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Hurt, Hell and Healing on the Horizon

During the first year after losing my 20 year old son Brandon (who had the brightest smile, perfect dimples, the hardiest laugh and gave the best hugs), I learned a lot. A lot about myself, about people, about God, about death, about grief, about Brandon himself and also about life. These unwanted enlightenments or lessons (or even blessings, depending on my perspective and mindset that day) taught me things that I never wanted to learn. The most harsh one being how to go on without my son.

Today is the beginning of what I’ve dubbed “The Horizon”. The remaining days of this year are looming and are going to be just brutal for me, if I’m being honest.

Today is my Dad’s birthday. He was my best friend and helped me raise my two boys, Brandon and Blaine, from the time they were barely walking. Sadly, he passed away in 2010, and while I miss him terribly, I’m truly thankful that he was not here for our loss of Brandon in 2016. He would have been just shattered and broken over it.

Monday will be two years since my B has been gone. Two years. I told someone the other day that I felt the weight of grief every day of those two years.

Next will be Friendsgiving, where a bunch of B’s friends and our whole family meet up at a little pizza place and celebrate “Thanksgiving”. It’s becoming the one time a year that I get to see and hug the necks of the ones that he was closest to. It warms my heart more than I can describe.

Then it will be actual Thanksgiving. Then we’ll be in Stillwater for the basketball tournament, “Buckets for Brandon” that Sigma Chi puts on to honor B and also to offer education, awareness and hopefully subsequent accountability. The tournament will be followed by Brandon’s birthday, Christmas and then finally New Year’s.

All of these things, events and days on the horizon will be WITHOUT my Brandon … and that just plain sucks. It hurts like hell.

Blaine wearing a brown shirt resting his head on his right hand; Sarah next to him with her hair pulled back, wearing dark rimmed glasses and a brown t-shirt, smiling at the camera; Brandon in the front sticking out his tongue at the camera

Although this upcoming holiday season will not be our true firsts without him, they honestly feel like the first as I’m still without him and still at times in shock, denial or disbelief.

I will feel these days and his absence with 100% clarity, and that’s extremely scary to me right now.

Just the other day, I told Bailey (a great friend of Brandon’s and also Blaine’s best friend, who preciously allows me to be brutally honest about my grief and still loves me) that I feel like there’s just hurt and hell on my horizon .. but then I realized there’s also healing (I love alliteration …).

Grief studies have shown that it takes not just a calendar year of 12 months, but 14 months to fully and coherently cycle through the firsts of everything without your lost loved one. I’ve found this to be true because last Thanksgiving and Christmas “didn’t count”. I was mentally aware that my baby was gone, but my heart was still so raw, and it couldn’t process all that it had to. My poor figurative (and probably physical heart as well) now knows.

We all know, and it hurts. It’s pure hell some days knowing that I have no more days with my Brandon, that he’s not coming home, that I’ve received all of the texts and memes that I’m ever going to get from him. I’ll never hear his chuckle or full on laugh in my living room again. I’ll never tell him to bring his dirty dishes to the sink or get to see him walk the stage at OSU. I’ll never fix his tie on his wedding day. I’ll never see his first house or tuck his baby in. He won’t walk me down the aisle or give me away. These are hard truths, and they are hell to live with and in.

I’ve repeatedly tried to fully reassure Blaine that missing Brandon does not equate to me not being thankful for him; they’re two totally separate emotions … but I still have guilt when I’m missing Brandon while Blaine is at my side. It’s a delicate balance to grieve Brandon while loving Blaine. Neither one of my boys deserves a half mother, so this is where I pray for and work towards HEALING.

Blaine, Brandon & Sarah standing in front of a brick dorm. Blaine is wearing a white baseball cap backwards on his head, a gray workout shirt, sunglasses and has hand over his mouth. Sarah is in the middle with sunglasses on her head and a black collared shirt on. Brandon is wearing a checked white and gray collared shirt and a backpack and is making upside down Vs with both hands.

I’ve done and am doing the grief work. I’ve asked for help if I’ve needed it. I’ve reached out and made new friends. I allow sentiment and comfort. I’ve dabbled in all of the stages of grief. I share, I sometimes overshare. I’ve cried and have “let it all out”. I write. I talk. I’m in Grief Share 3.0. I’m in grief counseling. I have grief friends, who absolutely understand my loss. I practice self-care, work out and will continue to work on ME. I do my devotionals and talk to God. I’m working on returning to church.

I’m doing all the things that are necessary to move from mourning to healing — and to become a better mom to Blaine.

I’m having to embrace an alternative life that I was completely unprepared for. I’ve had to adjust my perspective daily and remember to be thankful. I’ve added on a whole new unwanted character trait of “grieving mother” to who I am, and I’ve tried to make the best of it.

I’m assuming and pretty much counting on all of this being, brick by brick, a road to healing because there’s truly no “getting over it”. I’m in it. I’m living it. It is my lot. I’m healing but I still hurt for my baby and ache for the sight of him every day.

As always, I’m forever thankful for my time with Brandon … I just wanted more. I will continue to live and love in God’s grace and strength and will continue to walk the path that He has for me.

Thank you for reading. If you understand my message and my perspective because you’ve “been there”, my heart goes out to you.

Please keep our family in your prayers. I’m personally living on those ❤️

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