Saturday, 14 March 2015

As The Seasons Change My Sorrow Stays

As I sit here on this warm almost summery Saturday morning my heart is heavy, my eyes brimming over with unshed tears, my throat constricted into a hot burning lump and even my arms and legs feel as if they are turning into lumps of lead. It is the change of season, it is March - it is the worst month of the year, the month that I hate the most, the only month on par with my hatred of March is September - except September has happy memories. Spring and Autumn - the dying down and the rebirth months of the year. You will be forgiven if you think that I am talking about the change of seasons and getting all emotional about the end of Summer and the not too distant Winter - I am not.

It is the months that I fill our garden with seedlings, pretty beautiful flowers. One particular part of our garden, filled with beautiful new seedlings, all the old dying plants taken out, the overgrowth trimmed down. Made to look pretty and peaceful and then what - just waiting for giant tear drops to fall down and my sobs to echo the empty space that is left in my heart - the space where my beautiful boy should be.

Clinton's birthday in September, six months later Clinton's death day, six months later Clinton's birthday, six months later Clinton's death day and that is how my life has been for the past eight years, six monthly increments. I often wonder and you may too, why the death day should be any more grief stricken than any other day. After all since that goddamn awful day, life has been hell and tears and grief, so how or why can one particular day be worse. Any significant day is remembered or celebrated and you look forward to the celebration and happiness. Birthdays and anniversaries and graduation days, special occasions. Its the day your life changed and you embarked on a new milestone and then there is death. Unexpected, unnecessary; unfair and leading up to that day that changed your life just brings all those memories that were simmering at the bottom of your heart and soul, whilst you were living for your other child (A "You have to think of Chad" post coming up soon) right to the top, bubbling over until you can't stop the rush and torrent of emotions.

This year has been particularly hard. This year I have gone from a conversation with Clint about Matric Fund raising to finishing that conversation with Chad; I have gone from having a conversation with Clint about girls and dates to finishing it with Chad and there are so many more conversations and events that stepped from Clint to Chad and there was not eight years in between - it is as if I was in a time capsule. Those conversations, milestones and events that seem like one and the same, end on the 15th at 17h20. I live in fear each day that as I have relived the past 10 or so weeks and as the intensity of those memories increase, deja vu is going to hit me like a ton of bricks and I am going to go through this hell a second time.

Yesterday, was Friday the 13th, the fact that Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th was the start of the worst days of my life made no difference, I kept reminding Chad that it was Friday the 13th, I wanted to lock him up in the house and not let him out of my sight. I did not tell him that, it is all inside of me. Chad cycles to school some days, for what reason I do not know as he has two parents that have the time and means to get him to school - I am sure those words are whispered along the tiny corridors at school, but not to worry they are swirled around my own head and spoken out aloud. School is about 6km's away, but he goes over the walkover bridge when he cycles as well. so it is less than 6km's. He wants to go by motorbike - Clint did, but we won't let Chad. It fills me with guilt, because Clint probably looks down at us and thinks that we did not care enough about him to stop him from riding his bike. The fact that I tried to and gave up, due to "it will never happen to us" syndrome, because dam you, why would it happen to a boy, who was not only a good teenager, who was not only respectful of the rules of the road, but also respectful of the dangers of motorbikes. All those factors disappear in the fog of grief and hell and the guilt chews away at my mind and heart, like a rabid rat chewing through the wiring of your house.

Nothing unlucky or untoward has happened to us on Friday the 13th, so why was I banging on about Friday the 13th. Well this Friday and this weekend, eight years ago, we were hit with the shock and devastation of our child, our loving son and loving brother being dead. We were visiting police mortuaries and funeral homes. We were learning at an incredible, but mind blowing speed, that a) you cannot fall down in a heap and die when your child dies, b) we were learning that even when your child dies in a hospital surrounded by loving family, you still have to go and identify your child in a police mortuary, in a place where there is NO compassion or sympathy, where your loving beautiful child is nothing but another body on a cold slab, where police officers laugh and slouch around, where it is an effort for them to assist you and when they do, you wish they did not, c) that we did not know whether our son would want to be buried or cremated. We learnt a lot that weekend, we learnt stuff that we were not supposed to learn as parents. We were supposed to be picking out colleges and universities not caskets and cremations, whilst the woman at the funeral home was breathing down my neck with feigned sympathy, to make a decision,  whilst rubbing her hands in glee at the commission she was earning on her "sale". Who sits around the table on a Sunday night and asks their children if they want to be buried or cremated. We even asked Clint's friends if they ever discussed cremation or burial, even joked about it, because lets be honest, death for a child, even a teenager is never going to happen, it is a joke - No they hadn't. We did not want to make the wrong decision, we did not want to make any decision, it is not part of parenting - should we cremate or bury. Mark said it was my decision, as Clint's mother. We have always been divided in our adult conversations of death, Mark cremation and me burial. We were both sure of that. I decided, with this woman breathing down my back that it would be a burial. The week before we were discussing Matric Tuxedos and now we were discussing plots of land in a cemetery and I had to know which one to choose. Mark was whispering amongst everyone that he was worried about me at the graveside, but it was my decision. I went to bed that night in Clint's bed, his room was exceptionally dark and I slept soundly, no dreams no fears no tears. I woke up the next morning and told Mark that I was changing it to a cremation. Did I make the right decision - yes, no, I don't know - I wasn't supposed to bury or cremate my child.

It wasn't Friday the 13th that I was scared of, I was scared of the Friday my child died being repeated, just like all these other things we were experiencing with Chad that we went through with Clint. The conversations, the school letters. Then there was the school meeting - the important Matric meeting, on the exact same Tuesday as what Clint's was 8 years ago - no doubt with the exact same info as when we went to Clint's meeting. We did not go to Chad's meeting. I know, I know, my child is in Matric and how do I expect him to pass with that attitude. Well firstly whether I go to the meeting or not, a meeting that can be summed up into 5 A4 pages that I can read and must read later, which it was, my child will fail if he does not study. I remember the meeting we went to for Clint almost word for word. I remember exactly where we sat. I have battled with going to meetings at Chad's school for that exact reason, because I remember, like it was yesterday all Clint's meetings. This one was just too hard, because two weeks later Clint was dead and the school became a tomb full of memories and dreams that would never be realised.

Chad is a rebel without a cause and does not particularly like the school, so for us not going to the meeting added a notch in his post of rebelliousness and no it does not bother me that my child is rebellious, because you won't find him smoking around the corner, in a club, doing a line of coke or downing a vodka and redbull. Clint liked the school, more so because there was a really great bunch of kids there and teachers he liked and disliked. Chad not so much, it did not turn out to be the place he thought was so cool, looking up to his older brother. I was looking for a particular photo in a bag full of cards and photos. Photos I should have framed or set in albums 15 years ago. I found sympathy cards that 8 years later I still have not put in a scrapbook, like I wanted to. I found this one, from a teacher that Clint admired and respected and really liked so much. A teacher that had such an impact on him, that he went from wanting to be a motor mechanic (never ever) to a motorbike mechanic (never ever) to a Mechanical Engineer to then doing a complete turn about to wanting to go into the world of Finance. Sadly, those dreams ended on a Thursday late afternoon. Chad also thinks she is an amazing teacher and she was really amazing to Chad when he first started at the school, not to say that now that he has found his feet, that she is not amazing - he still thinks she is the greatest teacher ever.

The seasons change and flowers grow and die, but grief stays constant as we live this life of deja vu. I don't even think I can stay home this 16th of March. On Friday I discovered that I have overpaid one of our suppliers by over R900.00. I did not discover it, they just happened to tell Mark when he went there on Friday. It was done in January. Funny how they will hand deliver a statement if you owe R50.00, but not even mail one when you in credit with R950.00. When they delivered stuff this week with an invoice, which I paid, they did not attach a note or statement to say we were in credit or a credit note. Then last night Mark asked if another supplier had spoken to me yesterday, because he doesn't understand my payments. Mark forgot to tell me at work. I don't know what is happening with all these payment mistakes I am making, or if it is because I have been living in the past, waiting for death to strike again as I live the similarities. Going to work on Tuesday Monday will be turning my back on Clint's memory and although I know Clint will say "It's fine mom, I am OK with you going to work" it is not fine for me. I should spend the day sitting in his garden, with the tears flowing freely with no guilt or cover up from a world that does not understand.

If there was anything that I learned from the first therapist we went to, it was that I must allow myself to cry as much as possible, but make a concerted effort to stop, get up make tea, walk in the garden, watch movies (comedies) with Chad, but not allow myself to sink into a deep black hole that I will never get out of. At the time, I thought she was totally wacked, but I have learned that it is better to hide the pain and face the world. Do normal everyday things to prevent falling into that dark pit, again for Chad's sake. So I am going to try and do that this weekend. It was midmorning when I started this post, now lunchtime, it takes a lot of breaks and thoughts to get the thoughts out of my head, even though they are screaming to get out, but when this is done I am going to admire these seedlings that were planted at the end of February, see how they have grown, watch the fish and listen to the birds and the trickle of the water and then go down memory lane, either by sorting out all my photos from yesteryear hidden in a paper bag or maybe those on my laptop from more recent years or maybe both. Maybe blog, maybe watch funnies on TV, maybe do our website I have been meaning to do. Try and do something light, whilst alone at home. Men compartmentalize - mothers never can, something else I learned from early therapy, that a second therapist had to help me deal with and understand


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