I need to vent. I had a CRAZY hard weekend, beyond simply my grief and hectic family life.
Friday marked the first time in the every-other-weekend schedule I have for my oldest son (11) who lives over 100 miles away. This is a trip I have made nearly a hundred times, stopping at the same local coffee shop in the middle to interact with the same lady behind the counter (I forget her name, gosh darn it) each time. She has seen me fly straight to the bathroom in my later pregnancy and loved getting her two week update on seeing how Patrick had grown since he was 5 weeks old.
Our last day together, we spent on the hours-long journey to pick Tobin up from school. It was sunny, I was running early, (Trust me, that is a miracle. I just wish I could have traded it for another that day.) Patrick was in great spirits, singing to the trees (He literally would sing, “Laaaaaaa la lala laaaaaaaa!”, his tongue halfway out with each “L” sound, as loud as his little spirit allowed) eventually falling asleep to the pace of traffic.
I was so happy and hopeful to spend the night with all of my kids together- it’s when my heart has always felt the most full- that I even snapped a picture with my phone of the promising bright blue sky, the white fluffy clouds and the trees my kids call the “Dr. Seuss trees”.
I got to the school in time enough to use the bathroom and even nurse Patrick in the car for a while before school got out- the perfect reset before the drive home. I even took a picture on the way home of “us” (as safely I could) to send to Danny. I certainly never thought I would post it, but it’s the second to last picture Pat and I are technically in together.
|My heart is in that carseat.
It seemed like the perfect day. I had no idea that when I nursed PatPat to sleep that night, it would be the last time our eyes would ever meet.
When the Friday to pick up Tobin rolled around again, it was like starting that tragic day all over, promising blue sky and all, the liar. There was a pit in my stomach that would not go away. Everyone in the family felt it.
There had been two weeks of us all waiting to hear the pitter patter of little knees coming down the hallway and the heart-sinking disappointment that comes with the realization that it’s never going to happen… but this was yet another first. I didn’t make the drive that day (Breaking down in hysterics while going 65mph is proooobably not so smart, I’m thinking.) and instead chose to try to turn it around and make it a memorial day filled with family love to help find balm for our whole family’s hearts.
Though the kids had attended school all week, I kept them home last Friday to take them to the park, give and receive the extra hugs we all needed. Maybe I was being selfish, but I wanted to hold what family I could and they wanted to hold me, too. (I don’t know if any of you have (familiarity with) 9 year old boys, but my son is a scorpio and not very physically affectionate, while very soft on the insides. When he grabs and holds my hand -which he has resumed since that day- I know he is hurting. Completely uncustomarily, I let him play his xbox while Annika went to the neighbor’s house to play with their daughter and I tried my best to make up a game face to go with a game plan for the day.
The day before, I had help move, re-move and vacuum a purple couch and loveseat I found on Craigslist for $75. Purple is Aiden’s favorite color right now and he’s a huge snuggler. The look on his face as he dove in was exactly what I had used all that energy for, but by Friday morning, I was sore and even more tired than usual.
I drew a bath to try and calm my aching muscles and the anxiety building in my stomach, something Patrick and have I enjoyed doing together his whole life. I may have taken a bath in my lorazepam haze, I don’t remember. There is a LOT that I have completely lost memory of over the last two weeks, which I why I stopped taking it, though my mind was still making its way out of the fog Friday morning. Either way, at that point, it was the first conscious bath I was about to take without him.
I sat, still dressed, with my mind starting to wander into Patrick-Land, when my eyes caught his Burt’s Bees shampoo bottle on the the side of the tub. When I see something of his, I’m like a moth to a flame. I know it will kill me inside, but I HAVE to go to it, breathe in what I can of him and let the memories and the tears flow freely. I’ve never been an addict, but with Patrick’s clothes, it was almost becoming an issue; where I would rather smell his clothes than do anything, but again- I have other children who need me and whom I love just as deeply, that need me.
After a little over a week allowing myself the bittersweet torture of smelling all of his dirty laundry, I had to put it away. I slowly began to fold it and put it into plastic bins, stacked in the living room along with bins of some of his other blankets and toys to bring myself out of deep, deep sadness and try and function again, somehow. (What are you supposed to do with your deceased baby’s favorite clothes and playthings? Not get rid of them right away, that’s for sure. I don’t know.)
Finding the shampoo bottle proved to hold the same intoxicating effect as his clothes. My hands were on it before I knew and I was rolling it in my fingers, remembering the one handed maneuver necessary to get it open and wash his hair. Instead, I unscrewed the top fully and drew in the sweet honeyed scent down into my toes, into my soul. It wasn’t the exact smell of the top of his head… it was lacking a certain Patrickness. But it was enough to send me right back to the exact last time I had smelled it.
Just this last week, I had nursed him in that bath, just because we hadn’t done it in awhile, just for the sensual pleasure of it. I crashed heart first into that memory and I sobbed as my mind switched between the beauty of the moment in the warm, lavender scented water, feeling the splash from his toes and the warmth of his skin on my own to the night that he died, when I held and rocked his warm, naked body as it cooled until it could no longer bend.
I cried harder than I have ever cried in my entire life, ever. All of the emotions I had been trying to hold onto came flooding out my eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Danny came in and tried to soothe me at first, then gave way to just holding me up as the tears continued to fall at an increasing rate. I was drooling, snot was dripping and tears fell in a steady stream as low, terrible, grievous wails escaped like steam from a kettle from the crater in my soul. I could barely move when I finally calmed down- I see why babies who “Cry It Out” sleep so well, though I am forever grateful Patrick never spent a night that way. Crying to the point of exhaustion is effective, but it’s terrible.
I washed my face, drained the bath and moved to the couch to try and reset with my herbal sprays and a good dose of oxytocin from pumping, instead. I decided to go with my emoitional floodgates and let my head, heart and milk flow freely to Patrick. (Well, as far as my boobs are concerned. *sigh*) I started to float away on the pain and grabbed his blanket, burying my face and breathing deeply. (Patrick was still nursing on demand when he passed away) I have used breastfeeding to help treat PPD and grief
before… pumping to treat the loss of a breastfeeding child is much harder than simply breastfeeding one, but it does, eventually lead to that “love” hormone, where I feel connected to Patrick, soothing him, soothing me.
As I sat on the couch, cloudy, raw, heartbroken and reeling, a knock came to the door. I was halfway on the cloud and half in the real world. We weren’t expecting anyone, but there have been appointments I have forgotten in my aforementioned haze and we thought perhaps it was another nurse or something, coming to check in. It was my grandmother, who had seen my “I’m having a super hard time right now” post on my personal Facebook page and had come over with a bag of groceries and hugs. I was foggy but grateful- hugged her, assured her Danny was with me (thank you for all who have donated so that we can afford his time off of work) she was on her way out the door and I was just sitting down to resume pumping and crying, if needed, when there was another, much louder knock.
“Who is that?” she asked.
“Is Julie here?” I heard a strange woman’s voice say, rather forcibly. Danny told her yes, and that I was on the couch, pumping. Before I knew it there were two women and a police officer in my kitchen.
“We have an open case report here that you are feeding your children, Aiden and Annika, marijuana edibles. Your children are not in school, where are they? We aren’t leaving until we get a full interview.”
Um, what? My mind was already cloudy, spinning, reeling…. and now this? Obviously, she had me confused. I mumbled an explanation as to why they weren’t in school and sent Danny out to bring Annika back in. Aiden, of course, was in his room playing video games. Great… now I seem like a pothead mom, red eyed and bleary from crying my heart out… but she just saw the red eyes and went on with her assumptions.
Now, listen. We’re adults, here. Thinking
adults, at that. Maybe even progressive
ones. (HEY now…) I make no mystery of the fact that I am a Mom for Marijuana
, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. (I would normally apologize to my grandmother here for knocking her socks off, but she was watching the whole damn thing,
so I think she’s about as barefoot as it gets, as it were.) I have a Legalize
album on my Facebook page. I’ve posted
about the restoration of hemp in America and there is a button on my blog that I made especially for another angel boy, Cashy Hyde
, who was able to fight his cancer, much like I have recently chosen to do with my grief, by ditching harsh pharmaceuticals in favor of powerful herbal healing.
Cashy’s message is that cannnabis cures cancer
. My dad died
from cancer two years ago, and in only 8 short months. I cannot stand silent with the truth that has the power to heal others in my hand, while someone that should have benefited from that truth is missing from my life from the lack of it. I can’t. I just can’t.
I was immediately honest and told her that yes, we smoke marijuana- but not around the kids, that there was some in the house (a jar in my room on my dresser, behind an always closed door) and that I’ve had my 215 card for years, allowing me legally to do so; but it doesn’t matter to someone in her shoes. There’s a twisted stigma when it comes to marijuana that some people have and this woman clearly believed all of it- that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, in the same category as heroin and LSD… which I may as well have been on, for all I was feeling and how she was treating me. (though I have never even tried either of the former, thankyouverymuch. So much for the gateway drug theory.)
But to say I give it to my children? Are YOU high?? Nevermind that I have no clue to what end a parent would EVER give marijuana (in the form of edibles- obviously in the form of medicine, it’s different) to a child- only that I have never, ever done it and would never, ever tell anyone else to, either. Annika has never had her hair cut and Aiden’s hair is really long, too. It would have solved everything to just drug test the kids, then and there or even at a scheduled time. Annika has never had a haircut, even- there are FOLLICLE tests to see if I’ve EVER given them marijuana- but that would be too easy.
They stayed for hours, one worker in with the kids, the other in front of me, asking question after question I can’t even remember. I was still coming out of my fog and completely overwhelmed. My anxiety began to take over as I tried to answer honestly and intelligently, but I know I mumbled and stared a lot. I was terrified. Despite possessing a medical marijuana card, there are plenty of cases where children are wrongfully taken from their parents for their healing choices -I’m not saying there aren’t bad parents out there, for you or anyone else to smoke marijuana, or that the use of cannabis in one way or another stands to classify a good or bad parents at all. However, I personally know a mother who has given birth with the father on the other side of prison walls because they grew ONE plant at home. Thank goodness I don’t grow.
I started shaking and put on a sweater as she looked me in the eye and said, “So tell me the truth about… (nodding toward memorial altar) what happened to Patrick.” I wanted to scream at her, punch her in the throat, rip her eyes out for insinuating that would have ever done a thing to harm my son. I thought about everything that happened that night and began to talk, trying for the umpteenth time to recall the horrible details without breaking down, without her somehow finding a way to twist my words.
I remember at one point telling her straight up that there was cat poop on the deck and I hadn’t cleaned it in two weeks. Sorry, lady. The cats took a back burner. They got fed, watered and time outside. They are fine, trust me. You’re here for the kids, remember?
I was remotely relieved at least the house was clean (because my friend Jen paid cleaners to come over the day before- thank you!) except for the stack of bins along the wall in the living room containing Patrick’s things and another stack of boxes and clean laundry others have washed to try and do what they can to help us at home. There’s tons of clean laundry to put away in my room now, too… while I am definitely glad to wear clean clothes, having laundry squared away isn’t exactly my forte- or even something I care about at all, these days. In fact, one of the very, very first things that I posted after Patrick died was encouragement for others to leave their laundry piles and hug their kids, too. I don’t just say this stuff, you know.
The kids room was amazingly clean, as well. Not a toy out of place, beds made, shoes lined up, floor vacuumed. Amazingly clean, I say, because let me keep right on my honesty train and say that that room gets messed UP sometimes, and not always cleaned up so nicely. I’m more of a
type of thinker, even though I am privy to getting extremely organized and redecorating when left alone for any length of time. It just may happen again.
So why all the emphasis on the clean house? That’s what they could find on me, even though my floors were probably the cleanest they’ve ever been. That, the cat poop on the deck and needing to have the jar of weed that was on my dresser locked somewhere, which is no big deal. I had to sign a “safety plan” that says my “home condition” is “pretty messy” and a “safety concern”. That I wouldn’t smoke around the kids (which I already never do, but she wrote down that they were “exposed”, since my jar wasn’t locked away, even while being in a separate room from the kids. I’m fairly sure THC doesn’t cross through glass and walls to intoxicate all in its presence, or she herself would have been high. I’m just sayin’. They are also “exposed” to jars of peppermint leaves and sage, which I use for teas, and I believe normalizes the appearance of loose green herbs being stored in jars. But I digress.). I think she HAD to write something to do with the kids otherwise it was all complete crap and not to do with them at all. I know there are houses messier than mine with less children, more space and not bearing the weight of a tremendous tragedy out there.
I just wanted them to go so I could mourn my baby in peace, even though I was signing things I TOTALLY didn’t agree with. Well, I agree with having things more organized- that I was already getting to, hence the bins and the moving furniture; but again- she didn’t see it. The government enforcement of house cleaning two weeks after my baby suddenly dies? That’s a miserable shame and a waste of taxpayer money. There is NOTHING of safety concern in my home, at all.
And then…. then came the clincher. As I began to write my name on the contract and she says, “Julie Johnson? Why are you using that name, when your name is Julie Savage?”
I almost hit the fucking roof.
Someone HERE, who has never conversed with me or my children and never been to my house before that doesn’t even know my real last name chose NOW to file a completely speculated report about my other two kids. Yes. I told them that. It didn’t matter. They had made their judgments and will return this Friday morning to see how I’ve improved the house. I think I have enough to worry about without a completely slanderous, false report on my hands, don’t you think? No?
Whoever you are, wherever you are: I assure you, my children are safe, loved and cared for and I have NO IDEA what would make you think otherwise- especially to the point of involving the police before involving ME in your concern. I’m still their mother, you know. Even on my bad days.
I will not have my parenting questioned. I will not be judged. I will not be bullied. I will not cave into fear and I will not ever stop doing what I think is right. I also don’t give my kids marijuana in any form, so you can fuck off with that nonsense. Life is too short to waste precious energy on, pandering to people that will never understand or evolve. I am not the jerk whisperer. I am a grieving mother who is trying her best to stay present for my children, for my grief, for the baby whose lack of presence makes the house unbearably quiet. Dear whoever you are, perhaps you missed that part.
I have until Friday to put away and find new spaces for everything. All of Patrick’s belongings, all of the clean laundry (there is an amazing amount, truly) all of the cards, packages and flowers and the new furniture in order to pass the Child Support Services investigation. Oh, and clean the cat poop. I swear to you, those are the only things of “safety concern” in my “messy house”.
I feel SO angry, SO judged, SO unheard by the worker. She has me pegged as a drug mom and was finding what she could to make her case, that much was strikingly apparent. I can’t believe on top of everything else, because of someone’s horrible fabrication, because I share my life and beliefs publicly, I now have a time limit on my time with Patrick’s things, have to have my priorities realigned into BULLSHIT by the government, by a stranger, nevermind the fact that going through his stuff, as I have mentioned, is the hardest thing for my grief right now. But I will do it. I will find a solution.
I have to make putting laundry away and maintaining the cat box of UTMOST importance, (Is this cat protective services, or child protective services? The cat box is outside, on the deck, where Danny’s work stuff is, in the no-go-zone for kids. But again, I digress.) Okay, cats need a clean place to crap, sure. I am not mistreating my kitties, I promise. If you’re worried, you can assure CPS is going to come CHECK that I clean my cat box Friday, so they’ll have a full report, I’m sure.
I am forced away from spending time with my children in order to go through Pat’s things, and focus laundry (also stacked and folded in bins in our room) so that I can keep them. This world, this system, the logic of whoever decided to fabricate a complete load of crap about me during my darkest hour…the fact that it was in front of my grandma, even; all of these things are seriously flawed and unfair… but still nothing in comparison to the loss my our sweet Pat Pat.
|Pat with his great grandma, (my dad’s mom) who also goes by Pat.
I love them both deeply. (not the grandma who was present, FYI)
Will I make my house sparkling clean -beyond day-after-housekeeper-comes clean, as it was when they arrived? You’re damn right, I will. Those cats are going to crap on diamond dust, if that’s what it takes to keep my kids. I’m not about to lose the ones I have left.
To compound my heart’s worry, exasperation and sadness, my cousin Damian was hit, ran over and dragged 600ft. onto a freeway on ramp in L.A. Sunday while riding his bike with his wife. He is alive, lost a leg, skin, teeth and broken 20 bones, had four surgeries so far and is expected to have many, many more. The driver never stopped and police are still looking for the grey or tan Toyota Sienna & driver responsible. If you are in the L.A. area or have any information, please call the Alta Dena Police Department at (323) 259-2010.
His segment on the news is here:
I appreciate those of you who have lent your support- Danny and I read each and every comment, message and card sent our way. Without all of you (except Whoever You Are) I would not be able to meet this grief head on with such fortitude, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my broken heart. In my darkest points of soul piercing sadness, it helps strike a match to know that it is helping someone, somewhere for me to be living through this tragic and trying time; that there are children, babies and toddlers getting more compassion and less frustration out there because of it.
I miss my baby.
This is is so, so hard…
One day, one moment, one breath at a time.
To read more about Patrick and SUCD, read my last post here.