This evening, Eric and I were on our way home from Kathryn’s robotics competition, and Eric told me that we needed to stop at Costco to buy a big box of Bisquick. He had promised Peter that he would make waffles in the morning. He suggested that we split up and have one of us go into the store and the other one get gas. Since he was driving, I volunteered to go in. I also could pick up something that I could pop in the oven after church tomorrow for lunch as well.
The parking lot was completely packed so I knew it would be busy. Christmas shoppers were everywhere. Signs of Christmas surrounded me – poinsettias, wreaths, centerpiece arrangements. The store had extra merchandise in areas that were usually open. As I entered, I saw something that Kathryn had asked for so I tossed it in the cart.
As I walked down the aisle, I saw a huge Nerf gun with mega-sized bullets. Right next to that were laser guns. Two years ago, I would be considering getting two Nerf guns or the laser guns for Peter and Andy. I started thinking about all of the family Nerf gun fights we had in the past. I remember Andy being so excited after Valeriano became part of our family. He told me that now we would have even teams. Our standard teams were Eric and Kathryn, Valeriano and Andy, and Peter and me. There would be so much laughing as we would play. Since Andy’s death, the Nerf guns have just gathered dust in the basement.
As I continued walking, I passed the Christmas wrapping paper. I used to buy one new type each year to keep some variety in my carefully wrapped gifts that would sit under the tree. No need for that this year. We had again decided as a family that there would be no tree in our house aside from the small artificial one up north at the cottage. No need to buy more paper; there won’t be enough gifts.
I felt smothered by all of the happy shoppers, noting all of the gifts in their carts. I picked up a pot pie and bread for tomorrow. I felt myself getting anxious and the tears seemed ready to come. I needed to get out of the store, but it was so busy.
What was it I needed again? Oh yes, the Bisquick. Where was the stupid Bisquick? I looked down every aisle of food twice. No Bisquick. The trip was a complete waste. I considered just leaving, but I thought about the pot pie and the fact if I left it there, it would certainly need to be thrown out. In addition, I still would have nothing in the house to eat after church.
After I got back in the car, the tears came. I miss Andy, I miss my old life. When we got home, Eric said he would go to the grocery store to get the Bisquick. I snapped at him for no reason at all, telling him to take Peter to get him some dinner. I could not make dinner now; the sadness was overwhelming me. I felt terrible for snapping at him like that; he didn’t deserve it. What have I become?
I went upstairs into our dark bedroom and climbed into bed, staying there by myself for over two hours. I thought about staying there all night, but I couldn’t fall asleep so early. If for some reason, I did sleep, I would be up at 3am tomorrow. I got up and went downstairs.
It is time to be a mom again, a wife again, time to sit with my family and watch football. I can’t sit in my grief all of the time for life does go on even though sometimes I don’t want it to. There are times, though, I just need a break from it all. I need to lay in a dark room and just miss my little boy.
I was Adam’s mom. He died almost 4 years ago at age 21. We, too, had a Nerf gun war- on one of the nights of Chanukah many years ago everyone for a nerd gun (including the biggest child of all, the husband) – what was I thinking. I still have those moments, shutting down and only doing grief. Then I pop up and start moving forward again. It sucks sucks sucks- sending all the love and strength.
*everyone got a nerf gun
Thank you. It is so nice to hear from people who get it. And, you still are, and will always be, Adam’s mom.
One of the advantages of grieving as a couple is you can “cover” for each other. I think about single parents maybe grieving their spouse or a child– going through this alone must be even more challenging. Going through the death of my son with my wife helped.
I am almost 11 years into my new life without my son Eric. Right now I am sitting with my grandson, Eric, who just turned 5 and we are playing with magnetic sand. I used to play with real sand when my son Eric was alive. Your Costco story rang true for me, but my trigger was Bed Bath and Beyond as I remember my outing with Eric #1 to help him buy bedding for his dorm room at Columbia. The good news is that I am now able to enjoy my grandchildren and my two daughters. My faith tells me that I will see Eric again and that is very comforting to me. Please know as you travel through the deep pit of grief that joy and peace are possible. I wish I could hug all of you as you pass through this journey and encourage you to hope.
We have been there. Know you are loved and forgiven. You are strong and broken. You are all trying to stay afloat as each of you treads in the cold water of grief. Be kind to yourself and let those tears flow!
My 3 boys- Jack, Will and Tommy- and I used to line up little guys and shoot them with nerf gun bullets and try to knock them off of ledges. Tommy would call the bullets “buwwetts” as he couldn’t yet say his L’s bc he was just 2. I can remember one night Tommy came into the living room and asked me to cock little nerf gun for him. So I did and he ran down to the basement and shot it at something with his brothers and then reloaded and ran back upstairs and asked me to cock it again for him. Then he ran back downstairs to shoot it again. He did this probably 6-8 times back and forth before running out of steam. He was always trying to keep up with the big guys. We are missing our third little guy always. Thinking of heavenly nerf gun wars tonight… if God is into that sort of thing:)
I’m sure if there are heavenly Nerf gun fights, Andy will be right there helping Tommy load his gun.
Dear Andy’s Mom, My heart aches for you as you walk this gut wrenching path I know too well. Now the memories come like an ambush, but one day they will be your comfort. Those tears will turn to warm hugs and smiles that urge you forward to a new life, one you would never have chosen, but will endure. Losing my only son, I will always remember life with him but now choose to embrace a new life. If you lost a leg, you would always remember life with 2 legs, but learn to “walk” again with one. I hope to share that you are “normal” in your grief journey. I still have unwashed clothing that smell like my son.
Your story is so familiar. My trigger is the young men’s dept at Kohl’s. And the nerf guns… so many Christmas mornings each of my 4 sons battled with their new nerf weapons. Precious memories. All I can tell you is that as time goes by I find myself closed away in a dark bedroom less and less often. Sam is always on my mind but somehow I am knocked off my feet less often.