Thursday, March 24, 2022

Year Six - Another Angelversary

Well, I made it.  Today marks the 6th year since Andrew died. It was the first time I have worked this day and I made it through the whole day with only a few tears.  Those tears came when chatting with Matt this morning.  Sometimes my own grief can be so overwhelming that I forget the loss that day was not just mine. Matt lost a brother, his only sibling. My siblings lost a nephew. My dad lost a grandson. My aunts, uncles, and cousins lost him too. Natalia lost her boyfriend. Coworkers lost a treasured team member. Classmates lost a friend. Zeus lost his owner. And me, I lost a child. Forgive me as I take a moment to reflect on what is the absolute worst pain a parent can ever endure. It is so unfathomable, that I would not wish it on even my worst enemy.

I posted this morning on Facebook and I received many supportive comments, texts, and calls throughout the day.  I treasure each person who lifted Matt and me up in prayer today. In many of those comments, I saw where people said I was strong, tough, brave, etc.  I'm humbled that others see that.  That is not at all how I feel.  I often feel broken, wounded, helpless, and defeated. Many days feel pointless as I constantly look for ways to make sense of my life minus Andrew.  

But I have to say, through all my grief, I am also constantly reminded of how loved Andrew was and is. I am also constantly reminded of how many people love Matt and me. We continue to be blessed with amazing family and friends who always know just the right thing to say (or not say) and how to be there without intruding. We are blessed. If you think that is strength, then know this...that strength comes from the Lord. There have been many days where I just want to escape it all and stay in bed, but God speaks to me and gives me the strength to get up and get going. 

There hasn't been a single day that I felt God left me alone. He constantly shows up. Sometimes it is with a phone call or text from a friend. Sometimes it is a card in the mail. Sometimes it is a Facebook memory. Sometimes it is a television show. Sometimes it's an article I read. One year, on the anniversary of Andrew's death, the starting pitcher at spring training was named Andrew.  It's these little tidbits of God's unfailing love that remind me, there is a purpose, he has a plan, and he loves me.  So again, if you see that as strength, please know it is God working to heal my heart and help me to keep going.

Matt's post on Facebook today was right on the money. He said in the past six years many things had changed. But, one that has not changed is how loved and missed Andrew is every day.  Matt is right, we continue to love and miss him. God has kept that going too!

Thanks again for all the love and support. We appreciate you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Five Year Angelversary

Five years. Five long years. Five years of random tears. Five years of wondering what might have been. Five years of heartache. Yes, I still think of you every day. Yes, I miss you every single day. Yes, it still hurts.

It struck me today that while I still struggle with Andrew's death, I am not alone.  I know God is with me, but I am referring to others who also experienced this terrible day with me.  I got the call from my boss to come to the hospital emergency room because Andrew had been in an accident.  How hard must that call have been for Cynamin?  She knew he was gone, but couldn't tell me because they needed me to drive carefully to get there. Thank you, Lord, for providing a strong woman of faith to make that initial call. I know she was praying for us as soon as she knew.

The first person I called was Matt. How difficult that call was to make because technically, I couldn't say for certain he was gone.  My head knew it, but my heart didn't want to believe it. Matt went from older brother to only child in a phone call.  He lost a brother with no warning and no opportunity to say goodbye. I couldn't offer much comfort as I have never lost a sibling and because I was crumbling knowing I had lost a child. Matt was in Augusta, so he had to drive back to Atlanta, what a difficult journey that was for him. Thank you, Lord, for delivering him safely home, while providing friends who comforted him via telephone and were waiting at the hospital to welcome him when he arrived.

Next, I called my brother Chris, the brother who lives in London. What a rock he is, a calming voice in the storm of chaos in my mind. He was just two days away from being home for Easter. I wouldn't learn until later of his pain and guilt over the accident. You see, Chris controlled Andrew's trust from our mom and he had given Andrew the money to buy the motorcycle. I had no idea the guilt he had and the what-ifs he went through. It never occurred to me to blame Chris, nor do I.  If you knew Andrew, then you know, he would have gotten the money another way if Chris had said no. Thank you, Lord, for a brother and uncle who loves and cares so deeply.

I don't remember the exact order of other people I called, but there was my Aunt Becky and Uncle Mike, who were headed to their grandson's birthday party.  Instead, they rerouted themselves to the hospital, a two-hour drive for them. Thank you, Lord, for a family that understands that just being there is important.

I called my sisters on my way to the hospital, which were also difficult calls to make.  At the time I called my sisters, I wasn't at the hospital, so I wasn't 100% certain of his status. By the time they had gotten there, I assumed they knew he was gone, so when they walked in the room to see him, they were shocked to learn he had died.  How awful was that for them? I thought they already knew so when they asked me how he was, I coldly said, "he's dead," not realizing they didn't know.  I'll always regret not being softer when I told them.  They called our brother, Michael, who lives in California to give him the news. He caught the next flight out and arrived very early the next morning.  Thank you, Lord, for siblings who show up without having to say, I need you.

I called a friend and co-worker, Cindy, and she came straight to the hospital, even though she had just left for the day. She sat with me while I cried and helped me make phone calls. Thank you, Lord, for providing friends who show up when needed.

When I got to the hospital, Sherri met me at the entrance to escort me through the emergency room to where they were keeping Andrew. I knew he was gone when I saw her because she had been crying. If you don't know, Andrew and I both worked at the hospital, Andrew in the emergency room, and Sherri was his boss.  I'm sure it was difficult for Sherri to have to make that walk with me. She put her arm around me while the doctor went through the "we did all that we could" rhetoric.  I remember saying, probably frantically, "where is he?" and "can I see him?".  I was truly worried they were going to say I couldn't see him, fearing he was too "mangled" from the crash.  I just knew that as a mom, there was no way I could say goodbye if I couldn't see him. Thank you, Lord, for Sherri and her caring and comforting spirit.

Many things become blurry at this point, I had so many more calls to make, including calling Natalia, Andrew's girlfriend. Knowing I needed her to get to the hospital safely, I wasn't sure what to tell her. I tried to get her mom to bring her, but due to a language barrier, it ended up her knowing he had been in an accident. When she arrived and I had to tell her he was gone, it was awful.  They had been together since junior year of high school. Thank you, Lord, for giving Andrew someone who loved him so deeply and completely.

At some point, I also called my friend Tami. Tami has known Andrew since he was two. Our boys grew up together through after-school care and basketball at church. We bonded as single-mothers of boys and over our love of baseball.  She was as much a mom to Andrew as I was, so her pain was just as real as mine. She was devastated when I told her. She was so upset, I found myself comforting her and she was apologizing for not comforting me. But that is what happens when a friendship is that deep, comfort occurs naturally. Thank you, Lord, for giving me a friendship that has lasted so long and remained so deep.

Since we were in the emergency room, where Andrew worked, all of the staff were coming by to offer support and condolences.  Many of them were crying, after all, they had just said good-bye to him less than an hour earlier as he headed home from his shift.  As family and friends began arriving, as well as co-workers who had left for the day, but heard the news and returned, the hospital administrator, Jay, made arrangements to move us to another area of the hospital that was closed for the day.  This allowed us plenty of space to receive friends and family, without disrupting the emergency room. He even made sure to tell me we could stay as long as we wanted to.  Thank you, Lord, for providing Andrew and me with an employer who understood the value of associates and for treating us like family.

I would also learn later of the two women who had stopped to help Andrew immediately following the crash. One was my next-door neighbor and she continues to pray for me. The other, someone I have never met, but she held Andrew in her arms, said his name, and offered him comfort as he was dying. To this woman, Allison, I am eternally grateful. How amazing that she cared enough to find out his name, having someone search his backpack to find out what it was, so she could call him by his name. But also, how difficult must this have been for her? She is a mom too, so she did what a mother would do, comforting a child and praying for them. Her own children, much younger than Andrew, watched her from their car.  How difficult that must have been for them and how difficult must it have been for her to talk about with them afterward?  Thank you, Lord, for providing these women of faith in just the right place, at just the right time.

Yes, I still have difficult days. Yes, I still miss him.  Yes, it bothers me that people think I should be over it by now. No, I don't think I will ever be over it and yes, that is okay. Everyone grieves differently, but a mother grieves forever. Thank you, Lord, for never leaving me, even in my grief.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Happy Birthday My Angel

Happy Birthday My Angel.

Today you are 25.  This would have been a milestone year for you, despite the craziness of 2020.  For starters, it is likely your insurance rates would be dropping - assuming you had kept a clean driving record.  You would also be a college graduate by now and hopefully, be working in your dream job as a fire medic.  I wonder how many lives you would have saved, how much comfort you might have brought to someone in the aftermath of an accident or tragedy.  It's also likely you would be married by now and maybe even a dad.  That would make me a grandma and I would be so proud.  You'd probably have a house now and hopefully enough room in a basement or in-law suite for me.  After all, I'd need to be able to see my grandchild daily and be ready to babysit anytime!

So many things I believe you would have accomplished, so many things I feel we were both cheated out of experiencing.  It's really very simple, I miss you.  I miss all the things that might have been.  Some days it still hurts to breathe and some days I manage to pretend nothing is wrong. Some days I even manage to function normally, but the truth is, nothing will ever be the same again. There will always be a piece of my heart that is missing.  Yes, I still love Jesus, and this is what makes it possible for me to breathe each day without you here.  Knowing I will get to be with you again is the hope I need.

Thank you for the 20+ years we did get to spend together.  Thank you for being the first one in the pool once the gate was open.  Thank you for providing so much entertainment as the batboy for Matt's travel team. Thank you for all the foot rubs and back massages.  Thank you for the sweet and silent ways you showed you loved me too. Thank you for making me a mom a second time. Thank you for being the annoying little brother to Matt.  Thank you for never backing down from a dare and for your competitive spirit. Thank you for all the joy and for all the tears.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for letting me love you. Thank God I am your mom.

Happy Birthday My Angel. I love you forever.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Four Years

It's been four years today. I still miss you every day. I wonder what jokes you'd be making about the coronavirus.  I wonder if you'd be a fire medic by now.  I wonder if you would be married and have kids. I know you are better off now, but I am not. I still miss you every day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

1,000 Days and a Broken Cross

Today is going to be hard.  This day, 12/19/2018, marks 1,000 days since Andrew died.  It somehow seems significant and worthy of a mention.  There have been more than 1,000 tears shed, more than 1,000 times I've thought of him, and more than 1,000 reasons I miss him.  But there is also a reason he died when he did and while I might not know God's plan, I have to continue to trust Him.  It's one of the hardest things to do but the knowledge that I will see him again in heaven is what keeps me hanging on.  Later today I'll be with my work family celebrating Christmas so hopefully that will take my mind off of it.

On to the cross.  Last week something happened and the cross Andrew's friends placed at the intersection of his accident was broken.  It appears there was another accident as there are tire tracks and skid marks along the sidewalk and grass as well as a broken Chevron sign.  I pray no one was injured as a result.  Here are the pictures of what was left.



Matt went and retrieved it, so I currently have it at home.  There is really no way to repair it.  We talked about what we should do and both agreed we are okay with not putting another one back up.  Some of you may be upset by that and I want to be understanding of your reasons for wanting it there but I also hope you understand mine.  I often feel guilty that I don't visit more or take flowers more often.  I see it every day when I drive to work and again when I drive home.  It's on the route I take anytime I head that direction, for shopping, movies, Swarm games, etc.  So it is a constant reminder of my loss.  Andrew is also not there.  He isn't buried there and even if his body was buried somewhere he's still in heaven, having a great time.  I am eternally grateful his friends thought enough of him to mark the site where he died and if someone else wants to put one back up I will understand.  Like I said earlier it has been 1,000 days since he died and while I will continue to mourn for the rest of my life, I would prefer to remember him in happier times and not be consumed with reminders of grief and sadness.  Don't get me wrong, I will still have my moments and I appreciate when you all recognize that and either let me talk about him or let me be alone, but as I drove through that intersection yesterday, and knew the cross wasn't there, I didn't look over to see it and it was the first time I could remember not dreading the intersection.

Grief is different for everyone and what affects me may not affect someone else the same way.  So again, if anyone feels compelled to replace the cross I will understand and support you.  Thank you as always for listening (or reading) my ramblings and for your love and support.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Heartbreak at the Cross

Sometime today (April 8, 2017) between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. someone vandalized the cross Andrew’s friends put up after he died.  This is at the intersection of Duluth Hwy 120 and Boggs Road. The gas station’s cameras don’t cover the area so we could not get any video and the workers didn’t recall seeing anything unusual.  They probably thought anyone there had reason to be there.  If you saw anything, heard anything, or know anything, please let me, Matt, or Natalia know.   

We have taken down the cross, I have sanded off the lipstick markings and we are planning to make it even better before putting it back up.  To those of you who have shown support, thank you so much. 

To the person(s) who did this:

               I am very sorry for your loss of Fred Bowens.  I don’t know if he was your dad, son, brother, or friend but I am intimately familiar with the pain of losing someone you love.  That said, your disrespect for my pain is heartbreaking.  I would never defile something done in memorial for someone.  My son, Andrew, was deeply loved by many and those people often visit his cross, some even having a chat with him while they are there.  He died March 24, 2016 in a motorcycle accident at that intersection.  I drive through that intersection every single day on my way to and from work.  Each day I look at that cross and say a little prayer and am reminded of how much he is loved.  You might be able to mar the cross but you can never mar the memories or my love for him.  His cross has been taken down for the moment, so it can be repaired – and in fact, upgraded.  So, thank you for the opportunity to make it even better and more representative of him.  I hope you can find peace with your loss.  I have peace, because I know Jesus, as did Andrew, and therefore, I will see him again one day.  Until then, I’ll continue to say a prayer each day and remember how much he is loved.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gut Punch

So memories are a wonderful thing...they remind you of the hilarious times you had with family and friends.  They can take you back to a point in time when you were happy.  They can also take you right back to the darkest days of your life.  That's what happened to me today.  I woke up feeling fine, headed to my first day back to work since returning from Orlando, where Matt and I (along with Alex and Starla) went to escape being in Georgia on the day Andrew died.  I should have taken one more day of vacation.  It didn't occur to me when planning that this day would actually be much harder to "remember".  This is the day that one year I spoke at Andrew's memorial service.  I was reminded of this with Facebook memories.

No parent should ever have to memorialize their child.  That said, it was also my greatest honor.  To share thoughts, memories, and the hopes and dreams about Andrew was also a blessing.  I got to brag on him without anyone rolling their eyes.  But it was, without question, the most difficult day of my life.  To recall it today and remember the pain I was feeling brought me right back to the sadness and grief.  I cried as I thought about how the day played out.  I remember being so frustrated I couldn't get it together to get to the funeral home ahead of the other guests.  I had to send Matt to get some cash to pay people because I had not done that prior.  I guess I just had too much going on and I just didn't really want to have to do any of it.

Today these came up in my Facebook memories and while I would have preferred to never have to speak at a service for my son, I am so thankful for my friends who celebrated Andrew with me and continue to do so.

I feel compelled to tell you about my friend Lori Carson. She is lots of things, sarcastic, hilarious, kind, gentle and loving. Today she had to put her 20 year old son Andrew to rest, he was killed in an accident on Thursday. Today the chapel was filled to the brim with people who love her and her boys. Today, as sad and heartbreaking as this loss is, my friend was AMAZING! She made everyone laugh, cry, sob and laugh again. She held it together like a champ and I know Andrew was so proud of her. Today she portrayed strength and honor. She stood up there in front of a room full of mourners and made everyone feel Gods peace and love. I am in awe and am honored to call her my friend....I love you Lori!

Lori Carson I am truly in awe of the strength you showed today. You are a very strong woman. I am blessed to know you.

Today I witnessed the real and true strength of mother. God Bless you Lori Lori Carson

Then, the other memories on this day, all seemed to be about Andrew as well.

From 2012 - I posted about falling and busting my already bad knee just as Andrew and I were set to leave for London(spring break) to visit my brother and his family.

From 2013 - My car turned 100,000 miles on the way to Andrew's lacrosse game.

From 2014 - I posted about his new furniture because he was graduating high school and would eventually be moving to his first apartment.

From 2015 - I was an empty nester, he had officially moved out.

Then the dreaded March 28, 2016, when I had my final goodbye speech to Andrew. Rough day then, rough today.  But the difference with today - I don't feel the same hopelessness I remember this time last year.  I know I will see him again, I just miss him now.  I know he is with God and I know God is with me.

Thank you to everyone for continuing to love and support me...and letting my cry or ramble when I need too.