To the moon and back

by adelia devitt barker

jonathon larry duane devitt

jonathon larry duane devitt

jonathon larry duane devitt
me and jonathon 3 years ago
in memory of jonathon
jonathon on stage

Click on each photo to enlarge.

I lost my son almost 7 months ago. November 10,2011. He was 23 years old I live in texas. He had moved to MA. He called me to ask me if he should go to the ER because he had run a high fever the night before and was really feeling bad with a severe head ache and a stiff neck. I am a RN. I knew the possibilities. I told him to go to the ER right then. He went. But it was too late. He was put in a drug induced coma and care flighted to MA general. I pickedup his sisters from school and drove the hour and a half to the airport. I left texas at 525pm. I got to MA at 1030pm. The news was not good. But there were more tests to run. Bacterial meningitis. Swelling of the brain stem. I was told. I went to his bed side. As a nurse i knew. More tests or not; my baby boy, my best friend, was gone. Oh, his body was there, but he had no more medications on board yet he was not responding. Not to my voice. Not to my touch. Not to pain. His pupils were fixed and dilated. I am a nurse, and as a nurse i knew he was gone. But as his mother i begged god to save him.

I was alone there. 2000 miles from home. From anyone i knew. I was blessed with the staff of MA general. The doctors, nurses, social worker, priest and even the guy at the desk that watched me make a million trips outside all night. I would get so upset i would have to go down stairs and outside to catch my breath. Needed the cold wind and rain at one point to remind me this was real.

When the doctors told me he was brain dead and asked what my wishes were i already knew what to say. My son had told me of his wishes should something like this ever happen. He told me then it would be the hardest thing i ever did but if there were no hope then i had to let him go. I honored his wish. The promise i made to him. It was the hardest thing i ever had to do.

I was asked about organ donation. I said yes. He had a huge heart and i believed its what he would have wanted. I found out later that was also his wish. He was a registered donor.

The organ donation people were as amazing as the hospital staff. They made imprints of his hands for me and my girls. Locks of hair and EKG tracings. They cared for him and about me and jonathons sisters.

My parents and husband arrived 2 days after me. As did my best girlfriend of 32 years. Sherry flew into Boston. She was there the day jonathon was born to help welcome him into this world and she came to help me tell him good bye.
We packed his things. Got his car ready to tow home. And drove 2000 miles home. 3 days in a truck. 3days to have to think about a funeral. 3 days to figure out how to explain to 3 teen age girls why i couldnt bring their brother home. I promised them i would. I will bring bubba home. I brought him home, just not the way i promised them i would.

I never dreamed i would plan a funeral for my son. I held out hope until the end. I begged pleaded and tried to bargain with God until the bitter end. But plan a funeral is what we did. Hannah, Hope and Jasmine (jonathons sisters) helped every step of the way. The casket and his clothes were picked out with him in mind. Jeans, a t shirt with a sarcastic saying and a longsleeve shirt over it. And his red converse shoes. His trade mark in fashion. His flowers were purple and black and green his favorite colors. On the program there was a poem. It was from a wallet card i had given him many years before and it was in his wallet still. We asked the clergy to please dress down. He was casual. His service was as well. We made a big posterboard to sit out with a bunch of pictures of him for people to see and a journal for people to write their favorite memories in. My sweet friend JJ printed a picture of him with a scripture to put on the casket at the service. We played Pink Floyd and Whootie and the Blowfish at his service. Along with mandisa and rebecca st. James. The service reflected him. Thats how we wanted it.

Along this journey i have taken i have seen so many people open up and share their kindness. Donations to help with the funeral. Sherrys boss paying for her plane ticket and then in december giving her money to give to me so my girls could have christmas. A stranger in the airport giving me a 20 and telling me to eat something. Total strangers hugging me and praying for me and my family. My family and friends who took care of my girls while i was gone. The countless text messages and emails on facebook sharing their sympathy. The people that share with me that they have become organ donors because of my sweet baby. What a memorial to him.

I see the good things, but my heart is still shattered. I am angry and sad. I get overwhelmed with my grief. It brings me to my knees. I dont sleep well. I dont eat well. I function. I go to work and take care of my girls. But i dont think i really live any more. I function. At the end of the day i think to myself thats just one day closer to seeing my son again. Thats how i function now. Not only did I lose my son and my best friend, i lost myself too. I look in the mirror now and i dont know who that is looking back. The sadness engulfs me at times and i let the tears fall. No matter where i am, they fall. Holding it in is not an option. Some people embrace me when that happens. They hold me and they listen. Some people turn away. A mothers grief is too much for some people to bear i guess.

Jonathon was a stage hound. He loved acting. I have his plays on disk. And they are also on you tube. I cant watch them yet. I sleep in his shirts. Have his random collections of stuff in my sewing room and the guest room. I carry his wallet in my purse. I drive his car. Although that has been promised to his sister who is almost 16. I have the last clothes he wore folded on my dresser. I just cant seem to move them. They have been there since i got home. I hold on to the socks and scarf he knitted for me. The scarf was to be my christmas present this last year. He had told me he finished it a few weeks before he died. I had my lens put in his frames and i wear his glasses sometimes.

It hurts. To see his sisters struggle with his death. It hurts to not get the texts he sent every day. Or the phone call that seemed to always come when i had just walked in the bathroom. We used to laugh about the fact that even 2000 miles away i still couldnt go to the bath room alone. I miss his voice. His smile. His bigger then life dreams. His courage. His ability to always tell me "dont cry momma. It will be ok" and me believe it.

In his memory i promote organ donation.i have bumper stickers and pins i give away. Be a hero. Donate life. In his memory i wear a charm necklace that says i love you to the moon and back. It has his name. And his dates. It has one birth stone for the month he was born and one for november, his birthday in heaven.
Someday...i will hear that sweet voice and feel those sweet arms and look into those big blue eyes again. I will hear him say "i love you momma. To the moon and back". I believe that with all i am. He is waiting for me.

What i dont know is how do I learn to live again until that day comes?

Comments for To the moon and back

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Dec 29, 2012
by: Anonymous

i am so sorry adeila. i have not lost a child, but i typed jonathons name into google tonight because i miss him and i found this. this broke my heart. i hadnt heard u speak so openly since before he died. i am so sorry this happened, and i wish i could have done something more to help u. love u.

Jun 08, 2012
Suggestions Anyone?
by: Anonymous

OK. I find you here, just like me, absolutely broken. My 19 year old son died 4 Dec 10. We were an extremely close family of 6, and all feel the gaping hole in our midst where our beloved son and brother was. I was extremely outgoing and have become reclusive and only venture out when encouraged to do so by friends. It seems to require more energy than I can muster.
So, everybody, what can we do to help ourselves? Like the airlines say: 'apply your own mask, then help your children'. I am sensible to the fact the pain will never leave me, however I also know this present level of intnesity cannot be endured forever. I want some practical tips!! Anybody??!! Apart from journal writing (which I don't find helpful) I have been unable to unearth much.
I adored absolutely everything about my son, but I cannot have him back. I must find a way, or new mindset, to help me to help myself out of this deep, dark, sad, sad, sad place I presently inhabit. I pray, I exercise, I eat carefully. I love and am loved. Still, it is not enough.
Any suggestion, big or small would be appreciated.
Love to all who have the misfortune to understand me. xx

Jun 03, 2012
our sons
by: Anonymous

Adelia...thank you from the bottom of my the moon and back...for donating your beautiful son's organs. I lost my son 8/9/10 but I was given 2 precious more years with him because some wonderful parent donated their child's liver to my son. Dimitri was 23 when he died...21 when he had his transplant. We still don't know what happened to his liver. They biopsied it after it was removed and there was no conclusive diagnosis....he went to bed healthy and woke up in liver failure. He then went into bone marrow failure and then leukemia and then 10 weeks after that last diagnosis he died. I will always wonder how a healthy 21 year old boy suddenly developed so many horrible illnesses....however...that is not what I really wanted to say....I wanted to say thank you for what you did. It is people like you who give other parents a second chance even if it's only for two years.
Shirley, mom of a brave cancer warrior

Jun 01, 2012
This is for Adelia, Jonathon's mom
by: lue, jacob's mom

Your story made me cry. I lost my son to cancer 3/30/01 and 11 years later I still cry because I miss Jacob so. I couldn't sleep tonight and found this website. There are alot of things I could say to you, but I wrote this poem several years ago and it gives me comfort sometime and I hope it will you in some way.
The Angel that Mends Broken Hearts
An angel came to see me today and sat down by my bed, she said she is the angel that mends broken hearts and to please raise my head. She wiped the tears away that was flowing down my cheek, and with the most calming voice she began to speak. She said she knows my losses and agreed there were many, but reminded me of my wins, she was right there had been plenty. Yes, your child has gone but he is with the Lord, he knows only joy and love now and peace is his reward.Then she patted me on the shoulder and said look up to the sky, whenever your heart overflows it's banks and you begin to cry. Your son is now looking down on you and wants to let you know that the Lord and he are with you where ever you may go. Well I've got to leave you mother so remember to keep your faith strong, and the Lord will come for you someday to take you where you belong.

I will write you again if I can, take care,lue

May 31, 2012
So sorry for your loss
by: Cathy

Hi, I am so sorry for your loss, i just wish we did not have to go through this agony of losing our beloved children. Life is really very unfair. They had so much to live for, so much to do. I lost my angel Brandon on 18/10/11. This is day i will never forget till my dying day. Many people offer condolences, share in the grief, but no one can take away the pain that is in your heart, it is ours to keep forever. I dont think i can ever be my former self smiling and saying hi to everyone, i went through many hardships but nothing can compare to the pain of losing your child. My son was 21 . I do hope our angels can see how much we love them and miss them every day and how we long to be with them. Even though i have three more children, i just miss my angel so much, that i just wait for the day when i will be with him again. God bless u.

May 31, 2012
by: Cathy

Hi, I am so sorry for your loss, i just wish we did not have to go through this agony of losing our beloved children. Life is really very unfair. They had so much to live for, so much to do. I lost my angel Brandon on 18/10/11. This is day i will never forget till my dying day. Many people offer condolences, share in the grief, but no one can take away the pain that is in your heart, it is ours to keep forever. I dont think i can ever be my former self smiling and saying hi to everyone, i went through many hardships but nothing can compare to the pain of losing your child. My son was 21 . I do hope our angels can see how much we love them and miss them every day and how we long to be with them. Even though i have three more children, i just miss my angel so much, that i just wait for the day when i will be with him again. God bless u.

May 31, 2012
by: adelia devitt barker

Its horrible and comforting all at the same time to know i am not alone in the way i feel.
Like u i look around sometimes and wonder where everyone went. Do they think that just because the funeral is over so is my heart ache!?
Grief seems like a really lonely place. I feel like the world has gone on yet i am stuck. Stuck in this place where nothing feels right any more.
Jonathon was my oldest and only son as well. And our relationship was so much different then that of my girls. I feel lost without him.
I will keep u and your family in my prayers. If you ever want to just talk feel free to email me any time.
I am also on face book. Adelia devitt barker.

May 31, 2012
Life awaits you
by: Cindy Newport News Va.

Your boy is beautiful, I'm so sorry. I often come here to read comforting stories that let me know that I am not alone on my journey of grief. My only child Dylan died March 21, 2011 from a misdiagnosed appendix rupture, he was 27. It was so sudden and I, like you had little time to deal with it (his story is here if you want to read it, "My Dylan, my only, my love and my life"). Your story touched me deeply because rarely do I run across one that portrays how much I have suffered, a human being should never have to suffer so much. My son was my best friend too, and I am a stranger to life now that he is gone. It's such a wierd feeling isn't it? Mothers go through so much when their children die because it is "built in" for us to care and nurture; we are life givers, and to see our beloved child die untimely is against all that we are. I know you are hurting tremendously. Everything you are going through, I have been through (and still am). Know this; The same God that has taken our children unto Him has given us a miracle that lives deep inside our souls. That miracle is the power that all mothers have ... love of life. Cling to it and nurture the lives left behind (including your own). Whenever you are overwhelmed with grief, remember Jonathan's voice. Listen, and he will tell you I love you mom, don't get mired down in this. He would want you to rejoin life; its why we are here. I chose to live my life for both of us. I allow myself to be sad whenever I feel sad but I actively grieve by attending a faith based support group, and I go to a wonderful grief counselor. It has helped so much to be with others who walk with me. The key to healing is to know what the next step in your grief journey is, or at least to understand that what is happening in the wake of this tragedy is normal. I tell you these things because I care, and I know that one day you will come out into the light again. Reach out! Love and life await you.

May 31, 2012
I understand
by: carol,seans mom

Adelia, Unfortunately for me I know your pain. I lost my 24 year old son on November 15,2011.He did not wake up for a night shift. Unlike you Sean's organs could not be saved because he had a blood clot that went threw his body destroying his organs. He never regained consciousness and for that I am thankful. He did not know and did not suffer. We are all suffering for him. Like you I have girls that need their mom. Sean was the oldest of three and my only son. I loved him so much. I also miss the phone calls at the worst times and his text messages. I continued to text him everyday after he died. I could not and still do not believe it some days. Now they gave his phone number away and I am devastated. There were so many supporters when he died, his wake and funeral were huge. Now six months later where is everybody? When you lose such an important part of your world so fast and suddenly everyone comes out of the woodwork but now they have all retreated. We are left to live this life without him and it seems everyone has just moved on. It is sad and painful. I am fighting with alot of anger and depression. I don't socialize anymore. I was once a problem solver, a positive person. I thought I had it all. Now I also just exist. I am there for my two daughters because they have suffered such a loss also. I hope our boys knew how much them being here impacted our worlds. I pray we both find some peace and I truly hope we will see them again some day. I miss his beautiful eyes and sincere smile. I miss his laugh, his sarcasm, and just the way he called me all the time. I love and miss my Sean Patrick so much. Life is so unfair!!! Thinking of you and your family.

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