Countdown to Goodbye

It was 2am when Zachary woke me for something to drink. I’d only just dosed off.  Crap. I’d probably never fall back asleep. I turned my iPod back on and tried to shut off the images of a baby boy in a casket and ignore the ache in my empty arms.

Not possible.

3am, I gave up. I left the iPod on and turned to the internet to try and mask the unending emptiness. Who was I kidding? The internet was not my salvation.

4am, I piddled around the kitchen. In due time there would be friends and family swarming through this place I no longer felt a part of. I lite a candle and mindlessly did what little dishes were left in the sink.

5am, I gave up and gathered my clothes for the day. Black, everything. On a whim, I trimmed my hair. Is that weird? 5 months since I’d been home, my hair had grown an unruly 2+ extra inches.  I should be somewhat presentable on the day of my son’s funeral, shouldn’t I?

By 6am, I was showered and dressed and not so ready for the day. I took my blanket and iPod and attempted to look like I’d spent the night in the recliner I’ve claimed for myself. I think I even managed a 30 minute stretch of sleep before Jonathan was looming over me, needing to go pee.

Really? 5 months gone and you still make a bee-line to me to escort you through the darkened house? I’m at once flattered and annoyed. Lack of sleep makes me surly.  My mind wanders and I’m wondering when the x-ray techs will be here. I shake my head as if that will clear the embedded habit of early morning visits from the x-ray fairies.


Sometimes I wish I was a hysterical Nelly that could just collapse and be sedated and allowed to miss the most awfullest day of their fucked-up life. No, I have to be a strong one. A mama that is not only required to show up at her son’s funeral, but is fully expected to persevere in spite of it. Mental-clarity be damned.

7am, and light is starting to seep in through the windows. Soon the whole house will be stirring and getting ready to say goodbye. I crank my iPod in the hopes my brain will explode and I’ll be excused from the proceedings. Luck is not with me, although I do manage another quick 30 minute or so cat-nap.

8am, Everyone’s awake. My Hub looks at me suspiciously as I throw off my blanket. Are you dressed already? he asks. Guilty. How long have you been up? Forever.

By 9am, I start to wander. I walk through the house without purpose. Just something to keep myself in motion. I’m afraid that if I stop moving I will succumb to my devastation and never move again. I get the boys in the shower. Zachary splashes me and I am at once soaked from neck to knee.

Since they’re the only black clothes I have, I air-dry. The boys get dressed, I continue wandering. Family starts to arrive at 10am. I should say, Jamie’s family arrives. No one from my side of Chicago made the trip down. Not that I blame them, I understand, I do. It just sucked, that’s all. I know, I know, I’m going to get grief about Jamie’s family being my family too. Not really the same. I’m sorry. I always tend to be the odd man out, today is no exception.

11:15am, time to leave for the funeral home. My stomach feels like I just swallowed a bowling ball. The physical pain makes it hard to breath. Your mind does funny things to your body.

We arrive, through the back door of the funeral home. I know his casket is laid out in the room with all the chairs, but I walk past without looking in. I’m glad I did. The Director decided the he ‘didn’t look that bad‘ and kept the casket open for us to see him. Gah.

I didn’t really want to see him in his casket. I didn’t want the actual image of him in his winter hat and denim overalls in my head. Why is there a hat in here? As my Hub looked at the bag of things to be taken to the Funeral home the day before. Because it’s cold outside.

I didn’t want to see him laying there, but I looked anyway, what choice did I have? Add it to the list of images that haunt me when I close my eyes. oh, and then add the one of the Funeral Director sealing him into the casket. Yeah, that one is high on the list of nightmare visuals I’ll never get over.

So I pace. Why don’t you sit down? Because if I stop, I’ll fall apart. Need I say more?


I’d almost forgotten that today is my Grandmother’s birthday, she would have been 85. When we made the arrangements for today, I knew it had to be today and not tomorrow. My Grandmother made my child-hood bearable. If there’s an after, she’s the lady to be taking care of Capt Snuggles.

What odd things float through your head. I suppose it’s better to imagine Grandma up in Heaven, tending to my angel babies rather than the hole in the ground we’re about to put him in.


Folks start to arrive. Folks from around town, neighbors and friends I haven’t seen in months. Although most don’t stay. They pay their respects and leave.

Folks I’ve never met before, people from Hub’s work, my mother-in-law’s work. Zachary’s Preschool teachers. Again, they pay their respects and leave.

Folks from the Hospital. They are the difficult ones for me to chat with, the folks who were there, at the end, helping me through his last days. I am honored they came.

Then the visitation is over. Already? So soon? It’s time to start the service, go to the cemetery, say good-bye. How do I say good-bye?

The hard part is just beginning.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Countdown to Goodbye

  1. I cannot imagine what that day must have been like for you. Thank you for continuing to share your story. It helps many of us keep things in perspective and focus on the stuff that really matters. And hopefully, by sharing the pain that you are feeling, it lightens the load on your shoulders, even just a little bit.


  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how incredibly difficult this all is for your and your family.
    I knew that when I clicked on the link I would cry as I read it, but I did it anyway. I’m glad I did.
    I wish you the best in everything.

  3. Patty

    A day that every parent prays they will never have to face, you have had to face twice. I continue to pray for healing for your family, for you to find the courage and the strength to face each new day. Thank you again for sharing with us. I know for me, it has helped me understand what others have gone through, so that I can hopefully know a bit better how to be a better friend.

  4. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I’m also very sorry your family wasn’t able to be there. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I just don’t. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. I’m stunned. I read your posts and I am just stunned. I want to avoid them. To not read the pain and heartbreak. But I am compelled to. And I know that nothing I say or anyone says will ever make it right again. Ever. But I will continue to follow your journey through these posts. Because I must. So I just say thank you.

  6. Kelly

    I wish I knew words to make it better… but there are none. I’m so very sorry that you’re living this nightmare. I’m a new(er) reader, but as hard as it is to read your pain, I’ll keep reading – I truly hope writing it helps ease your pain just the tiniest bit.

  7. This is so sad that the only way I can continue reading is to pretend it’s a fiction excerpt from a novel. But I know it’s not and it brings me to tears. So sorry.

  8. Jill

    There are no words…just no words. I am so amazed that amidst your paralysis and grief you still are brave enough to share all that you share.
    And you continue to be everyday mom, getting the drinks and helping with the daily ins and outs. Where do you get the strength, the energy? Hopefully from all of your sweet boys – their smiles and the memories.
    Hang in there and continue to lean on all of these people who are here to “hold” you up.

  9. I can feel your pain through your writing. I’m so sorry. What an awful thing to have to do, but thank you for sharing it with us. Love and strength to you.

  10. I can’t imagine the loss of a child. I tried not to read the entire post but couldn’t help myself. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  11. You are so strong. I suppose you have no choice. You’ve been in my thoughts.

  12. So sad …..

  13. I have no words…

  14. sharon

    One foot in front of the other got you through that day. It will get you through the coming ones too. The unfairness of life seems unrelenting but you have to keep moving. For as long as you write I will read, shed tears and send my love in the hope that it helps you keep on keeping on.


  15. My heart is just breaking. You have more strength in one day than I have ever had in my life.

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