The Many Faces of Grief

We make it to the hospital.  Standing in the entry way was our pastor, bible in hand. He knew my son. He baptized him, he counseled him, he loved him. I see pain in his face. He tries to hide it. He wraps his arms around me.  I cry harder.  I know he tried to give me words of comfort, but I don’t recall what he said except to lean on my faith.  He knows my faith is strong. ….. My faith WAS strong…a million years ago

He holds my right hand, my husband the other.  We begin the walk.  I recall seeing kids running around, the smell of burnt coffee and disinfectant.  A security officer walked past us.  He looked at me…I looked back.  A sad smile crossed his face. Does he know???  Is this a familiar scene he has witnessed much too often???

My ex husband had called and told us they were no longer in the family grieving room.  My son was being moved to a viewing room.  “We are in the lobby…waiting for you guys.”  We turned the corner and I saw them.  They saw us…they saw me.  My brother quickly walked up to me to hug me.  I remember a wail…a sound I had never heard before…a sound of grief, pain, heartache…it was coming from me.  I stated pounding my fists into his chest.  “YOU’RE LYING!!!  YOU’RE LYING!!!  NOT MY JOEY!!!  PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE LYING AND THIS ISN’T HAPPENING”!!!! He holds me tight.  It’s true.  “NO!!!” I hear that sound again.   I fall to the ground.  He doesn’t let go.  People gather around me.  I hear people around me crying.  see people holding each other. I see my sister-in-law throw her hands to her face, trying to stifle  her own cries.  Almost everyone is there.  My kids and their significant others, some cousins, my son’s best friend, nieces and nephews, my ex and his wife.  Their faces are red, swollen from crying.  Sadness and pain is everywhere.  Whispers engulf me.  My children hang on to me.  I hold them and tell them I love them and that it will be OK.  I look into their faces.  I see their brother.  I feel sick.  God help me!!  Everyone looks so much older.  Grief is harsh, unrelenting, a youth bandit, its unmerciful, its evil.

Joey’s girlfriend stands in a corner.  She is clutching his belongings that someone put into  a plastic bag.  His shirt is ripped from where the paramedics cut it off of him in an attempt to save his life.  I manage to get to my feet.  I walk to her.  She clings to me.  Her body limp.  The love of her life was gone.  I put gently cup her face with my hands.  Her beautiful flawless face was gone.  Instead, there was loneliness, guilt, pain, disbelief. I tell her I love her.  Her face gets sadder.  She cries harder…. I HATE GRIEF!

What happened??  Someone tell me what happened but DON’T give me details.  Give me only as much as I can handle.  I heard ” going home after gym, eating MacDonald, laughing, making fun of her because she mispronounced a word, seizure, screaming, pulling over, CPR, a nurse driving by, helping with CPR, couldn’t get a hold of his dad, called his sister”.  His sister…baby sister…my baby girl.  She had just got engaged 3 months before.  How could she handle going from pure bliss to horrific grief.  Her dad was working overtime.  He was in his patrol car when my daughter called him.  He beat the ambulance to the hospital.  He was there as the gurney quickly raced by him.  He heard code blue.  He told the nurse that was his son.  The nurses face went white.  She knew officer Joe but he was never on this side of  that invisible line no one wants to cross.  Doctors came in to the waiting room to tell him they were working on him.  “Do everything you need to.”  His captain, lieutenant, fellow officers started arriving.  He told  them that as soon as the doctors had him stabilized, he would go home to change out of his uniform and he was prepared to sit by his bedside as long as he needed to. Of course, they said!  The doctor returned, this time though, not alone.  “I’m sorry. Nothing we could do.”  It was too late.

No more details…that’s all I can handle.

The longest walk

I finally managed to stand a bit stronger.  the quick sand was gone. I took some deep breaths and began to take steps towards the hospital.  This is going to be a long walk but I can do it.  Just stare straight ahead and follow the path.     I wanted to get there fast but yet I wanted it to take forever.  Still no…no tears…no pain…no anger.  My husband asks me if I am ok.  I nod…slowly.  I don’t want to risk waking up my head or my heart for fear that a battle will ensue. We pass a few parked cars…our gait slow but steady.   We had to stop to allow a woman driving an old and large pickup truck try to maneuver into a space that is made for a Prius. I wondered why she just could find a bigger space.  I am still practicing my Lamaze breathing.  Don’t think Cynthia.  Don’t feel Cynthia. We wait and we watch.  Pull in, pull out.  Pull in, pull out. Turn the wheel.  Pull in.  Pull Out.   The lady tried for hours to park.  It was really seconds but time plays games with you.

Then it happened.  My amazing, greiving husband grabbed my hand and cut through the opened stall, right in front of her, pulling me along beside him.  She honked and made a gesture towards us.  What happened next was in slow motion yet I can’t remember many details.  I turned to look at her yet I never saw her face.  I saw details…the look of irrate on her face, the rolling of her eyes. Her lips slowly mouthed something. There was a man next to her. Then it happened.  I did it…I walked to the front of her truck and with all the anger I had been penting up inside, I started slamming the hood of her beat up truck. “MY SON IS DEAD! MY SON IS DEAD! MY SON IS DEAD”!!  “YOU F*** B**** MY SON IS DEAD AND YOU DARE TO HONK AT ME”!!!!  She never moved.  She just sat there.  I still don’t remember her face but I remember her eyes.  Fear.  Was she afraid of me or was she afraid of what I was about to face?  I know that for the rest of her life, she will never forget that incident or me.  She will tell this story again and again.  I know it.

My husband grabbed my hands he looked me in the eyes and said “let’s go.”  I nodded and started the longest walk again, only this time I couldn’t see the path through my tears.

Hospitals will never be the same

My husband circled the garage across from the hospital trying to find a parking space. I now hate hospitals.  They are no longer the place where you go to see a beautiful newborn baby. They are no longer the healers.  They are no longer the miracle makers.  They have become a dark, ugly, place that I never want to visit again.

I still had not cried.  Had not spoken. My gaze was still fixed straight ahead.  If I don’t move, my heart will, in turn, stay in place.  It will keep beating at the same pace.  Don’t panic…don’t show fear…don’t show pain.  My brain will continue to take over.  Isn’t it funny how athletes work out to make their bodies stronger?  They sweat, they pant, they lift 3 times their weight, to build their muscles.  Silly, people…don’t they know that the strongest muscles in our bodies are our hearts and brains???  Without those 2 components, we can’t go on!  They are so strong, that they are constantly battling it out! The mind wants to over power the heart!  The heart wants to be in command!  Ironically enough, a few hours ago, those 2 organs has started a battle inside of me.

Don’t think, Cynthia.  Just let your body be led.  Don’t breath, don’t think.  Don’t feel. I get out of the truck.  My knees go weak.  My husband holds me up.  I feel like I’m walking in quicksand. The newspaper falls out of the truck.  I just want to go back to 9:00 am.  Three letter word for ‘Dreamy state sleep’.  Nightmare????

I had text my kids to let them know we were on the road.  Two of them text back.  I remember telling Scott I had this feeling.  Couldn’t explain it other than ‘ugly’.  He said it was the caffeine from my quad Americano.  No…a different kind of heaviness in my chest feeling.  Shake it off” I told myself.  Don’t worry…Ha…who am I kidding? I am a worrier.  I worry if I have nothing to worry about because that means something is going to happen which will cause me worry! I try to keep my mind busy. I continue to work on my crossword puzzle.  Look at phone…maybe a missed the ding… reply.  Should I text again?  It won’t hurt.  “I love you baby boy.”  Nothing.  We are now going over the grapevine.  My heart and head are battling it out.  UUUGGG.  FINALLY!  10:47…ting…A TEXT!!  It’s from his girlfriend, Sarini.  Hi Momma!!!  Sorry, we were at the gym!  We love you have a great time!!  Phew, I thought.   Except the battle was still going strong.  UUUGGGG! Stop!.  1:58.  The phone rings….


June 16, 2016  was the worst day of my life.  I will never forget the place I was, the sights around me, the song on the radio, the sound of my husbands ringtone, freeway sign above us, the dead grass on the spot where we pulled over.

I remember vividly the cars honking and whizzing by us.  The whole world seemed to be at a stand still, yet everything was turning so fast, I felt as if I was on spinning out of control.

My husband of 9 years and I had just left for a short vacation.  We were driving down south to spend a few days in Disneyland, then driving to San Diego, maybe wing it towards the end of the week to Santa Barbara.  After a few hours on the road, we finally saw the sign…next exit Disneyland.  We started to get excited when my husbands cell phone rang.  I looked at the screen and saw that it was my ex husband.  I thought out loud, “why didn’t blue tooth pick the call up, and why is he calling knowing we were going out of town.”  I wasn’t  too worried.  My ex husband calling my husband really isn’t out of the ordinary for us.  They are actually really good friend.  They are golf buddies and I thought he was calling to brag about a golf shot or how good of a game he had.  When I answered, the tone of his voice was not one of cheer.  He merely said, “Cynthia, let me talk to Scott.”  I hesitated and asked why?? His tone become aggressive repeating, “LET ME TALK TO SCOTT!”.  I handed my husband the phone.  I heard him say “yes, OK, yes, we’re turning back”.  I remember screaming “JUST TELL ME!!”  He turned to me, held my hand, looked at me straight on and said “Joey’s dead.”  I laughed, I shook my head, I called him a liar, I screamed, I slammed the dashboard, I sat still….I think I stopped breathing…right under the Happiest Place on Earth sign.

Los Angeles traffic…..bumper to bumper… long would  we be stuck in this nightmare.  It’s almost been a year

We spoke 3 sentences.  We need gas.  I need to use the restroom.  Call pastor.  Scott started to cry.  I yelled at him to STOP CRYING! He stopped.  His face writhing in pain.  He loved Joey…loves Joey.  Family isn’t determined by blood, but by those who take room in your heart.  He is his son, too.

Joey’s dad and I were texting back and forth. ” Are the kids there? Does my mom know? Pastor will meet us there.  Can we donate his organs?  His eyes?  God, can we donate his laugh?”  His beautiful, contagious, carefree laugh. I told him we were finally through traffic and over the grapevine.  Some words will never escape me.  No need to rush.  No need to rush.  No need to rush. No need to rush.  Joey is dead.  Joey is dead. Joey is dead.  No need to rush…Joey is dead.

My beautiful first born.  My son and daughter’s big brother.  My brother’s first nephew.  My mom’s first grandchild. My baby…WHY? Why him?  Why me?  Why us?






First blog post

In a blink of an eye, my life forever changed. I will never be the same. I lost my son, my first born, my first true love, male mini me, my handsome boy. Here, I share my journey, in hopes that if one person knows they are not alone in their pain, then reliving my worst of days will not have been vain… Hakuna Matata

Joey’s momma