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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grief and the Second Anniversary

There are events on two upcoming days to honor and remember our son Riley Norton. Please join us!

October 20: Memorial Plaque Ceremony & Evening Lantern Lighting:

  • Memorial Plaque Ceremony:  Join us at the Central Middle School quad area to see a time-lapse video of last year's handprint memorial, check out Riley-inspired art, hear the Central orchestra, share stories, decorate a lantern for the Evening Lantern Lighting (see below), and be there when a memorial plaque is placed near the Central Riley Tree. Did you know that there was a Riley Tree at Central?? Everyone is welcome! The event starts at 3:30 pm.

  • Evening Lantern Lighting:  Light a lantern in your front yard in honor of the second anniversary of Riley’s death. Pick up paper lanterns and battery-powered candles at the Memorial Plaque Ceremony at Central Middle School (see above) *or* from 10/17-10/20 on Riley’s front porch. If you are unable to attend the Plaque Ceremony and cannot pick one up from Riley’s front porch, email Riley’s mom and she’ll drop one in the mail for you and your family to decorate at home.

October 30: The Riley Run:

  • The Riley Run will be a 5K walk/run community event around San Carlos in memory of our friend and classmate. We will start and end at Brittan Acres Elementary (Tamarack entrance). Everyone is welcome. The event starts at 4 pm. Proceeds from the $25 registration fee will be split between Camp Taylor and The Children’s Heart Foundation. Register by sending an email with the number of participants and t-shirt sizes to: Can't join us, but still want this year's t-shirt? Send an email to that same address with your request.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Grief and my birthday

un-happy b-day
This time last year, I felt the words coming days before they arrived. I knew they would be well meaning, but insensitive words. I knew they would be flung my way with the click of a mouse or the tap of the send button from a poised pointer finger. The very idea of them coming made my brow furrow, my teeth clench, and my arms fold tightly over my chest. That was all before any of them arrived. 

The internet gives us such easy access to so many "friends." We get email messages and reminders to reach out to and offer sweet nothings. And so we do, because it's so easy. It's reflex... 

And then, as expected, they started appearing. One after the next, those words were posted again and again. As if them being posted repeatedly would make them true. There was the song sent via the FB messaging app. The personal notes. Those two miserable words again and again slapped up without really thinking what it might mean or how it might make me feel. Even though I've tried really hard along this journey to hear what people mean and not necessarily what they say. On this particular day, I could not get past all the happiness I was expected to be feeling. All the celebrating that I was supposed to be doing. All of it just made me feel so angry.

To try and stop it, I posted the following message
I can assure you that there is nothing "Happy" about today or any other day. I can assume that all of the well-meaning "friends" wishing such things upon me know nothing about me. Yes, today is the anniversary of the day I was born; it's also the first such anniversary since my 11-year-old son died. I know that most of you still feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, but I'm moving through the world dragging a mountain of sorrow so large that everywhere I go, its shadow pushes the weight of a minivan down on me. No, my house, business, or school wasn't scorched in a California wildfire. Yes, I have other children. Yes, I have health insurance to offset the cost of my weekly therapy appointments. Yes, I have food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive, a husband to hug, children to love, a dog to feed, chickens to tend. But I am not happy. I am in grief. I am heartbroken. I am suffering. I move through the days with a gigantic "WHY" and "NO!" screaming through every thought. There is nothing "happy" about any of that. For those of you who'd like for me to move on or get over it or enjoy starting sentences with the words, "At least...," we are not friends. On many days during the past year, I’ve slept all the hours that the sun warmed my house, shaken uncontrollably as stars twinkled through the night, filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills, antidepressants. I’ve wanted to cut long lines into my thighs with sharp objects, lie naked in mud as the sky shook rain from storm clouds, crash my car. I screamed so hard that I burst hundreds of capillaries around my eyes; I chopped down the “Gratitude Tree” in my front yard in the middle of the night. Grief has slurped me into its hungry mouth and will be puncturing me with its fangs for the foreseeable future.
One year later, I feel slightly less angry, but not any less sad. This year, I will avoid reading social media for a few days so that I won't see those words splattered like well-meaning mud on my wall. Like a stalk of wheat in a field of sunflowers, I feel out of place in the world.