small mercies

I tried to adult today. It didn’t go very well. By adulting, I mean I tried to fill out paperwork regarding Dylan’s CPP death benefits. I also had planned on making some phone calls regarding his work pension and other financial issues but that didn’t happen either. Then, I thought I would try writing some thank you cards but after staring at them for at least an hour, I gave up on that idea, too.

I am numb. I feel as though I am walking around the house in a fog. I wonder if this is what a zombie feels like, what it’s like to be living dead. It’s morbid, I know, but these are the kind of thoughts that go through my head. I have no expression. My face feels blank. My eyes are dead. I see but I don’t see what could be right in front of me. It’s just the way it is right now. I know it will get better in time. I cut myself some slack because I promised myself that I wouldn’t put any unnecessary pressure on myself. I have to do it this way if I am going to survive this.

My stomach is in knots most of the time and I usually feel like I am going to be sick several times a day. I eat because Mark puts food in front of me but I do not taste it. It is just a means to an end, something I must do in order to survive this horrible and heartbreaking tragedy. Survive it I will. It is just going to take time.

Time. Tick tock. Tick tock.

I spent most of the afternoon sitting outside on the deck. Being in the house is claustrophobic and smothering. I cannot breathe properly inside the very walls that should be bringing me comfort and making me feel safe right now but they don’t. My chest often feels like it is going to explode if I stay inside for too long. The fresh air reminds me of Dylan and it helps me better understand what the outdoors meant to him, why he often told me that being outside was the only place he could truly breathe, could truly clear his head.

I have stopped pacing, at least. I stopped the minute Dylan’s ashes were returned to me. I know where he is now and that has lessened my anxiety tremendously. Thank goodness for small mercies. I know a blessing when I see one.

It has been a rough twenty-four hours. Ryan and his dad flew out to Edmonton early yesterday morning to pack up Dylan’s belongings and to decide what to do with his furniture and such. In order to do this, Ryan texted me several photos of Dylan’s personal belongings. When I first looked at them, I felt like I had been sucker punched right in the gut. I cried. I hyperventilated. I screamed inside my head. I was sick. I cried some more. And then I took a deep breath and looked at them as I would regard a shelf of store items in our local hardware store. Decisions had to be made for we only had a small window of time, less than twelve hours, to work in.

We went back and forth over several phone calls deciding what to do with everything from a few books to clothing, snowshoes to a rugby ball, blankets to food, furniture to a Star Wars shower curtain, a laptop to a bowl of spare change on his nightstand, receipts to a coffee maker, a television set to some video games. These were the things that made up Dylan’s life and now we were making arrangements about what we wanted shipped back to Ontario, back to home, back to me, and about what we would donate or sell. At least looking at the the shower curtain made me smile. Another small mercy for which I am grateful.

Dylan’s life was packed up into two boxes and two duffle bags this morning, not very much if you think about it. He lived a life of simplicity and was never distracted by material things. I always admired that about him and is something I will continue to admire. He tried to be present in each and every moment of his life and he enjoyed the time he spent with those he loved without being encumbered by things. “They are just things, Mom. They really don’t mean anything to me. I have only what I need,” he would often say to me.

But these things, his things are not just something to me, they are everything to me. These are the things I will treasure for the rest of my life and will keep close to my heart. I plan on having a quilt made from his many ‘town shirts’ and maybe even pillow or two which I can hug when I need to be near him. These ‘things’ are the small mercies to come out of a senseless and terrible and horrible and heartbreaking tragedy whose only purpose will now be to comfort me in the days ahead as I mourn him and miss him and remember him and love him and smile because of him.

Small mercies. Thank goodness I have them. Thank goodness I can see them despite my numbness, despite my grief, despite myself.

Thank goodness.


My baby is still not home with me. This has me frantic with worry. It is similar to when the boys were teenagers and I would be lying in bed waiting to hear the back door creek open so that I knew they were home safe and sound after a night out with their friends. This worry, however, is a kazillion times worse. It makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t sleep because I am wondering where he is right at this very moment. I need to know where he is. I need to know that he is on his way back to me. I need proof that this is truly happening. I need. I need. I need.

All I do is pace. I can’t sit still, yet, I can’t accomplish anything either. My FitBit hasn’t had to remind to get my hourly steps in because I am way ahead of its schedule. It must wonder just what the hell has happened to me because, prior to this, it has had to remind me to get my steps in way more times than I’d care to admit. I will soon have a path worn in the floor.

I have fallen off the sugar wagon with an explosive thud. Mark and I had given up sugary treats and desserts back in September and now I can’t shovel it into me fast enough. There have been so many delicious pies and cakes and other delectable goodies delivered to our house and, since I know they are there, I cannot stay out of them. The more I eat, the more I want. The more I devour it, the more I berate myself. I had two pieces pie for breakfast the other day. Pie! For the love of God and all things holy, what is the matter with me?

It hit me in the early hours of this morning. Each and everyone of these baked goods has been made and delivered with love. Wonderful, kind and generous people are reaching out to me in ways that I will never be able to adequately express just what their kindness has meant to me. The best I can say right now is that you are sustaining me. Food and words and cards and messages of condolences and sharing your memories of Dylan with me are filling me up and making me feel as whole as I possibly can right now. You are making the excruciating pain of his loss somewhat easier to bear. Thank you for that.

I debate about whether I should be sharing this with you. Maybe it’s too much. Maybe it’s too raw. Maybe it will help somebody else going through this horrible, devastating and excruciating grief. All I know is that I am driven by the written word and if I do not put my thoughts and feelings to paper, I will lose this moment forever. I cannot lose another thing in my life right now. I am barely existing as it is and one more loss, whether minuscule or not, could be the very thing that pushes me over the edge.

I feel like I am rambling. I feel like I am lost in the deepest chasm there is on this earth and I am never going to get out of it. My mind wanders and I zone out when I know I should be paying attention. I can’t help it. My world has been turned upside down and it is never going to be the same again. I know that I will have to adjust to a new normal, a new normal that I would do anything to turn the clock back on so that I wouldn’t have to go through it. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but the reality of my new existence scares the ever living daylights right out of me.

Nothing in life prepares you for this moment. Every challenge, every painful experience and every stupid little thing I thought was a big thing up until I heard the words, “Dylan’s gone,” was absolutely positively nothing in comparison to this. This. This is raw. This is excruciating. This is the absolute worst.


Thank you for bearing with me. Thank you for listening. Thank you for being my calm in a raging storm that feels like I am going to be trapped in forever. Thank you for telling me that once Dylan’s celebration of life events are over and how, when everyone else’s lives go back to normal, you will be there for me because, goodness knows, I am going to need you if I am ever going to survive this.


I will survive.


if only it was a dream

I have been watching life go by in slow motion this week. One way I can describe it is that it has been similar to watching a dream sequence in a movie. Another way is to think back to one of those movies you’ve seen where the momentum of the story is slowed down in order to emphasize a particularly poignant moment. Another thing I can add to that description is that it also feels like I am on the outside looking in on someone else’s life but it’s difficult to see what exactly is going on because the window is so thick with brown, disgusting dirt and dust that I know I am missing the important parts of the show. Surely, this cannot be my life right now.

And yet it is.

I have watched people go about their daily lives, bustling around, smiling, laughing, some not so happy, others seeming impatient while standing in line, angry for no reason, others oblivious to anyone else in the world except themselves. All are unaware of my broken heart, unaware of the deep cavernous grief I am experiencing at this very moment. I want to scream at them, yell at the top of my lungs “DON’T YOU KNOW MY SON JUST DIED?” I don’t, of course; yet I cannot help but wonder just how the hell life can go on for everyone else while my has stopped?

And yet it does.

Dylan _ square photoMy beautiful, cherished and much loved son died suddenly but peacefully in his sleep on July 29, 2017 from a intracerebral hemorrhage sustained from a fall down his stairs. He was 28 years old. Much too young, much too vibrant, much too full of my dear, sweet boy, much too full of everything to be gone.

And yet he is.

There is nothing on the face of this earth that can prepare you for this kind of pain nor is there anything that can take this crippling and nauseating and excruciating and gnawing and heavy and raging and tortuous and violent pain away. It feels as though my heart has been ripped from my chest, twisted, squeezed and crushed on its way out. There are moments when I cannot breathe, so many moments when I feel like I am going to be sick. I only eat when food is placed in front of me. I have no taste, no desire to nourish my body. I want to curl up in my bed and never come out of my room ever again.

And yet I do.

Sleep is elusive. The first few days after Dylan died I was afraid to close my eyes for fear that I wouldn’t see him if I did. Where would he go if I closed my eyes? How would he know I was thinking about him every minute of my day if I was sleeping? Last night, I managed a few hours of sleep in a row rather than the five to ten minute chunks of sleep I have been getting. My first thought upon waking at 3:00 a.m. was, where is he?

And yet I knew.

Dylan at the Ocean

He is in my heart, my soul, my very being. He will be in the sun that rises and sets each and every day and he will be in the gentle breeze that blows through my hair. He will be in each raindrop and snowflake and leaf that falls for the weather never bothered him. He will be in my laughter, my tears, my dreams, my very breath, and in every single thing I do from this day forward. He will be there encouraging me to get up on the days I do not want to. He will be there urging me on, one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time, when the last thing I will want to do is carry on with my life.

And yet, somehow, I will.

AND I will carry on, not only for me but for Dylan as well because that is what he would have wanted. I will carry on for my husband, Mark, and for my sons, Ryan and Liam because that is also what they will want and need. I need to survive this. I must survive this. I have to survive this.

And I will.

Dylan and Me
This is the last picture of Dylan and me together, taken December 31, 2017, Edmonton, AB.

Dylan would expect nothing less from me and that’s just the way it’s going to be.


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