Friday, August 14, 2015



BEDFORD NH 4:30AM EST Monday August 10 2015 Severe Grief Storm warning for Matt’s Mom issued. A line of physical and emotional pangs of longing currently over the heart region slowly moving northward. Excessive damage expected to the eyes and mind for a good portion of the day. Anticipating heavy downpour of tears and wails. There is potential for emergency support. Family and friends are advised to have cell phones on standby. Watches will continue throughout the day and updates will be broadcast . . . and so my day began!

Who knows what the triggers will be or when they will hit. The grief at times is dark and painful to sit with. Dark days are days made for reflection. My favorite moment with you loving Bear soon after his birth was captured in a photo. Birth and Death is what I reflected upon and this was the outcome:



Birth, the newness of life
Expansion of the heart
Awe and wonder for the soul
The final glimpse of Light

Death, the dark shadow of Birth
Crushing hopes and dreams
Breaking hearts for the left behind
Awe and wonder for the soul

Grief storms find me digging into my toolbox. I rely on Shelley Ramsey’s words of healing—Grief with Hope. Hope, a floatation device for turbulent waters. I know the darkness will end as quickly as it overtakes me. I know moments of joy will return to my life. I know your memories will make me smile again. I know I will continue to move forward on my path. I know the signs will come.  For now, for just this moment, for just this day—I have to remember to breathe deep slow breaths. I need to let the tears flow till my eyes are swollen shut. I need to feel every emotion that washes over me. I need to reach out and ask for help when I can’t see my way. I pray, I beg, I plead. My prayers are one-sided conversations. I admire people that are eloquent with their prayers. I conversate. I pray to you, God, Holy Spirit, Mom & Dad, the Memeres & Peperes, every Archangel and Saint I can name, Jesus, Good Spirits. Anyone that I think will listen or hear me. “Please, please, please return my sense of comfort and peace. Give me my normal ache. This hurts so much. I’m begging. I know this request is not filled with grace. I need help and I can’t find a way to help myself today. So please.” It’s definitely a prayer from the heart (or begging but still from the heart) and I was taught that’s all it takes. I give thanks that the love we shared was deep enough to expose this other side, this very primal, animalistic force that seems to be trying to rip my heart from my body and break my spirit. Without love, grief would not exist. I would not trade our love for anything. I will find the courage to take Grief’s beating, and to this end, in coming out from the other side, I will find peace in healing.

Grief is a WE thing, not just a ME thing. I am never alone in my grief. It is shared by all those that love you. I know you are watching over me in these very difficult moments, hours, days. I have family and friends, friends of friends, and people that I’ve never met that read my letters to you. You were a part of two blended families. Your blended families stay connected. Another Dad, Step-Mom, Sisters, Cousins, Aunts, Nieces, Nephews, In-laws and Out-laws share in my letters to you Sweet Matthew. Our families share grandchildren. We were all touched by your life. We each have our own memories and other memories are entwined. Divorce may end a marriage but it does not sever all ties that bind. Grief has not eluded the other half of your family. You, Sarah and Andrew are loved and missed by all. We may walk separate paths but are all on the same grief journey.We are mourning in community and that thought alone is comforting. We help each other through sharing. We share your uplifting signs, the expression of raw emotion, accepting compassion and empathy in return, and people sharing and widening our circle to include others that are faced with loss, death, illness and trajedy. 


How do we weather the storm? Initially I hunker down, assessing the situation. Dad provides the first level of support. He holds me and talks to me and tells me he is sorry I am in so much pain. When the tears and the sobs slow, I reach for words, other people’s words that are on the same journey as me. I find comfort, needed strength, a dash more courage in so many blogs and articles available. I call my Sister(s). I then seek a distraction that will occupy my mind, change my environment but allow me the silence I need to reflect and feel. Baking was Monday’s distraction. Banana Corn Nut Bread. It’s what was available in the pantry and I think you would really like it, especially with the mishaps you and I have had with corn bread. It will not defeat us!! The smells coming from the oven evoke memories of happier times. I need to sit with my past before I can make peace with the present and even begin to think about the future. Photos of you warm my heart, old text messages, songs, reliving memories. Phone conversations help. Sunny summer days—soaking in all the goodness of the heat, smells and serenity of the backyard woods. Holding some in reserve for the cold winter days that make Grief seem so much more daunting.



Nikki is my Replacement Matt when I need a dose of humor and levity. She is the final level of support that can poke holes in the darkness of grief, forcing its demise. Thankfully Grief does not usually hold us hostage at the same time on the same day. If it does, we have a good combined cry.  We hold each other up. She has the same sense of humor as you. She’s funny. She has a ton of pictures that are sure to brighten my mood. She starts by sending me pics of Addy and Bear. She engages in silliness and shares. She gets me to laugh which seems to be Grief’s kryptonite. We've added another dimension to our texting, our mainstay form of communication. We have become professional hashtaggers. This would surely bring out the man-giggle that we all loved to hear. Hashtag—it’s still the pound sign in my book. It may be a label or method of organizing elements of social media but for some reason, it just makes me crazy. Reminds me of the drug advertisements where the disclaimers are longer than the original advertisement. Maybe all the anger that grief conjures up is deflected at the hashtag for me! Knowing it’s a hot button issue, Nikki started to parody the hashtag. Makes the two of us laugh at ourselves and works as long as we don’t have any typos. . . and they are extremely corny, so beware . . . and this is but a very small sampling!





I ended my evening with the same pleading prayer and woke up the next morning with the weight of the darkness of loss, the cavernous depth of sorrow replaced with a sigh of relief, a joyful mood. Prayer 1: Darkness 0. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am learning patience, stillness. I am practicing faith and hope.

How do we weather the storm? We sit still, we console, we fasten our seat belt, we cry, we feel, we reflect, we reminisce, we reach out, we ask for help, we comfort, we love, we support, we circle our wagons a little tighter, we pray and we hope. We hope, we hope, we hope. We find our comfort and rediscover peace. We continue to look for joy while living with the ache.

Love you always & forever.



Monday, August 3, 2015


Hello Sweetheart. We are a family that enjoys using verbal endearments, aren’t we? I was talking to Jason from my cell the other day and his sign off was our signature “Goodbye my Love”. It was the final eye opening, “ah yes” moment that I needed to pen this letter to you. You see, I believe I’ve hit a shift in my grieving process. I certainly did not reach this point on my own. I can’t remember if I told you or not that Dad and I started to see a grief counselor. I was getting tired of living on the North Side of CRAZY and knew that I needed help . . . well Dad recognized it first as I’ve not been as quick on the uptake as my days prior to your death. 

Death. DEATH. I wish there were another word that described the final act of life on this earth. Passing and loss can be used interchangeably for death and other things so that makes them the not so perfect words. Death has that finality to it though, doesn’t it? It’s a short, hard word. It doesn’t roll off the tongue easily; but I guess neither does the actual event and aftermath: so maybe it’s appropriate after all. Anyway, I started to become aware of how convoluted my problem solving skills are. It can be pretty comical when you see how I get from point A to point B and it’s also unraveling as it brings the crazy back to home plate. 

Awareness, my first clue that perhaps not all has been right with my thinking world for the last 7 months. “I’m grieving”, the statement uttered out loud and silently when I couldn’t find a word, finish a sentence, forget what I was looking for, start a task and go on to 10 different things before that first unfinished task hit me square between the eyes, lose track of time . . . sometimes for hours and sometimes uttered in a moment of levity as our humor is dark at times: I'm grieving, although a fact, was getting old—to say, to hear, to deny, to avoid.

Getting through losing you is hard work, hard work. My moments of crying have turned into days recently. I believe that is a good thing. The numbness has worn off and I’m not packing my days with busy, allowing myself the time to feel. I’m trying desperately to fit a new relationship with you into a neat little box which is unrealistic. In reflection about death, spirit and the afterlife, my thoughts shifted to the question 'what is it like to be spirit and soul'? A question with no answer until I have the personal experience, however many theories abound. I panicked when I thought our Mother/Son relationship was over. You’ve more knowledge now than when you lived on this physical plane. You know my soul and I don’t remember mine; darkened at birth so that I can live and learn here on Earth. I believe Love is one of our family lessons. We’ve experienced so many shades of it in this lifetime; familial love, non-blood love so special from a man that is not your biological Father but is most certainly your Dad, care-givers love, pet love, soul love that could not be seen but felt. I’m sure you left your mark on many when their day turned a little bit brighter after you left the “drive thru” window of your favorite iced coffee shop; we've experienced friend’s love, employer/employee love, husband/wife love and love of charitable deeds. Loving came so naturally to you. Nikki says you love organically. Isn't that a beautiful expression?  If not one of our lessons, why does it hurt so much to lose you? The love between a parent and a child is completely and utterly unconditional; love without condition no strings attached, limitless, endless and including all flaws I couldn’t imagine having that change. Especially when I don’t know what it will be replaced with!

My books . . . my tools! I’ve read and re-read Permission to Mourn by Tom Zuba. The first time I read his book, I think the words just bounced off me—unrecognized numbness. Tom has discovered a new way to grieve, a path to healing and this news was so welcome to me. After my second read when my mind could absorb more, a certain section jumped out at me. “He is gone forever. You begin to heal when you identify a belief that causes you pain. This is the first step.” Another light bulb moment. What had been wearing on my mind, frightening me so was the thought that if I said goodbye to your physical-ness that our connection would end. My belief was that perhaps all this grieving was keeping you earth-bound and slowing your progress in spirit. I do believe we all have lessons to learn in this lifetime and in the hereafter. I came to the realization and a new belief, that perhaps the final lesson for spirit is seeing life through the eyes of their beloved and that is the reason you stay with us, guide us, and send us signs to let us know you will always be with us. So, with the help of my counselor and this fine author, I was able to recycle that old belief and find peace in the belief that you will never leave me. Now that I have taken my first step, to continue on my path to healing  Mr. Zuba suggests that I tell the story of my beloved. I now know I have been preparing emotionally and mentally for this day—a Funeral of One. Just me in attendance. Just in my mind, my heart and my words. I am ready to say goodbye to the physical you without fear that our relationship will end, my new breakthrough. I am saying goodbye from a heartfelt point of love and letting you know that I am ready to discover our new relationship, with you in spirit. I am ready to tell my story—

My Story of Matt
Matthew was born Memorial Day Weekend with an ease of entry into his new world along with a full head of brown curly hair. He was a good baby spending his days eating and sleeping like a little prince, resting up and saving energy for the antics that were to develop in the years to follow. He was a curious toddler, very early to talk. As he grew he developed independence and not a care in the world for what others thought of him. Matt was bright, funny, artistic, competitive—a ray of sunshine, a good boy, a winner. He was an incredible snuggler and love whorled around him like the dust and dirt that followed Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-Pen. He felt strongly and developed bonds early-on that were hardier than super glue. Matthew was like a cosmic magnet, attracting the good and the bad, the beauty and the pain, luck and misfortune, love and sorrow. You could actually see the life lessons that came his way. If you wanted the bare-naked truth, you went to Matt. Life is raw and so was his filter-less Truth. Revenge was not the opposite of his forgiveness, yet forgiveness was something he struggled with.

Matthew’s life lessons were sometimes difficult to watch, sometimes costly, sometimes repetitious and back with a vengeance when not learned the first time around.  We all carry our darkness, our demons, our shadows. I failed him in trying to help him fight his shadows. Matthew could be loud, aggressive, quick to anger and flighty at times but he showed up for Life. He lived the yin and the yang. He was present in his lifetime. What can we learn from this? If one is loud, use your God-given gift as a voice for the less fortunate. Aggressiveness is a marker that you will never be late for a fight. Your fists or hurtful words will never solve problems but your ability to never back down will. Quick to anger is a sign of passion gone awry. You value your truths, your beliefs are strong and you will not stand down. Temper the anger with reflection before action and allow your passion to guide your way. He was bold, rash, in his younger days reckless, a jokester, a risk taker in addition to all the wonderful traits he possessed. The flip side of these traits can be viewed as a problem solver, good judge of character, flexibile with an ability to think outside of the box, and multi-task increasing efficiency. These traits espouse leadership skills—qualities of a successful businessman.

In hindsight, those character traits that scream at us the loudest, that develop into poor judgment and bad behavior—the ones that society wants us so desperately to quell—the ones that create shame as we grapple to overcome. Shame, the opposite of the care and kindness we need to find our Self. Perhaps these traits are the best part of us that shout a little louder so that we will take notice: like the roar of a motorcycle with a revved up engine or the TV commercial that airs a few decibels higher than the program airing. Perhaps if we concentrated on lowering the volume and finding balance, shame would have no place in our struggles. Shame sets you back. Shame causes you to hide. Shame creates guilt and anxiety. Shame devolves the self and nicks the soul.

The best of Matthew was Adult Matt. Watching him find his other half, witnessing the powerful changes that love, marriage and parenting brought him gave me a glimpse of fulfillment, completeness, and utmost happiness. The giving of himself to Nikki, Addy and Bear provided a front row seat to the birth, growth and unfolding of unconditional love, the desire for total nurturance for his family. 

He was successful in turning around the family business and seeing the loyalty that was given and received to and by his office staff, his workers, his truckers; he created an atmosphere of a different kind of family structure—a work-family, a team. The energy that developed allowed greater and greater goals to be set and achieved. 

Watching the interaction between the brothers and their children completed my own version of The Circle of Life. Our family was growing physically in size, emotionally in heart. We were happy, so very happy.The bond of love they felt for each other was extended to each other's children.The cousins were finding out how special it is to have a best friend in a cousin. They were learning the importance of family. I remember at 26, Matthew telling me that if he died tomorrow he would not be sad because he had the best life, the best family, the best friends, the best adventures. He was so happy—look at how much more he gained, and we got an extra 10 years.

To complete my story, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is the best narrator for the job. The words to Hallelujah are beautiful. Hearing them in song, they are exquisite. The word Hallelujah becomes a lyrical language consisting of a single word; one word that can be sung with such emotion and variance in range that you can hear, understand, interpret and distinguish one emotion from another, the switch from emotion to character trait and from character trait to life concept—all happening in the space and time it takes for one to hold the breath and lift up the voice to the word Hallelujah . The language—succinct. A change in inflection,  a change in meaning. K.D. Lang sings a rendition that I can feel from my core, my soul. You know that feeling when music just grabs you and makes your blood tingle? Music that relays a message that stays with you? Music that you can hear when silence surrounds you?

Pay attention to the lyrics. They tell your story Matty.

CLICK THE LINK TO HEAR LEONARD COHEN'S HALLELUJAH PERFORMED BY K.D. LANG AT THE 2005 JUNO AWARDS: (in clicking the link you will be leaving this page.)

Matt, your life comes to mind when I listen to this song. My interpretation follows. 
You were fascinated by the stories of the Bible but decided that you would live by the Golden Rule. Love, respect, treat others as you would like to be treated—the ethical code that is touched upon by many religions and world cultures. You believed in inclusivity not exclusivity. Love was your belief, your religion—the physical, the emotional, the logical, the irrational. You believed a secular life lived with honesty, fairness, kindness and love was a good life. You were not a believer of organized religion and yet you paid allegiance to your Knowing.

I love the second verse of this song. It can be interpreted through your relationship with Nikki, your love of her beauty--inside and out. The pull that woman had over your heart and the compromises you learned to make in the name of Love and Family completed you. When you find your heart’s ‘The One’, your maleness is weakened, your legs buckle, you are no longer walking solitary, and your partner is by your side. Instead of two, you are One. This chorus of Hallelujah speaks to praise, love, ecstasy, birth and rebirth. Your children—your renewal.

The third verse is a reflection of life—she breaks you down, fills you with strife then watches as you struggle to learn your lessons. When you think you finally have it right, life’s dark edge—death comes to take you. With death, the bereaved are left with your ashes, your memories, loneliness and gratefulness for all that was you. Death's first strike is to leave us cold and broken. Your flag on the marble arch is a symbol for where your wedding ring sits, around the tip of your cremation urn on the fireplace mantel when not around Nikki’s beautiful neck. From the pain that is felt from walking through Life, Death brings you full circle to your eternal center—your spirit, your soul. No more broken Hallelujahs for you. This chorus of Hallelujah speaks to the glory, the sorrow, the grief that is the reality of life and love—a double-edged sword.

The next verse speaks to your very deeply personal relationship with your Knowing. It depicts how we struggle, how we question our beliefs when faced with the darkness of life. I always felt from a very early age you knew something about the spiritual, the holy, the eternal consciousness that I had not learned nor experienced. You experienced it. You gave me glimpses. You make me yearn for more.

Throughout your life, you felt too strongly and you were touched; your Lord of Song is your Lord of Knowing and it certainly did not all go wrong but you were ripe for more growing. Hallelujah, a word of praise. Hallelujah, our keyword for entry into the afterlife. Hallelujah, the language of Life defined by our emotions and character traits. Hallelujah that defined the life that you, Matthew lived. If I were to sing this song, I would want each and every emotion to be physically felt from the glorious Hallelujah. I would want to stir the soul. Your Hallelujah would be sung boldly, beautifully, loudly, softly, with long notes, short notes. The duality of your life experiences would be expressed by each element taking up half of the Hallelujah, sharing it with the other half to complete it and make it whole. In  your glorious 36 years—I offer these Hallelujahs to you.

Hallelujah (Confidence/Anxiety)
Hallelujah (Courage/Fearfulness)
Hallelujah (Trust & Loyalty/Rebellious & Disinterest)
Hallelujah (Warrior Brave/Little Boy Timid)
Hallelujah (Hope/Despair)
Hallelujah (Enthusiasm/Indifference)
Hallelujah (Friendliness/Antagonist)
Hallelujah (Peaceful/Belligerent)
Hallelujah (Physically Strong/Inwardly Fragile)
Hallelujah (Proud/Humble)
Hallelujah (Leader/Un-coachable)
Hallelujah (Joyful/Bittersweet)
Hallelujah (Triumph/Sadness)
Hallelujah (Beauty/Pain)
Hallelujah (Love/Loss)

Hallelujah (Life/Death)

Matthew you were the Man you were meant to be. You were the embodiment of life. You hit the high notes and the lows. You gave and received love, respect, admiration and trust. Your life was full, you were engaged, you were present. I am so proud of you. Maybe you always knew from a soul level that your time here was to be short. Maybe you felt your soul pact and this gave you the permission you needed to live life as heartily as you did. Your life, your love are blessings to our family. 

This completes My Story of Matt—My Story of You.

After seven months I’m rediscovering my internal core and I’m trying to move from the pain and sorrow of your death as I rediscover peace. I have so many questions.  I am a seeker of wisdom. Will you share your Knowing? Will you help me live It, experience It? My heart is open, my eyes are raised, my arms are extended. I’m saying my goodbye. I want to live the afterglow of you that rests in my heart. For having been given the opportunity of bringing you into this world, giving birth to you, raising you, loving you; I give praise to my God—I utter my own Hallelujah—my gratitude for you. I’m ready to embark on the adventure of starting anew—spirit to soul. Hello Matthew!

A final inspiration from you Matthew:

“You have to go through the whole-mess of life
             Before you can put the pieces of whole-ness together.”                                                                                                                   
I love you forever and always