To hear her voice.

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

My son sent me some voicemails from Parker that he had saved.

I had forgotten her voice, and hearing it again, even through the low quality voicemails, brought up a mix of emotions. It was nice to know her voice is saved. It was nice to be reminded how she sounded.

It was nice to hear her voice again after over three years.

The voicemails were mostly her fussing at him for not being out of bed. There was a series of them where she got more and more frustrated because they were supposed to meet somewhere and he just wasn’t waking up.

But she says, “love you” in a few of them.

Hearing those little words again was both hard and wonderful.

I wish I had more recordings.

I wish I had more photos.

I wish she could be here to see how great life is right now.

I wish she had known how great life could be.

I wish.

It made me realize that there aren’t many recordings of my voice, I hate how I sound. I don’t have any recordings of Kidlet’s voice or Wonder Woman’s voice. How quickly would I forget if something happened to either one of them.

Such a mix of emotions when I heard those recordings. I am grateful that I was able to go curl up beside Wonder Woman for a few moments before leaving.

I miss Parker. It’s not that gut wrenching grief that will bring me to my knees, but it’s a slow and steady ache. Most of the time it’s just there, and it’s been there so long that I don’t often think about it.

But sometimes it’s brought to my attention again.

Her birthday is next month and Kidlet already asked if I wanted to do anything for it. I remember when she first died we said we’d have cake together every year. He’s too far away for that now.

Cheesecake was her favorite.

It’s one of my favorites too, but Pineapple Upside Down cake is the best. Her mother used to make me one every year for my birthday. She still sends me recipes sometimes. It’s basically our only communication anymore.

I miss her family.

I’m glad I got to hear Parker speak again, even through a voicemail left long ago.

 

It’s 3am

This is a Really Real Widow Post. With some Really Real Mental Health mixed in.

It’s 3am. Coffee too late and a touch of hypomania means I’m still awake.

I don’t want to be awake.

I have a full day tomorrow.

This morning (yesterday morning) there was a Michael’s ad in my email, and there was a pumpkin with Parker carved into it.

Parker isn’t the kind of name I normally see in random places.

I’ve been missing her today. I’m especially missing her at 3am.

I always miss her in small ways, but sometimes that comes to the forefront. Sometimes I can feel the old pain in my chest.

“I miss her tonight.” I send the text to our son.

I wish the ball in my chest would grow big enough to let me cry. Maybe then I could get some sleep.

Lack of sleep always brings a rough day. I wish I could rewind and undrink the coffee that seemed so appealing 8 hours ago. I wish I could rewind and take those pills out of her hand.

I wish I could rewind and change things so that I stop seeing that morning play out in slow motion.

I wish I could rewind so she could see my life now. I wish I could rewind so she could still be breathing.

I just wish I could rewind.

He texts back “Yeah, I do too.”

Then he asks if I’m safe. You know, because every kid has to worry that they might lose another mom that way.

It’s totally normal.

I joke because facing the reality of our fucked up life is made easier when I add some humor.

Life isn’t all that bad now. I have the space to be annoyed when I’m awake at 3 am. I have the spoons to type this out. I have a roof over my head that isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not suicidal right now. That makes life extra good.

I miss her tonight. That ball is still in the middle of my chest. Not quite large enough to let me cry this out. I want to be held and comforted, but it’s 3am, self soothing will have to do.

There’s no real point to this, no profound realization, no life lesson for me to pass on.

I can’t remember the sound of her voice anymore. Not all of the time. I was laying with Wonder Woman the other day and the thought hit me “Will I remember your voice after you die?” I’m engaged with full knowledge that I could become a widow again.

Life happens.

Death happens.

I’ve been watching her sleep more often lately. Making sure she’s still breathing. I even watch the cat and the dog now.

It must be on my mind how fragile life is.

Watching for the slow rise and fall of her chest. Panicked if I don’t see it right away. Relieved when she makes some small noise.

We listen to The Mountain Goats sometimes.

“I hope you die.” “I hope we both die.”

We add our own line “at the same time.”

I miss her tonight. Both of them. I miss the one who isn’t breathing anymore, and I miss the one who’s hopefully still breathing in the other room.

I need to go check again.

Maybe this time, I can fall asleep beside her.

Adultier Adult

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I had a conversation in therapy about the fact that I don’t feel like an adult.

My therapist asked why I don’t see myself as a grown up. I started listing off reasons.

I don’t have a car.

I don’t have a job.

I’ve always needed financial help.

I’m not independent.

I can’t budget my own money successfully.

I’m not successful.

I haven’t finished college.

I can’t hold a job even when I get them.

I can’t finish anything I start.

I just kept listing off one thing after another.

I told her I felt that my son was more of an adult than I am. He is truly, the adultier adult, like we always joked about needing when he was younger.

She pointed out that I raised him.

I told her that was easy, he was an easy kid to raise, mostly. He did a lot of it himself, unfortunately, while I was busy helping us survive whatever bullshit I had gotten us into that week, or month, or year.

She asked me if I’d judge anyone else so harshly.

Of course not.

But this is me, and I’m “so smart” and “so intelligent” and I “should be making more of myself” and I’m not.

So how can I really be an adult.

I can’t even keep my sink clear of dishes. I can’t even stay caught up on school work (and it’s at a community college, it’s not like I’m working a full time job at the same time, most of the students are).  I can’t even pay my bills on my own without spending too much money and needing to be bailed out again, and again, and again.

This all sounds very whiny.

I want to be so much more than I am. I want to be functional. I want to be . . . typical, for lack of a better word.

I want to be able to spend money on things I need and not get carried away by emotional spending to the point that I end up staring at a negative bank account for the third time in a month, begging for help, again. I want to be able to focus on the things I need to focus on and stop hyperfocusing on the things that don’t matter. I want a fucking car. I want to finish school. I want to be able to work and actually hold down a job.

I want to be a fucking adult.

I want to accomplish more in life then just surviving and keeping a kid alive until 18.

I want to do more.

I just want to grow up.

Give Them Wings

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

“Landed.”

“Are you in another country now?”

“Yep”

Kidlet is 19 years old and he just took a solo trip out of the country. He planned it, got his passport, paid for the tickets, saved up the spending money, and is doing the thing.

“No time for a drink yet, the next flight boards soon.” He’s old enough to drink in Canada and is looking forward to buying his first (legal) adult beverage.

He still has 2 more flights until he arrives at his final destination, some online gaming friends he’s visiting for a few days.

And I couldn’t be prouder.

I was 21 when I made my first trip (mostly) alone, relying on some inheritance to take a road trip from Maryland to Texas. Kidlet riding along in his car seat, still in diapers. The Tarzan soundtrack kept us going through that trip. I belted out “You’ll Be In My Heart” every time it came on, singing it directly from my heart to him, unable to imagine a day that I wouldn’t be right there beside him. I couldn’t begin to see this far into the future.

But here we are.

“What’s your soundtrack for this trip?”

“Ride” (By Twenty One Pilots) “I’ve had that song playing in my head.”

I smile.

Three years ago, almost to the day, Kidlet and I took a road trip to NY. It was right after Parker died and we just needed to get away. We went to see one of my best friends, also someone I knew from online. When we started I had never heard “Ride” but we spent the trip playing music for each other and it was one that got played often. By the time we were driving back it had become one of my favorite songs. We belted out the lyrics together the whole way home.

“I love you Kidlet.”

“Love you more Mom.”

Love you more isn’t a competition, it means he loves me more than all of the miles and distance between us. It’s a reminder that no matter how far apart we are, we’re still together, we’re still close.

I realize how lucky I am to have this relationship with my son. I’m still not quite sure what I did right or how I did it in the middle of all the things that went wrong for us.

In the midst of our closeness I spent his life letting him stretch his wings whenever I could.

And he sure is using them to fly.

 

The Duality of Mother’s Day

This is a Really Real Mother Post and also a Really Real Widow Post.

Mother’s Day is both wonderful and hard.

I’m love my role as a mother. I’ve loved every phase of motherhood even though there have been periods that were harder than others. I always found the joy in every part of my relationship with my son.

As a teen I wanted 5 kids and felt I was meant to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I wanted to be the quintessential housewife while also having dreams of a career. Above all I knew I wanted to be a mom.

Well, I got the title of mom much earlier than I planned and by giving birth at 19 I grew up right along side my son. We were a team.

In hindsight I’m glad he was my only. It set us up to have an incredible bond.

Things just have a way of working out the way they are supposed to.

When he was eight Parker came into our lives and grew into her role as his other mother.  She was never really step mom, she was equal mom, and eventually favorite mom, a title she still holds from the grave.

While he was very much her son, she wanted to give birth to her own biological child. At one point we had a donor and we tried. I still remember the look on her face when we realized her growing health problems meant we had to stop trying. In one of her last emails before she died she talked to a friend about both, how much she loves Draven and also how much she wanted a bio child and knew it would never happen.

I’m glad she got to experience motherhood and I hate that she never got to experience it in that way.

I know it broke her heart.

Every Mother’s Day she is on my mind. I didn’t just lose a wife, I lost the only other person with whom I will ever share the title of mother.

I’ve seen lots of posts on Facebook about how wonderful mother’s day is and also how hard mother’s day is and for me, it’s both.

So today I’m quietly reflecting on memories of raising my son and sharing that job with Parker.

I hope today is a happy day for you, whether it’s because you are celebrating mother’s day or because you find some other reason to smile.

Remember, motherhood doesn’t have to be about giving birth or raising children. Motherhood can also be about nurturing your own inner child, or the kids in the neighborhood, or chosen family, or fur (or scale or feather) babies, or any number of other ways one can nurture and protect.

I feel the need to thank everyone who has been following along with these posts. I appreciate you all.

 

 

 

Every Body Remembers Part 1

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

More specifically, this is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Trigger Warning:  Violence, Police Violence, Mention of Drugs

Story time.  This is long, one of my longest posts in awhile.

When I was around 22, my son’s father and I were dirt poor and facing homelessness.  It was the first time my mental health prevented me from working and he wasn’t able to get or hold a job either.

I found a mental health program that would pay our rent for a year if we could find a place under $400 a month.

We looked and we looked,  not finding a single thing.  The offer was about to run out and we were desperate.  Finally we came across a beat-up, slumlord owned, row home in one of the worst areas of the city.

We moved in.

We put our living room in one of the bedrooms on the second floor because bullets were less likely to come through those windows if shots were fired (and they were, leaving a hole in the car I was borrowing at the time).

We were the only white family for blocks.  I got pulled over regularly and learned to carry not only my licence, but my utility bill and even a copy of my lease.  The only people that looked like us in that neighborhood were driving through buying one of the many types of drugs that were sold from most corners and in front of the abandoned houses.

Our time there wasn’t all horrible.  We made friends with the neighbors, both the ones trying to “clean up the streets” and the ones selling the drugs.  We stayed out of the drama and got to know them all as individuals.  We got to know their stories and why they ended up where they were.  We cried real tears when someone we knew well, who just happened to be in a feud with another dealer, was shot in the head and died.

They also looked out for us.  They knew we stood out and could become easy prey so I was often escorted from my car to my house if I had to park far away.  Once, in a miscommunication between us and roommates, our front door got left wide open while no one was home and someone from the neighborhood watched our place for almost 12 hours.  Of course part of that is the fact that no one wants the cops to show up on “their street.”

But one day the cops did show up.

I had just gotten Kidlet out of the tub.  I can still see where I was standing, with my tiny 3 year old, wrapped in a towel, on my hip.  I heard breaking wood and the front door slam open and “This is the police” and countless footsteps stomp through the house and up the steps towards me.  Guns were drawn and pointed at my face.  At my 3 year old’s face.

At My 3 Year Old’s Face.

After demanding to know What The Fuck was going on, my sons father was cuffed and slammed against the stairs.  I remember seeing him, defeated, sitting on the bottom step.

They brought people I’d never seen before in from out front.  People just passing through?  Someone they thought was involved with whatever they thought was happening at my house?

While sitting on the sofa with my still mostly naked son, strangers from out front cuffed and on the floor around me, cops watching me, they threw random clothes at me and told me to dress him.

I asked for a warrant repeatedly.  Hours? later they produced one.  Something about having to remove the judges name being the reason for the delay.  I’m honestly not sure.

They said they saw us dealing drugs through our front door.  Said they had been watching us for years building a case.   My son’s father said it was because we were white, because we could only look like us, and be in this neighborhood, for drug reasons.  They said they had no idea what race we were.  Those two facts do not go together.

My sons father and I smoked pot at one point.  From what I recall we didn’t have any actual marijuana leaf in the house though, we hadn’t smoked in quite some time.  We couldn’t even keep the lights on.  We weren’t getting high.  They found a box of seeds and stems and some paraphernalia.  They threatened to arrest us for that if we didn’t just sit still and shut up and drop it.

A little while later they took what they found and left.  Broken door still sitting wide open with no way to close it.

We never heard another word.

There’s a point to me telling this story, but this is long enough, I’ll tell the rest in a part two.

Hey, Mom.

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

We have a totally different relationship now.

It’s 6am texts with “Hey, mom have you heard this song?” while he’s finishing his shift at work and I’m still sleeping.

It’s check in texts from both of us “How’s work going?” “How are you feeling today?”

It’s almost weekly phone calls and the occasional video chats where we catch up on how life is really treating us and discuss serious world topics that make my heart swell with pride when I realize how grown he really is.

It’s both of us talking about our relationships and how happy we are but also talking about problems and getting advice from a different perspective.

I still love those texts where he shares a song with me.  Music speaks to both of us in ways that a lot of people can’t fathom.  One of my favorite trips was shortly after Parker died, a road trip together, to NY, going back and forth sharing the songs that were getting us through the loss.  By the end we were singing each others songs and crying together.

This morning he sent me one of his current songs.  I did what I do and pulled up the video and the lyrics.

By the end of the first chorus I was crying.

That great big ugly cry that felt like it had been pent-up for years (but it hadn’t).

I knew why he sent it to me.

Not to make me cry, of course, but it spoke to me about his childhood, in a loose round about way, without being specific.  Of hard times he and I had, before he left, where we fought non-stop about everything and anything.  It spoke of a mother, me, who wasn’t well and a kid who finally understood that the mother was doing the best she could.

“And though you say the days are happy, why is the power off and I’m fucked up?”

And the thing is, we could both be reading totally different things into these songs. Sometimes we discuss them and realize we are.  I haven’t had a chance to really talk about this one with him.

I love that he trusts me enough to share this stuff with me.  I didn’t have a relationship with my parents where I could have discussed my music with them at his age, or really at any age.  They didn’t get it, and didn’t really want to.

My relationship with Kidlet is different now.

It’s 2,700 miles different.

It’s full-grown man different.

It’s still pretty damn amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.