Tag Archives: grief

40 Months

July 11
40 Months

Years gone too fast
Almost erase the past
And your face
Residing in that empty space.

Why after all these years
Are the tears
Still here?
Is it my fear
That I’ll forget
We ever met?

Years pass fast
As if obliterating the past
When all I want is to
Remember you
Without a tear,
Without fear.

The loss of a child,
Such a horrid wild
Ride,
And I’ve cried and cried
Too often
And never did tears soften
The blow of your death,
The end of a breath.

Never did I fear
Losing someone so dear.

When you got sick
Never did I think God would pick
You for His Kingdom.
That would be dumb
Of me to think
That He’d sink
That low,
That He’d deal that blow.

It’s hard to look at that place
Where I’ve set your face,
The canvas pictures
Now fixtures.

I can’t look at them
And not haw and hem
And cry and weep,
So I let the tears seep
Down my cheeks
Every day, all the weeks.

Miss you forever, my sweet son.

Matt from C FB

Matt small for fb

Matt hunting

 

Matt and Abby black and white

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My Heart Is Broken

It’s thirty-nine months today since my son Matthew has been gone. I woke around 3:30 a.m. this morning, knowing something wasn’t quite right, and immediately knew it was the 11th. And I had no poem! The days are passing too fast–despite Covid.

I immediately started one, but it’s not ready to post. Another day, perhaps.

Instead, here is the book with all the poems I wrote commemorating him over the three years after his death. A purchaser just reached out and said how wonderful the book is; I hope she’s telling me the truth!

So…here it is. Available locally from me or on Amazon U.S. and Canada.

MY HEART IS BROKEN

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“My Support” (even in death)

I spent agonizing hours yesterday trying to compose this month’s poem. To no avail. I left it and came back to it a few hours later, when this poem just flowed. Same topic; just couldn’t write it at that particular time, I guess.

(37 months)

“My Support”

You supported me

When I couldn’t stand,

You were there…

Waiting…

Unknown to me

When I fell

On the third anniversary

Of your death,

When I crawled like a baby—

Or an old woman

Without wits—

Over the icy snow

To reach your headstone,

Where I could haul myself up,

Leaning with my good arm

On your stone.

 

We laughed,

Elizabeth and I,

For it was funny—

Funnily sad—

She had fallen seconds before I had,

Bruising her bum,

And me: breaking my wrist,

My first broken bone—

An old woman

Even older a month later—

A mother

Who just wanted to visit

Remains of her son—

Remnants from a dreadful day

Three years ago—

But unable to accomplish a simple feat

Without mishap.

 

I swear I heard you laughing

And your words, “Oh, Mom!”

And then, “I gotta go.”

Matt hunting

If you enjoyed this poem and would like to read more, check out the book I published on the third anniversary of Matthew’s death.  MY HEART IS BROKEN

Matt book of poems full cover for wp

 

 

 

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“I’m Still Here”

It’s another 11th. Thirty-five months today since my son Matthew died from a rare heart cancer. I cannot believe it’s been almost three years. It seems like yesterday; then again, it seems like forever. This is the last monthly poem memorializing Matthew in the poetry book I’ll be publishing next month, the third anniversary of his death. The poems deal with my loss and grief as a mother. 

Matt hunting

“I’m Still  Here”

I’m the sun shining down,
Warming without sound,

I’m the wind in your hair,
Caressing you with prayer,

I’m the touch on your shoulder,
Celebrating every year older,

I’m the ladybug on your arm,
Protecting you from harm,

I’m the cardinal red,
Lessening your dread,

I’m the drop of rain,
Diluting your pain,

I’m the blue sky,
Calming your cry,

I’m the fluffy cloud,
Shrouding you in a crowd,

I’m the moon above,
Sending down love,

I’m the bird chirping,
Healing your hurting,

I’m the air you breathe,
Helping you to not seethe,

I’m waves crashing on shore,
Knocking at your door

With hope for the future
And wounds to suture:

Life is too short,
Be a good sport,

Don’t grieve,
I’ll never leave,

I’ll never forget,
So don’t you sweat,

I’m still your son,
Though my earthly life is done.

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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Twenty-Three Months

Without you in our world,

Twenty-three seconds feels as long as twenty-three months,

Twenty-three months feels as short as twenty-three seconds.

 

How is time measured?

By the warmth of the breeze?

Whispers around a corner?

Creeping of ghosts at night?

 

Time has little meaning:

Not by breaths

Or tears,

But days counted until another milestone.

 

Too many milestones.

Too many elevenths of every month. 

But what is the alternative?

 

Passing time brings memories:

Your smirky smile,

Your asinine jokes and pranks,

Your innocence.

 

How I miss your sudden appearances:

Presenting me with armloads of irreparable mending

or taking over the garage to service your vehicle

or wearing a perplexed look, seeking advice.

 

I miss our talks.

I miss you in the driveway with your truck.

I even miss empty Bud cans scattered about the house!

 

Time brought the bad:

The scourge of cancer,

Your fight to live,

Your last breaths.

 

Twenty-three months.

Where has time gone?

Tears are as fresh twenty-three months ago

as they are today.

 

Matt.jpg

 

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

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Mayday!

My birthday yesterday began with a cry. Not a gleeful cry, but a cry as in crying, weeping, sobbing. I’ve been having a horrid few days (horrid months, actually) what with the year anniversary of Matthew’s death on March 11,  my mother’s two-year death anniversary on March 24, his birthday on April 28, and then my birthday without two individuals I loved so dearly. I don’t even want to think about upcoming Mother’s Day.

When had I morphed into a sixty-something senior? I never imagined this day would arrive. But what did I think, that I was immune to time? The unfathomable happened when my thirty-six-year-old son died of an extremely rare heart cancer, so I’m definitely not “special.”

I’ve made lots of wishes in the past. One wish I never made was for my children to survive me. The natural order of death exists: grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren. Who expects the death of a child to be inserted between grandparents and parents? No, that was never a wish of mine. I had never considered such a situation, so how could I have wished for it to never happen?

But unfathomably it did.

I’m into the second month of the second year, and life is worse than the first year. I assumed it would get easier not harder.

It’s gotten so much harder. Some days I can barely breathe. Some days I swear I’m having a heart attack. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. Some nights I don’t want to go to bed. My son is the last thing on my mind at night, the first in the morning. I always shed tears for him before I sleep and again upon waking.

I can’t go on any longer. How do I? How can I? My life’s not the same, and no matter what I or anyone else says or does, it never will be. I can’t wake up and say my day will be great, that I’ll ignore bad words spewed about me, or I’ll do “this” instead of “that” and I’ll feel better, or that my diet will start today and I’ll feel better once I’ve lost weight. Such mundane issues now. Who cares?

Nothing I’ll ever do for the rest of my life will make me happier. Or glad to be alive. Or grateful for what I have.

Nothing.

I know I’m wrong. I should be grateful. I have two other wonderful children. Gorgeous grandchildren. A husband. A home.

But I have such a void. And no matter what happens, it’ll never be filled. It’s as if I’ve fallen into an insatiable sinkhole that is determined to smother me. I can’t claw my way out no matter what I do. Because I can’t. It’s impossible. No matter what I do. It’s indescribable, actually. That’s my life now though my words are inadequate to accurately describe how I feel.

I was to have taken minutes at my writers group yesterday morning. Committed myself a month ago.  It’s been months since I’ve attended a meeting. I went to bed knowing I wouldn’t follow through the next day. How easy it is to promise something weeks or months—even days—before an event. I’ve never reneged on duties, no matter what they might be. Until recently.

I had nightmares I’d break down at the meeting and have to escape and wouldn’t be able to gather all my belongings, and I’d have to wait outside or in  the washroom and hope someone would find me to hand over my things, or I’d have to linger like an idiot and sneak back into the room after everyone left.  I don’t want to break down in front of others. My grief is mine. It’s private.  I don’t share,  at least not much, because no one can possibly know my agony, and everyone is sick of my gloominess and glumness and sorrowful posts. Because unless you’re in my shoes, you don’t know. And I don’t want you in my shoes.

I had thought I was in pain when my mother died a year before my son. I’ve horribly neglected grieving for her because I’ve been consumed with my son. But the pain over my mother’s death wasn’t this kind of agony and heartbreak though at the time I thought it was. That was grief. Grief is different than pain and agony and heartbreak and lack of  breath and nil motivation. Grief for a parent or a grandparent or a cousin or a friend, even a spouse, is so much different than grief for a child.

Yesterday morning, an hour before the writing group was to meet, one of my fellow writers messaged me a happy birthday and “see you soon.”

No, you won’t see me soon.  You may never see me again.

I hate I let people down. I hate I was a no show.  I hate people not knowing what I’m suffering—no, I take that back; I wish for no one—ever—to feel my pain. It’s too horrendous.

But I went to the meeting the day of my birthday, not that I cared it was my birthday. Got within five minutes of the venue and turned back. It didn’t help that “Broken Halos” came on the radio during the drive.

At noon, I met my granddaughter and her mother for lunch. I put on a brave front. I wouldn’t break down in front of a ten-year-old, not the daughter of my son. She suffers her own unimaginable pain. I can’t begin to comprehend hers; I only know mine. Hers: so much different than mine.

Hubby came home early from work. “It’s your birthday. I want to take you shopping,” he said. “You need new bras and undies.” I didn’t want new underwear. I could buy my own, thank you very much. But he insisted, so we went to The Bay at the mall. He means well. He’s sick of my grey bras and ripped panties. I am, too, but I’m comfortable wearing old friends although I always pray before leaving the house that I won’t be in an accident. How horrid that would be (for me!) if hospital staff saw my grossly discoloured, stretched, and torn underwear.

After hours traipsing the floors and numerous trips to dressing rooms, I ended up with three pairs of undies, three bras, and two pairs of jeans. All expensive. More money than I would have spent. “It’s your birthday,” he insisted at my every complaint. He wanted to buy me more clothing, too, but I was shopped-out. I was also disgusted with my looks when trying on the items. Rolls and cellulite and sag, so much more noticeable with fluorescent lights and three walls of floor-to-ceiling mirrors inches from my body, freaked me out. When had I gotten that out of shape? When had I morphed into my eighty-year-old mother? Never had I imagined I’d look the way I do now. But  what did a sixty-seven-year-old look like beneath clothing? Everyone tells me how young I look. Perhaps I did, once upon a time: before my son died. But I’ve aged ten years in the last year. And the clothed me looks one hundred percent better than the naked me.

I’m old. I’m disgusting.

I’ve let myself go over the past year and a half. My son died! That’s my excuse. Excuses are great! Always excuses! I can have those French fries, the cheesecake. The ice cream cone. The bags of Goodies and licorice. I can eat no food at all! The beer. The too-many glass of wine. What happened to my exercise regime? I had been on a routine once upon a time. But I’m grieving. I’m allowed, right?

I’m paying the price now. Or, at my age, would I look like this even if my son were alive?

I didn’t want new clothes yesterday. “Take me shopping after I’ve lost weight.”

“Today’s your birthday. We’re going today,” Hubby said.

We went to a pub for dinner afterward. I had two beer. Fries, too. It was my birthday. Definitely okay to indulge. But I formulated a plan: tomorrow—no, Monday; always Mondays—I’ll eat healthier. I’ll exercise. I’ll drink less.

“What’s wrong?” Hubby asked in between the fries and beer. “Your eyes are glazed over.”

“Nothing.”

“There’s something. It’s your birthday. Why are you crying on your birthday? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I kept insisting. I tried desperately to hold in my tears. He wouldn’t understand. He hadn’t lost a child; I did. He couldn’t possibly understand.

“I’ll tell you later,”  I finally said, to shut him up.

Tears rolled down my face all the way home. I don’t sob and weep anymore. I don’t scream or rant or rave. I just tear. Big, bottomless tears that hide behind my eyeballs, tears that creep out every second of every day and careen down my cheeks. Silent tears. Puffy-eye tears. Sore-eye tears.

It was dusk, but I donned my sunglasses. Hubby makes fun of my sunglasses, that I wear them when there’s no sun. I wear them more and more often now.

We got home, changed into grubbies, and watched TV. I was glad Hubby didn’t question me. My pain, my agony, is mine alone. Even on my birthday.

Later, when on my tablet, I noticed a stranger had commented on my “Two Candles” poem on my blog that I had posted on Matt’s birthday.

“I’m so sorry,” she wrote. “It’s just really hard. Hugs.”

I  went to her blog and read one of her posts. She  was going on ten years without her son, who was killed by a drunk driver. Entering the second year after the death of a child, she wrote, is even worse than the first. During the first you’re still in shock and disbelief, but by the time the second anniversary rolls around, reality has set in.

How true that is! I was a tad comforted that how I’d been feeling was maybe sorta “normal.”

I continually see my son, unannounced (surprise! surprise!), entering the kitchen, sporting his sly grin. He’d sometimes carry an armful of clothing he needed mended. Oh, the repairs and hemming I’ve done for him. How I miss it even though at the time I inwardly cringed. Mending and ironing: two chores I’m not particularly fond of. Hubby used to comment that Matthew’s mending got done immediately whereas his would sit on my sewing table for weeks. In retrospect, I’m so glad I finished Matt’s clothes as quickly as I did and that I never complained. Such little things that comfort me.

Ironically, before I went to bed last night, I came across a friend’s Facebook post: “Please be patient with me. You see, I lost my child. And while it may seem like a long time to you, it’s every day for me.”

Yes, it’s every day. Even on my birthday.

 

Please be patient

 

 

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Two Candles

I’m eating a Boston cream donut today.

Boston cream donuts: your favourite kind.

Matt nine years old 001 (2)

Since your death I’ve eaten too many,

Always an excuse to eat one—or two.

 

Too many excuses to drink and eat.

 

Today’s your birthday in Heaven at 38

Where you’ll continue to age,

But here on earth, forever 36.

Matt19crop

Always 36.

 

In my solitude I insert candles in the donut,

Between my tears I light two wicks:

One for each birthday you’ve missed on earth.

 

boston cream

 

I make a wish—a wish that’ll never come true—

And blow out flickering flames.

 

Happy birthday in Heaven, sweet son.

Happy birthday, Matthew, my cherubic babe.

Matt baby

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McDonald’s, Stapleton, and Tears

(Days ago, I decided I’d not post anything more about my son, especially on Facebook, but here I am again. FYI: I’m not looking for sympathy when I post; I’m simply keeping his memory alive. For the world, I guess. Not for me; I’ll never forget him. He’s last on my mind at night, first on my mind in the morning. For certain, though, I’m giving up writing/posting a poem every month on the 11th, the day of his death. I have no new words to say, really.)

***

This morning, I was in the drive-thru at McDonald’s and heard a song that resonated. The climate control was on the dash screen as I had just adjusted the heat, so I couldn’t see the title or the artist. My eyes welled listening to words that described my feelings, words I wished I had written.

I switched the controls back to the radio and was stunned to see the artist Chris Stapleton flash across the screen. Uncontrollable tears streamed down my face at seeing his name. One of his songs had been played at my son’s funeral last year, and I immediately figured it must have been this song, “Broken Halos,” because it was so apropos.

I had never heard of Stapleton until Matt’s funeral. Several songs were played, and I don’t remember any of them. The funeral was a fog at the time and still remains a dark cloud, so I could have heard Christmas music and not known—or cared.

I don’t know how I continued through the drive-thru. I can’t imagine what the woman taking my money and the guy handing me my order must have thought. I usually wear sunglasses to hide my tears, but the morning was dark, dreary, and rainy; perhaps it was too dark for them to notice. I rushed through my errand, managing to control the rest of my tears until I got back in the car.

When I got home, I called my daughter. We commiserate often, both of us still having a hard time dealing with Matt’s death. I barely got one sentence out of my mouth before she said, “That was Chris Stapleton and ‘Broken Halos,’ wasn’t it?” She’d been hearing the song for the past several months and kept meaning to tell me about it.

“Was that the one at his funeral?” I asked.

She said no, that “Fire Away” had been played at his funeral, probably because he was a hunter, but she agreed with me that “Broken Halos” would have been more appropriate.

“Folded wings that used to fly
They’ve all gone wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine”

Matt candle crop

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Ten Months

January 11: Ten Months
 
What’s ten months?
Ten months could be any time length:
A lifetime or one day,
A yesterday or a tomorrow,
A today that never ends,
Or a moment frozen in time.
 
Not the same as nine or twelve,
Less than eleven
That will soon arrive.
 
Eleven is notable:
The eleventh day of every month
I commemorate you.
 
But what is ten?
Just ten long, unfathomable months
Since you’ve been gone,
Since you died—
Not passed away or passed on
But died—
Dead and buried died.
 
Ten months of grief,
Two months short a year.
 
My life has changed,
Irrevocably, forever,
But I’ll never forget you.
 
My middle child, my son,
Life isn’t the same without you,
My heart is a hole
That overflows with tears,
An endless pit of ache,
A vacuum of void.
.Matt candle cropUrn

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Eight Months

 

The eleventh of every month
Brings a horrible reminder
Of your dreadful death,
Seven morphed to eight.

Every November eleventh
I’ve honoured the veterans,
I’ve stood at the cenotaph
To watch, listen, pray.

Today in my year of firsts
And every November eleventh,
I’ll not forget the veterans
And I’ll mourn again for you.

 

 

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