lizx4boys

A Bereaved Mother's blog

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Just filling the days until I can be with my son again

Most days now I am just “filling the hours” with distractions, work, chores, whatever, to keep myself busy until I am finally called to the other side.  Life seem meaningless to me now, so I’m just waiting for the day when I can go home.  I just don’t see purpose in anything.  How could I have been blind to the suffering in the world.  People lose children, every day all over the world.  I was blissfully ignorant, and blindly complacent that it could ever happen to my family.  So now, with so much pain in the my world, I just try to fill the time.  Watch TV, read books, distract myself from the pain of losing Richard.

I realize I have to keep going forward for my family, to have another tragic death in our home would be – I don’t know what word to use here – cruel, unbearable, unimagineable.  I have to stick around for my living sons, and share their lives with them.  Even though I can’t imagine being happy or even content ever again.  Everything will be overshadowed with the fact that Richard died, and he is no longer with us. That my sweet boy is gone and I won’t see him on this earth every again.

Everday I say to myself, “How could this have happened? Not Richard.  Something like this would never have happened to Richard.” It incomprehensible to me.  And if logically this has happened, even to someone has kind, pure, honest and talented as Richard – What does that mean for the rest of us? 

I have always taken good care of myself, wanting to live toattend  my youngest son’s 5oth Birthday party, which will be 1/23/45.  We all joked how 82 year old Mom would be dancing with her grandkids, and celebrating Robert’s 50th.  It was my goal, to live to 82, and I didn’t think that was unreasonable.  My grandmother lived to be 86, and she was lifetime smoker.  My mother is 75 with no end in sight.  But now, to think of having to endure this pain for another 34 years in unbearable.

But yet, I want to see my son turn 50.

How am I going to distract myself for the next 34 years, a lifetime until I can meet with Richard again?

I’m grateful to have had the privilege to be Richard’s Mom

I’m grateful to have had the privilege to be Richard’s Mom

As much as I miss him, and everyday grieve his loss, I ask myself – If I knew that I would only have 20 years would I have done it again?  Would I have willingly parented this wonderful man if I knew I would have the survive the pain of losing him?  I can only answer yes.

Thinking back to all the years of joy he brought me, from his first days and months as an infant. To his endless energy as a toddler, his pre-school years of riding bikes, climbing trees, and loving life.  He loved that he could run fast, and ride his bike fast, and wrestle with his friends.  He took so much joy in being physical – running, jumping, sports, wrestling, punching his brothers.  And he had so much energy, he was always “up”, ready to go. Sometimes it was exhausting living with him, but I miss the noise, the excitement, the passion for life he had.

He could make a game out of anything.  Racing to the next telephone poll, finding money in pay phones, creating games with just a ball or frisbee in an airport.  If there was a time he was bored he would drag his brothers into a game he created, and change the rules as they went.

I loved every minute of being his mother, which is why it is excruciating to realize I have to live the rest of my life here without him.

I know he is in heaven, the afterlife, the other side, in the light…but now I have to figure out how to go on without him. To find joy in my family, my friends, my life.

I know we’ll be together again someday, which could be 40 years, but how do I go on without him here?

I’m grateful for the time I got to spend  with him, I just want more time!  I don’t want it to end this way.

If you ask me if I’d do it again, knowing I’d lose him. I’d said yes, because I got to spend the best 20 years of my life with him.  Now I have to figure out how to life the remaining 40 without him.

What is the meaning of life here on Earth?

It’s been almost 90 days since Richard’s death.  His death has changed my entire paradigm of life here on Earth.  Why am I working hard, making good decisions (in my view), saving money, being  a good parent and role model, helping people – essentially leading a morale life, if something as castrophic and tragic is going to occur to my family?

What exactly is the point?

My life hasn’t been an easy,bump free kinda of life. My parents divorced when I was 13, I now realized I probably grieved for 10 years following this event, at the time I was just an angry teenager. The attitude I had during that time in my life led me into situations I’m not very proud of, including a sexaul assualt.   My Dad died when I was 39, which sent me on a journey to question my choices in life, my marriage, my career choices, etc.  Finally after 48 years, I can say my life was perfect.  I have three beautiful boys, my 23 year marriage was finally in a place of bliss, I had reached a point in my career where I was satisifed and passionate about my work.  I was completely content and looking forward to retirement, weddings, grandchildren.

What took 48 years to perfect, took only seconds to shatter.  In an instance my life has changed forever.  The rest of my life will be framed around this event.  My pure, honest, passionate son lost his balance in a spitting contest of the 5th floor balcony at his apartment at University of Texas, he would have been 20 years old on September 5, 1991.  He died 6 days before his birthday.

Now my husband and I are left with -Why have we worked so hard at life (marriage, family, work) to have it end it up like this?

I can’t even describe the pain we are in.  The word pain doesn’t even begin to express the magnitude of what we are feeling.  Imagine the worst thing that has ever happened to you and mutiply it by 100.  The death of a parent, which most of us experience by the time we are 48 doesn’t even touch this pain.  The loss of a friend, a spouse, divorce doesn’t even begin to touch this pain we are feeling. It is catastrophic.

Our very belief in everything is questioned. Everything!

I believe Richard’s soul, his essense, his energy exist somewhere.  Whether you call it Heaven, afterlife, the other side, the light – I know he is there.  I have felt him- I feel his love, I know he is watching over me.  I have seen him in dreams, out of the corner of his eye, heard his voice in my head.  “Mom!”. 

Knowing, and truly believing he is on the other side, leads me to ask so many questions. 

If he has been taken so young, was this the plan all along?  And who would create such a plan that involves so much pain?  Are we here to learn some lesson, and the only way to do it is live through something that makes you question the life you have built?  Is this the only way to get our attention? Pain?  This doesn’t make sense to me, it just can’t be.

If he is there, and I am here, what am I doing here and why can’t I go there without inflicting so much pain. Why does so much love involve so much pain?

What exactly am I supposed to do now?

I realize I have all the responsibilities I did before this happened.  I have two living wonderful sons. Truly amazing men, who want me to be a part of their life, who I need to help with this grief, who know Richard as well as I do.  I have a husband who loves me and who still expects us to fulfill our life promise to each other.  Richard was my husband’s best friend, his golf partner, shared his love of sports and the Cleveland Indians.  Ed was looking forward to a life with Richard, sharing all the things they loved together.  Don’t I need to be here for my husband?

I have read, and people tell me some day it will become clear why this has happened.  Maybe some day I’ll be able to say “If Richard hadn’t died, this would not have happened”.  I hope when I realize what “it” is, its something beyond comprehension of amazing, because that is how my son was.  I can’t imagine anything could be as great as his life would have been.  He was an amazing kid who would have been successful at anything he chose.  He wanted to do something that would help people, and so we much continue his goal.

We have started a scholarship and foundation in Richard’s name, we will award this every year for the rest our lives so he is memorialized.  I hope this scholarship will help individuals, and help remember Richard.  I know there is something else I’m supposed to do, but I don’t know what.  You have my attention now.

Please explain to me “What is the meaning of my life here on Earth?”.

Letter to my colleagues when I returned to work 9/14/11

Friend and Teammates,

I will be returning to work tomorrow, working from home part-time a couple hours each day. I’d ask for you to give me space and privacy during this difficult time.

I feel your thoughts and prayers, and know you offer me your condolences.

If you ask If I’m ok, or how I am – I’m heartbroken, I will grieve for my son every day for the rest of my life and no words can change this.

When you see me, don’t hug me, this will only bring me to tears. As parents you can only imagine the agony I am in and I know you want take on some of my burden, but this unfortunately is mine alone to bear. Please just say “Hey” and look me in the eye, your presence alone makes me feel better and communicates the kindness you feel for me.

If you ask if there is anything you can do for me or my family, please donate to the scholarship fund we have created in Richard’s name. The scholarship will be given to a college bound debate student who exemplifies Richard’s spirit and academic excellence.

http://www.rjhollandscholarship.org/index.html

I’d love to sit and share with you stories of Richard, he was the kind of kid every mother wishes for in a son. Pure, honest, never a problem, he always said to me “Don’t worry Mom” – but it’s too painful for me now, maybe in a year from now I’ll be able to tell you how wonderful he was. Today I only grieve his death. If you watch his recorded memorial service on the scholarship website you’ll be able to hear his brothers, friends and even Richard himself, to know who he was.

As a team we have a lot of work to accomplish, and Richard would have wanted me to keep going. He wrote a paper about EMC and cloud computing, he was proud that I work somewhere that was changing the way the world thinks about compute and data, I need to continue to be a part of that future.

Liz

My anger two weeks after his death written 9/12/11

Tonight will be two weeks since he’s fallen, I miss him so much.  The sound of his voice, the feel of his skin.  I want him to come home and say “Don’t worry Mom”, which is what he always said to me.  I never worried about him, he was so responsible about everything.  I’ve never lost sleep over Richard.

How could this happen?  We are the most responsible people in the world, and yet even after all of our discipline our wonderful, careful boy does something stupid.

I’m so MAD at him, ANGRY…how could he be so careless with his life? 

Does he realized what he has done?  He would have been successful at anything he chose.  He would have been a great husband and father who would given us beautiful grandchildren.

I am just so ANGRY, because I’ve been cheated out of my life’s hopes and dreams.  I will never meet my red-headed granddaughter or grandson. I won’t go to his college graduation, his wedding, my grandchildren’s baptism. Why would his put his life at risk like this? WHY?  I will ask this question over and over for the rest of my life.

What if

This list will grow over time, because I have new “what ifs” all the time

He went to another school

He lived in the dorm

There was no balcony

Ali had gone there that night

If I never drank and was a different role model, the non-drinking kind

He wasn’t so competitive

I called him that night

I had taught him a little fear, so he didn’t think he was invincible

My last conversation with Richard 8/26/11

Richard called me in Washington D.C. to talk about school and my upcoming visit on Labor Day weekend.  I was on my way to the airport in IAD, so I said I would call him later.  I talked to him about 10 PM on my drive home, it last the entire drive and until I was in the house.  He loved his classes.  His accounting teacher was the person who had $50M donated to UT to start the business school; Richard wanted to do well in his class so he could get a recommendation.  He said Chemistry would be hard, since he hadn’t had any since 10th grade. The class was large but he had lots of friends with him.  Communications would be easy; I had Samantha Subar tell me at the viewing she had seen Richard give an “elevator” speech on class Monday 8/29.  Why he was qualified or the CEO of EXXON.  He had dropped fencing, not because of the subject, but because he didn’t want to pay $300 for equipment and spend 3 hours a week for 1 credit.  I can’t remember what he said about mechanical engineering but I knew he thought his semester would be harder.  I don’t remember what he said about math either, but I think he was registered for linear algebra.  We talked about the things we would do together when I arrived on Sunday 9/4.  He was going to stay with me at the Hilton, we were going to buy a suit at Men’s Warehouse, go to a consignment store he heard about and to BBB to buy new sheets.  As well as go to dinner somewhere. I told him I wouldn’t drive down until after church because I knew he’d want to sleep in.  It was going to be a birthday celebration, since his 20th Birthday was 9/5/11.

This was a 30 minute conversation, I could hear in his voice that he was happy to talk to me, but I can’t remember exactly what we said for 30 minutes.

I know I said “I love you, and he always said “I love you too”. But I can’t remember at this minute what the sound of his voice saying this to me.

Its very important for me to write down as many things as I can remember about the last summer with him, because I know over time I’ll forget or my memory will change the specifics.  I will write them here in this blog, where they won’t get lost in a hand written journal or lost on a crashed hard drive.  Here on the internet words live forever.

Explaining how I am experiencing grief

I realized with Richard’s death my very core has been shaken.  Let me explain what I mean by this, I had a fulfilled life, a good job, a healthy family, a solid faith.  At the base of my very existence is my family, they are part of my conscious and subconscious.  Not one thought goes by without the knowledge of the love I feel for my family. It’s what allows me to successful in life, knowing I have the love of my family has given me the confidence to do great things, travel many places and overcome many challenges. My work may come and go, friends I’ve known over the years may drift apart, but I always have the love of my husband and children. They are the very fabric of my being.  When one of my family is suddenly taken from my physical presence my very being is rocked to the core, to the very essence of who I am.  I have described this as my DNA changing, being ripped from me and put back with a new genetic code.  How can I look at the world the same when the foundation is cracked?  When the very essence has changed?  I’ve lost trust in God, in fate, in life.

Something this catastrophic is forcing a change in me I neither sought nor want.  God Damn it! I want Richard back; I want my old perfect life back.  I don’t want to learn to live in this new world, but I have no choice because I have two living sons and a husband that I must live for.  I have to find a way to understand my own grief and heal, while I help everyone else heal.  Isn’t that what Mother’s do? Take care of their families?

A bereaved Mother’s blog

It’s been more than two months since Richard has passed, taken from us tragically. I am now realizing my thoughts and feelings need to be written down. Not because I need to get them on paper, but because there are many people praying for me, wanting to reach out and help. I’m not capable of putting my jumbled thoughts into a conversation, because a conversation is two way, and I’m not ready for the words that come from the other side of the conversation. I thought it would help if I could write them down, for people to read, so they know I feel their love, I just can’t interact right now.
I also have a new realization of how precious life is, and how it can be taken from you in an instance when you least expect it. If I am taken suddenly, or even if live another 50 years I want my children and grandchildren to understand who I am, and what I have experienced.
Richard has left us several journals from his childhood that I will treasure forever. They have brought me closer to him because I get to read his inner most thoughts, which I was unaware of at the time they were written. I wish while he was living I would have found those journals, and been able to talk about them with him.
Finally, I need to write because I know it will help me heal. I don’t have a choice but to move forward, I know that, what my new life looks like, I still don’t know, I just need to write what I am feeling now so I can start to figure out- What am I suppose to do with my life?