The morning after, revisited

Young people have different ways to assuage their grief and to cope, erecting a cross to mark the place where his car came to rest, to tell the world where their brother, friend and beloved B was lost, is just another way.
Young people have different ways to assuage their grief and to cope, erecting a cross to mark the place where his car came to rest, to tell the world where their brother, friend and beloved B was lost, is just another way.

Charlotte mother Tammy Garlock recalls the heart- wrenching events from a normal summer day that changed her life forever. To follow Garlock’s story, read her previous posts:

The beginning, revisited

Getting there, revisited

Reaching Brain, revisited

I’m very sorry, revisited

Leaving Brian, revisited

I’ve kept vigil many nights since that first one, though none as excruciating or uncertain…

The level of anxiety and panic I felt the morning after has abated; I make a deliberate daily decision not to let fear rule my life. That is not to say I don’t worry anymore, because I do-that’s part of being a mom-but I generally recognize when it’s brooding and unreasonable and then talk it out…

We have adapted to our ‘new’ normal as well as anyone can; we don’t hide from the truth, nor do we ignore it anymore…it is simply part of what is…

One of the stars illuminating my sky has gone supernova, burning out without warning; his intensity, his exuberance, his energy, all gone. The impulse to jump into the fathomless black hole left in his wake is overwhelming, instinctual, hard to resist.

This night is endless…longing for the escape of sleep while fearing it (what if I dream maybe this is a dream nope this is all too real). I find myself startling awake, momentarily confused, listening for something, someone…quietly padding through the house, searching to be sure, swollen eyes seeking that which is not to be found…

Dawn breaks, unnoticed by most of the household; I slip carefully from our room, so as not to wake John, and greet the first morning of our new life. The house is quiet (for the moment), and I step outside, trying to gain my bearings in this strange place, which looks so very familiar and yet is unknown to me now. I wander outside, amazed that the sun is still floating in the sky, the squirrels are still running around, and the birds still sing their melodies; don’t they know that everything has changed? It is NOT business as usual, nothing is as it was (nor will it ever be again), it is all completely different. Even the newspaper is casually tossed onto the edge of the concrete, just like this is an average day. I am overcome with the urge to run screaming from it (ignore it throw it across the road get it away from me from us), for seeing the truth, the acknowledgement of our tragedy in black and white, will certainly cause my delicate self composure to crumble (walk away turn around don’t do this I have to see it you must please Lord let it be kind).

Three sentences…and I am a sobbing heap of nothingness once again, momentarily blinded to my surroundings. I have come undone…a neighbor passes…he pretends not to see me; I pretend not to see him, for what has passed cannot be changed…should I feel embarrassed? The only thing I feel right here, right now, is pain, there is room for nothing else (I’m sorry I don’t know I don’t care I’m helpless to do anything, anything at all).

I finally manage to close my version of Pandora’s Box (momentarily), for the first task of the day is on the horizon. I must roll Grace out of bed (hmmm…which room is she in again) and get her moving; she has an early check-up appointment with our pediatrician. I called the day before to request anxiety medication (should we need it), and was given a startling piece of information. It is not uncommon for teens to attempt suicide following the death of a sibling. As an added bonus, at any given moment, any one of Brian’s friends is vulnerable too. Unbelievable…the bad news keeps on coming (wow how do I absorb this any of these kids giving up how to help what to look for please this is too much to deal with). In summary, we have lost one child and losing another is very real, very possible… Welcome to hell on earth, a trip down the wrong rabbit hole to a place where up is down, in is out, right is worse comes to worst…

Honestly, today was supposed to be a celebration of John’s life (a party balloons bows trick candles on his cake where did I put the card I have no gift of any kind does he even care will he ever again); instead we are making preparations (trying to anyway) for Brian’s funeral (our son the heartbreak this day is tainted will forever be marked one of the worst days of our lives). This just isn’t fair! I hate this, feeling this way, the helplessness, the lack of control, the way the world just carries on, indifferent to our suffering. I know that life isn’t fair; I have said that very thing to our children too many times to count. I can hardly think the words ‘happy birthday’ much less say them, knowing that there is no such thing as happiness in this house anymore. Really, what is happy about this day (not a damn thing, not one)?!

Lack of sleep, shock, whatever…it’s like I’ve downed a double shot of anxiety and paranoia (what if something else someone else don’t forget your seatbelt put down the phone pay attention no control at all but what if it can happen all my fault)...concerned for the safety of what is left of my family… Grace, Beth and all of the teens want to make a pilgrimage to Pineville. I don’t want to let any of them out of my sight (irrational sure I don’t care silly but if I can see them they are safe right?), although I really have no choice in the matter. Young people have different ways to assuage their grief and to cope, starting with the painting of Butler’s rock in Brian’s memory last night. Erecting a cross to mark the place where his car came to rest, to tell the world where their brother, friend and beloved B (a/k/a GARLOCK, “We good B”) was lost, is just another way. They want to confront the place and take it back, take him back. They are far braver than I; the idea of them going there is almost enough to push me off the edge (that place not safe don’t go there the monster is out of the closet and it will take you all away and then what will I do I cannot stand it STOP you cannot think this way STOP IT RIGHT NOW). I beat back the panic once more, faith conquering fear (at least for now). Off they go to do what they must…out of my sight, always on my mind, covered by a prayer…as John and I prepare to face what comes next…