Getting Through It.
I lead a rather normal life just a few years ago. I was a substitute teacher, the proud mother of a Marine who was a Staff Sergeant who had worked painstakingly to achieve his goals and another son who had special needs who had overcome many obstacles in his path. I had been married for over 30 years. I had two beautiful grandchildren who were a joy.
Then my world fell apart. I lost my mother, my best friend, right after Christmas, in 2015. My stepdad followed my mother a few months later at the age of 91 years old. My oldest son was flown to Walter Reid with excruciating headaches and was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went through proton therapy and chemotherapy while continuing to pursue his Bachelor’s degree. Josh had two surgeries and suffered immensely but never gave up. My son died in February of 2017. He was only 34 years old. My son was buried in March at Arlington National Cemetery.
I died the moment my son took his last breath. I did not know how I was going to get through it. I was devastated by the death of my firstborn. I had to go on for my youngest son whom I cared for and my two beautiful grandchildren who had lost their daddy. I did not have the luxury of being able to lay down in my bed and grieve for days and months. I plunged head on into therapy, was already attending a grief group after the passing of my mother, and contacted TAPS. TAPS would not only become my support system but my lifeline.
TAPS has grief seminars for survivors who have loved ones in the military who have died. I have attended grief seminars, one parents’ retreat, called TAPS when I need to talk to someone, and participated in weekly online chats with other survivors. My advocate calls me to check up on me and I will soon be matched up with mentor who has also lost a child but is further along in her grief journey. To know that I can talk to someone 24/7 has meant all of the difference in the world.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey roared through Houston when I was at a TAPS Parents’ Retreat in Atlanta. I had flown into New Orleans and enjoyed a Saints vs Texans game up in the box seats, with barbeque and beer, thinking that the storm would blow through, the airport would open back up, and I would fly back to Houston. The hurricane took most of our house. Team Rubicon, a group of veterans and first responders, gutted our house, and Samaritan’s Purse pulled up the floors. Other organizations and people driving around in vans gave us food, cleaning supplies, and hot meals. It was incredible!
My husband, son, pup, and I lived in a hotel for four months, an apartment for six months, and then back into our home. My husband had to get foot surgery and my youngest son had some serious health issues. I lost my brother Joe to cancer in June of this year. Our contractor quit before the work was completed on our house. We moved back in and struggled to get contractors in to repair and continue to fix our home.
So here I am sitting here on my laptop. I was a pessimist but I am now an optimist. I know with hard work I will get through it. I have learned that I cannot do it alone. I have had to reach out and ask for help. It is a learning experience. I have discovered that there are some good people out there that want to help me. I just have to ask them. I am still grieving for my son, mother, stepdad, and my brother Joe. I loved them so much and miss them every day. But I must go on. I can not give up. I have a responsibility to live my life. I have to live it for myself and for my loved ones who are still living on this earth. I have to do everything in my power to make every day count. I must get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, and greet the day. Never give up and keep on going. Life is a gift.