Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Act of Kindness

Just watched this video...of course, thinking of Andrew. But on UTube there was a gun-control commercial at the beginning that is what really gets to me. A bunch of celebrities urging us to action regarding gun laws. I don't think it will address the root cause. I mean, yes, irresponsible people should not have access to guns. But if that is their weapon of choice, they will get it. or build a bomb. or start a fire. or poison someone.

We had to take guns away from Andrew one day. Actually, his step-mother-aunt and his cousin did it. I don't know what he intended to do that day, but he was in a manic stage and had a gun. His cousin got the gun. His aunt took the guns to another house so Andrew couldn't get them. He got through his phase and calmed down eventually. We should have called Mental Health that day...

What scares me is some of the people I have seen in our jail. One kid, under treatment but off his meds, killed two people in a random house around Christmas time. Another kid, off his meds, hacked up his step-brother. I am sure that they were out of their minds at the time, and when properly medicated, seem to be normal, friendly young men. Sort know they are not normal. They will also be spending the rest of their days in Mental Health facilities. Andrew saw 4 days of that...and it was enough. Its no way to live.

Andrew knew he was not normal, and didn't think he could ever become completely normal again. He could try medication. He could try therapy and reprogram his thoughts. But he would never be normal, never feel right. That he knew. He also knew it could get much, much worse. I think that is why he decided to end it. He did it for us, so that we would not have to go through a much greater tragedy.

The gift is that we get to remember him as a handsome, healthy-looking young man with many talents, instead of broken and deplorable after having done something horrendous. He was outgoing and friendly, with a tender side for everyone. He slipped into darkness more often, but usually pulled himself out for a while longer. We always thought he could pull himself out, with our help. It must have taken monumental strength and resolve every time to do it, and I think it just wore him down.

I feel so sorry for the young children and victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I wish the killer had been stopped, helped, put away from society before people were harmed. Its just so extremely hard to know when that point actually arrives, especially with an ongoing illness such as mental disability. What Andrew did was an extreme act of kindness to his family and everyone who loved him. An Act of Kindness. Pass it on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blue Christmas

I've talked about this before, but Christmas 2008 was the last time I saw Andrew in person. He had been spending most of his time in his bedroom, not coming out and interacting with anyone. He was withdrawing from us all. But he was reading his Bible, so I felt it would be okay.
I took him a bag of groceries items, stuff he could barbecue, etc., but he didn't want it. I left it anyway. I didn't have a clue how to approach him in this kind of mood. In hindsight, I guess we could have had him 5150'd, but the damage might not have been worth it. We were all working hard to build Andrew's trust in us and didn't want to cut that cord.
Anyway, I do get Blue at Christmas time without my wonderful son. I know he is in a better place and is without any more pain. But I still miss him so much. So do my girls, and all of the family.
Merry Christmas in Heaven, Andrew.

The Musician is David Potter, a school mate of mine from Atascadero. He's a professional singer!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Over You

Missing my boy tonight. I know I am not the only one who misses Andrew. My sister shared his senior picture on Facebook this week, commenting that she was really missing him that day, very strongly. It reminded me that I was not the only one who did. 

Lee and I watched The Voice singing competition show tonight with the top ten finalists. The last girl sang "Over You", son written by Blake Shelton and performed by his wife Miranda Lambert, that is about when his older brother died suddenly. This young, aspiring artist, Cassadee, sang it tonight with such was very beautiful and it made me cry.

Blake was explaining in an interview I had seen that his brother, who was about 10 years older than he, died in a car accident and Blake started playing his brother's record albums over and over after that. It just connected with me because when Andrew died, he had a lot of stuff...trucks (3 of them), TV, stereo, furniture, clothes, jet skis, tools, etc., that family members all wanted to hang to for some memory of him. I had to kind of step back from it all and I let my daughters decided what to do with his things. But I did hang on to his ipod, which my husband uses in his car every day. Lee swears some days Andrew just takes control of the song choices and sets a mood.

Losing Andrew has been so hard on all of us, but especially for his sisters. He was their hero. "How Dare You?", lyrics in Blake's song, resonate here with them, especially. How dare you go away, Andrew?
Jayne and Becca probably think those words every day. 

"Over You"

Weather man said it’s gonna snow
By now I should be used to the cold
Mid-February shouldn’t be so scary
It was only December
I still remember the presents, the tree, you and me

But you went away
How dare you?
I miss you
They say I’ll be OK
But I’m not going to ever get over you

Living alone here in this place
I think of you, and I’m not afraid
Your favorite records make me feel better
Cause you sing along
With every song
I know you didn’t mean to give them to me

But you went away
How dare you?
I miss you
They say I’ll be OK
But I’m not going to ever get over you

It really sinks in, you know, when I see it in stone

Cause you went away,
How dare you?
I miss you
They say I’ll be OK
But I’m not going to ever get over you

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When the tears come pouring out...

My husband, Lee, and I are laying in bed wiping away tears tonight. I just read my friend's post about her dog, Lula, passing away. Just yesterday she had posted that Lula had been diagnosed with Lymphoma and had 30-90 days to live. So today I dropped by her house and left some special dog biscuits from the pet store hanging on the door so she could give Lula a special treat. She must have found it when she got home, after she put her dog down. Ugh! That was bad timing on my part, but I thought she had time.

Whenever I go to the pet store to buy our weekly supply of crickets and worms for the Bearded Dragon and Gecko, I look at all the cute little doggie biscuits. They have some made in shapes like basketballs, birthday cakes, etc. Some are bone-shaped, others heart shaped. Today I saw a bear shape, and since we live in "the Valley of the Bears", I thought how perfect. I would get one for Lula. I selected several others, like the peanut butter bone shape and some hearts, and put them into a little gift bag for Lula, along with some tennis balls for her to chase. I dropped it off at the house and thought about how happy Lula would be to get some treats.

My friend sent me a text saying thank you for the dog biscuits. Then I read her new post saying Lula went to dog heaven. What? Oh my God, I was too late. She probably found the treats there after she got home from having her dog put down. It was too quick, and I was too late. I could feel my friend's pain across the internet waves.

What made it worse was that my husband used to own a pair of Golden Retrievers like Lula. He had them for 16 years, until they got old and passed away within 6 months of each other. It was a very lonely and difficult time for my husband as he was divorced, living alone and struggling to make a living and get by in life. The only things he had were his son and his two dogs. When I told him about Lula, we both started to cry.

I knew my husband was grieving for his dogs, but my thoughts quickly shifted to my son and the last time I saw him before he died. It was actually at Christmas time when I brought him some gifts. I knew he didn't want anything; he said he didn't need anything. But he liked to cook, in fact he cooked all his own food due to his increasing paranoia, so I bought a tri-tip roast and some beans and sourdough bread. I put it all into a big gift bag and took it to him in his bedroom. He didn't want to look at me or talk to me. I talked to him anyway and left the bag. Then I was in the dining room talking to my daughter when he came out with the bag and set it down by me. He was refusing the gift. He was cutting ties, withdrawing. I felt fear and pain and anguish. I tried not to take it personally because I knew it was his illness taking over. I was determined to keep reaching out anyway. I put the meat in the freezer and I left soon after.

I didn't get to see Andrew the next week on his birthday, but I called him. He was really sinking into a depressing funk. His dad and his sisters were calling me with updates, but although we knew we were losing him, we didn't know how to stop it without betraying the thin line of trust we had with him.  We knew if we had him committed to Mental Health, he wouldn't trust us anymore and we couldn't bear to do that to him.

By February Andrew seemed to start coming around a bit and was working with his dad again. They were all keeping a close watch on him. He decided to fast for Lent and not eat any meat. He had been reading the Bible alot, so we figured he was just going into another religion phase. If it helped him, more power to him, we figured. I did get him to talk to me a few times on the phone during that time. He was looking forward to Easter and breaking his fast with a barbecue dinner that his dad was making. The girls told me it was a good day. But by Monday, my oldest daughter was panicked and called me really concerned about her brother.

Andrew called me that night and we chatted. He sounded so lonely, but he tried to cover it over with some false brightness for me. I decided I would go see him the next day after I slept some from my graveyard shift.  I never got the chance to, however.

Grieving for Lula also made me think of my Mom and the last time I saw her in the hospital. She was in kidney failure and didn't really know where she was. She was frightened and my sister and I were there with her, holding her hand and talking gently to her. When I left her that evening, she was sleeping and I figured we would have a long time to watch over her as she slipped away, maybe weeks. Again, I was wrong. She died that night. I wasn't there, but my Dad and two sisters-in-law were. Thank God for that. I just wish I had stayed.

So all this adds up to the grief and loneliness one feels when they lose somebody they love. I know it still haunts my husband, who lost his mother, then his father, then his dogs. It haunts me losing my parents and my son. I know this will be so hard on my friend, losing her companion dog. So we cried for her, until we finally fell asleep.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When someone else I know loses their child...

I was surfing my Facebook page last night and it hit me! The rant my niece had posted the other night about bullying and judging people and causing a young man to give up hope all came into focus. Her friend, a person I used to babysit and who was a friend of my own sister, had lost her son. My niece didn't give any specifics, but it sounded like suicide. I had just spoken with this particular young man's grandmother a few weeks before and she was telling me about some of his struggles and his involvement with drugs, particularly heroin. The realization of who had died just hit me hard and I burst into tears.

I shared the posts with my husband and sent a few messages, one to my niece and one to her friend. Then I went up and cried myself to sleep.

I don't know what all drugs my own son might have taken, but I know he was high a lot during his senior year of high school after he broke his leg and couldn't play sports that year. He dated a girl who I am sure introduced him to drugs other that pot and I don't know exactly what they were. I questioned him a few times after he had a mental break, but he never admitted to anything like ecstasy or heroin or meth. I don't know if it was any drug, or genetics, or accident of birth that altered his mind, but he became paranoid and mentally disturbed. As far as I can tell, it was classic Paranoid Schitzophrenia.

He really did try to help himself. He ate healthy, home-cooked foods all the time. He did not use any drugs for at least the last 2 years of his life. He went into Lenten fasting during the last weeks of his life. We thought he was just getting into religion more. Now we see he was preparing himself for death.

All I do know is that my son's mental state deteriorated, I couldn't get him the help he needed, and he is dead.

I also know that my friend is going through the same pain, having the same doubts about herself and how much she could have, should have, might have done to prevent this outcome. I think I did everything I could have done short of having my son committed to a mental hospital. He did spend a few days in one being evaluated, but then they released him and recommended a treatment plan. That doesn't work if you don't follow the plan. We couldn't get my son in to see a psychiatrist for a few months, and once we got him there, he wouldn't continue the sessions. We couldn't force him. He was 23 years old by then.

I sure do hate those drugs!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Time marches on...

It's been 8 months since I wrote something here. Of course I am thinking of Andrew daily, and many times wanted to share some thoughts but just didn't take the time. A bit like missing an old friend but hesitating to reach out, I guess.

Andrew's birthday came and went in January. I had originally planned to take the day off of work, but my girls went out-of-state to visit their dad, so I just worked. As it turned out, I wished I had taken it off. An inmate at the jail where I work passed away. He had some kind of liver disease and wasn't expected to live much longer, but its a shock when it happened and the officers and staff has to deal with it. I heard one officer relating how the person looked when they checked him. "His eyes were so blank," I overheard one officer say...that hit me so hard.

I remember when I watched the doctor check Andrew's eyes. There was nothing going on in there. I saw it. Andrew's father saw it, too, or so I thought. I knew Andrew was gone beyond the point of return. Still the doctor offered some hope, talking about miracles. I think that was wrong, but maybe necessary. I knew my faith wasn't designed to believe in such an extreme miracle. I know Bill and the girls weren't ready to accept that truth and hope was what they were clinging to, so I just went along with it. But Andrew's eyes were vacant and I knew he was gone.

We maintained our vigil through that day and the next. I remember feeling so nauseous as Andrew's body became distorted with fluids in places like his left hand. You didn't want to touch it or hold on to it because it was swelling up and turning red. I tried to stay on his right side mostly. I felt angry inside that they were keeping his body alive, sort of in torture, when his brain was dead. A useless thing. But I had to stifle my anger and get through this for everyone else.

I spontaneously started to cry at work when they were talking about the dead inmate. Not for him, but for my son. It's been three years but it can still all come crashing back like it was yesterday. All it takes is some comment, a smell, a sound of a ventilator. Next year I am definately taking that day off...