Posts tagged ‘Child’

Losing My Oldest By Julie Achterhoff

I never knew how happy and joyful a person could be until I gave birth to my first child, Jason. I realize I must be some throwback female whose only goal from the time I was twelve was to grow up and be a mommy. At the tender age of seventeen I started having sex with my boyfriend. It certainly wasn’t my intention to get pregnant so young, but I believed my boyfriend when he told me he had “ways” to keep me from getting knocked up. Those “ways” are still a mystery to me to this day! Neither of us used protection.

When I found out I was going to have a baby I told said boyfriend, who told me I never should have gotten mixed up with him and left me to deal with the situation on my own. When I finally got the courage to tell my mother, she immediately replied, “Well, we’ll just have to get rid of it.” I played it cool, and a few days later told her it was a false alarm. Then I went out and got a job. I knew I would have this baby, but didn’t want to be a burden on her. I wanted this baby more than anything else in the world. I was thrilled.

My mother kind of understood when I did tell her the truth a couple months later since she had also gotten pregnant at seventeen, but had to give her baby up for adoption, as did my mother’s mother. Apparently it’s in the genes. My youngest daughter had her first baby at eighteen, too. Jason had his first and only child at eighteen, also.

On the night he took his life his girlfriend, Lisa, found a picture of his daughter on the kitchen counter. One of the great pains of his life was that Miranda’s mother wouldn’t let Jason be a part of her life. This was a pattern with her. She’d had her first daughter with another guy, whom she left without a backward glance. After Miranda was born she found another guy and took off with him. Jason was heartbroken for the rest of his short life.

Another source of grief in his life was his relationship with his stepfather, the man I married when he was two, and had four more children with. My highest priority when choosing to have a man in my life was that he be excellent father material. My needs came second. This man seemed to love Jason from the start. I was elated. Six months later we were married and pregnant.

Things went downhill from there. My husband began to treat Jason differently. He would yell and scream at him for even the smallest thing. He was on his case constantly. He was the whipping boy in our codependent family. Everything he did was wrong in his father’s eyes. I wanted nothing more than to leave this awful man, but I had a lot of emotional problems stemming from childhood and was terrified of the world. I finally left him after twenty years of marriage, before Jason’s death.

When he was fifteen, Jason had gotten his AA from college and left home. I was devastated. He was still so young. He just couldn’t take it anymore and I couldn’t blame him. The worst part was I didn’t even know where he was as he didn’t want anything to do with me, either. I was the accomplice. He started doing drugs- bad ones. But he was so far out of my reach I couldn’t help him.

A day finally came, though, when he needed my help. He was implicated with his roommate on a charge of selling Meth. It was exactly what needed to happen. It woke him up to reality. He was twenty years old, but I told him if he wanted my help he would have to move in with us. He agreed, and we got all the charges dropped. He got a job, which I had to drive him back and forth from at all hours since he never did get a driver’s license. Then he got a better job. I tried to help him get partial custody of his daughter, but he was scared to death of her mother, saying that he could never face her again.

Then he moved away for an excellent job seven hours south of us. He found the love of his life there. I took my other kids down to visit him every few months. They loved their big brother. The last time I saw him was only a couple days before he left us all. I remember how happy he was. Life was going better for him then than it ever had before. He and Lisa were just moving into a new house together with plans of getting married in the spring and going to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They were looking online for customized rings. He’d just gotten a big raise. He showed me the little garden he had already started planting at the new house, and how you could see the ocean from a certain spot in the backyard. I took us all out for Chinese food. From my standpoint his life couldn’t be better. I was so proud and happy for him.

Before we left for home I realized I hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to Jason alone the whole trip. So, even though I had antsy kids ready to hit the road, I took Jason aside in his room, closed the door, and had a deep talk with him for about forty-five minutes. I felt closer to him than I had in a long time. It felt as though he had let go of all the pain from the past. He made me feel loved and forgiven. I was his mom and he was my son. The love felt so strong that after kissing and hugging him goodbye and getting in the car, I got back out and hugged and kissed him one last time. And that’s what it was-the one last time.

I was studying for a Chemistry test two nights later when I got a telephone call. It was the sheriff informing me that my son was dead. I immediately pictured him in a bike accident since he never did get his license. I had to ask how it happened. The man on the phone said it was suicide. Jason was twenty-three years old.

It’s been almost nine years now and I’m still blown away. I still don’t understand any more than I did that first horrible night. He gave me no signs. Not even his friends or Lisa had a clue. The one thing I did find out was that he was the person in their group of friends whom everyone went to with their problems. But who did he have to go to? Did he just keep it all buried deep inside?

He’d just had a small argument with Lisa and went back to his old apartment, saying he was going to finish up the cleaning. He also called one of his friends and left a message right about the time he died. His friend was at a noisy restaurant a couple blocks away and didn’t hear his phone ring. God, I wish he’d called me!

After his death I continued attending classes- Chemistry, Microbiology, etc. I was going to be a nurse. That never did happen, though. I made it through another month before I succumbed to the pain. I only had six more weeks to go- then nursing school. But everything went out the window when I lost my baby.

I coped by constantly either reading or playing video games. That was about all I was capable of. I had to give up my midwifery practice. I had nothing left to give these beautiful women having babies. I barely had anything to give my wonderful children. I felt myself pulling away from them, too. Subconsciously I felt that if one of my kids could kill themselves, they all could. I became detached. This was a terrible change for them. I had always been 100% there for them. Now a part of me was dead just like Jason. I was now only going through the motions of being alive when in reality I was just a ghost of myself.

My mother moved nearby from several states away. She had never really been there for me and my sisters while we were growing up, so this was a surprise. Of course that lasted less than a year. She finally told me she couldn’t be around me anymore and moved away again. Another loss.  She wasn’t much support anyway. No one was. I was so scared and alone. I wanted so much to know where Jason was. I wanted to be with him.

Then I took up writing. I’d written a three-act play for a women’s literature class in college a couple years back titled Angel in the House, which gave me such a great sense of accomplishment, especially since the teacher, who had taken a disliking to me, gave me an A+. I got an idea for a horror story and just started writing. I started to feel better the more I wrote. That first effort turned out to be Native Vengeance. It was only around 17,000 words, so it was only considered a novella, but it was a start. I did some research online on how to get it published, and before I knew it, Demon Minds picked it up for their Halloween issue. I was starting to feel something again after so long. The numbness was subsiding slowly. Writing was healing me.

Next, I decided to write a full blown novel. It was positively magical the way the words poured themselves onto the pages! It gave me almost a sense of giving birth all over again. I was addicted. Everything about it was so exciting- the characters, the dialogue, the plot! And as I wrote my whole world started coming back into focus again. My relationships with my kids grew strong, I started dating a bit, the house was a little cleaner. I even met the man of my dreams after being alone for eight years. I never thought I’d find anyone who could put up with me.

I guess you could say writing has saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t decided to take that first step. Now I have four books published and more on the way. I know I’ll never stop now. I may never be a bestselling author, but it’s the writing itself that is the true gift. And I do cherish the readers who buy my books, write awesome reviews for them, and send me comments on my blog or email me. That is priceless.

I believe parents who have lost children are in a very special category. It takes tremendous healing to get through something like this. For some it is an insurmountable task they can never recover from. I don’t think I will ever completely recover myself. But we’ve got to find some way to try. Thinking about what I thought Jason would have wanted for me helped a lot. I still think about him every day, and sometimes I cry because I miss my sweet darling boy so very much. I just try to be as grateful as I can for what I have. It’s just been such a very long road.

Take it from Marianne Williamson- Let Your Light Shine!

My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate.
My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure.
It is my light, not my darkness that most frightens me.
I ask myself, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
fabulous? Actually, who am I not to be? I am a child of God.
My playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing
enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel
insecure around me. I am meant to shine, as children do.
I was born to make manifest the glory of God that is within
me. It’s not just in me; it’s in everyone. And as I let my own
light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission
to do the same. As I am liberated from my own fear,
my presence automatically liberates others.

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