When you lose your normal

Today I find myself thinking wow, he’s really not coming back.  It’s been two years one would think that that feeling of hope would have subsided by now. Which is actually really ironic because hope is the thing that Hudson lost and now here I find myself desperately grabbing onto the hope that one day he’ll return but deep down I know that that is not possible. 

Its not possible that I feel normal again.  My normal is gone. I will never wake up to normal again.  

 We didn’t get the first car, or taking him to get his drivers license. We didn’t get his first prom or his second prom, we will never see him play varsity football. We will never see him walk across the stage and receive a diploma.   We will never get to meet his significant other or who he would’ve chosen to be his lifelong partner.   

We didn’t get normal. Or what  I had always imagined my normal to look like. But then I sit here and ironically think or did we? Suicide is on the rise especially in young males.  Parents every day wake up and have to face the fact that they’ve lost their child to a treatable illness.  44,965 People a year die from sucide... so sadly it’s really not uncommon.  

My normal was taken away for me, please don’t let it get taken from you. 

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​Life After the Loss of Your Son to Suicide:

Sucks.


It is by far the most horrible thing I have ever gone through. Every aspect of my life surrounds the loss of Hudson. From the minute I wake up till the moment I eventually fall asleep.


Shopping, decorating, words, what’s allowed in ones room, the shutting of a door, playing, screaming, phone calls, food, language... all have changed due to the loss of Hudson.


Suicide changes everything.


I no longer shop in certain stores due to the memory of “the last time”. I am particular about items in my home. You won’t find many photos of actual people, memories are really hard. 


If you are sent to your room you aren’t allowed to shut the door. This way we can hear you because we are so afraid you too will try to harm yourself.


Wes and I don’t call each other without a text warning. Seeing each other pop up on the phones instantly causes a panic.


We avoid restaurants we used to go to. You will never catch us at a hibachi restaurant again. Even though Texas Roadhouse does SO SO SO much for us we will never sit in one again because it is the last meal out we ate as a family.


Just yesterday we made Nora change out of a sweatshirt because of the way it was lying on her neck.


You will find Wes and I do pretty much anything to avoid saying the word “hung”. I cringe every time.


Going to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get a mouthguard for football? Going to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick out football stuff? Just not gonna happen. Kellen is robbed of that experience. Instead it was ordered on Amazon.


We are the most paranoid parents imaginable. We hardly trust anyone. Kellen’s school is going to the zoo in the near future from 830 to 230. It was not an option for him to go unless someone in our immediate family would be able to go with him. The thought of someone else being responsible for my child in a public place for that long of time is terrifying.

For those that have attempted or have thought of ending your life. Reach out. Get help, it’s out there and it can work. Your life is worth living. Don’t for one second think that your family would be better off without you because damnit it’s not. It’s hard. Impossible at times.


My hope is that no matter what walk of life you are living you find something from my posts. Knowledge, hope, understanding whatever it is that’s why I write the raw truth.


How can you help me? Share Hudson’s story. Share my story. Talking saves lives.


Peace and love,

Jenna

NYC

It has been over a month since my last blog post. That is how long it has taken for me to get back on track after the two year anniversary. To say I am back to where I was is a stretch, but we are getting there.

This past weekend Wes and I snuck away and spent the weekend in NYC. To say I am shocked is an understatement. NYC is SO different from Indiana, a good different, but different none the less. I would say a common trend was how there were so many people from so many different backgrounds. I heard several different languages. I saw every walk of life from the elite to the homeless and almost everyone just went with it. 

I say almost everyone because unfortunately I witnessed two young teens verbally make fun of (to the point where they were heard) of a young person who was walking out of the hotel. Now, what the two young Indiana teens didn’t realize is that young person walked out of the exclusive part of the hotel (where Mr. Obama stays) and if I was a betting person I would guess he was some sort of actor or musician. These girls could have had the opportunity to potentially meet someone and get an autograph but instead they were too busy making fun of what he was wearing.

I just don’t understand as parents why we allow this. To make fun of someone you know nothing about, someone that literally didn’t do anything or say anything to offend you BUT yet you think you have the right to verbally bully someone. The teen’s parents were right there and witnessed the whole thing but said nothing. As parents we have to do better. We simply have to. If not I am truly afraid of where this world will end up.

To make my point clear- New York’s suicide rate is half the national average. Could it be because they don’t have to worry about being different? Could be.

Two Years, 730 Days

I am literally sitting here trying to decide what direction to go with this post. Part of me wants to write to Hudson and tell him all the things he has missed. Part of me wants to go on an angry rage and call out all the people that hurt Hudson, that have hurt us… but that won’t bring Hudson back. Part of me wants to write to all the people with the thoughts of suicide, to hopefully relate to them and get them the help they need, but I think regardless this post will help.

 Instead I think I will write to those who have also lost a child to suicide and to those that haven’t. If you have lost a child to suicide please know that this is only year two for me and to those that haven’t lost a child I hope you listen to my experience and do everything in your power to not find yourself here.  

On January 26, 2018 at 11pm you will have been gone 730 days. It feels like just yesterday. I have learned that time can be a very strange thing. In some moments I feel like I haven’t heard  Hudson or seen him in years but then the next moment I find myself expecting him to walk through the door.

I still talk about Hudson at any given opportunity. I see the looks that people give me, but talking about Hudson allows him to still be a part of my life. If you took a five second block of time imagine the first 2.5 seconds happy and reliving what my normal life was and then literally the next 2.5 seconds try to hold it all together after you just realized that isn’t your life anymore.

I don’t really wonder where our lives would be if Hudson was still here, dreaming hurts to bad. Instead I look back and try to remember the details of the relationship we had. I try to remember the little moments and I desperately try to remember his voice, the sounds he made, the way his hands always smelled like spit, the way he would laugh. I try to look back and find the signs I missed or ignored because “there is no way Hudson would ever do that”. When I can’t remember I sneak to the basement and open a bin with his worn white Nike high tops and clothes and I burry my head in the bin and just inhale, I often question whether it is him I am smelling or just what clothes that have been stored for two years smell like but none the less I smell and then breakdown and cry. Yes, two years in and I still cry weekly. I tear up daily, they just don’t always drop.

Two years and we speak his name daily in some way. Sometimes it is because we slip up and call Kellen Hudson. Mainly it is when Nora or Kellen do something or say something that reminds us so much of Hudson we often wonder if Hudson is living through his siblings. Nora was only 5 months old when Hudson passed but ask her where bubby Hudsey is and she will take you to one of three places:

1. His lantern where his picture rests

 2. The painting a family friend gifted us that is the ONLY family photo of all five us we have

 3. Her room (still trying to understand this one)

Before our loss I never thought to look for signs of lost loved ones, I haven’t really lost anyone. Now every time something strange happens my reaction is “Hudson”. When my radio at work goes from volume 7 to 15 or shuts off randomly. When our lights above the bar flicker on and off I think of Hudson and most days say his name aloud in a mom tone…almost like I know that’s you bud. When I look outside and it is -10 outside and see two cardinals and a squirrel I wonder if that is you. When every time we go to the cemetery we see wildlife or we get a picture perfect sign like Dad getting hit in the head with an acorn. It is almost like as a mother you are on guard a lot, always looking to make sure your children are safe so you take that habit and just turn that into looking for signs.

I have never dreamt of Hudson, well if I have I don’t remember. I think this is the hardest for me to understand. I want so desperately to see him and to know that he is ok to better understand the why behind his death.  I call it the “why circle” where it is just question after question that mainly start with why. It is horrible circle to get your head into and one where I could spend hours trying to figure it all out.

Something I have learned the last two years? Don’t be too hard on yourself. The first year I was numb, I truly was. I powered through and pushed myself entirely too hard. Year two I have allowed myself to grieve and allow my feelings to show versus pushing them down and putting my face on. I have really spent time working on who is worthy of my time. I have filtered out employers, friends and family because when I have a good day that day needs to be spent with those that truly need me. I value my time because I have learned the hardest lesson yet, time is something you can’t get back.

To those that are in this with me don’t be hard on yourself, take five minutes at a time. Everyone grieves differently; my triggers are not the same as my husbands. To those that don’t want to understand this ask the questions:

1.       Are you having thoughts of suicide

2.       Do you have a plan in place

3.       Have you attempted to end your life

Are they awkward to ask? Yes, they are. Is it also awkward to visit your child on Christmas day at the cemetery? Yes, it is awkward and horrible and nothing I wish on my worst enemies.

The rates are climbing in the wrong direction and sadly I still see parents that just don’t get it or think this will never happen to them. Well, I was one of those parents and now I know that suicide can happen to anyone and that when you lose a child to suicide your life… well your life… is hell.

Suicide and the Common Joke

Why is it ok? Why do we allow ourselves to continue making it ok? Don’t get me wrong I used to do it too and it wasn’t until our loss did it have an impact on me. That still doesn’t make it ok though.  I can single handily name each time over the past two years that someone made a reference to suicide in a joking manner.  I remember not because there are only a few instances but I remember because each time it happens it is permanently etched into my brain… the motions they make, the instant gut wrenching feeling, the thought of when I got the call… I remember because suicide is the life I live now. I don’t expect you to understand, I am thankful you don’t, but what I do expect is that you stop doing it. I expect that when you hear someone do it you take that as an opportunity to correct them.

Sunday we decided to watch a family movie. Kellen had never seen Home Alone and we thought he was the perfect age to watch and find it funny. What we didn’t realize is the suicide reference in it. Immediately Wes and I look at each other with disgust and inwardly cringe that Kellen doesn’t ask what that word is. To our knowledge he doesn’t know what suicide is, he doesn’t know what it means and he doesn’t know that Hudson ended his own life.

In 1990 in a child’s movie rated PG it references the child “committing suicide”. It just makes me wonder if a PG kid movie was released today would they allow that, sadly I think they would. What is even sadder? If they included it they wouldn’t also include resources or ways to get help.

Until we can end the stigma people will continue to hide their illness. We can’t continue making suicide a joke because I am here to tell you it is not funny. The death of our child is the saddest most depressing horrible thing that can happen to parents. So please stop making fun of it.

The Holidays

The holidays can be tough. They are especially tough for us. We had one of the best family xmas parties just days before Hudson ended his life. When we received these images from Libby at LookGood Inc. they brightened our day. We hope that one or all will speak to you and provide you with love, hope and sense that being different is a wonderful thing. 

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I want for nothing I need and on my worst days I will remember that.

My best nine- originally I thought no I am not going to do it then I thought at least look through your photos of the last year. I am glad I did. It reminded me that even though 2017 has been the hardest year of my 32 years of life there were still good moments.

I have a husband who loves me no matter what life puts us through. We push each other to be the best possible human. We parent together. We are each other’s #1. In 2018 we will be together for 11 years, which is an amazing thing for anyone to accomplish. I will focus on being there for him before he even knows he needs me. I will love stronger and harder. I will fight through my depression and anxiety and spend more time out versus date nights on the couch with take out. I will appreciate the nights he is home more. I will appreciate his travel schedule versus dreading it because it is the sacrifice he has to make to support us. I love you Wesley every day, even the extremely hard ones.

I have two amazing, strong and beautiful children. I will focus on them and be there for them. I will spend more individual time with each of them. I will be a better mom in 2018, they deserve that. I will create memories and traditions. I will also stop beating myself up when I have a bad mom day, instead I will accept it and navigate through it without disrupting their routine.

I have a family that will literally drop just about anything to be there at a moment’s notice. I have my Grandparents who will be 103 and 98. I remember when I graduated high school and thought how cool it is that they are alive to see this. I will make time for my family and specifically my grandparents. The last 24 months they have supported me and helped me through our darkest times. I would be lost without them. To the Pendleton’s and the Scott’s I know we don’t always show it or say it but truly thank you for everything you each have done.

I have friends that have stuck by my side through the worst times. They don’t bat an eye when I have to cancel plans or want to do nothing but talk about Hudson. A lot of people in my shoes have lost friends but my two best friends have stuck by my side with no questions asked. I will be better about being there for them instead of them always having to be here for me. We will continue our monthly girls nights as I always walk away from them appreciative of the break they provide.

I want for nothing I need and on my worst days I will remember that.

I hope that in 2018 we each learn to love better, to be kinder, to be happier and to be ourselves.

With my love,

Jenna

 

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Suicide and the Impact on Younger Siblings

A few years ago we took Kellen to a Purdue basketball game and it happened to be themed around Star Wars. He was wowed. Kellen has mentioned this particular game a few times each year wanting to know when it will happen again. When we learned they were doing it again we got tickets and Kellen was stoked!

Fast forward to the day of and light sabers were gathered, outfit was perfectly planned, and Kellen was in a great mood. Upon arrival all the characters were dressed up and taking pictures with the kids and adults. I assumed Kellen would want in on the action and we walked towards them. Kellen hesitated and said he just wanted to go to his seat. I assumed he was just overwhelmed because of all the people standing around or maybe he just wanted to get his light sabers out and put his coat down. Regardless, I didn’t think much of it and we walked towards our seats.

Once I really looked at Kellen I could tell something was very wrong. His face was pale and he just looked shocked. I asked him what was wrong and he explained that seeing the characters reminded him of Disney and Hudson.

It all made sense. When we went to Disney Kellen was 3 therefore Hudson walked with Kellen to all the character meet and greets being the amazing big brother that he was. It was truly an amazing vacation and memories were definitely made.

It rips me apart knowing that Kellen will always have triggers. It is not fair that he was looking forward to this event for years and within seconds it was ruined.

The pain that we endure every day as adults is one thing but we must not forget that Kellen is also up against this same pain.

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To the days where the physical and mental pain just can’t be masked.

I wish I could say that at 97 weeks things are better. I can say they aren’t worse and for that I am thankful. One of the first questions we asked after Hudson passed was when will we have some normalcy? We were told the second year… well that is bullshit. The first year I was numb, the second year I can feel every ounce of pain. In many ways the second year is worse than the first and I worry that the third and fourth will be the same.

I feel that we live in limbo- on one side it feels like forever since we last saw him but when I think two years it feels just like yesterday.

I still have moments where I think he is going to walk through the door and those moments hurt, but I think the worst part of it all is not being able to replay his voice in my head or remember how he felt or the crackle in his voice. I miss the sounds and the feeling when he would hug or sit next to you.

I still often wonder why us, why Hudson. What did I do to deserve this pain? November and December are horrible. I can replay moments from each week and knowing we will never have those moments again just breaks you. Traditions of family time, cooking, decorating, opening one present on Christmas Eve, always getting Hudson so he could share Christmas morning with us… I just can’t imagine how hard it is going to be the next few weeks.

Then of course after the holidays we have to plan how to remember Hudson on the two year anniversary. I shouldn’t be planning this… I should be planning birthdays and graduations… I truly don’t wish this life on anyone.

What can you do: when you see Wes and me as we try to get through the holidays and the two year mark I ask that you simply just be available for us. Every day the mask that we have had on most of the last year is cracking and pieces of it are falling. We know that our family and friends will be there for us but sometimes it is hard to express what we need, just be patient with us.

To those that are going to be surrounded by family and friends over the holidays I ask one thing of you. At some point during the hustle and bustle I want you to take a step back and soak up the memory that you are creating. I want you to take pictures no matter what. I want you to be kind and I want each and every one of you to know that you are loved, you have purpose and you are beautiful.

With my love,

Jenna

 

Holiday Photo

I will always remember this day. Seeing the post for a local nursery that was having Santa visit and deciding that even though Wes was gone I could totally handle leaving the house with the three kids.  I started to gather matching outfits and was shocked when Hudson didn’t bat an eye when I handed him one of Wes’s sweaters to wear. I was even more shocked when he didn’t seem upset he would need to have his picture taken. Looking back I really wonder if he knew… if he knew this would be the last Santa picture he would ever have. Did he know that this would be the last “professional” photo that we would ever have of all of our children? While this photo breaks my heart, truly breaks it. I am so thankful for it. It is in our entry 365 days a year, not just for the holidays. I know I have said this many times but take pictures. Take LOTS of pictures. GET IN THE PICTURES PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS and any and all FAMILY because pictures are priceless. 

 

 

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Kindness

Tis the season for kindness right? Well what if we lived in a world where we were kind most of the time. I was raised by a working class father and a stay at home mother. I never wanted for anything I needed. I always had a roof over my head and food in my belly and clothes on my back. I was also taught kindness. I was taught that I am not better than anyone.  I was also taught just because I didn’t have the latest Nike shoes on my feet it didn’t mean I couldn’t run as fast or be as good as the person who did.

Yesterday I went through the McDonalds drive through and it was brought to my attention that I was kind to the young person who handed me my drink. I treated her just like I would have treated my own mom. I asked her how her day was, I said thank you and I told her to have a great day. It took maybe 35 seconds of my time and little to no effort and I can promise you I made her day. 

I do this no matter where I am, it is something my children witness and they are both encouraged to interact as well. Nora will normally ask for me to roll down her window so she can simply say hi and thank you.

I guess I just don’t understand when we stopped appreciating our working class. When did it become okay to not say thank you to the employee working to ensure your happiness.  Better yet when did it become ok to not be nice and respectful to people? These are people we are interacting with… PEOPLE… HUMANS…

So next time you get your drink of choice or meal of choice remember the person taking your card, the person handing you your food are no different than you. You may sit at a desk versus a cash register but the same level of respect should be shared.  PLUS little ears might be around and showing kindness by example will only do great things for that little one.

So tis the YEAR we are kind, because right now our world needs all the kindness we can get.

The Brain.

The Brain.

The brain. Its power has been shown to me throughout my whole life but up until recently I never put two and two together. As a child I was shown the brain is a powerful thing when my mom struggled with depression and started taking medicine. I was shown again how powerful the brain is when my own Grandmother started to not remember things or get lost. Then I was shown how the brain can house an illness so bad that it took a life. Hudson’s life.

Seven Months

Seven Months

Wow.
7 months.
I thought 6 months would be hard… half a year. Well, 7 is harder. I often wonder if it will get easier. I doubt it, I may become more stable… but doubtful it will ever get easier. Grief is horrible, so horrible that at month 7 I am numb. I go days without emotion… just numb. Then out of nowhere reality hits and it hits hard. The days that I am numb I know its real, I know he is gone… but I have found a way that blocks all feelings that come with those statements.

Six Months

Six Months

6 months. Half a year. 26 weeks. 182 days. 4,368 hours no matter how you word it/think it that’s a really really long time. Being a suicide survivor is the single most hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. Hudson is the first thing I think of when I wake, he is the last thing I think of before falling asleep. Which is ironic because six months in and I have not had one dream, one vision or one sense of feeling that he is with me. It has taken 6 months for it to sink in, truly sink in. Sure, I have had moments where reality hit, but it has taken 6 months for that reality to not go away. I used to jam pack my day from the minute I got up to the minute I laid on the couch, literally every minute.

Three Months

Three Months

Sitting at my desk at work a few people are around at their desks, typically morning at Angie’s List. Phones sitting right next to me, as it usually is. I see that my husband is calling, which is not unusual when he is traveling. I knew instantly something was wrong, his voice was barley understandable. I at first thought he said that Hudson was in the hospital, so I responded as any mother would “which one I will go be with him until you can make it back” I thought he had attempted to harm himself again… then my husband uttered the most feared words a mother could hear “he is dead Jenna, Hudson is dead”.

Why a blog?

Why a blog?

Throughout the past 18 months I have written monthly chapters to update friends and family on where we are at mentally and physically with our pain. Some chapters are very personal and raw, some speak to those directly that have thoughts of suicide, and some are just a way for me to never forget. While I won't be sharing all 17 chapters with you, I have picked some that tell our story and will allow you to get to know what roll I played in Hudson's short life.