I wish I could tell you that it gets easier, the truth is easier it will not but in time you will learn how to navigate the pain that we endure every single day of our lives. Today is 11/27/2017 and this day and nearly at this moment that I write this marks 22 months from the moment that I heard the vibration of my phone on a hotel night stand, on the other end, the most painful words I had ever heard were screamed through the phone. It’s those moments that so often won’t go away for me, the vibration of a phone ringing, the scream of anyone anywhere reminding me of the panic and hysteria of that morning. There are so many hours that I still spend retracing my steps, rethinking my actions, wondering was it one misstep or was there something more I could have done? What I’m able to recognize now is that it wasn’t one thing, it was a collection of things and years of pain that he had endured and suffered through, provoked by a multitude of challenges for his young mind.
As I mention the mind I think it’s fair that I share a bit about the progression of my mind and the stability of my overall mental health to help you understand how I'm progressing. Nearly 2 years in, I now recognize that holidays of any sort will always be the toughest of times, probably forever. I was recently afforded the opportunity to do some work in the Bahamas the week of Thanksgiving, the work was conveniently happening at the world class Atlantis resort which seemed like the perfect opportunity for a funded family vacation. We had travelled away both late season holidays last year so it seemed right to do it again. We have only been on one other family vacation since losing Hudson and that was in July of 16, just over 5 months after our loss and it was a very painful experience for me. The pain was too fresh, the thoughts were too unstable, the placement of a room on a high floor only lead to an ongoing temptation to join Hudson. There were memories with family but my mind was nowhere near ready for that. Fast forward to last week and I can tell you the experience was much different. We arrived on Monday afternoon and got settled into our room. Again, a high floor with a balcony and not a single thought of leaving the beautiful family that I was surrounded by. Instead, I disconnected from my regular work and focused on the people around me. The serenity and peace of the islands and everything around me was truly an escape from everything that I needed a break from. Myself at peace enough with our loss to allow me to finally rest my own mind and allow my soul to breathe. Looking back, I truly enjoyed my time. I did have a very rough Thanksgiving day but only in the sense that I couldn’t stand a holiday without Hudson. That's major progress to me when I look back.
While my experience and mood was very relaxed on our trip, our younger son had a bit of a rough time on one of the evenings. Jenna somehow convinced me that we would take some family pictures on our second night there. So, as planned on Tuesday evening, we all dressed up and headed for the beach. While I knew it would be very hard to get through pictures, I didn’t expect what would happen next. Shortly after a few pics were taken, Kellen got down and started drawing in the sand, he starting writing Hudson’s name in the sand and I immediately knew that he was reminiscing of a past time, 9 months before we lost Hudson when we took an unplanned spring break trip to Florida to focus on our family that had just learned of Hudson’s struggle with depression. Kellen drew many letters and pictures but couldn’t hold his emotions in any longer and hysterically bursted into tears when we asked if he was ok. Hudson had not been mentioned to this point and he simply couldn’t hold in his pain of memories with his hero. We used some of his coping techniques to get him to express what he was feeling with us and it was as I had expected, he said he hated the beach because his best memories of it were with Hudson. We continued on that evening and enjoyed a great dinner with family but for the next 2 days he refused to go near the beach. On our final day there, we were able to get him to the beach with the 4 of us to play in the sand and create some new memories, he walked away sharing that he really enjoyed that time.
I share this level of detail in my life and progress because lately I’m constantly hearing these things from people that are driving me absolutely mad, things like: oh stop being negative, don’t look so down, you need a hug or something, what’s wrong... or comments like: I’d shoot myself if, he was suicidal, and the gun to head motion…. I could go on and on with the things said and done every day to me that prove no one understands what this feels like or takes into consideration my experiences. What I want anyone living this life to understand is that those questions and statements will never stop being, no one that hasn’t experienced this will ever understand why I’m not ok on many days. Yes, nearly 2 years later and I still have some of the most up and down weeks as I had 22 months ago. The lows aren’t as low and the highs last longer but in the end I realize that this is my life and no one else will ever understand it, I'm the only one that can see me through this. For those guilty of not getting it, it's quite simple. Learn to be compassionate, learn to respect that sometimes people aren’t ok, recognize that there are days when someone could really be struggling and there is a right and a wrong way to approach them. Don’t call it out unless you’re prepared to extend your hand and help them through it. This is only one small view of one of the many challenges presented to us in life since our loss, not even scratching the surface of a typical week in our home but somehow some way we will cont;nue!
I want to say thank you to my wife Jenna for standing with me through this all, I hope all of us getting to rest our minds will help us through the next 2 very challenging months with Christmas and our 2 year “angelversary” on 1/26/18. I love you!
I’ll try to keep sharing when I can, much love to you all and thanks for taking the time to read.
If you are struggling to see through your pain or have lost hope, please reach out for help. Let those of us that know this pain all too well assure you that you are loved and nothing in life can’t be overcome with the love and support of those that are trained to help you through this.
Together, we will get through this.
Resources are available at https://www.projecthudson.org/get-help/
Peace and Love to you all,