Reality: the world or state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them or the state or quality of having existence or substance. This definition came from the Websters Dictionary.

When someone dies you have to face several realities. That is you face them if you want to be a functional person in the future. You have to face the fact that you will never see that person again. You will never see them walk through the door. You will never hear their voice or hear them fighting with their siblings. When you lose a child there are so many more realities you have to face. You will never see them graduate from college (even though he didn’t want to go anyways), you will never see them get married, you will never have grandchildren from them. You will never see them find their way. I used to tell Drew that don’t worry about your teen years everyone sucks when they are teenagers. Wait till life starts you will do great things. I feel like my words are biting me in the butt now.

I am slapped in the face almost everyday with these realities. I was shopping with a friend and went to check for basketball shorts for Drew. Then reality hit me and I realized I will never buy him clothes again. They say the hardest part of grief is coming to terms with these realities. I would love to be able to pretend that he is off at school or on a fabulous trip around the world but I can’t. My mind tells me he is gone but my heart tells me that someone that was such a big part of my heart can’t be gone. He can’t be gone because we didn’t get to say goodbye. I listen for his car and for my door to open but that damn reality sneaks in.

The other reality that you have to face when someone dies, especially an older child is that they may not have been the person you think they were. As a parent it is hard to see that our children are growing up and becoming their own person. They are making their own decisions and hopefully learning from their mistakes. My son died unexpectedly so he did not have the luxury to get his “affairs” in order. His room was a mess, his laundry needed done and video games were left in the PlayStation. His life was left unfinished. The reality is I am left unfinished.

I do know that if Drew knew he was going to die he would have made sure that I did not find the box under his bed. If you have teenage boys you might be able to guess what I found under the bed. Once again you are faced with reality of having to pack up your child’s room knowing they will never need the stuff they held dear again.  As a parent or grandparent it is hard to see your child may not have been as innocent as you thought. It was hard to think of Drew as a man of 20 when he was alive cause when he wasn’t around me I kept thinking of my cute 4 year old that loved to dig for dinosaur bones in my back yard. The thing about that is I know how I was at 20 is not how the way I am now at 40. We grow, we learn, unless of course our path is cut short and you are stuck being 20 for the rest of everyone’s memory.

My sage advice is simple. Tell your children that they should clean their rooms because lord forbid something happens to them someone (usually your mother) will have to clean out from under the bed.


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