wonder if that was when my game playing enjoyment began to fade.
I became a person who was not a game player.
Some may say, often it was my children who I heard saying it in different ways, I am too serious in life. It was needed back then. But stalking can have that affect on a gal.
I remember … there was this one time, in 2001 — I remember when I felt forced to learn to play the color bubble game on the computer, yep, by my kids. I felt forced at the time. But I really tired to learn to relax and do something to affirm life.
“Come on mom, you can learn to play it. We’ll teach you!”
The kids repeated often. So I relented in hopes of getting them off my back. After all, I could no longer resist the willing encouragement from my two beauties.
A week later my son, Ethan, age 10-ish lead the troops into the house from school. Kayla, 8, was right on his heals when they found me sitting at the computer and he said with much surprise, “Mom, what are you doing?”
I looked up, a bit of guilt in my eyes, “I am playing the game you taught me to play,” my cheeks became flush as I looked to see the glee in his expression. Both he and Kayla gather around me in disbelief with giggles. I know they thought I must be just hammering out another article. But to their surprise… I really was playing the game they had encouraged me to learn to play.
So now, even with the empty nest, when I am board and want a bit of that happiness back… I find a modern game associated with colored bubbles and I download it and play it in memory of that once joyous time.
Oh for the colored bubbles my kids just knew they could teach me to play with. ❤
The June Challenge Day 7 brings up another anniversary:
“June 7, 1982. Priscilla Presley opened Graceland to the public.
Many Elvis fans have taken vacations to Memphis just so they can tour Graceland.
Where would you like to visit on your next vacation? What would you do with seven days off? What is your idea of a perfect week-long vacation?”
There was a time, as a mum on the farm, as a young mother trying to keep her children, and self, safe from the stalking ex-husband/dad I would have said … “va…va..va… what?” and needed to look this word up to find out its definition. But I am able to smile now, as I know what this word v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n means.
I wouldn’t mind going to Yosemite National Park.
It is a beautiful place I grew up in summers as a child. I desire to go see the house my grandfather, father and cousins built, back when private parties still owned property within the gates. I desire to allow myself the joys of what was and see how relaxing it still is now with all of the grandeur the good Lord has granted.
With seven days off I would go hiking – I’d love to hike up beside Nevada Falls (again), sleep in, swim, hot tub, eat well, enjoy some Champers with breakfast and listen to the earth and the animals instead of music, TV and/or the computer. And time without the concerns of home (the dogs and cats) nor work … enjoying life and laughter with my spouse-type fella is my idea of a perfect week-long vacation no matter what we are doing together. Yosemite will, most likely, always be there so time off anywhere, even home is just fine with me.
“June 6, 1944. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London?
Are you a fan of the song YMCA by The Village People? Or do you hate it?
Write about and share six songs or artists you love or six songs you hate. This is a chance to learn how to embed media in a post.”
My 6 telltale sounds:
But then there came a time when the silence was scary (during the years the kids and I were stalked). Then I found myself, my mind, my ears searching for sounds. Searching so much that I began playing music or the TV in the background most to help my mind get some rest, when it could.
The silence became painful there for a while – after the death of my son. Even driving to and from work was difficult, to say the least. For weeks, if not months, I had to be “talked to work” and “talked home” by one of my family members. Then came the last 12 months that my house has been empty of children. As the girls spread their wings and find their own way I find the house silent. It’s taken a while, but now, now I am pleased to announce I am finding myself not even turning on the radio for background noise. It is the silence that I am finding comfort in, once again, and this makes my heart sing again.
What do you find easy or hard to listen to?
In the five stages of grief:
There was no chance to work through Denial…. that call from the Sheriff… well, the “I am sorry to have to tell you this over the phone…” nope, no chance for Denial in this Grief.
Bargaining was taken out of the equation too, because I believed the Sheriff. I mean, who would lie about a thing like this. I don’t even believe, a couple of weeks later, the night I brought Ethan’s ashes home, that I thought any kind of barging could be struck. I just wailed, “I want my son back.” Repeatedly. It was not a bargaining request. It was a painful, loud, repetitive fact. One I had to work through.
Depression, it is a part of my grief. It still comes and hides and comes again. I know it is here for the long haul.
Acceptance … I did that early too. Even if I did tell the Sheriff, “I can’t talk about this now, I will have to call you back.” It was because I couldn’t hear any more. His words stung my ears and my heart. But there were too many news reports; too many conformations for me to even think this was not real. And later, my wish, no my prayer: “Please don’t make Ethan’s death be in vain,” has been answered time and time again.
It is that Anger that is rearing it’s ugly head … again. It hit me very hard as my mind wrapped around the Sheriff’s words making me understand the oddness in my kids’ step-mom voice that morning, on the phone. And my (then) husband’s softly spoken, “You are going to have to call. You’re his mom. They won’t release any information to anyone that his not his next of kin.”
And the Anger has swelled many a time over the last 5 years 9 months and 2 days. But I have been able to keep in caged, most of the time. But, it began to have a life this weekend. A life of it’s own. I did release it in the company of comfort; with someone I am completely comfortable with, completely trust; someone who does not look at me like I have two heads.
But I did not like that it grew and grew and grew
and I did not stop it.
I did not like that I actually fed it.
Allowed it to blossom.
Not one other person around us knew what was growing inside of me.
Not one other person around us heard what I was saying.
They did not hear the conversation my confidant and I were having.
But I don’t like that I was in public.
I don’t like that after the conversation ended the Anger stayed around… it did not go back into its cage. It lingered at the door waiting to be given free rain to destruct.
I have always been afraid of this beast called grief.
I have worried it would grow so big that I would get lost in it.
I have worried it would engulf me.
Be more powerful than I.
And this weekend … it felt too comfortable letting the Anger exist.
June 5, 1941. Robert Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods, was born.
I have been challenged to tell about my five favorite foods or five favorite restaurants. I will tell a little bit about both.
My mum cooked us a Leg of Lamb, Greek style, which is to say that she cut into the leg meat with a sharp knife and inserts a clove of raw garlic, then she would slather the fat-sided up leg with yellow mustard and sprinkle with garlic salt. I am grateful that my mum, not only handed down a traditional Greek receipt, but shared this with me as I still prepare and cook my lamb in this fashion.
A Brut. With fresh fruit or without, with… for Sunday breakfasts or mid-day. Oh… wait that is made of grapes.
It’s just tossed green lettuce, tomatoes, sometimes green onions, sometimes radishes, sometimes black olives, but usually Fetta or soft Goat cheese or Blue Cheese and the family’s homemade oil and vinegar “Greek” salad dressing.
– It is one of the 5 restaurants that Greg and his family owned when I was in my early 20s. Back then my spouse-type fella (not then, we were only dating then – 30 years ago) trained a good number of the opening staff for Parkway Grille and I was “trained there” by another waiter just before the opening of Crocodile Café, on Lake Ave in Pasadena. I love the level of gourmet food that constantly comes out the Open Air kitchen and has since 1984. Plus, now the head Mixologist, Mark, makes a wonderful set of cocktails.