I choose to #doitforbrian
by Lisa Heath
(Fayetteville, NC, USA)
The story of us never dies!
The quality of one’s life is not determined by length but by depth. What that person brought to this world while they were here. I proudly say that my son Brian brought so much too so many the 17 years he was here on earth.
My story began on August 29, 1997 the day I was blessed this beautiful brown haired, blue eyed baby boy. The happiest day of my life. Fast forward 17 years later to November 7, 2014, the day my son was an auto accident and did not survive. The day my life as I knew it would be changed, forever.
The day started off like any other morning. I woke up, got ready for work, woke up Brian for school. Brian came downstairs while I was drinking coffee, all wet in his towel, asking me to iron his clothes for school that day. I, as usual, said "okay". As I was ironing his clothes I had a package sitting on the kitchen counter that was delivered the evening prior. New black boots. I told Brian as I was ironing that he could open the box for me. He opens the box and starts laughing and is like "mom, really these are ugly". I come in the kitchen and my god they were. We are both laughing and I bust out into song and sing " these boots are made for walking and that's just what I'll do and one of these days these boots will walk all over you" and as I'm singing I'm poking Brian. We're laughing. As he is laughing he hugs me and says "I love you". Looking back now at that morning I cherish that hug as it was the last time I would ever hug my son. I get in my car. Brian gets in his car and as I look at him he signs "I love you" with his hands. I signal back. Little did I know that a few hours later Brian would be gone.
The following weeks and months I just did not know how I was going to do this. How to live my life without him. If I even wanted to. Each day was filled with endless crying and the why him and how could this happen to such an amazing young man with his entire life in front of him. He was suppose to be getting ready to graduate high school in June, not be gone. Brian is my world. My life. My purpose. What is life without him.
And then it happened about six months later… The first time I laughed. I paused and thought to myself how can I be laughing. My son is gone and I'm laughing. I felt guilty. But then I realized me laughing didn't mean I have forgotten he was gone. It didn't make the pain in my heart hurt any less. It didn't make me not miss him any less. What it did mean is that I was still alive and that I could miss him, be heartbroken, and be in pain but yet still experience joy. Brian had a mother who was full of life. Who was ditsy, funny and who didn't take life or herself too seriously. What kind of mother would I be if he was looking down from heaven watching me deteriorate. Brian hated when he saw me upset. I know he would not want me to live the remainder of my life in sorrow, every single day. I had to accept joy and happiness again just like I had to accept the sadness and pain. I had to accept that while I was sad and crying that at the same time it was okay for me to laugh and enjoy life. Not an easy task to do hand in hand. It literally is like being on a roller coaster, which is funny because I hate roller coasters, Brian for years tried to get me on one, but that's what this journey is like. One minute I can be laughing having a good time and a couple hours later be on the couch crying because I miss my son so much. It took time to accept and truly understand that for me in my life now that sadness and happiness go hand in hand with each other and that's okay. It was okay for me to cry but it was also okay for me to laugh. I wasn't betraying my son or his memory by enjoying life still. Because of the relationship I have with my son the opposite would be true. I would be dishonoring him, our relationship, the bond and love we have if I chose to crawl into a ball, hide in a dark room and let what is the remainder of my life pass me by. Our love is too deep for me to allow that to happen. The first day I laughed after Brian's passing was the day I realized there was HOPE.
I learned so much about myself, about death and about love. Prior to that horrible day I had thought I knew all I needed to know about life, love, relationships, heartbreak. I was wrong. The funny thing about death is that it really does not tear two people apart. It never wins.
Here I am 28 months later living this life without Brian physically here with me. 28 months I have taken deep breathes holding onto the strength he left behind for me.
When people ask me how have I made this long, how have I been able to still be moving forward without Brian my answer is simple…...I don’t know. I know that isn’t the answer they want to hear but it is the most honest one.
There are no easy answers after we lose our child. There are no simple directions to follow. You do not go through the “stages of grief” after you lose a child and miraculously wake up after the last one and be like “Hooray, I made it, I am healed”. This will last a lifetime.
What I can tell you is that I have made it 28 months without Brian because I had no other choice but to. I made a choice to rise. I made a choice to take the tragedy of his death not have it mean everything. His death shakes me to the core. But his life, oh his life, brings me so much joy and smiles. 17 years of being his mom is the greatest gift I was ever given. The joy he brought to me, the laughs, the fun memories, the tears, the chats, just everything - there are so many moments that could never be taken away from me, that is what I try to focus on daily.
I have shed tears each day for 28 months. In the midst of my pain, I have learned to laugh again. I have learned to accept joy, in spite of the pain. I am continuously learning how to navigate through this world without my son. I fall, a lot. But I always get up.
If someone would have told me that I would still be here 28 months later after losing Brian in that car accident I would have told them they were crazy. But I am here. I am living, not just going through the motions each day.
My dad was right, I would find a new purpose. My purpose was Brian when he was alive. My purpose now, funny enough, is still Brian. The greatest lesson that I learned was that I may not be a mom in the typical sense as I was before when Brian was here, but I definitely have not stopped mothering Brian, in the spiritual sense. Death could not change that. Through me he lives on through all that I do for Brian in his name, memory and honor.
This makes me a mom. It makes me Brian’s mom.
Because I am Brian’s mom I choose to embrace the laughing, the smiles and the joy.
Today, like every day, I choose to #doitforbrian