Band of Brothers, "Bubba" & Bears...
When my son & I (and 'dad') plus 'his team' decided the right time for him to try to move out on his own, my heart sunk & I worried about him constantly. It was a different kind of worry from what I was used to with son. My son is on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger's Syndrome) & though he is intellectually brilliant (as are both of my kids) he struggles emotionally & has difficulty regulating emotions as do many on the Spectrum.
I know my son inside & out, his triggers, the mannerisms, words he would choose or not that were actually cues. I knew his mood by the clothes he chose, the computer game he'd play or the books he would read, by the snacks he'd crave or the food he'd want to cook. I knew if it was his own brain firing up or something someone else fired up in him. His psychologist once told me "You two are extremely close & that can be both a blessing & a burden." Yes, she was correct, it was both a blessing (because I did know him best - good or bad) & a burden (because others didn't.) Aspies have a developmental disorder which affects their manner of socialization & communication. They are human beings who want love, affection & knowing that forgiveness will always be available when meltdowns occur, and don't kid yourself, they do come. They don't want to be discarded or shoved off if it gets tense or rough. So, I was worried when my son wanted to try his independence but, I also believe in absolute autonomy & I was proud of him & terrified for him.
There were safeguards put in place & he was reminded he has "roots & wings."
One of things I love about my son, he speaks through action better than he ever could through words. Even though he had his own small apartment; he chose something close to us. He wanted some independence; he just didn't want too much. He gave us his phone number before the phone man even left his apartment. He visited far more than most kids (young adults) did & I was grateful for it. Even though he loved to cook, he still came home to raid my leftovers or homemade sweets & was slow to go home, which we didn't mind. Sometimes he'd come with his laptop, a couple books & a change of clothes in his backpack. We understood this language & he knew he was welcome, always.
It was comforting for all of us.
On one such visit, he knew I was under the weather (autoimmune flare) & thought it would be a great time to watch Band of Brothers since I'd be down for a day or two & 'dad' was working double shifts. Aside from wanting to check my temperature every 30 minutes, making sure I ate 'something' (even though I wasn't holding anything down) & drank enough water, it was a relaxing couple of evenings. He often pulled out the longest movies or documentaries for us to watch or 'chat through'. He'd tell me about 5 different ways to cook tilapia (which I don't like but ate it when he cooked it) or a new game he found that I would "probably approve of" or a new way to get from point A to point B on his bike through town.
Every day talk is where he was most comfortable.
In between disc, it's a very long movie (6 discs if I recall) he made some simple dinner (he was an excellent cook & always made homemade biscuits when I was under the weather) & we had a hardy chili & chatted all through our supper, as one does around my son. You see, he had Asperger's Syndrome & with that comes a chattiness (curiosity) on a whole different level. A discussion came up as I was laying on the couch snuggling a pillow pretty to my chest & he pops out with: "Mum, you just gave me an idea. You should make rag bears & dolls & things for people who have Anxiety or PTSD. Or others who have Asperger's like me or have autoimmune disorders like you. You can call them raggy bears or whatever. You can make bears, dogs, cats, whatever they want"
We talked about it for a bit & I asked him why he thought that was important. He stated "Sometimes people can't tell you they need a hug, but want one & then no one is around, or they're stressed & just wanting a thing to squeeze or hug. Sometimes people just want to scream in a pillow, same thing."
I thought about it for a minute while he chatted away about how I could do flowers, stripes or polka dots (he was familiar with my home business deeply & saw much of these fabrics I've used over the years) or sport teams for baseball people, dinosaurs for kids & Camo ones for the boys (ahem & girls I reminded him) because its real popular now or even diverse skin colors. His brain was moving now & I had to keep up.
photo courtesy of:
Doll Making Fabric Dolskin by the Yard Pale Flesh and - Etsy
I assured him; "One day I will add items to my collections, I promise".
I don't break promises unless there is an unexpected 911 event - period, so "I promise" is a big deal.
He says "when, 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?" I had to laugh because this was typical "Bubba". He had to have that commitment, now.
So, while being ambushed & running a fever & a flare, I told him "10 years" thinking I'd be okay with time. That was 7 years ago. One thing led to another, one life event behind another & before you know it, you begin to believe the saying "God laughs at plans".
But a promise is a promise.
I started creating my "promise" a year and half ago, 3 years ahead of schedule. But I had put that promise up in a plastic sealed bins & forgot about them. I no longer wanted to sew. I didn't want to think, wake up or even breath. I had been delivered the most horrific news a mother could receive & I was in devastating shock. I simply couldn't go back to that which I was doing when the most devastating news of my life came, sewing. I couldn't get past the association by default. Logically I knew this made no sense, but I was not thinking.
My son had been murdered.
I was not thinking.
I was feeling.
I still am.
At this time, the 5 pillars (Who, what, why, when & how) of questioning are not relevant to this post. The promise I made him in his living years, IS. It has been a year since his death & while we await answers, I know on a fundamental level I have to find a way to continue on. Not without him, that will never happen. He is ever present in our home, our conversations & our hearts. My husband & I talk of him daily. Some memory will sneak in & make an appearance & we either all but weep, have affectionate recall or laugh reflecting back on it.
Even when my son moved out on his own, he was still very close to us & came by almost enough to warrant having his mail sent to our address. I jest, but he loved to visit. He'd raid the fridge, sit with me while I worked on an order, help mow the lawn, play with the dogs, go for ice cream or pizza, help 'dad' bleed the brakes (when needed) or we'd watch a movie together. And he never tired of me going a lil too fast over the railroad tracks for the belly laugh.
I was anticipating the one-year mark & feeling incredible anxiety that comes with all the first & all that will never be & all the memories we've made that we will no longer be able to build on. I have to find a way to live a "new normal" as he once did. I have to let go of all the thoughts that run through my brain randomly. I'm pretty good at moving through hard things with muscle memory projects; sanding, painting, knitting, sewing, baking, mowing etc. But this was the hardest thing I will ever go through &I just couldn't find my footing, my balance if you will, I was on a constant tilt. I'm a detailed oriented person so this was a mind maze (I'm being very polite here) to me.
All the EDMR & talk therapy for C-PTSD I've gone through could not have prepared me for this loss or its aftermath. It hits hard, differently & it hits with a force no shield could stop.
Therapy did equip me with many tools & biofeedback is one way to stop the looping (cyclical thinking), usually. I focused on the promise I made him during that one particular movie night. I could set a goal my competitive nature could achieve easily. 1 bear a day. Just one. Or maybe a week, that's more realistic given my longing & loss I told myself. Bargaining with oneself during biofeedback was another whole discussion with my therapist, Oye. I digress, the promise was my focus. Now to act.
I'll start tomorrow.
I just can't today.
I still can't breathe.
Every day, I get up, shake out the cobwebs & assess my body. I am pleasant & usually loquacious with my husband of near 27 years, love on the rambunctious pups, attend to the ever-whining cat, have coffee, see my husband off to work, turn on ALEXA & my 3000+-song playlist and begin my work, whether house or job, & move through my day.
My son's Urn is in my work room (I usually spend most of my time in there) with his "Teddybaya" ribbon from when he was a little boy with a "teddybaya" (not a misspelling, it's how he said it) sitting atop of it. And all-day long, memories flood my mind with life interrupting as it does, accordingly.
I am 'living' even if barely getting by emotionally.
"Tomorrow" came & as much as I was not feeling any differently than the day before, I had set my challenge. I was forcing myself to go through my product, listing what I didn't have online & try to spark my passion again. What normally would take me a day or two, took weeks & months. It's incredibly difficult to explain to those who have not lost a child. It freezes time in a way there is no moving forward & to make it worse, it feels like you're cheating them if you do manage a step. Yet staying still feels like you're dishonoring what you know they would want for you do so, by default you are spinning in circles. I've had loss in my life, God knows, but nothing compares to this. If not for muscle memory, responsibilities & not wanting to be thought of being slightly left of right, I would simply drown in the heartache.
So, the "promise" needed to come to life. I had to start making more bears or listing the ones I had already completed. I set a new goal. For what no doubt would be a very difficult day I would begin to sort through the bears, take photos & ready the listings. With a deep breath & a mind forward for the promise I made to my son, I will be listing Raggy Bears on Prims & Pretties. As stated by my son, the bears (and others) are for stress reduction, cuddles & to scream in when necessary. They are filled with either polyfil stuffing or buckwheat hulls along with dried lavender. I personally prefer hulls as they are more squishable. However, hulls for age-appropriate children only & I leave that responsibility to the parents. As requested by my son, they will come in 3 different sizes. They will all be made of remnants & scraps of fabrics I use on other projects & will come with their own quilt, blanket or afghan. No two will be alike & they will be simply made. I hope you like them.
My son loved dogs so in honor of him, I can think of no better organization to donate to than K9's for warriors.
50% of all sales will be donated to the
K9s For Warriors - Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans
For my son