The Art of Melted Crayons

Since Mali died in April, that the days that have passed since seem to all melt into each other.  Like crayons left out in the sun too long on a hot summer day.

The texts, calls, visits and messages I receive seem to draw me out of that melted crayon lump for a time.  As soon as that interaction is done I flow back into that lump of waxy, colored goo that is my life at the moment.

Dont get me wrong.  I have family that loves me and a lot of really good friends all trying to pickup pieces of me out of that melted mess and prop me up.  I would be lost without them.

I am sick of despair.  The gut wrenching, emptiness that hangs over you like a black cloud.  Despair has a waterlike quality that can seep its way into the cracks and soak everything with a grey cold, sogginess you can’t get dry from.

Mali must be looking out for me sometimes.  I saw some of the people in my life that are very important to me this past week.

Mali’s Godmother came over with her two beautiful boys.  Ruff and Tuff.  It was a joy to have spirited children in the house again.

My best friend Amy who hasn’t been two steps away in the last 6-7 years asked for help painting her shed.

Tim and I went over to to her place and drank a few Heinekens and painted for a few hours.  It was wicked hot but I was out of myself.  Nurses seem to always know just what you need when you need it.

The last two nights we ate dinner with my sister and brother in law.  Afterwards we strolled downtown looking for rocks.

It’s a game here.  People paint stones and hide them all over the city.  You find one, take a photo and post it on the Facebook page and rehide or keep them.  We found at least 7 last night.

During all this we ran into a very good work friend Brandon.  I was so glad to see him.  It was reminded of how much I miss my colleagues at work.  My work family.

Many of Mali’s friends have either stopped by the house or I ran into out in town.

Last night was Sophie and Jenna.  I marveled at how they have grown.  They were laughing and having a good time.  They should be.  Its summer and they are teens.  They are driving now.  They remind me so much of how our Mali was and should be.  I was grateful to see them.

I think the point I am trying to make is how life didn’t stop after that precious little girl abruptly left us.  I just hopped off the Merry-go-round and chose to melt like that clump of sticky crayon goo.

Inside of me I am angry about that.  Life doesn’t stop.  I am paralyzed with deep despair and anxiety over having to catch the Merry-go-round and get back on.

Mostly, that despite my greatest efforts, Mali is not coming back.  I either have to get on with it or throw the fuck it switch.

I am too afraid to do either and fear has never been in my vocabulary.  It has managed to sneak its way in and I am shocked at that.

I pray daily that the Blessed Mother intercede for me and help me grow strong enough to jump this obstacle.

I pray the rosary to offer all this unbearable suffering up as a sacrifice to ease someone else’s suffering.

Mostly I pray that Mali is safe wherever she is and her guide Brittney is with her. That they are taking care of each other until Britt’s Mother and I can be with them. That is a whole other topic I will talk about at a later time.

 

 

 

A point of view from a friend

The first day of school of freshmen year I didn’t know what to except. First time I saw and talked to Mali was a couple of days later at work study. We worked the lunch room together, I worked up front helping give out food while she was back in the kitchen help wash dishes.

I would go back there sometimes to talk to her and some others. Mali was always the most fun to talk to because she was always positive and funny and always made the best comments.

I would look forward to work study sometimes just because of her. Whenever I was down she always cheered me up. As days go on things were great. We didn’t have any classes together until the second semester and it was fun while it lasted.

But one day changed everything.
I was sitting around her friends during lunch and it was going fine, until her group of friends started talking bad about one of my friends.  They had him all wrong. He was dating one of these girls at the time and he “supposedly” was being a bad boyfriend so they were calling him names.  I yelled at them saying they were all wrong, he wasn’t like that and they had  no idea what he was like.

He is a kind loving person and the group was putting his name in the mud. I defended his name and my best friend!

That day I lost another friend. Someone that was close to me and she didn’t know it. I told her she wasn’t the reason, it wasn’t her fault but I was too scared to say anymore.

I wanted to talk to Mali again, to get our friendship again but I didn’t know what to say and I was scared. The what’s are in my mind. After winter and the second semester started, I didn’t work with her again, instead we had Math together.

First she sat right next to me, then two seats behind me. Everyday I wanted to make things right between us, again I was scared.

As days go on everyday I regret not talking to her to make things straight. The weekend that Mali died I heard the next day on Sunday April 9th after church from a friend from our school. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t imagine it because she was always happy and positive.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that she looked more down everyday leading up to the weekend. I saw that she was feeling down but I didn’t do anything.

I wish I did and wasn’t scared. She was a great friend and I threw it away. As days go on after her death it was hard with my regret and maybe… just maybe I could have done something.

Everyday I live with something that she left. Be positive and treat others fairly. Try to make others happy, and be the best friend that I can be to anyone. That is how I’m gonna say bye to a friend, since I never had the chance to when she was alive.

written by a friend of Mali’s

The Daily Grind

A couple of weeks ago the stress of losing Mali coupled with life in general broke my spirit.

I checked myself into the behavioral health unit as an inpatient. Mostly out of self preservation. I was really thinking many seriously unsettling thoughts.

I was so preoccupied with denial my child was gone, I wanted to join her by any means available.

This is really hosed up. Here I am, a relatively stable person, family and friends who love me.  I did not have any real socioeconomic problems.  Educated, fantastic job, roof over my head, two car middle class family.  Devoted to my faith, and family, helping others more needy than me.  You get the picture.

I wanted to die. Some days I still flirt with the idea. I checked myself into the hospital because even in the fog, confusion and unrealness of my life I knew in my heart I was about to do something really bad to myself.

I went from being an inpatient (which by the way, did not work out too well for me. Not used to having my wings clipped and being told when to eat, use the bathroom, given medication, etc) to being in the partial hospital program that is offered at my local behavioral health hospital.

This is when I was able to have help really dissecting what happened to my daughter and to me during this grief period.  The program is hard. You have a to take a good hard look at yourself and with honesty and compassion look at the thought processes that cloud your brain and reframe the way you think about things.

When your grief and suffering are so unmanageable, unrealistic expectations take root in your brain and grow like weeds. Like killing myself will solve my problem. My daughter just did that. I did not want to put my family or friends through that again.

I find myself thinking, when I read what I’ve written, as slightly pretentious.  There are a lot of people out there that don’t have the opportunity to take the route I did or may not feel the same way I do.

Everyone’s grieving process is different.  Grief is different for everyone.  There is no level of loss that is more important than another’s.

So back to the title of this small chapter.  Everyday is a series of small encounters with people and situations. You can choose what you make of it.  It’s life. Try not to overthink it or over dramatize it.  Be kind to each other and love as much as you can.  Losing someone can unexpectedly happen.  That is life  or at least a part of it.

 

Group Grief

Grief may seem personal but, if you look at the process from above the tree line, there are many people that are still grieving for Mali passing from this world.

Her immediate family; Her Father, myself, her brothers Christopher and Tim, her sister Mandy, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, her friends… She had so many friends.

One thing she mentioned to me before she died was how she felt so alone.  I did not understand this.  She was always texting her friends and was always chatting on the phone or FaceTimeing them.

Depression is a bonafided disorder of the brain. From our experience, it can kill. If anyone reading this is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out. There are people who love you.  The world is definitely a better place with you in it.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

I really don’t have a lot to say today.  I am quietly mourning my daughter today.  Going to the mausoleum and will try to stay busy.

I miss you and love you so much my sweet ducky doodlebug.  You are my everything and I feel so lost without you.

 

 

It’s so quiet

Our home used to be chaotic. Television was on, dogs barking and running around the house, our children coming and going.  Arguing over who is emptying the dishwasher or taking out the trash was a constant battle between Mali and TJ.   “What’s for dinner?!” was a common question.  “I need help with my homework Mama” was a usual request from Mali.

When I would pull in the driveway Mali always ran out the door to greet me by opening the car door and kisses.  She always helped with groceries, mostly to snoop her treat she knew I would get her. Green tea ice cream, a Hershey cookies and cream bar, can of cheese Pringles.

It’s painfully quiet.  It’s hard not to miss that chaos.  It’s just Tim and I in the house now.  The TV is never on.  We rarely play music.

Our grandchildren visit sometimes on the weekends.  Peyton misses her Auntie who always had time for her.

Finding a new normal is tough.  It’s like stumbling around in a dark room trying to rearrange furniture.

Sometimes Tim and I barely talk.  Other times we talk about our good memories of our children.  Recently we both have started talking about losing our baby girl in depth to each other.

The days we share have been mostly treading water so we don’t drown.  Today has been a rare good day where the pain isn’t so sharp and consuming.

I am hopeful for more days like this.  I want to choose those kinds of days without feeling guilty for being alive.  For not being able to save her.  Everything in its own time.

Until that day comes when I can consciously choose to celebrate her life and not be bitter that it’s over, I will lean on faith, my husband and my unconditional love for my daughter Mali.

 

 

 

It’s Monday, yay!

I used to hate Monday’s. They are not so bad now.  I find purpose in them.  I don’t have to be home for at least 10 hours.

Mali and I used to hate Monday. She and I did a lot of stuff over weekends and were pretty much exhausted by Sunday night.

Mali would put on her school uniform and sit on the end of my bed, bowl of cereal, bed head, backpack ready with a typical teenage zombie glow about her.

I would say good morning Mali and she would manage a grunt and a huge smile.  Odd combination but one I love and miss so much. We would watch 30 minutes of GMA and head out the door for school and work. We would make up our own lyrics to pop songs on the radio.  Usually involving toilets or number 2. Flash gang signs at each other and laugh most of the way to school. I would miss her during the day and she would sneak text me during the day on her iPad “studying “.

There won’t be a day I don’t miss her, that laugh and those eyes. I miss the love you Mama when she got out of the car.

I am going to try not to lose my mind today.

I am not responsible for her suicide.

One of the behavioral therapy techniques they teach in my 30 day program is self affirmations. I write them on my bathroom mirror in lipstick.

I am not responsible for Mali’s death.

I am ok

I am safe

It is ok to sleep

It is ok to laugh and smile

I want to throw a brick at that mirror. I don’t believe any of it. The person that looks back at me is not me.  It’s some remnant of the person that used to be me.

As parents when we knew our girl was in trouble we jumped right on it.  Took her to the Behavioral Health ED.  Had her admitted for suicidal ideation, took her to her group therapy, hovered.  Took her to her therapist, observed her closely.  Took her to her psychiatrist and I prayed a lot.

I tell myself we did everything we could. Then self-doubt creeps in and ninja smacks you before you even know you got slapped.

I have thousands of photos of her.  For the life of me I seem to be losing the images of her face in my head.  I am forgetting the way her voice sounded.  I listen to the one voicemail I managed to salvage from ICloud and cling to it greedily.

All she had to do was walk into a room and it was filled with sunshine.  Those great big brown eyes with the impossibly thick, black, curly eyelashes that would melt your heart.

I went to confession today.  For my non catholic readers, Confession is one of our most cherished of the sacraments.

I confessed I had been skipping out on Mass.  God and I seem to be in disagreement about this whole business.  I demanded a refund.  Pretty selfish and petty of me but, I rolled the dice.

The priest on the other side of the confessional was not my usual confessor.  That priest would have known the exact words to guide me back to the path.  The priest I got was silent for a good 60 seconds.  I asked him “Father, did you hear me?”  More silence.  Bless his heart for trying to be wise with his words.  I got compassion out of that confession.  It was enough to reset the brain thinking pattern I have been kicking around the last couple of days.

Free will still says I want a refund.  I want my kid back.  I’m not perfect.  I’m human.

I guess there is still some fight left.  I’ll wait until tomorrow.  I miss you Mals.  Can you come back for a visit?  Just so I can see you and make sure you’re okay least?

 

 

Saturday’s Suck

Saturdays are just plain hard. Saturday afternoon at 352 pm she hung herself in her closet.

This was also the day that Mals and I spent together doing Mom and Mali activities. Shopping for Mali was starting to get stressful as she was a bonifide teenager.  Her style was changing.  I was so glad she still wanted my company.

Her taste in clothing was uniquely hers. Shawls, skater dresses, holes in her jeans and the same army green tshirt she loved so much. We’d go to Sephora or Ulta so she could buy the endless amounts of makeup that she would only paint on at home. She never wore makeup in public.

We would have lunch out and go on a mini adventures to one of the small towns that surrounded our community to find treasures in an antique store. She was always looking for something precious to bring to her Dad.

This year we missed softball season as she wasn’t here to power run to get on first base or swing that bat with so much earnestness I would pray to will that ball high and far.

A friend of mine out of the blue told me this week “you can’t fill human shaped holes with cats”. …. or anything else.  It was the most profound thing I have heard in ages.

Today I am wracked with horrible pain.  My heart is empty and my head is so full of shit it scares me.  The house is all Mali.  It hurts.

I listen to the music on her iPhone and wonder how different her music and my music tastes are so different.  She really loved Drake.  I love Radiohead.

It has been 90 days since Mali left us.  I could barely get out of bed today.  I did my why’s this morning.

Why did you kill yourself? Why didn’t you tell anyone?  Why did you leave me?  Why can’t  I just end all this suffering like she did so we can be together?

Like my sister in law said so many times, how do you know you will be with her?  No one know the answer because once you’re dead you can’t come back and tell us how it’s going.  She poses a good point. No guarantees I’ll get to be with her.

I refuse to give in to this self loathing.  I think I will fight for myself today.  What else can I do?

 

 

Life after Mali

This blog was started to remember our daughter Mali.

Mali was 14 when she completed suicide. My husband Tim found her body and I returned home within 5 minutes to witness the chaos of firemen, police and EMS services.  My sweet girl was lying on her back covered with a blue paper sheet, her clothes had been cut away.  Her brown curls matted down with sweat, a breathing tube hanging from her mouth.

I remember begging our Priest to give her last rights, save her soul from the ravages of hell and whatever else a Catholic mother can do to attempt to continue saving her child, hoping beyond hope she will open her eyes and sit up like Lazarus did.

The pain that ensued has been the worst possible pain we have ever experienced. It is raw, burning, aching. It’s ongoing. No amount of talking, therapy, 30 day programs, alcohol, prescription medication can numb this pain.

I have no idea where this blog will go or who will even read it. It’s for me and that is enough.

I miss you Mali. My duck. My everything. Thanks for shitting on my life.