Losing Joe – Broken In Darkness As Grief Invades My Life
I don’t remember much of the first several days or weeks following Joe’s death. For 27 years, my son’s life existed valiantly, always full of exuberant love and joy for everyone and everything surrounding him. Time stood still in my world. The worst possible nightmare any parent could ever imagine happened to me; my only son suddenly died. Just like that, he was gone. No more hugs, kisses, laughter, love, conversations, every sound of Joe suddenly became silent. My heart was in so much pain; I felt like it stopped beating. Everything inside my soul shattered. It felt like the sound of glass hitting the tile floor and pieces spattered everywhere into the tiny crevices.
Did Joe really die? I can’t even process those words and to speak them out loud is unthinkable. He’s Joe. It’s not possible, not my kid! Tears come pouring back at every thought, heavier and heavier. I can’t stop crying. I lay in my bed thinking how he must have felt when he realized his death, and there would be no waking up. Or did he know it happened? Was he able to see his life flash by in front of him? And, what happened next? Where did he go? I began to think of my mortality; until now, I had not given much attention to death, but it hit my family like a fast-moving freight train smashing into all of us. Losing Joe changed me; it changed each one of us.
I stayed in bed and had no idea how much time had passed; my only hope was to wake up from this insane nightmare. Every time I opened my eyes, there was my sister at my bedside, or my best friend, or my nieces. My two daughters laid next to me, cuddled under my arms and legs. They felt warm, and I could hear the sound of their hearts beating as water from their eyes touched my skin. My tears were neverending. My sister told me I had stopped eating; I don’t remember. She told me that she had to hold me up and hand-fed me small pieces of food, scared and extremely worried I would die from a broken heart. My body ached all over; every movement felt like my bones were cracking into a million pieces.
So many people came to the house to pay their respect. Our home filled up with family and friends. Yet, I’ve never felt so alone in my life. I lived in darkness and didn’t know (not did I care) if I would ever see sunshine again. I didn’t want to see anything or be around anyone, I just wanted my son back. God, please give him back to me! Darkness creeped into my life, and it was not about to leave anytime soon. I soon learned darkness is what people called GRIEF. It was here, forever.
With the help of my sister and daughters, I finally got the strength to get out of bed and walk downstairs to see everyone. As I stepped into my kitchen, my body felt weak, most likely because I had not eaten much for several days. As I looked around, there was wall to wall people, all family, and friends, sharing their love for Joe. If there was ever a moment of joy on that day, it was right then as I looked around my home, experiencing the love everyone shared with Joe.
I wanted to be near him, so my sister helped me walk to his bedroom. The emptiness of his space was heavy; it ripped across my chest like a ton of bricks falling on top of me and crushing my heart again and again. Joe’s bedroom was his domain. A place for his thoughts and solitude. His cell phone and laptop stored all of his excitements as well as ideas of starting his own business, his joy, his sadness, all stored in one place. I looked around the room, everything still as he left it. Joe’s skateboard, shoes in his closet placed deliberately facing a particular direction, his clothes hanging according to color, the hamper of unwashed clothing still smelly from his sweat, all of his possessions still precisely in the same spot. Except for Joe, the most crucial piece of this bedroom and a life that lit up every room he walked in, and he is gone. Everything is now silent.
I dropped onto his bed. The scent of his breath was still fresh. His footprints stained the walks around his bed. WHY had I not noticed this before? I stared up at the ceiling in a daze, asking myself what was he thinking when he sat in that same spot on his bed just a couple of nites ago? I turned over on my left side, my head facing his nightstand, and noticed a picture taped to the side. As I got closer to see who was in this picture by his bed, I lay there in utter shock. Joe’s favorite picture of me from 20 years ago, I wore a long red dress to my company Christmas party. He told me once how much he loved that picture, and there it was for him to see it every night and every morning by his bedside. I crawled underneath his blankets and cried for endless hours and stayed in Joe’s room for several days; I could not bring myself to leave his space.
I pleaded with God; please give my son back to me. How am I going to keep living without Joe? I won’t make it. Life and everything in it seemed to fade away, and all I wanted was to be with my son. Not even God could fix this one.
Family pictures show the beautiful memories we have with Joseph. We shared love and joy with him for 27 years. He brought an incredible luminous light into all of our lives.