A few months ago, it was very therapeutic for me to create a new arrangement for my song “Angel in the Sky.” I created the instrumental video below using pictures and other images I’ve illustrated.
Yesterday I was writing to a friend in grief. I promised her that one day it would get better. She wrote:
I remember the beginning of this journey. It was a black hole of agony. I never thought I would reach this point but here I am. I will believe you because you have been walking this path longer than I have. Thank you.
Today it is 25 years since the horrible day when I saw my child dead on October 6, 1992. I will never forget that image or the trauma.
But all these years later, I am peaceful.
Last night, I went out with some girlfriends to celebrate my birthday (it’s next week). We had a Thai massage and as I enjoyed it I felt overcome with emotion. I softly began to cry, my cheeks were wet with tears and I wondered if the masseuse knew.
I kept thinking about how much I love my three living children and how lucky I am that they are all doing well. So much has happened since his death. I will always wonder what he could have been – that hasn’t changed. But my acceptance fills me with amazement. I am in awe of my healing.
The first four links below are versions of my new arrangement (with and without vocals and/or instrumentation). Under those are my older instrumental arrangements.
Links to read lyrics and other stories about this song:
When I first began grieving the death of my son, Jason, I did not look up and feel that he was my angel in sky.
I survived the worst pain and carried my sadness silently for many years. Rediscovering music seven years ago changed everything. I found a way to express my feelings, which led to healing and joy.
Angel in the Sky” reminds me of my love and pain. I do still cry and my voice reflects that when I sing my song.
Feeling him close to me, inspired by music and finding joy again in life represents my healing. But his death changed me and I still see my grief as a lifelong journey.
For another bereaved mother that I correspond with, her vision of grief is one of a stalker.
I have shared many of my touching exchanges with Sammi on this blog. It has been five years since Sammi’s son AJ died. She writes about her grief with heartbreaking honesty and I often feel compelled to write back hopeful replies.
Below is a recent exchange between us.
You know that place: the place between being awake and sleeping, the place where you are gently floating in a bubble of unawareness. That’s where I was last night when I suddenly gasped and sat up straight, staring around the room. I was disorganized at first. I had been sitting on the love seat, dozing in front of the TV. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The last thing I remembered was hearing AJ’s voice, his laugh. It was comforting to me and suddenly it was gone. “I haven’t gone anywhere”, a voice whispered. “I’m still here” it said and chuckled. It was back: my stalker grief.”
They always think I’m gone . . . always,” the voice said while laughing. The pain hit me then, right in the center of my chest, knocking the breath right out of me, spiking my heart rate to a pounding fury. I wondered right then how I physically made it through the beginning of this horrible journey. I think people fail to realize that we are not only dealing with emotional problems but also physical problems as well and how I handled the two eludes me at times like this.
I rubbed my chest and tried to slow my breathing when I heard it again. “He’s never coming back”, a chuckle, “You will never see him again,” a singsong voice, “You will never watch him get married or see his children,” a whisper, “Never, never, never, never, never – it’s over!”
My eyes started to burn and the lump grew in my throat. “Please,” I whispered, “Go away . . . please!” The ominous cloud that I had succeeded in outrunning started to descend on me. My soul screamed: “I’ve had enough – No more!” It was suddenly silent and I couldn’t hear a thing, not even the TV.
“NO!” screamed the nightmare voice. “I decide when it is over . . . I always decide when it’s over!” The words echoed in my head. I let the tears fall. I let the pain take over. I gave up the struggle and sank into the abyss.
We learn to live with the agony that has been dumped into our lives. We learn to live with the knowledge that a part of us will always be missing. We learn to live with half of our heart and half of our soul. We develop a persona that we show to the world that they will accept. We appear normal and we fit in. We have no choice because if we show our true faces, the world cannot handle that. I don’t really blame them. I was there once too.
AJ, you had so much to give. You weren’t done. You should be here. I can say how much I miss you, ache for you, until I am blue in the face. Nothing changes. Nothing ever will. I will always, no, matter how much time has passed, wake to that stalker whispering in my ear. Time will never change that; it will only lengthen in between visits.
AJ, how I yearn for you. I can’t even type these words without the tears starting. Living without you has not become easier. Missing you has not lessened. I wish daily that it had been me. That is how it is supposed to be, parent before child.
It should have been me.
Sammi, your writing is so gut wrenching as you describe your grief. But one day, perhaps your story will ease into a different direction.
Your story begins the same way. Except that when you hear AJ’s voice – instead of being stabbed by the stalker of grief, you will hear AJ speaking to you. You will be enveloped by his love and feel certain he is surrounding you always.
Some of the aching and longing might eventually diminish over time – but love never changes. I understand how it can feel hopeless. I remember that so well.
But you have acknowledged that the stalker of grief is definitely visiting you less and less. You are wise to know it might come again.
I look forward to when you have more and more moments of feeling AJ with you. I say my son returned to me. That was the beginning of my healing. One day he came back and that realization has helped me every day.
Thinking of you with so much love and care.
The thought that someday my grief would ease didn’t seem possible 25 years ago.
When grief is raw and torturous, someday feels like never, the loss is too huge and the hole is gaping. Coping with that anguish leaves no possibility or hope for feeling better, let alone peaceful or joyous about life.
I do believe there is a chain of support that develops with grief. Holding on and later on helping others was very key to my survival of grief.
The exchange below represents three bereaved mothers. The first mother has just begun her journey. The second mother, Sammi, is five years along on her journey. I am the third bereaved mother.
Today I cried
Today I thought of you
Today I missed you
Today I cried
Today I wished you were here
Today I thought of something you would like
Today I saw something you would want
Today I saw your picture
Today I heard your favorite song
Today I cried
Today I thought of something that would make you laugh
Today I looked through your things
Today I saw your friends
Today I knew your siblings missed you
Today I still can’t believe you’re gone
Today I cried
Today I longed to hold your hand
Today I longed to hear your voice
Today I wished it were me
Today was hard. I hope I have the strength to do it all again tomorrow.
Danni (Dani tragically lost her daughter Caitlin only a few months ago in a tragic accident.)
Today you got out of bed.
Today you took care of your family.
Today you lived through the pain.
Today you shared with those who understand.
Today you will cry again.
Tomorrow you will do it all again.
We are here.
SOMEDAY . . .
Someday, you will wonder how you survived this horrific grief journey.
Someday, there will be moments when you’ll still cry. But then you’ll wipe away the tears.
Someday, you will look back and smile when beautiful memories return.
Someday, you will hold someone else’s hand that is in total despair to help give them the strength to keep going.