HE DIED IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WAY...
01 January, 2012
Today is the first day of January, 2012. We made it, we all made it into the New Year.
Every year at this time... I pay attention to who 'makes it into the new year' that I know, or know of.
Every year at this time the thought 'I made it'... goes through my mind. I'm so thankful to have made it. I love to live ...though for some time now... I haven't been the happiest.
Last night I was looking at photos of Tommy, my only child. I was thinking 'he didn't make it into New Year 2011... and now, it is year 2012. As I looked at the photos of him so proudly holding Taban, his newborn son... he always knew he'd be there for him. We knew he'd always be here.
Life is so fragile and it doesn't matter how big, how strong, how poor or rich you are...... it's so easy for one of us to become sick or to be sick... and die. One can be so sick and not know it, and like Tommy... collapse into the world of permanent darkness... never to come back to the ones he meant the world to.
I can't tell you in words the grief my heart has held since he died. If you could measure my feelings, the grief and the heartache... that words can't describe....... the pain of it all would make you fall to your knees. You would find it so difficult to get back up with the weight of my pain. I carry this everyday 'inside' where no one can see it. Skip sees and knows, and even now, he says that he is careful to talk about Tommy because he knows I'll get upset. It's okay, I have to speak of Tommy.. he was a real person, and he was my person... my son.
One has to be strong ..to make it this far after the death of a child, your only child. I know.... I almost wasn't.
Tommy died May 29, 2010 when he collapsed on the sand at Myrtle Beach... he and Taban were on the beach running, laughing and playing. Thankfully, there were people nearby to witness seeing him and Taban ... this very tall, blonde-headed guy running and laughing and playing with his small 3 year old son.
Those people who were there made the difference in Taban's life... I'm so thankful for them. What would have happened to Taban, if they weren't there?
We met a man recently whom we liked very much. His name was Phillip. He is a free spirit, an open spirit. I listened with interest as he talked to Skip, then began to talk to me.
He told me something that I'd thought of alot and am so thankful for.... Tommy died in such a way that most people would want their loved ones... themselves to die. The man, Phillip, said with such feeling 'he died in the most beautiful way, we all would want to die in that way'.
I looked at the man when he said that ... and I said 'yes, he did die in the most beautiful way'. Only Skip and I had spoken of that and now, since it all happened, here was the first person to actually come out and... say in words 'he died in the most beautiful way, we all would want to die in that way'.
I liked that man and I liked the way he spoke. His eyes were of the deepest blue and what struck me was the ... sincerity I saw in them. His eyes were 'like our eyes', they held kindness and compassion in them. You know how sometimes in life you will meet that rare person who is alot like yourself... here, was a 'good' man. I appreciated the opportunity of meeting this man even for the short time we talked with him. I do believe he may have been an angel of sorts........ my heart heard him.. and that's unusual. He was sincere.
Recently, another person who is rare, came into my life for a second time. We met her a year ago in 2010, months after Tommy died. We had occasion to be at her home and though 'back then' is like a dream to me... I never forgot the feeling I had about her. What's so strange... she felt it, also.
I can't describe what I felt back then, toward her. I do remember thinking I wish I had more people like that in my life. She seemed so real, and like me.
I sensed in her as she talked.. this person 'knows pain and grief'... she's been there and she doesn't use 'empty' words. I cared about her as she talked and... I felt this... through my grief. Strange, I know... but, she 'stood out to me' in the most quietest, softest and special way. I thought even then... one would like to have friends like her. In colors... she would be the softest pastels one could imagine... special colors so soft but, really stand out because they are so special... but, only a few people would take the time to see them... only the people who could appreciate them. They are rare... indeed.
Of course, we went our own way since then, until the latter part of this summer when 'again'... our lives touched. The words she said to me touched my heart and I 'saw, felt, and heard' her again.... and 'knew inside my heart'... that she and I have a bond woven in compassion, strength, grief, love and just caring. It's a bond of the strongest kind.
I did as I always did when people would begin to get close to me, I begin to push away knowing that I can't share my life, my life hasn't ever been like everyone's normal life, and I could never relate to anyone.... because they can't share what my life has held.
Knowing that... I never tried to make friends, excepting 'public' friends. You know how special they are... they are always wonderful when you meet them in public... at home they might not really.. like you.
These friends are more wonderful because they demostrate how much they just love you... when other people are around. I won't talk bad about these kind of friends... we all need them... or how else would we 'appear' to be such wonderful people if these friends weren't around to 'show' them... in the meantime, show how good a friend they are.
We all have to have them... because we might never get close enough to other people in our lives either because we can't or we don't choose to. At least, when we need a pat on the back or a smile, or a hug....... we can 'just go out' and there they are... our friends! Yes, they do mean alot... they can make you feel liked and loved and important for a little while. Personally, I'm thankful for them.......... :))))) Sometimes.. they make me feel like 'somebody'....... :)))))))
This woman was different. I told her that I'm not the kind of person who can 'just go out with another woman friend to have lunch or coffee', or to go shopping and all the things women do. I can't do it... it's not 'me'.
I was so amazed to find out that she... understood perfectly. She is alot like ...me. She accepted me as I am.... and I accept her as she is. We... just are. We don't have to feel the pressure 'friends' put on each other... we ...just are. We are just ourselves ... we just are. Brett, it's so nice to be... the rare kind of person it takes for each of us... to be special friends. We 'just are'........
I remember vaguely talking to Brett just after Tommy's death ... I was so deep into grief that it's a wonder I could even talk to another human soul. I didn't expect to really hear the 'real' things she said to me... she had been 'there', too. I heard it, I could feel it and I couldn't look long... I 'saw' it.
I stayed away from ... people. I grew so tired of hearing the things people said in ignorance of not knowing how it is to lose a child. I know how you feel... I understand... oh, things are going to be alright... you've got to come out of this... why, it's been 2 weeks and you're still like this!
Now... when I see some of these people... I turn and walk in the opposite direction... they are 'empty' people who use 'empty' words. Truthfully, during a conversation with these people.. if I were talking I would just simply quit talking, so weary of of talking to 'empty' space. I would find my way away from them. They only care for what's in their mind... I can understand. We are all different and we all dance to a different beat in our lives.
I stayed away from people because if that was all they could say because they knew nothing else to say... I didn't want them in my life. They didn't know how I felt, they didn't know the first thing about losing a child. I was grieving in the most awful way but, I could hear the light-hearted way and flip way of telling me they understood.
What's strange is that I never asked anyone to listen to me so, I could cry and talk... they didn't know anything. If they'd never spoken to me at all... it'd been alright, I didn't share my feelings with them to begin with. I have to be alone with my pain, my grief and heartache. The only living souls who can come 'that close' is Skip and our Pups.
There are the people who 'run to you in concern because they just heard'...... whenever they have a 'chance encounter' to see you. You don't have to look for these people ... they 'find you'. It gives them pleasure to get to ... just talk and let other people see what good friends they are... they 'really care' about you. Their words are ... empty, but, so wonderful and so caring... and you might stand there a little while to..listen, smile and nod your head.
I have often thought ... let it be your child, a child you've known for 40 years... a real person, strong and vibrant in life, a wonderful personality you 'knew', and knew was 'your' child... you would fight someone who dared to say empty things to you. It would evoke such anger in you at those people. I felt that anger and then, I felt ...it doesn't matter.
I chose to walk away at times, and not even bother. I only allow certain people in my most private life. There are layers in my life where certain people can come to.. and that's as far as I let them. I just walk away from all the others... and let them ..be.
Think of a dartboard with its circles and the darts with the velcro on them.... each circle gets closer to the 'bullseye'. Each 'dart' sits on a different circle, some close to the bullseye and some... not so close. Some never reach the bullseye. Think of me like the... bullseye.
Once in a 'lifetime' a rare person will come along in life ... that can move alittle closer than others... on 'my dartboard'... you will see no more than a handful of darts close to the center... they would represent the people outside of my Pups and Skip, that I let get that close to my heart. It really hurts to love with one's whole heart, I know. I have to be careful there.
I love people and I love being around them. I love to hear laughter and fun when people are together... what a beautiful song they make. It makes me happy. I can stand at a distance as I did in my young life and ... 'feel and see and hear'... what a real family is like. I love that feeling and I admire real.. families. I only know several 'real' families now... I don't think families are as close now as in the past. They don't know how fortunate they are... or... they could be just like me. They may be on paths similiar to the ones I've traveled in life.
I do know this for certain... I miss Tommy with my very heart. He was our life.. he and our Pups. When Tommy died ... our life gradually came to be so empty without him. I don't really remember last Christmas but, this year I'm very aware he is gone.
It's like we don't know what to do now in a way...... Tommy was always there. He was our best friend as well, as son. It's left such a big 'hole' in our lives.... he was our 'family'. Taban was our family that we knew would grow up with us in his life. Both of them are gone now.
McKenzie... we didn't know if we'd see her or not ... her mother and family wanted her to themselves. I understand... they love her dearly. They didn't want Tommy to see her... he had taken care always to pay child support, $100.00 every week, and kept medical insurance up until he died..... to take care of his daughter the whole time after they separated... no one told him to do it. He did it on his own. I'm sad she never got her insurance money... from Tommy, after he died. Tommy loved his daughter, Taylor McKenzie just as he loved his son, little Taban Mitchell. They were named after him..... Tommy Mitchell. He wanted them to have his same initials.
Tommy chose Taban's name especially... it means 'genius'. He felt it important to have the right name to make a difference in one's life. He took alot of time to choose Taban's name... I remember. I remember us talking and laughing and a silly joke I did on a video at about the time he chose the name. I miss you, Tommy. We all had so much fun and were always trying to find ways to make the other laugh. You and Skip... were something else!
He loved his daughter and every step he took to see her... was filled with such turmoil and pain. McKenzie's mother loved her so much that she couldn't let Tommy come close to her, no matter that he did right by her... and no one asked or demanded him to.
Alot of men just go on their own way... they are the ones who got to see their children. It's strange in life how when people are genuinely good and mean well... they are the ones treated worse and are forgotten alot of the times. I know this to be true.. in my life, in Tommy's life.
I saw Tommy cry over McKenzie and over how her mother kept him away... and when he did begin to have a relationship with her... her mother would call every hour or so, to cause upset. The last night she spent the night at his home.. her mother called late that night.... and Tommy walked down the hall because they'd heard someone talking. It was McKenzie on the phone with her mother and it was close to midnight.... McKenzie asked him to leave the room because she was talking to her mother. That broke Tommy's heart and this, he never got over. He never saw McKenzie after that.... and not so long after is when he died.
Tommy had such sad things in his heart before he died that all contributed to his death. A terrible thing happened in Tommy's life in May, 2009 that forever affected Tommy and he couldn't get past that pain, though he kept on going. For now, I can't write about it.
Tommy's life also, held alot of tragedy... no one would have ever known.... he was strong and he hid it all so well, just like his mother. He cared about other people and didn't think of just himself.
Tommy died in the month it happened in, one year before. My son.... how I felt your pain, it was like I was the one it happened to. I cried... so much for you. You didn't deserve so much that happened in your life. This truly was something that happened out of the blue when you were on the road... living your own life, until someone's life ... touched yours to forever change it. You cared so much and couldn't get over the pain and grief others were suffering.....................
Tommy died.... and Taban has to walk the paths his mother leads him on... and they are in directions we can't just follow... because she is moving on with her life. I don't hold that against her at all... it's understandable.
I just wish she could let Taban have that special little path that leads to us where he could travel it to see his Granny Gee and his Pa Skip... I'm sure she hasn't thought of it... because she would have done that. She wouldn't have to travel it... we'd make sure Taban was safe when traveling on it.
These are the things I am thinking of this morning on the first day of this new year.... 2012.
My son, Tommy, did 'die a beautiful death'... that's true. He did die being happy, one of the few times he was in his life.... running, laughing, squealing, and playing with his son on the beach. Just the evening before he told me that's what he was so looking forward to, the first time sharing with his son at the beach.
I 'look' into my mind for a moment.. and I feel this feeling in my heart and my eyes fill with tears.. it always happens......... I 'see' Tommy running with Taban on the wet sand and the sun is shining in his blonde hair, and his eyes are happy and he is making a beautiful memory for his son... to always remember his daddy by.
Laughing, eyes shining with happiness for the moments with his son, and he... walks into heaven. He left his son a memory he can always treasure... his daddy loved him and played with him right up until he ... walked into heaven that 'very' minute.
Yes, my son died ...beautifully ...Taban, he loved you with his very heart. Tommy, you died beautifully... and though you did... I have that comfort ... I still miss you with my very heart. It still hurts in the most .... bittersweet way.
I 'see' golden-colored light and the colors of the ocean... blue-green and happiness around you as you left ... Tommy. It really is beautiful in the most painful way in my mind.