During 2018, 2019, and this summer I won art grants from the Ohio Arts Council. I am using them for valuable editing assistance from Mary Langford for the narrative about my son’s life and 60+ Coping Strategies. We are preparing for the publication of my book, Grieving an Addict. Mary helps me move my writing to the next level, making it even more open-hearted, warm, and readable.
I am grateful for the opportunity the OAC gives me to work with Mary, who not only has natural talent, but who spent years years at the right hand of the master storyteller Sidney Sheldon!
Do you long for a sign from your dear one who has passed on? Do you receive possible signs, yet wonder if they really mean something? Or do you find that synchronicities show up in your life that are so amazing you find it hard not to believe they are gifts from your departed loved one?
I feel fortunate to have been given another wonderful sign this year, on the fifth angelversary of my son’s final overdose. The first astonishing synchronicity arrived just before that first horrible Christmas without Brennan. An unordered gift box appeared on my deck, and the sender said I could keep it.
Last year a gifted tea rose had exactly four blossoms on exactly my son’s fourth birthday in heaven. It has not produced a single blossom since.
The third most amazing gift arrived on Friday, the day before Brennan’s fifth angelversary. I was startled to find a beautiful little fawn curled up in my garden only six feet away from where I was working on my deck. She stayed in that spot all that Friday and all through Saturday, the day my son left our world five years ago.
I spent as much time as I could on my deck, despite temps in the mid-90s, to be near that fawn. Not for her safety—nature was doing its best to take care of her—but for my own sake. I was surprised to feel a sweet sense of solace from being near her, because her doe-eyed gentleness and innocence reached out and enveloped me.
On Sunday morning when I walked outside, she was frantically pacing along the south side of my yard, distressed because her mommy stood on the other side of the short fence. At one point the fawn turned around and ran directly toward me. I did not want to frighten her, so I talked softly while slowly moving a hand. The motion caught her attention and she abruptly stopped. She stared at me for a breathless moment; then she wheeled and ran back toward her mommy. She soon found her way through the fence.
This lovely creature spent two days with me, the two exact days I would have wanted her here. The two days when I most needed a little extra comfort in my life.
Did my son, or something else, arrange the perfect timing of this beautiful gift? I’d like to believe so. I choose to receive these moments of grace as Divine gifts to help ease my way, to help me know my son is still with me and that our love goes on into eternity.
What is the best synchronicity you have received since losing your loved one?
Do you feel like Notre Dame Cathedral, gutted by the fires of grief? Do you feel like a husk of your former self, burned out, weakened and emptied?
That’s how I felt after my son Brennan drug me through two years of addiction and then a deadly heroin overdose. The terrible sorrow left me completely bereft, weak and vulnerable.
Our Lady of Paris is now weak and vulnerable. Yet when I see post-fire pictures of the church’s interior, the altar and cross are still standing. The deepest heart of the cathedral is still intact.
After my son died, my heart was broken, yet still intact. I did everything I could to grieve in a healthy way, just as the firefighters did everything they could to salvage what they could of the massive church.
Now this monument is at its most vulnerable and most in need. And so are we while dealing with our devastating losses. Yet people are coming forward to rebuild her, as people came forward to help me rebuild my life, giving generously from their hearts and their time. I hope you are blessed with the same support. To turn down assistance is a disservice to ourselves and others, just as it would be a disservice to Notre Dame to not rebuild her.
And as a service to my own soul–especially because I had been sent home to die from cancer in 2011–I have done some bucket-list traveling. This past fall I was most fortunate to visit Notre Dame de Paris, specifically to light a candle before the crown of thorns, a Christian relic experts say dates to the first century. I wanted to pray for us and for our loved ones lost to addiction. To me, the crown represents an injury to the head sustained by Christ–just as our loved ones sustained injuries to their brains. I sought, for us all, the compassion of The Compassionate One, one who bore a head injury and who was intimately acquainted with sorrows and grief.
Fortunately, the crown of thorns was spared from the fire. And so was the sculpture of Mother Mary with Jesus, and the symbol of resurrection above them.
Let Our Lady stand as a symbol of hope for you—that after the phoenix fire has burned its destructive path, we can rebuild and restore our lives, with our hearts still intact. It will take time and effort, but we are worth it.
During the summer I was awarded the Ohio Arts Council’s Artist with Disabilities Grant for 2017. I used the funds to receive valuable editing assistance from John Overbeck for the narrative about my son’s life. This phase of editing has now been completed. His suggestions helped me reduce the story by 6,000 words, ramp up the writing skill level, and alter the start of the narrative. I am grateful!