It’s not over until you drop your faith.

We just passed 20 months without Mali. The holidays are upon us. What should be a joyous time is still marked with great sadness.

Finding ourselves so out of sorts is so disheartening. When I take steps forward, I take steps backwards. Especially this time of the year.

I went through a very dark place the last weeks. Reaching out to my dearest friends was difficult. They are a shelter for me.

Honestly I have been so disconnected, sometimes I just want to be with her now instead of living life. It sucks being in this wretched fog. I think it’s dissipating, then it’s back. Just want to fold in the cards.

Trying to remember that I belong here with people who love and need me is hard to see.

There are good things in my life. Tim, my friends who keep my head above water when I can’t, the beauty around me of the changing season, roof over my head, good job and my children are great gifts laid before me. I am grateful.

I offer my suffering to God and will try to remember who is driving.

Sometimes the Sun is Good.

There are a finite amount of days we have in our lives. People dream of material things while others seek the experience of the moment.

In the 17 months and 21 days since Mali died, material things matter little to me anymore. Not that it ever did really.

Life is an undulating, rocky path with small breaks of calm and peacefulness. I just want peace.

The chaos and despair that have ruled my life since she left have slowly moved towards the back of mind instead of front and center. It has to. I push it back, else I am consumed by her loss.

My suffering instead is offered up to God in reparation for the sins I have committed in my life.

How I miss that beautiful, wonderful child and the joy that radiated from every ounce of her being.

That hole in my heart will never fill. I’m holding it for her. I don’t want to fill it. It will always be hers.

I am actually starting to remember small things, moments we shared. Everyday little things that may seem inconsequential. She used to wake up on Saturday morning. If I was still asleep she would hop into bed and pry my eyes open with her little fingers. We would laugh and play. I’d make her whatever she wanted for breakfast or we would hit up the diner. One of her favorite breakfast places.
I dream about her more.

Slowly the agony that was my armor, so heavy and
clumsy I can start to dismantle and start to set aside. I hope that my wounds outside my heart may start to heal a little.

I hope I get to see her at the end of my time here. That’s all I want now. A short life and Mali at the end of it.

Being a member of the worst group possible

It is almost fall. The nights are starting to chill and the sunlight dwindles sooner.
We have 4 seasons in this part of the country.
Each season I count the months and days since Mali left this world. We are approaching 18 months.
Most of the time between my last blog I have been trying to keep a routine. Trying to stay on my feet. It’s an act. But like they say in AA, fake it until you make it right?
I go to work, pick my granddaughter from school and try to have as normal a routine as possible.
My friend Angela did a story on our local news tonight about the loss of her child. Here is the link to her story. ‪
Angela Kennecke Shares Story Of Daughter’s Drug Overdose https://www.keloland.com/news/local-news/angela-kennecke-shares-story-of-daughter-s-drug-overdose/1420591556‬

In an instance I relived the moment of Mali’s death. The similarities of Angela’s reaction and mine when that fleeting moment wher you hope the worst hasn’t happened, to the the paramedic telling you they couldn’t save her. Even though our loss occurred differently, the end result is still the same. We are grieving Mother’s who will never get to hold their child again. They aren’t walking though that door home again.
Her news story was poignant and hit more than a few buttons.
At the end of the day no matter how our girls lost their lives, we are still member of a group none of us want to be in. The grieving Mothers group.
It’s sucks and there isn’t a fucking thing that can be done to fix it.
The strength Angela showed today is also a testament of how far a mother can go to spin that grief into something positive. She is an amazing lady.
I am walking in memory of my daughter Mali for the AFSP walk against suicide. I have been at our state congress this year to network and work on a bill to reduce the number of Suicides in my state.
I want to fight for all the Parents of Suicide.
Maybe I can find some redemption in that.

Turn the page

I have found that I have become better at riding those tumultuous waves of grief that have swallowed me up and spit me out in a desert of emptiness since Mali completed Suicide 15 months ago.

Don’t get me wrong. This brand of grief isn’t one you can cast off like a coat on a cold day. I still cry that ocean of tears. I still scream in agony in my car literally. I am paralyzed with socializing, except for a few people. I prefer my own company.

Most days it is easier to get up and go to work now. I still have days where I am pulled to the cemetery instead of heading to work first.

We had a routine in the morning. I miss it. I still practice that routine because it’s one of those things I cling to. I want to keep her close even though my head knows she is gone. My heart refuses to believe. It will never believe.

I whisper to her all day long. I tell her about life without her. The words pass through my lips. Lost to empty space, scattered to the wind.

I have learned in retrospect a lot of changes that have occurred since my Girl died. My tongue is not so loose. I don’t worry like I used to. Seriously.

After losing a child, especially a child you are so in love with, there is nothing on this earth left for me to worry about.

I have no fear left about the world. Death is just a door I can pass through to be with her. Money doesn’t matter. Material things mean nothing. Trying to juggle all things as a wife, mother, full time work fell away. Trying to please people, speeding to get where I need to go. The list is long and stupid.

Moving at my own pace is the residual left in the place of chaos. The biggest lesson I learned is I Know Nothing.

Everything I learned over the years about being a human, my education, love of the world and things…it doesn’t fucking matter.

Everyday I am able to make it through is one less day here and one day closer to her.

Relocation Doesn’t Equal A New Start in Life

Moved to a new house in the same city I live in. Not quite sure how I feel about it.
The house is lovely as the neighborhood is.

Guess what happens when you leave the house your Daughter grew up in and died in to move to a new house. Nothing.
It is in my humble opinion that what one thinks may be a solution to suffering may not be all it is cracked up to be.

There is an environment of chaos. Self inflicted. Boxes, gear adrift that have not been touched in two weeks.

Packing up her room and all the random places we find reminders of her was hard.

Unpacking it and finding a place to put treasures and relinquish the remainder to some dark corner in the basement or closet is not working for me in my head.

I had so much help getting this move done. My children and their friends and significant other. My dearest friends Wendy and Tony (who are in the same club of Child Loss) were amazing in all things moving wise. Right down to the lunch they brought for the whole crew.

My best advice is if you don’t know what to do, do nothing. God will lead the way when you are ready to hear.

Today I will unpack one box of hers and clear off the fucking congestion I have been tripping on for the last two weeks.

The pain of being a Mother with a dead child never goes away. It doesn’t matter where you go. Your soul is branded until the day you die. It sucks to have to visit your kid at a cemetery and frankly I am still pissed off at God.

How can I get to Heaven to be with her if I curse his name daily? Haven’t figured out that part either. I guess today I just don’t care.

Musings

We have been packing up our home to move. This is the home we raised our children in. I nursed them when they were sick, celebrated birthdays, holidays.
Homes have so much love and warmth in them even bad things happen.
Our two of our older children moved out when it was time to leave the nest. That left our Mali virtually an only child. We adored her.
The thought of going through her things and packing them up was more then I could bear. My little girl died in her room. My heart raced and broke a thousand times today.
I called my close friend to help me. She too has been touched by her daughter completing Suicide. I couldn’t have gone through all of this without her support and love. We took our time. Many breaks and a couple of clonazepam later, it was over.
My darling Mali was now in 15 boxes. I let go as much as I could. Her Dad was in one of her other closets alone sorting through her piles and piles of teenager angst, clothing, stuffed animals. He separated her things into piles so we could go through it together.
How can a heart that is already broken break again?
The stitches that have held it together were stretched pretty tight today. Many broke and a few held strong.
Tim found some notes she had written in a notebook. She said why do my parents hate me? We were floored. I ruminated those words all day. We never hated her. We adored her. I can’t remember a time we could have caused her to feel that way. We can’t fix it now. It’s too late.
We are trying to move forward. This is not easy. So much guilt in the thought we are leaving her behind.
In my heart I know we’re not leaving her. She is coming with us. I just wish she was here to be excited about a new chapter.

Just Another Day

The last couple of months have slipped by.  The sharp sting of missing Mali has lessened. Don’t get me wrong it hurts. It’s just not the kind of hurt that leaves you agonizing displaced and unable to breathe.

This hurt is different. Always in the back of you head. Always in your heart and mind.

I wonder sometimes if this pain and I have somehow are learning to live with each other?

Instead of living in the last year I have found crawling up the ragged wall of rock that has been my prison a worthy task. Sometimes I stop, catch my breath, feel the pain and push on. There is light up there. A new life that beckons me up out of the grave I dug for myself.

Anger at this whole situation has not touched me. Waiting and wondering what it would be like has left me only uttering words of gratitude to Our Lady for sparing me that.

Why is it that it takes celebrities to complete Suicide that gets people all riled up. Good God, if one of the Kardashian’s offed themselves would the world stop?

Granted I know this is ridiculous. I am genuinely sorry for those poor souls and the hell there families are starting down. No one chooses this hell. If they do they are just plain Mad.

So I am here.  I’m still breathing. I still pray.  I can still love. Miss you Mals. More than the Sun and the Moon and all the stars in the sky.

A Homily

note:

this is a rough draft of her funeral homily. Grateful he shared it.

Two years ago Mali Famer came to Jesus Christ as a child of God. She was baptized at the age of 12.
Certainly it was a result of grace. As John says in one of His Epistles. We come to love of God…only because He loved us first. Yet of her own cognition, her own choice, with no prompting from her parents…Mali decided that she wanted to be baptized into the Catholic faith and live the sacramental life of the Catholic Church. SHE chose that for herself. She could see that there was something transformative about being a practicing Christian. Later that year…she makes her First Confession, and along with it, her First Communion. Of her own volition, with no prompting from mom or dad or anybody else. And from that day forward…she was faithful to both confession, and regular Sunday Mass…receiving Jesus in the Eucharist…His Body and Blood; and never afraid to confess her sins to the priest standing in for the Risen Lord.
This is the will of the one who sent me…that I should not lose anything of what the Father gave me…
I couldn’t find Mali’s baptismal or First Communion records. A few days after Mali’s tragic death, I wanted to look at her sacramental records…and I couldn’t find anything.
I asked Joe Rutten, our director of faith formation about it, and he went on the offensive as only Joe can do…to track it down.
It was recorded at St. Mary’s. That’s because Mali was baptized in the Mckennan Hospital chapel by Fr. Krogmanof St. Mary’s…during another tragic time in the family when TJ was seriously injured in a car accident. So, TJ’s accident is cause for Mali’s introspection, as she sees him lying in a hospital bed. She watches as her parents and her sister call upon faith in this desperate moment to ground them and keep them going. As she observes her mother with a new found joy in the practice of the Catholic faith, she decides, on her own…that she wants to own that joy too.
Joe came back from St. Mary’s and showed me therecords. “Here’s her First Communion record….
We look at each other for a moment and become silent. Fr. Lacey stops what he is doing at his desk and slowly turns his head toward us. We are all three thinking the same thing. Is this a sign from God? (She was baptized and had first communion almost to the day of her death) I should not lose anything of what He gave me?
Saints have written that when someone dies close to Holy Week and Easter, that God opens more doors, larger portals for entry into His Kingdom, as unworthy as we are, and as poor as our choices may be, because of His infinite mercy…like our Holy Door of Mercy, that was open for a year in our Cathedral at the bequest of Pope Francis and Bishop Swain, to pass through in order to comprehend that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.
You know we see our existence very narrowly…onedimensional, maybe two dimensional, by an act of faith.
God sees it in a multi-dimensional fashion. Like a Polaroid picture, the ones that you took and you would have to wait for the image to develop, and you watched as it grew clearer, as it came more into focus, until finally, you really never knew, exactly when, the image was complete. You look at it and surmise, it must be complete now, but yet a picture is always incomplete when it comes to human realism…a picture can never show a person’s true feelings, their internal struggles, the big questions they are grappling with in life.
There is a line from The Little Prince that I think best expresses this analogy: One sees clearly only with the heart…Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.
That’s how it is with us as we mourn and question Mali’s death. The image is a blank right now. But it will slowly develop as life goes on…so that, maybe the question of “Why”? will never be answered, but we will experience healing…surrender…peace…even “good” that can come out of a tragedy…that God will have worked this outaccording to his plan. The scar will always remain; but the wound can be healed.
The hardest part is the void that Mali’s death has left us in the depths of our hearts. We will miss her.
We saw Mali a lot around here. She was server at 9:15 Mass. Celia taught confirmation class and is/was the chair of our Social Concerns committee. Mali’s family is larger than her immediate family – it is this parish; the O’Gorman community; her debate partners; her former classmates and many friends from Edison who have moved on to Lincoln; her softball teammates and coaches; her teachers at all the schools, and music and violin instructors; She had a large circle of family…thank you for gathering around her today.
What great solidarity and strength and friendship you are showing to one another by your presence here this morning; And what great support you offered each other last night at the Wake Service.
I believe you are giving Tim & Celia, Amanda & TJ and other family members, the strength to get through this.
When a person makes a decision to take their life, I don’t think they realize the positive impact they had on people. She obviously left a huge impact on us her extended family. Fr. and Deacon and I will miss her not being around at 9:15 Mass to serve, as well as the other servers she served with will miss her too.
I want to acknowledge the Avera family, Celia’s workplace; and Tim’s colleagues and peers – who have rallied around this family to help bring some comfort and hope at a horrible time in their lives.
Mali always belonged to Christ. She was a young woman of faith. She loved her family dearly; Her family loved her dearly. She believed in the commandments of God. She received the sacraments with great love and respect. She was a girl who loved her faith…and she loved this parish, she was always ready to serve and help out…though I’m sure Celia had to prod her once in awhile. So, as her pastor, I am mourning her as well. Our parish mourns her death. In honor of her contributions to the Cathedral parish, we are closing the offices today.
Now the hard part: There is not one person sitting here who is wondering what went wrong…why did she do this? On the outside, everything looked so good; but on the inside something was not right.
We know Mali was dealing with depression. Everybody who knew Mali knew that she could have not been in her right mind to do something like this. There wassomething wrong; and she didn’t want to bother anyone with it. (Teens…if something is bothering you…we – your parents, pastors, minister, teachers, friends…want to know about it, and want to help.
We can ask the question “why” until we are blue in the face…but it’s not going to get us anywhere. We can search for answers all we want. But there will be none.
I think if Mali could speak to us right now she would say to us: “I did a stupid thing. I did a selfish thing.”
But what is done is done. And so what we focus on today and everyday from here on out…is prayer and mercy.
And that’s why Paul tells us in 1 Thess. to “pray constantly and unceasingly.” Because when we make our lives a constant prayer, we are cooperating with grace…and it is grace helps us to overcome the temptation to make irrational choices; the only way we can get through this is through the help of grace.
God’s mercy is immensely larger than what we can ever conceive of it. This is the will of the one who sent me…that I should not lose anything of what the Father gave me.
Mali was a good girl. She was a fine young woman who made a bad choice. That doesn’t take away from the fine young woman that she was; nor does it delude the fact that she went to confession regularly, ate the Body & Blood of Christ knowing in her heart of hearts that she needed it to survive in this world…and the next.
Oh, the great wisdom of Catholic nuns, sisters…whether they be Presentations or Benedictines where Celia works…or the Adoration Sisters, here, who inhabit our Cathedral and know Celia & Mali.
When I told the sisters of Adoration about what happened, Sister RoseAlba spoke up right away and said, “Father, Jesus and Mary were with her. I know that for a fact. At the last moment Mali said she was sorry, that she didn’t want to do this. We trust she asked for forgiveness when she realized what was happening.”
I have all the faith in the world that that’s exactly what happened in those final moments of Mali’s life.
As I said last night, and at the O’Gorman Memorial Service for Mali – she was a very gentle and sensitive soul and sometimes gentle and sensitive souls suffer the most in here.
We are reminded today, that because of Adam & Eve, all of us…and I mean all of us…have the potential of doing something we thought we would never do.
Tim & Celia; TJ & Amanda…grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles…on behalf of Cathedral Parish, you have our heartfelt condolences and prayers at this tragic time. We pray that the presence of all these people – your friends and colleagues as well as Mali’s friends and colleagues – will help ease the sadness and pain of Mali’s death. It will never truly cease…but it will diminish.
In 2 Tim. 1, St. Paul prays for his deceased friend Onesiphorus. He says, to paraphrase, that his friend “always gave him a new heart, that he loved the faith and was at the service of the Church.” His prayer for his deceased friend goes like this: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day.”
That is our prayer today for Mali: We are praying her into heaven.
Mali, we forgive you. We are convinced that you did not know what you were doing.
Let the words of Jesus bring us consolation this morning:
“T his is the will of my Father, that I should lose nothing or no one that he has given me…but raise it up on the last day.”

Spring

There are good days  They are sporadic.  Bad days, a melted version of what was once me needs scraping off the floor, to be remolded into some semblance of once what was me. Good days I get out of bed, get to work and try to smile. That’s it.  Everything is bland and I notice very little around me.  At the very least, I am standing.  That is a victory.

The smell of her in her clothing, a song, the way the sky looks can totally wreck my day or make me grateful for the 14 years of pure love we shared.

She was the most gentle, compassionate person I ever knew, her love knew no boundaries.

I miss us.

A year and change has passed since we lost her.  We are buying a new home.  The process of preparing to leave the house she grew up in, laughed in, cried in and died in sucks.  A part of me feels like a traitor.

Every cupboard I clean out, the things I toss away remind me of her.  When I run across anything that was hers I set it aside.  I can’t bear to part with it.

I have not started on her rooms and closets  it’s too painful.  The future without her is painful.

Even though she left a letter for us, there will never be an explanation of why that wonderful creature is not here with us that I can accept.

So, here’s to an attempt to moving forward instead of standing in the quagmire that has swallowed us up.

Cheers.