By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
Photos of Gloria Faye Brown Bates with her son Tommy when younger. Tommy was proud of his mother ... his mother was proud of him.
When a mother loses her child ... no one knows the pain unless you are a mother who loses her child. By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
The holidays are here once again. Families will be gathering ... mothers, sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins ... all mine have gone ... I'll never see them again. Everyone is gone ... it does hurt deeply.
So much happiness to see each other ... I used to know how it felt to have my son come home. The holidays and my son's birthday, November 20th ... are days I don't dread now ... I think of the happy times when Tommy came home to be with us for a wonderful meal, family time.
I have my most treasured world now ... Skip and The Pups (our two Pups Kissy Fairchild and Camie Leigh). With my Heart I treasure them.
I'm amazed I have come so far. Why? Six years ago my world came to an end. For over 3 years I didn't know whether I lived ... died. I wouldn't have cared either way. This sounds awful ... but, when one gets in that condition you know the ... worst has happened.
The worst being the very moment I answered the phone from a stranger 200 miles away ... at Myrtle Beach, S.C. The strange thing was the caller ID. It said ... Tommy. I was smiling bright, happy as I always did when Tommy called me. This time wasn't any different.
I was the first person to know that my son, Tommy ... had collapsed on the sand at Myrtle Beach while running, playing with his little 3 year old son. The stranger had picked up Tommy's cellphone and pressed last call dialed ... it was me. Can you imagine?
Now ... I'm glad I was the first to know ... because I, his mother was the last person he called and our call was full of laughter, happiness ... and pure relief knowing my son and his family had arrived safely on the holiday weekend to their destination.
I asked the man why he had my son's phone. He said, "ma'am, I have a man here collapsed on the sand ... he's not breathing". I heard him but, I didn't hear him. Maybe my mind just couldn't hear him ... maybe I was trying to will the words to be different ... maybe, maybe, maybe.
My world ... sunshine ... blacked out as soon as I became aware of what the man said. I never knew when I quit smiling, feeling happy.
6 years later I still look back to 'see' in my mind the years I lost ... because at that moment I was plunged into darkness ... the darkest dark you could imagine. The most painful pains you could ever imagine. The darkest of clouds blacked out my sunshine ... I became the living dead.
I've grieved so much in my life ... as each family member died on both sides of my family. At that time about 19 family members I truly loved were gone. I had almost died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma ... Skip had almost died from colon cancer ... he also, survived a tractor-trailer wreck in New Mexico and two weeks later ... survived a wreck at home when he was t-boned.
Not only that we survived a house fire ... we got our dogs out ... Skip went back inside to get his billfold ... he got lost trying to get out. Our neighbor led him out with the sound of his voice. He got several burns. We lost everything. It goes on ... one thing after the other.
Many 'bad' things happened ... we kept coming back from them. We survived them. No bitterness ... no 'woe is me and why did this happen to me?' We didn't have time to roll in self-pity ... we had to pick ourselves up, keep living.
Until ... the evening I quit living. Oh my body was still there ... it moved, it spoke ... I ... wasn't there. My mind had soared into the vast darkness of grief ... it couldn't stay ... inside me. My body wasn't big enough to hold such horrible knowledge that my son, my only child had died. Thank God for darkness ... thank God for somehow giving me an escape to where I stayed for over 3 years.
At this moment I stop ... look back. I can't 'see me' then. I can remember only bits here, there. How did I take my shower, dress, talk, walk, wash clothes ... clean house, etc? How did I? Isn't it strange what our bodies can do while our minds ... are trying to survive a trauma? I've been in shock many, many times in my life. You would think I'd be a pro at being shocked ... each time is new, different. One never gets used to being told someone they love has died ... the pain is so great I can't describe it.
Even being in shock I never asked for pity, I never shared my grief with people around me ... only shared it in my written words as I sat in my darkness ... with all my friends, people online. I did write, publish a 738 page book of pure grief ... I can't even remember doing it.
I Cry For Tommy is the name of my book. One can only get it on Amazon ... at Amazon.com/mrs-GloriaFayeBrownBates/e/BOOBNKPW72. I am not trying to sell my book ... sometimes someone ask where can they get a copy.
Of course it didn't become a best seller but ... that wasn't the purpose of that book. It saved my life. Writing it gave me a place to go to ... to put all my grief in one place. A place to cry ... talk. A safe darkness where no one had to see, talk to me ... a place I could be alone. A place where I kept trying to find Tommy ... over time learn to cope with his death ... learn to accept it.
I meant to make sure my son would never be forgotten. He won't be forgotten because every book someone reads will remember him ... and when I make golden dragonflys ... leave them in public for someone to find ... Tommy will be remembered. My son was most special to me ... and I will take my last breath remembering him ... he was a part of me, my body when he came into this world. How can I let his memory be forgotten?
I haven't written for the past year ... Skip became very ill and almost died 3 times. January to June were critical months. He recovered and is doing fine. Now I find myself wanting to write again.
I will write the colors of my life ... and as promised from the time I began this blog ... I will write about grief. I know it best ... I'll write about pain. These things I know best in life ... when I write about them you will see that I don't want anyone's pity. Why? Because from the time I was a little girl ... all the 'bad' things that happened to me began to strengthen me for all the 'bad' things that I've survived in this life ... I am very strong for it. I'm like the Redwood tree ... I have weathered many, many storms ... I'm scarred but, I'm still standing.
Also ... I deal with things in the most positive way possible even when it appears that I'm not. I have to ... that's me ... it's the only way I can keep the sun shining inside ... I need all the wonderful, beautiful light possible to keep the darkness of grief away. Why? Because the pain never goes away ... it's always just beneath the surface waiting ... waiting like a fish to be pulled out of the water. The good thing now is that I can be alright ... I can get past it because I have to. I can't let myself dwell in it very long ... I might get lost in that darkness again, not find my way out.
My son, only child is gone ... I am still here. I will live until I die loving, remembering the little baby I had 47 years ago. If living ... he'd be an 'old' baby now ... I would surely tell him that because in my mind I can hear his laughter at me saying such a thing. :) He always teased me that I never could remember how old he was!
Note by this Author:
I am beginning to write again. It felt good to write these words ... write about Tommy ... write about grief, pain. Writing heals as I write ... I've missed it very much this past year. I will keep my promise to write about grief exactly the way it feels. For all the readers who didn't know that ... know that I don't write about it to gain sympathy. I don't need that at all. I write so others can know, understand without going through it. Also, any mother who has lost her child will know someone is ... there.
Photos, story owned ... written by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.