Monday, July 4, 2016

Six Years Later ... I'm Finally ... Finding 'Me'

Six Years Later, I Am Finally ... Finding 'Me'

Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter

I've seen a stranger in my mirror for so long ... it's good to finally recognize someone I know, like ... 'Me'. Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.

Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

Six years ago, my only child died.  For the first 3 1/2 years I wasn't aware of anything but, my grief.  My son had died, I didn't care about anything at all, excepting our Pups, and Skip (my husband).

I have to say that today ... looking back ... everything is dark.  I don't want to see through that darkness right now.  It takes so much out of me when I force myself to go back.  It's like being trapped in a dark, foggy, scary place ... There are times I will go back to describe to you very real grief ... not tonight.

I am writing tonight about trying to find myself in the mirror.  When I became aware of myself after the first several years of grieving ... I would notice myself standing in front of the mirror, staring.  I didn't know the person I was looking at.  I would peer closely, ask myself ... 'is that me?'  I couldn't recognize the person in the mirror.  I had never looked like ... that.

I was very overweight ... my face had no happiness, sunshine in it ... whereas before ... I always smiled.  My eyes had no light in them ... no life.  I couldn't see myself anymore ... I really was gone.  I was on a journey no mother should ever have to travel ... the one traveled after her child has died.

Where I used to be very pretty ... I looked so awful.  I couldn't bear to see ... me.  I didn't have the motivation, nor desire to look better, then.  I didn't care how I looked ... I had died inside ... my child was gone.  How could I live ... even smile ... feel any happiness at all ... my child was dead?  Tommy died ... Tommy was dead.

I began to tell myself I would grieve in a good way ... a positive way.  I was beginning to think thoughts about the future.  I wanted to grow older in a good way ... no bitterness, anger, hate.  I began to work on myself, how I thought about things.

Sometimes, I would catch a glimpse of 'me' in the mirror ... sometimes, 'me' ... smiled.  I would try to capture 'me' in a photo with my cellphone.  Photos of 'me' were just damn awful ... I looked so horrible.  The truth is the truth ... I never thought I would be, or find 'me' again.

I did try harder to look better ... I just didn't care.  This is someone who used to have to dress 'perfect' before going out the door even to a store.  My hair, makeup, clothes had to look very nice.  I always was known to look nice ... people would say I was ... beautiful.  Well ... when I became aware of those people who used to say that ... when they saw me ... I saw mouths drop open like ... what the hell?

Not one person ever came to me to ask me what was wrong.  No one ever knew my son died ... I never bothered to tell them.  I could only write about it ... not talk about it.  Writing helped to save my life ... my grief was bigger than I.  Six years later ... people are just finding out that Tommy died ... they are shocked.  I don't elaborate on his death ... I can't bear to talk about it.  When asked how he died, I just tell them he had 4 blockages to his heart, collapsed at the beach playing with his son.  I walk off ... leave Skip to talk ... I don't want to.

I've never carried anything so heavy in my life.  If you saw me then ... you saw a wreck of a woman ... who moved automatically in life ... who only existed because ... she couldn't just lay down, die.  I almost did ... I never cared.  So ... you can see, maybe understand the 'whys?' ... it means so much for me to 'see myself' again.

Six years later, I'm ready to be myself, enjoy looking nice again.  I almost gave up ... almost.  A year ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes ... that was something I couldn't accept even for a moment ... it made me angry.

I already had several medical conditions ... brought on during the three years I fought to survive cancer ... Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  I'm a 16 year survivor ... and am fortunate to be here ... not many people who had it when I did ... made it.  My oncologist told me last summer I shouldn't be here.  Can you imagine being told that?  It brought home to me how fortunate I was ... I felt cold chills when he told me.

I decided on studying, joining support groups on weight lost surgery.  I did this for over a year ... I began to ask questions.  I found out that Medicare would pay for my surgery.  This was back when Skip was working, driving a truck.  My part to pay was $457 ... Skip paid that months before he, himself became sick, had to stop driving.  Even after that ... the tests I had to go for ... over a 6 month period ... I was still undecided.

Skip became very ill in January ... and until a month ago ... he went through so much.  I wasn't going to have my surgery ... until Skip was on even keel.  He stayed very sick for 5 1/2 months, almost dying 3 times.  He wanted me to have my surgery ... he knew how much it meant to me.  For a short period of time ... he stayed on even keel ... just long enough for me to have surgery.

Just after my surgery, he became bad off again.  I didn't have time to recuperate from my surgery ... I was traveling 80 miles daily, to and from the hospital every day ... no sooner than he come home from the hospital ... he was back into the hospital.  I never let my pain stop me ... I just kept going.  I had to be strong for Skip, and I was.

April 20, 2016 ... I had my surgery.  July 20th will be 3 months since surgery.  I have finally begun to feel good each day ... and I am seeing in the mirror ... 'Me!' again.  I am just beginning to feel joy in seeing the weight come back off ... feeling how good it feels just to feel good, again.  It's wonderful.  I'm finding ... myself ... at last!

I couldn't open my eyes to see 'me' ...  until Skip got on an even keel, getting stronger and stronger.  For 5 weeks now ... he is doing well.  I pray he never gets sick again.

Since January, I have lived in fear ... Skip had a stroke, went into congestive heart failure 3 times, kidney failure/surgery, hemorrhaging nosebleeds that required him to be given blood, he had a pacemaker put in, 2 stents put in ... he almost hemorrhaged to death just after the heart catherization when the shaft/sheath (I forgot the name) was taken out of his thigh.  This wasn't all that happened to him during that time.  It was one nightmare after the other.  I was on a roller coaster I couldn't get off from ... I held on for dear life.  I had to be strong for Skip, our Pups.

Today ... Skip is stronger.  He is driving ... moving around like 'Skip'.  I am so grateful, thankful.  He and The Pups are my whole life ... they are my whole world.  Not only that ... I am so grateful to all my friends who helped me make it through that awful time.  Do you know the song ... Wind Beneath My Wings?  I think of that song when I think of the ones who helped me with tires, oil change, and gas to be able to make it through.  I have no family ... I didn't have one person I could go to ... to ask for help.  I will be always grateful to everyone who cared for me ... they never had to, but ... they did.  I'm so thankful.

Now ... today ... I am finally beginning to see, find ... me.  When I look in the mirror at times 'now' ... I don't cringe every time when I see me.  I'm beginning to recognize myself, again.  I'm so happy with my decision to go through with my surgery.  I wouldn't trade doing it at all.  I no longer have diabetes, something I just couldn't cope with.  I am feeling better, and better as Skip becomes stronger, himself.  The Pups are doing well ... I took the best care of them during the months Skip was so ill.  They are happy Pups, know they are loved.

Today ... I saw 'me' in the mirror ... I am seeing 'me' in the mirror more often, now.  I'm finding myself after being on the longest, hardest journey in my life ... as a grieving mother.  I'm finding myself after almost losing the one person I have left in this world, who is my world ... my husband.  I have so, so much to be thankful for ... I am.

I've shared my journey as a grieving mother ... I will still share those times that happen when grief hits.  Now, I'm on another road in life ... never forgetting my son ... but, going forward.  I am on a weight loss journey ... and in the process of ... finding 'Me'.

Note by this author:

As long as Skip and The Pups are doing well ... I am happy.  Each morning I get up ... I thank God for everything.  I can smile at myself in the mirror ... because I am finally recognizing myself again. This means the world to me.


  1. Wow, there's a lot here Gloria. What a miraculous story of survival. As if losing a child wasn't enough pain, you've had far more than anyone could imagine.
    I'm so glad to know you are doing better and Skip, too. Really glad!

    1. Hello Judy, thank you very much. I'm so thankful to be at this point in my life ... it sure took a long time to get ... here. :) I have Skip, The Pups ... and now, someone very familiar to look forward to ... 'Me' :) Love, Gloria (Always, Skip and The Pups I put first in my life).

  2. I am so glad to read this. I have been reading your book. It is written lyrically, I was so surprised to find that a book about grief could be written so poetically and readably. I have not yet finished it but it helps me understand my sister in law, whose son was killed in a car accident many years ago. I am not sure that she has come to the part yet about "It's good to finally recognize someone I know, like ..."Me". That is a lovely picture of Tommy, I don't think I had seen him before.

    1. Magla, I am honored you would read my book. Thank you ... there are photos here on my blog, and on Facebook of Tommy. He was tall, handsome and when he smiled, it was like the sunshine coming out on a rainy day. :) Gloria