How do I…?

How do you continue on in life when you still feel broken?  How do you stick all the shattered pieces of your heart back together?   It’s been 5 days since Shaun’s funeral, 8 days since he passed away, and 13 days  have passed since the last phone call.  The visitors and food deliveries have all stopped.  The condolences have creeped down to a bare minimum.  The flowers still fill my parent’s home making it smell like a funeral parlor.  Life is moving on around us, but I  am still struggling with going out in public. I feel like people are all talking about  our family or looking at us with pity.  Anger is spreading like wildfire and I can’t seem to find an appropriate target.  I am not even sure there is an appropriate target for the rage burning inside of me. I desperately want to feel normal again, but is that even realistic for someone that has been through  such a traumatic loss.  Will there ever be such a thing as “normal” again?

To The Girl Who Really Loved My Brother

To The Girl Who  Really Loved My Brother

 

Shelby,

You’ve been a part of Shaun’s life for 10 years and a part of mine for 8 years.  I wasn’t sure about this skinny quiet girl who came from North Carolina, the one he stole a car to see.  I gave you hell, but opened my home and heart to you over time.  My brother loved you whole heartedly and so deeply that I couldn’t help, but love you too.  I remember giving him a bridal set the night he told me you were the one, but later he decided you needed your own.  You deserved a ring as beautiful as you are inside and out. You helped him to make that CD for my wedding full of all the romantic songs.  I still don’t believe he was alone in his prank to add “Let your Hips Swing” and “Cotton Eyed Joe” to the middle. Shaun came to you and let you see the darkest skeletons buried in his closet.  You both bonded over finding your biological fathers.  You helped him through that in a way no one else could. You’ve become aunt Shelby through the years and our family came to love you as fully and deeply as him. You are imprinted in most of our memories of Christmases, birthdays, and everything in between.  The night you two drew a giant penis on the back of my car.  The night your date night turned into mudding and I had to drive my brand new car down a dirt road to pick you up in the middle of the night.  We became best friends and then sisters.  Bonding over our memories.  You legally have been his wife for a while now. You are his one true love and soulmate.  I see your love in the candid pictures of the two of you.  I see your love in the house you both worked so hard to remodel.I see your love as we drove to Pacolet to buy  Storm for him because he wanted a duck dog so badly.  I see your love as you care for Storm and Ziggy who meant the world to him.  I see your love as you stuck by his side from nothing to everything.  I’ve watched you sit beside him and help him make his dreams come true.  I’ve sat late night with you at the hospital, because you didn’t want to wake him because he was working so hard.  I’ve watched you stand in a Black Friday line for hours to buy a gun so he could duck hunt.  I have seen you clip coupon after coupon to save the hard earned money he made. I’ve seen you rush home to make sure he had dinner when he got him from work.  I’ve seen you sit up late nights to finish laundry, because he only like that one pair of pants for work.   I’ve watched you struggle through the bad times and go back for more because despite it all… You love him with everything in you. I watched you let him go, because his happiness meant more to you than yours.  Still always holding out hope that you would both find your way back to each other.   On February 8th, no one could doubt your love for him.  One last phone call from Shaun to say he loved you and goodbye.  The pure terror and pain on your face haunts my dreams.  The sound of you begging and telling him one last time how much you love him replays like a movie.  The sound of the gunshot and you losing it stuck in my memories like a cruel knife to the heart.  I’m thankful that in my moment of panic you could recall the address of the home you built together.  I’m thankful that in my worst moments you were here  with us. I’m eternally grateful for you holding me as I broke down outside the hospital when it set in that my baby brother wouldn’t be coming home ever again.  Setting aside your own pain and fear to sit bedside him at the hospital.  Respectfully sitting behind our family at the funeral. Checking on us all each day.  Walking though the house today, despite all the painful memories of that February 8th. Thank you.  Thank you for loving Shaun.  Thank you for helping us to grieve and filling in memories that we can never get back.  Thank you for remembering what matters most. Thank you for being not only a Davis, but a Bowers at heart!  I love you! Shaun loved you!  We all love you!

To the Girl Who Claims to Love My Brother

To the Girl Who Claims to Love My Brother

Let’s start here… I am heart broken.  I am traumatized by the last call from February 8th.  I struggle to eat, sleep, and go forth each day.  I miss my baby brother with every cell in my body.  I feel helpless and lost.  My  job was to protect him and I couldn’t save him from you or himself.

lake-cherokee

To the girl who claimed to love him,

Where were you when he showed up at my house late at night in tears because of another fight with you? Where were you when he beat and broke his way into the gun safe?  Why wasn’t 911 called then? Where were you when he placed that final call to Shelby?  Where were you when we begged him to put the gun down and not do this?  Where were you when I called 911 and begged them to send help fast?  Where were you each day that I sat vigil beside his bed in the hospital watching my family grieve?  Where were you as they struggle with more questions than answers?  Where were you  and his best friend while we sat and received countless visitors at the receiving of friends? Where were you at the end of the funeral when everyone hugged us and showed support during the darkest most painful time in our lives?  Where were your real tears when no one was watching?  Where is your grief and pain as you cleaned out the house before the scene was cleaned up and before he had even died?  Do these questions sound like the actions of someone who loved him so much?  No.  You didn’t love him like he loved you then and you don’t love him now.  You claim we only want the materialistic things, but you forget that is all we have left.  It’s the only way to feel him close and to smell his cologne one more time.  I just came from that house that you claimed to share.  No trace of you anywhere.  I can see him and Shelby in the paint colors and the shelving for the coupon supplies.  I see them in that bed that they  bought together.  I see them in the pillows and the other half of them that are here at my house on her bed. I see them in his wedding band that now sits on my finger.  I see them in the NY and Paris pictures that hang on my walls.  I see them in that whole place as we helped to remodel it and make it their home. You are right.  He did love you. He told us so.  He also couldn’t understand why cooking for you, cleaning for you, loving your girls, caring for your girls, running your baths, and buying you flowers weren’t enough for you to love him back. He needed you to save him and you might as well have pulled the trigger.  My heart breaks each time I see you because I should have been able to protect him.  I should have been able to save him from a heartless girl like you, but I couldn’t.  He begged you.  He needed you.  You turned your back and brought this nightmare to life for us all. You use that baby you are carrying as a pawn in a cruel cruel game.  You use it to gain sympathy, but it doesn’t work with me.  I see and know the real you.  The heartless you.  The one who ignored my cries for help.  The one who ran away that night  instead of help him. It should be you who is gone from our life.  I’d trade your life in an instant for his cruel girl. I won’t let you trash my family.  I won’t let you steal our memories.  I couldn’t save him and the nightmares haunt me each night because of that.  I can save us! I will save us from the evil that is you.

 

 

 

Shaun Douglas July 15, 1992- February 13, 2017

Shaun Douglas July 15, 1992- February 13, 2017

Let me start by saying if you or someone you know has been contemplating suicide, please get help.  Your life is worth something!  You are more than your disease.  You aren’t making the pain go away, but simply adding it to someone else close to you.  This is a permanent solution to temporary circumstances! You are loved more than you know!  JUST KEEP GOING! 

shaun-forever

My baby brother was born on July 15th, 1992 in Middletown, NY arriving two weeks late and very much on his own terms.  You see,  he was supposed to be a baby sister, but a full two weeks late here came an 10 lb 13 oz baby boy.  We are three years apart and your typical siblings.  A life  filled with  love, fights, so many pranks, and a support that only comes from siblings born close in age.  The memories and the pain are flooding in as I currently write.  Riding atvs through the corn field with our grandmother and spotting the black bear with her cubs, picnicking on our rock in the middle of the Beaverkill River, picking blueberries on top of the hill, so many family trips with our grandparents, moving to South Carolina when we were young, our first move into our own house and getting separate rooms for the first time, and so many more memories.  Shaun was an avid New York Yankees fan, a lover of the New England Patriots, a Greenville Swamp Rabbits season pass holder, and a duck hunting fiend.   His greatest loves include his lifted black f150, his black lab Storm, and of course Shelby in that exact order.  Although him and Shelby had separated on his birthday last year, we all knew that their love was eternal.  Soulmates divided by pride and torn apart by the baggage of the past.

February 8th, 2017 with one 11:30 phone call my world crashed to the ground and shattered.  The precarious balance of antidepressants and intense therapy work destroyed.  Shaun called Shelby who lives with me to say  goodbye.  Pure pain and terror came through my bedroom door that night.  Begging for help.  The final “I love you” and the sound of a gun shot ring out in my nightmares now as clear as the very first night.   Each morning after, waking up at 3 am in a cold sweat, heart racing, and mind-blowing pain taking over everything.  Panic settles in and I feel late for the hospital even though I  logically know that Shaun’s battle ended in the early morning hours of February 13th.  He became an angel and a hero that morning.  We chose to honor his wishes and donate everything we were able.  58 lives touched by his gift. 58 people who will live on with a piece of my baby brother inside.

Much like the rambling of this post, the emotions come and go, minute by minute more questions than answers swirl in my brain. I struggle to go on. I struggle to make sense of it all. I question the reality of the situation, but one glance at a fresh tattoo on my wrist reminds me that this is happening and things must go on. Life slows down and stops for no one.   A constant sea of visitors, condolences, and food fill these days.  The always same, “What can I do?” asked repeatedly.  From one grief stricken family to another, here is what you can do:

Love your family whole-heartedly flaws and all.

Get help if you are depressed or struggling with any mental illnesses.

Live each day fully.

Be grateful.

Be present in the moments.

Make memories.

JUST KEEP GOING!

Outages and Breakdowns

Outages and Breakdowns

October 2008-

I was in the middle of a custody battle for my daughter and my lawyer informed me  on a Thursday that I had only 3 choices… Move out of the home I had just spent my savings getting into with my then fiance, give up custody of my daughter to her father, or get married before we went to court.  My fiance was on an outage in West Virginia at the time, but with one phone call to inform him of the news I’d received the whirlwind began.  That Sunday we were married in a small ceremony in my grandparents back yard for our family members that were able to attend on such short notice. That Monday he returned to work.

August 2009-

After receiving the devastating news that our first son had a heart tumor that had grown, my blood pressure was elevated,  and I was low on amniotic fluid at a follow-up with our local high risk OBGYN’s we were admitted to the hospital.  48 Hours later our 6lb 8 oz baby boy came into this world tumor free!  The next month my husband was sent out on another outage.  Here I was, all alone with 2 kids.  Postpartum set in, but I wouldn’t know that for months to come.  My husband returned home to a wife he didn’t recognize.  I had gained 60 lbs during my pregnancy and probably another 20 lbs following it.  I had dropped out of college and was only doing the bare minimum around the house to get by.  When he came home even that ceased.  I spent the next month either sleeping, eating, crying, or furious.  It took my husband leaving with the kids for me to seek help.  I was placed on drugs, but not encouraged to seek therapy at that time.  I became a smiling zombie.  Numb to anything going on around me.

May 2013-

I finally graduate college after a hard-fought battle!  I am the proud recipient of an Associate of Science degree in Business Management.  My  husband once again on an outage in Georgia, races home to make my ceremony.  He beams with pride as I accept my diploma.  Tears stream as I return to my seat.  I finally accomplished something worthy! Oh, but just like everything else happiness is short-lived.  My long-lost dead to me grandmother returns after a 12 year disappearance.  Wreaking havoc like a tornado.  Quick and deadly.

 

July 2014-

We lost my dear mother-in-law  Ella after a lengthy battle with liver disease.  Let me say that there  is nothing that prepares you for that moment when someone you love dearly passes.  I don’t care how grateful you want to pretend to be that they aren’t suffering or how long you have known it was coming.  Death comes like a thief in the night stealing our happiness.

The next week we’d find out the news that even though we weren’t “trying”  for a baby, we  are pregnant.  A glimmer of hope in a very dark time.  However, we end up suffering an early miscarriage. Will I ever climb out of this pit?  I’d like to just slip into the water and never surface again.  I walk around and feel like my lungs are burning and I can’t breathe most days now anyway.  I carry on spiraling further into the depression that consumes me daily.

 

September 2014-

Adding insult to injury we lost my husbands uncle John.  He also happened to be the pastor at our church and one of the few who could make me believe in something more than ourselves.  He baptized me and introduced me to a peace I’ve sought since his passing, but that has eluded me to this day.  I spiral further.  I’m not sure I know what happiness is anymore.  I work, eat, and sleep.  I don’t leave the house often.  I don’t do much of anything anymore.

 

October 2014-

We are pregnant with our second son!  I’m terrified to lose this baby.  I’m stressed about going from 2-3 kids.  I’m overjoyed to finally be pregnant after trying since the miscarriage even if some of our family isn’t happy for us.  I am absolutely feeling blessed to finally have good news after months of horrible unending pain and depression. .The darkness isn’t far as we face the fact that our baby will never meet his grandmother.  She’d love him fully with her whole heart and we know that.

 

January 2015-

My poor husband is turning 28.  We are enjoying a quiet night at home eating  snacks and watching a movie with our daughter. Our son is off spending the night with family.  It has been a relatively good day.  11 pm the unthinkable happens.  I stand up and feel the unmistakable gush of fluid down my legs. Panic sets in as tears run like tiny streams down my cheek and fall to the floor.  I’m trying my best not to panic my young daughter and run for my bathroom.  I’m changing my pants and praying as I try to clean up myself.  She walks in and spots the blood before I do and runs screaming  for my husband.  With one frantic phone call we drop her off to my mom and race for the local ER.  I waste several hours in severe pain, believing I am in preterm labor.  They only do a check for a heartbeat they never find and a pelvic exam.  My OB is never notified or even the OB on call.  I am sent home and told I am suffering a miscarriage again to call my doctor on Monday.  My heart breaks!  What the hell have I done to deserve this again!  I blame myself.   I sob all the way back home, but something doesn’t feel right.  This doesn’t feel like the last time.  We try to go to sleep, but the pain keeps me awake .  I wake my husband and at 2 am we head to a different nearby hospital.  I am rushed to the women’s center and an on call OB begins running tests to make sure I am not in labor.  My blood pressure is crazy high and I can’t stop crying and shaking.  My poor husband whose birthday has been ruined sits stoic in his seat, unsure how to comfort me, and mostly terrified of the hospital until a phone call snaps him out of it.  We get the call that his father has had a heart attack and its serious.  He’s at the very incompetent hospital we had been too early.  We must have missed him as we left.  DEAR GOD you cannot do this to him.  You cannot take our baby and his father on his birthday merely months after we lose  two of the most important people to him.  The OB on call decides not to put me through another pelvic since the bleeding is slowing down.  He finally wheels an ultrasound in and shows me a perfectly happy baby floating around in my belly.  I am able to hear his strong heartbeat and breathe my first sigh of relief.  We are sent home on bed rest until I see my personal OB that Monday with no explanations on what has gone wrong.  Monday brings news that Charley’s dad will be fine and while we had a small bleed from my placenta our baby appears fine too.

 

 

June 2015-

Here we go again!  We are admitted to the hospital for an induction.  My blood pressure is at stroke levels and they think it is safer to have the baby now.  12 hours later our 6lb 5oz baby boy enters the world with a scream.  I cry tears of joy as my rainbow baby is finally here in my arms. My world is complete!

 

2016-

Came with its own set of heart breaks.  I lost my job in March.  My husband was laid off not long after that in June and sent out on a new job 12 hours away.

My best-friend ended her 8 year relationship with my brother not by choice and moves in with me.  We struggle with the aftermath.  I rat her out to the doctor about a mass we found in her pelvis 2 years ago at a visit for some pain she’s having in her side and we begin the whole cancer or not journey.  In the meantime, she begins a new relationship and we grow closer than ever.

I  enter another custody battle over my daughter.  She begins therapy to help her cope with all the changes going on in her own little life and I start to think maybe I should be brave like my 8-year-old. Maybe I need help too? I lose the first battle  in court and her father is given equal time.  This war isn’t over though.  I won’t watch my daughter be made to feel bad about her body or be alienated against me. I am not perfect, but I am her mother and I will fight to the death for her happiness and safety.

I decide to home-school, because even though I am already overwhelmed and struggling why not?  My son deserves it and the school certainly isn’t helping passing him on grade after grade when he clearly isn’t ready.

I soon have a breakdown crying on the phone to my husband while laying in my best-friend’s lap.  I cannot keep living life-like this.  I am not happy.  I feel alone.  I feel either pain, anger, or numb.  I am done!   The next week I go to the doctor and I start taking my antidepressants and blood pressure medicine.  I get results later saying my Vitamin D levels are low and that joins the daily regimen.  I  also begin attending therapy on a bi-weekly basis wading though the demons of the past.

 

2017-

Here we are… a brand new year and a brand new me.  Just kidding.  I’m still dealing with my issues, but at least now I can see the light.  This is where the journey begins! Come along with me as I face the end of the custody battle, a husband still 12 hours away on an outage, a best-friend still living with me,  the battle for my health and happiness, and all the crazy things that happen in between.

Boilermaker Housewife?

I bet you are picturing the housewives you see on TV.  Lives filled with fancy clothes,  a house full of help, girl trips, and parties all the time. I admit it!  I am a sucker for the reality trash on TV, too. You won’t find any of that here though!

I’m sitting here writing in what is left of yesterday’s makeup, bra-less,  in maternity yoga pants from my last pregnancy over a year ago, and a true messy bun.  I can hear the chorus of “No No” that fills our house constantly as my one year old son finds new ways to wreak havoc.  My 7 year old son sits parked in front of the TV, that always seems to be two notches too loud. My 9 year old  daughter is silently cleaning her room tonight, just kidding, she is at her father’s house for a visit this weekend.  My darling husband, hundreds of miles away, is dreading that alarm for work tomorrow. Counting down the days until a lay off. Children missing their father.  Bills always waiting to be paid. A house that really needs to be cleaned before Febreeze asks to film commercials here. Four dogs all wanting attention, because life wasn’t crazy enough with just 3 kids around. I definitely needed to add pets and homeschooling to the list.  My best friend recovering from a surgery who still thinks she is super woman when the pain medicine  kicks in.  This is my life!

I am depressed. I am anxious. I am overweight. I am sarcastic. I am sometimes funny, even when I am not trying to be.  I am occasionally ruthless. Not a candy factory so you won’t find sugar coating here.  I will always say how I feel and with no apologies.   I am out on a ledge, preparing for the polar plunge, and so far beyond my comfort zone that all excuses are gone.  From now on, this is about what has led me to the journey to find myself again the happy and healthy girl that I lost somewhere  along the way.