Arts & Crafts Magazine

My First Post After Patrick's Accident.

By Laharris1

My first post after Patrick's accident.
The other day I told Michael I was thinking of returning to my blog, but whenever I think about hitting the 'publish' button on a post now I feel insecure.

He looked curious so I kept talking.

I said what I really need is to be completely truthful and raw and unafraid with my words because I realize this kind of writing will help me heal. But what I mean specifically, is that I need to write about the accident. 

I need to write about the knock on our door at 7:30 that morning. And the horrific feeling in my gut when I threw open the door and saw a female officer and man in a brown tie and wrinkled shirt, standing there holding a clipboard, looking grim. Asking us to verify if we were Patrick's parents. Please. Please tell me he's OK I remember pleading. But instead of an answer the dark-haired officer asked to come inside.

I need to write about these moments because they happened. They are real and heart wrenching but I know that telling the truth will  mend my brokenness. And god knows I need mending. Even with the strange disconnection I feel with my body lately, I know there is trauma lodged inside every cell in my physical self. I see the signs of trauma inside my mind and in my heart spilling out in my ragged sleep and in the graphic images that invade my thoughts.

In case you don't know yet

The worst thing that-could-ever-happen-to-Me, happened.

And now, every second of the day I'm just trying to keep moving. Putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to string coherent thoughts together. Using distraction to ease the pain. But it's always there, this whirling vortex of disbelief and despair that's ready to suck me out of the present moment. And when I'm least expecting it, hurl me into a devastating new reality I just can't believe. 

Honestly, we're all still stunned.

I used to believe that God would never allow anything to ever happen to one of my kids because He knew I would never survive it. I think I actually uttered these words out loud, even allowed my Mama's tender heart to feel comforted by this sweet logic--so much that not once, ever-ever-ever did I prepare for the possibility of losing my child.

Anything else dear Lord, I'd quietly whisper.

I can handle anything but THAT.

And then it happened. 

On September 15, 2018--not even four months ago-- the unfathomable loss I said I could never survive happened and now my beautiful son Patrick is gone. Our brightest light. The most completely irreplaceable-bigger-than-Life person I've ever known, the one person I thought I could never live without.  Gone.

Taken in an accident that was so profoundly, deeply unfair.

Maybe you already know this. If you follow me on IG, I've slowly dripped out this shattering news in an effort to keep myself grounded in reality.


But even now as I tap out these words on my laptop they appear bizarre on my screen.

Even thought I see the basket on our dining room overflowing with condolence cards that I've carefully read and cried over, Patrick's absence from our lives is still so achingly raw, so emotionally unbearable that I can't fully grasp the realness of it.

Patrick gone from our lives?

I just can't believe it.

Sometimes when I'm driving alone or walking to my car in the grocery store parking lot, I hear myself repeating those words.
Probably out loud, who knows? The odd thing about a heart that's been ripped wide open is that the boundaries between your inner life and outer life become blurred.

Was I sleeping or am I awake?

Was I talking to myself or talking out loud?

Either way it doesn't seem to change the words that spill from my heart. "Oh my God. I just can't believe it."

But then I feel Jim nudge me in the dark. Les, his voice tells me. You're moaning in your sleep again.

This is where I am right now and it's a surreal experience. One minute I'm trying to endure the worst kind of suffering my motherly-self can imagine. Being in a world without my son. Trying to justify my own breathing when I know Patrick's has stopped.

And the next minute I'm having an amazing conversation with Michael, and I'm being flooded with the kind of gratitude that shakes me softly by the shoulders and penetrates my pain just long enough to remind me of my blessings.


My first post after Patrick's accident.


We were sitting on the sectional in the living room--Michael and I-- right next to the Christmas tree that had surprised Basha, my grief counselor. On that afternoon, bright sunshine had been pouring through the branches, saturating the ornaments in a yellow glow and Basha had blurted out,

"Leslie I don't think you realize how good you're doing. Just so you know. There are some mothers who wouldn't be able to get out of their beds at this point."

I think I offered a weak smile. I tried to appreciate what she was saying but since I know I am one of those mothers who could easily be in a dense pile on the floor--just not today--I say nothing.

This is something I've learned from these darkest days following Patrick's accident, and it's what Anne Lamott says about grace.

She says "grace meets you exactly where you are, at your most pathetic and hopeless, and grace carefully loads you into its wheelbarrow and tips you out somewhere else. In ever so slightly better shape."

I like this humble description of grace.

I have no other explanation for how I'm functioning besides being lugged around in a mystical wheelbarrow, leaving behind a trail of simple tasks. Christmas decorating. Visiting my 80-year-old friend. Going to the office even-when-I-cry. Writing these words.

It's a mystery I can only explain by Love. As hokey and clique as that sounds it's been the one consistent truth through all this crazy grief, all those unsolicited acts of caring and compassion--gifts of grace--that keep coming from everywhere, our families and friends, and Patrick's friends. People that Patrick touched from so many places. People that loved him and want to share stories of him. In person, by text messages, by mail.

This is how we've been surviving. How we made it through our toughest Christmas ever, swaddled in the love of Patrick's tribe. Now ours.

I always knew that love was powerful, I just never knew it could sweep you up and carry you along on those days when your feet can no longer hold you up. 

I never realized that love--in the form of an early morning text--from hundreds of miles away at the exact moment you're being flooded with heartache, could have the power to get you out of bed.

It's amazing really. So many inexplicable happenings that I consider to be small miracles since Patrick's accident.

I tell Michael I'm thinking of writing about these things on my blog but then I think about the kind of blog titles going through my feed and I start to feel doubt.


I stare at the fashion and beauty tips. The how-to style-your-home-after-Christmas tips that I used to care about, and I realize the absolute last topic that any woman especially mothers, want to hear about is the D-word.

And I don't blame you if you're one of those people.

I totally understand if you want to get as faraway as possible from the idea of losing a child.

In fact, I remember that feeling.

The overwhelming agony you feel for the mother in that situation and the relief and gratitude you feel about your own kids, and then the guilt about feeling so relieved that this horrific thing that happened to this mother didn't-happen-to-you-thank-god. And before you know it, you're texting your kid again just to exhale that relief all over again.


You can only be where you are 

The conversation with Michael that day helped me shed a layer of my self-consciousness. It's so crazy how we do that. How we look around at others for some kind of confirmation. Do I fit in here or do I fit in there?

Well I've decided that the real lesson I'm supposed to be learning has nothing to do with what to share and where to share it. On this blog or on another platform. 

The deeper lesson I'm supposed to be learning is that we can only be where we are. Right now.

Without any apologies, or denial or shame for whatever might be causing us pain. We have to keep living from an honest place and that's how we find our way through uncertainty and darkness.

I think that's why comparing ourselves with others can be so wounding, because we can end up feeling like where we are right-at-this-moment-in-our-lives is not good enough.

I don't know if you can relate to anything I'm writing about in this post, but maybe something I say here might help you feel less alone. That's my simple hope.


Because I don't know if I have anything to offer you. 

I used to think I had some meager wisdom to share, but after watching my big, handsome son walk out the front door on a sunny Friday in September, never to see him again, I feel the full weight of Socrates' words:

"I know I know nothing."

This is me. I know nothing now. I'm not saying this to put myself down or to make you feel a certain reaction, I'm just trying to express how outrageously upside-down and completely shattered my entire life appears to me as I write these words.

I used to think I knew what my future looked like. How my life would be. I once thought I had some control. I once was afraid of death.

Now none of those things are true anymore.

For Me, a woman who used to say to her friends over a nice glass of Cab, "as long as my kids are OK, my life is great," there is nothing more traumatic that could have happened in my life.

Do you wonder how you would go on living in the face of such an unbearable loss? 

Well, I do too. 

This is where I am right now. This is my journey.


sharing this post with old friends:

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