I was born on a Friday in June. I died on a Wednesday of the same month.
I learned to love at an early age, and found that the good Lord graced me with the inability to do anything partially. I love with my whole heart, from the bottom of my toes. My children are the life blood of everything good in my world. They breathe life into each day with a beauty and intrigue only paralleled by the sunrise. I love from a place I don’t think many people understand. It’s innocent and pure, never selfish. When I am driven to truly love someone, I find myself in near pain from the overwhelming desire to encapsulate them in honesty, hope, vision, fortitude, and strength. I have often tried to define what love is to me, but found it easier to list the things that love is not.
Love is not selfish. Love has no motive. Love is not attachment. Love is not insecure.
Love does not break your heart. Love is not a condition.
Although that is nowhere near a complete list, the most important for me –today- is as follows:
Love is no guarantee.
I have debated greatly on what details I would share with this writing. In deciding, I found it important to determine an objective. Boldly throwing my heart out for examination is reckless and dangerous and opens me up to speculation and potential harm. My goal here is to offer some sort of hand to those going through something hard in their life. Some battle. This takes an insane amount of courage. I hope that is not lost on anyone.
I have always believed that broken hearts sympathize with those that resemble their own. I have a unique ability to empathize with most people because I understand, in great depth, life’s ability to strip you of all sense of security and hope; leaving you with an overwhelming sense that you are utterly and completely alone in your fight to survive. I assure you, you are not alone. You are not crazy. Neither am I. But of the barrage of emotions a person goes through in their life, only a very few are ever discussed. I will do my very best to be explicit and honest, with full regard to my own sanity and the vulnerability and damage this does to myself, and in turn my daily interactions.
Big ………..Deep……… Breath.
Even though I play June 22 over and over and over in my mind, it often comes in short bursts of intensity, like lightening in a desert thunder storm. I’ll find myself completely detached from reality for a few moments, just long enough to paint the image, and be sent reeling. Coming back from the images requires conscience effort and great determination.
I remember small things and I remember big things. Things that shouldn’t have any significance are now the things that threaten to destroy my life daily.
I remember thinking how beautiful the sun looked kissing my children that morning.
I remember mowing the lawn; having to stop before every tall dandelion so my kids could pick it for me.
I remember watching them play while I worked around the yard.
I remember the song I was listening to, and thinking, in the moment, that it was significant for some reason. The lyrics haunt me to this day:
“I painted your room at midnight, so I’d know that yesterday was over.”
I remember all of the people I love the most being around us, like an unannounced, unplanned, going away party.
I remember the bounce house, and the sounds of children laughing.
I remember my babies smiling, so happy. I remember iced tea, and popsicles.
I remember Ashley needing to leave with her kids.
I remember my son asking to ride to her house, to make sure they made it home ok.
I remember kissing his toes.
I remember the uneasy feeling, and the need to chaperone him up the street.
I remember the sound of the truck pulling up next to me, and the greeting that ensued.
I remember the little boys in the back seat.
I remember the sound of his voice saying “Be decent for once would ya?” as he shifted into gear and pulled forward.
I remember the sound of the bike being crushed.
I remember the sound of the little girl behind me saying “Carrie, Kole is under there.”
I remember dropping to my knees where I stood. I remember the scream……..”NO”
I heard myself scream over and over but don’t remember filling my lungs with air.
I remember scrambling under the truck. I remember blood.
Still screaming “No”
I remember the tar covered pebbles pressed into my blood soaked knees.
I remember the heat of the road burning into my thighs. I remember his warmth in my arms.
I remember him being so still. I stopped screaming now.
I remember a woman saying “you have to try CPR or you will never forgive yourself”
I remember the wetness of his baby blood pouring down me when I pressed his tiny mouth to mine.
I remember the way it tasted. I remember blood.
I remember the way it smelled like copper pennies. I remember my prayer.
My soul was screaming now. I remember sirens.
I remember lights.
I remember the white sheet.
Shock. Total shock. I held the phone in my hand, I don’t know where it came from, it was covered in blood…I was covered in blood.
“Kole is dead.”
I remember my husband’s voice coming back through the phone like a plea more than a question “What?” he repeated over and over. I was screaming again.“NO.” Rocking back and forth. I was holding him in my arms. I was looking at his face.
I remember the woman who sat with me. I remember begging for her to pray.
I remember hating her when she prayed for me, and not for my son. I knew in that moment that my worst fears were realized. They were praying for me. My son was gone.
I remember his tiny hands, limp as I pressed them to my face, begging God to let them touch me.
I remember the way it felt when Jesus took him from my arms.
I remember driving to the hospital with my best friend and my husband.
He was gone.
She kept her eyes on mine, holding me there like a lifeline to what little awareness I had to the ongoing world. She held me there like a seasoned vet in the art of loss. Alone, and blood soaked, I sat across the ambulance from her, in slow motion taking everything in and seeing nothing. I only saw her eyes. “Breathe baby,” she said, “Just breathe.”
Like a broken record this plays in my mind, stuck on repeat. I will it to repeat. I make it start over and over. Remembering is a pain, second only to the idea of forgetting it. Poignant and defining, this is where I began. Everything prior to this day is obsolete and foreign to me now.
What I saw was horrific, my absolute worst nightmare. I was educated enough to know instantly, when I saw him lying there, that there was no hope. I am plagued with denial still to this day, but the reality of what I saw leaves little room for question. Without the image, I would still be looking for him. Without the scenario playing out the way it had, I would have spent the rest of my life determined to find what was taken from me, disbelieving he was gone.
Ten thousand angels orchestrated that day.
Every day is a choice. Whether you wake up on the street, or you wake up in a mansion, the truth of the matter is, you make a decision to continue breathing. You absolutely, do not have to. For many days after the accident, I absolutely did not want to. It wasn’t a suicidal thought process, as much as a lack of soul. I had no soul. My heart was at the mortuary, and my soul was a tar covered pebble soaked in blood. I felt crazy. I felt lost and
confused. And yet there was my beautiful hazel eyed two year old, toddling around my mother in law’s house, looking for his brother, and looking for me.
I don’t remember thinking about much. I just remember the whole experience being like a VCR, hit rewind and watch it backwards, when it clicks, push play and watch it forward.
Blood has a new significance to me now. Cleaning up after the accident was a terrifying ordeal. I went into the bathroom of my Sister in Law’s home. Alone for the first time. Alone with my reflection. I saw at that moment what I had envisioned, only worse. Particulate stuck to my body, blood matted my hair. I alone, was enough to scare anyone, compounded with the day’s events was something Stephen King wouldn’t touch. It was too much. I looked at myself for a long time, blinking slowly at my reflection. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a moment of rebirth. My clothes had adhered to my skin, glued down in red. My skin was caked in burgundy and sticky black tar that had melted on the black top and adhered to my exposed legs and forearms. I peeled my shirt up, listening to the crackle of the stiff material as I pulled it over my head. Rage coursed through me. Blaring hot rage, like the bubbles of tar on the road, I wanted to explode and cover everything around me in the darkness that was closing in. I slipped off my shorts and stared at them blankly lying at my feet. Guilt. Why had I put them on? Why did I require attention? Did it kill my son? Did I kill my son? More rage. The shower was on, I noticed after a few minutes. Someone must have turned it on, it was beyond me. I don’t remember the drive to the house. I don’t remember words said. I remember no shoes, leaving the hospital after they asked me to pull back the sheet so they could “confirm death.”
Blaring, deep, resentful, rage.
The water wasn’t hot enough. The water is never hot enough to remove the blood. I turned it all the way to the left and watched the steam billow out of the bathtub. I climbed in and knew it scalded me but I felt nothing. I watched the white tub streak red at first, until it was covered the way I was. I sat in the basin and watched the red surround me, and then run down the drain. He was running down the drain. I blocked the drain and watched it
puddle, the red darkened. I fell to my knees and hung my head in the heat. I knelt in blood. I knelt in my son. I wanted to keep it, it was all I had left now. They had taken him from me at the hospital. They took him and they didn’t give him back. The tub filled, I was forced to let it drain. I can’t keep it. It has to go. It had to come off. I had to wash it off.
Rewind, push play.
The red wouldn’t come off. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I scoured my skin with every ounce of soap I could find and used my fingernails to scrape the surface. I then realized it ran from my hair. Still matted after what seemed an eternity in the water. I washed it, and rinsed it and washed it again. It wouldn’t come clean. I could never be clean again. It was all or nothing. Leave my body soaked, or remove it all. My knees were bloody now, fresh red, my own. The pebbles that were pressed into them like a queen’s rhinestone were now lying in the drain and in their place, perfect indentations that tore my skin. Leaving a place to mix my own blood with my child’s.
Despair. I can’t win. I’ll never win again. I have lost. Everything. Guilt.
Rewind, push play.
The water was cold. Freezing now. I hadn’t noticed. There were tears. Finally there were tears. Forever, there would be tears.
My frozen and shivering body besought me to turn off the water. I sat dripping wet and naked in the tub, unwilling to face what lay beyond the seclusion. Had I known, I might have stayed there forever.
I would discover over the next few days, weeks, and years a spectrum of emotion that neither has a limit on low, or high. I would find out what isolation really was; a type of torrential seclusion that can be felt while standing in front of God and a thousand people; total alone. Today was the first day of the rest of my life, and the last day of my son’s.
Rewind, push play.