The fear of mental health

You know, people are scared of motorcycle clubs. You pull up at Kum and Go and the parking lot is full of bikers. Leather chaps and vests. Coats with a myriad of colorful patches that are full of skulls and knives. Bandannas and chains. Heavy black boots that make all of the bikers similar in their stance and gait. In general, they cause suspicion for a lot of us and we steer clear and keep our eyes down, scared to make eye contact for fear of drawing their attention.

Now, I happen to know a few ‘bikers’. Ken used to be one. If you know my husband, you know there’s nothing scary about him. We used to take short trips on his Harley and he wore his leather garb and a bandanna on his head. He got side glances. Always. Fortunately I was also on the bike. I most likely had on cute jeans, a jacket with flowers and glitter and more often than not, black Ugg sneakers with puffy pom poms on them. I had to wear a helmet, which ruined all my pretty blond hair for the day, but I smiled and talked to everyone as usual. I lessened the threat. 😂😂

We see these clubs as a threat. We shrink from their presence and pretend we don’t see them. We don’t embrace anything about them. We are intimidated by them. Our minds scream AVOID! Even Ken, who’s about as threatening as a turtle, caused a caution when we were out and about on the Harley.

For the past five weeks, I have had the honor of sitting with a group of women each Tuesday. We are also part of a club. No one wants to be a part of this club. The initiation was too high.

People also avoid our club. Especially if there are members who’s children died an ‘unacceptable’ death.

Cancer is ok.

Car wrecks, alright.

Overdose, intentional or not. Death by suicide. Murder.

Those aren’t ok. That takes a child’s death to a different level. It’s not ‘acceptable’

When people hear Kade died by suicide, there is a fault there. Depending on different points of view, the fault lies with different people.

But mostly it’s Kade’s fault.

“If he would have gotten help……”
“If he wasn’t drinking so much…..”
“If he could have just tried to be happier….”

We feel the need to assign blame on something ‘fixable’ so it softens it. Or removes it. These assignments change the narrative so it’s easier to distance ourselves from it.

“Thank God my child doesn’t……

Drink

Do drugs

Act depressed

Act angry, mean, raw”

My child was broken. He always had been. If their is any ‘fault’, it’s that we didn’t recognize how horrible it was for him.

We didn’t. We didn’t because no one talks about these things. We had no idea the fight he was fighting.

That scares people. Because that means it could happen to them. I don’t think this is a conscious thought, I think it’s an underlying fear.

People steer clear of our club. We are a threat. Not physically, no. Mentally, for sure.

Mental health is the most under talked about disease there is. It’s better now than it was 28 years ago, but not by much.

It’s scary. We avoid it. I avoided it.

I paid no attention to it until Kade. And I’ve been depressed a good portion of my life. I’ve had a LOT of counseling. I’ve read books on a hundred different subjects concerning depression.

There is this illusion that if you’ll do the right things, you can pull yourself up by your boot straps and get better.

I thought that.

I said it to Kade.

I told him to “just…..” his whole life.

Just calm down. Just think about something else. Just pray. Just read this book. Just go to counseling. I said it to him as if it were a simple fix if he would “just do it”.

I don’t have a lot of guilt about this. I didn’t know. It’s no different than if he’d had a tumor and I didn’t have the skill to operate on it.

BECAUSE WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT.

I’m not even sure what all IT is.

I’m in this club now. But I’m changing the bylaws. I’m going to work to empower people to talk, talk, talk. I’m going to change the focus of my club to one of admission, acknowledgment, recognition and promise.

WE HAVE TO LEARN.

We have to learn. YOU have to learn. We have to become aware and alert and we have to make mental health a priority. And we have to make resources easier to obtain. This is a fight. So many people are losing.

We live in a very small community. We lost three young men to suicide in less than a year’s time. Two were almost the same age, the same race and economic background, the same social circle and they worked for the same company. They died about six months apart. What is happening?!

My son was one of those two people.

There is a stigma attached to suicide. We want to tidy it up and make it make a sense that removes it from our personal lives.

It can happen to you. It happened to me. You don’t want to be forced to join my club. However, I do think you should support it.

Stop white washing mental health. It’s ugly and hard. Sometimes impossible. It’s going to take a movement to change it. I’m begging you to become a part of that movement.

Kade fought for his life. He was wrestling with things so fiercely. He was in a terrible, losing battle. And I didn’t even recognize it. Oh my God, that’s so awful to live with. That keeps me up at night. Not knowing how horribly he was hurting. The signs were there, I just couldn’t see them. I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Some blame Kade for his action. They presume this was his ‘fault’. They assign a blame and perpetuate the falsehood that he did this on purpose. That his harm was purposeful. There is no doubt that Kade did this intentionally. But his purpose was not harm. It was desperate. It was a desperate act to end his pain. That’s almost more than I can bare.

Embrace us. Help us. Learn from us.

Support our club instead of casting your eyes down with avoidance because it’s awkward or scary.

This is going to take a village.

Please continue to pray for our family. Your intercession is needed daily.

Nine Months

It’s almost here.

That day I mark each month.

The utterance of that number for any reason….

Seventeen cents, please
She’s seventeen now
I caught seventeen mice

(That last one would trigger anyone…I know)

That number has become a hangnail. It brings sorrow and black butterflies in my belly and the sound of it, when called out for whatever reason, is a deafening blow.

My mind plays tricks on me. It tells me that this is still a bad dream. A cruel joke. A mean prank. It cannot accept any reality. Even when I talk to myself, corner an understanding, hammering it into place, I can’t grasp fully what’s happening. It’s slippery. My mind just can’t hang onto it.

Is that protection? Is it denial? Is it healthy?

My counselor keeps reiterating, “It’s ok not to be ok.” Well, thank God.

It will be nine months on Saturday. Can you wrap your arms around that? Because I can’t.

Nine months. That’s how long I carried him. That’s how long he was physically tethered to me. That’s how long I anxiously waited on him to get here, how long I wondered what he would look like, what he would sound like. What it would be like to hold him and comfort him. Would he have blue eyes like Bill? Blond hair like me? What fantastic things would he be? Nine months.

Now,

Nine months of wondering where he is. Waiting on him to get here. What will he look like and sound like when he walks through the door. What would it be like to hold him and comfort him? Do his eyes still sparkle? Has his hair darkened? What fantastic things has he been doing?

I’m still very lost. I’m still flailing in so many ways. My head sinks beneath the water’s surface and I still get choked when I breath in at the wrong time.

It’s lonely out here. I have family support, professional support and spiritual support. I couldn’t be more blessed in the support area. Still, there is this awful isolation. I feel desperate so much of the time.

On the flip side of that is the comfort I feel. The love. The warmth. The peace. The blessings. The celebrations.

The juxtaposition of those two sides are a ball of confused energy.

I never know which way I’m going to land.

If I land on the hellish side, I’ve gotten better at soothing myself. Or rather, I’ve opened myself up for God’s soothing. But I have to do it on purpose. Sometimes it’s like pushing a car off of my chest. I know I have to in order to breathe, but it takes all of my strength and wears me down and out.

I’m having a hard day today. I miss my child. I miss his laugh, I miss his companionship, I miss his humor. I miss how stinkin ornery he is.

This terrible hole.

If I may be so bold, let me help you help me, and others like me.

The silence is too much. Fill it up for people you know that have had the rug pulled out from under them, people that have had their worlds turned upside down. Call them. Send them cards. Flowers. Fuzzy socks. A new book and blanket. Bake them a cake or make them homemade chocolate pudding. Drop off a lasagna. Show up and clean their refrigerator out.

Or show up and have a glass of iced tea.

We need you. We need your attention, your affection and your interest.

We need you to help fill our silence up.

That’s just a suggestion. From someone who knows. I know you don’t know what to say to me. The secret is, there is nothing you can say. Not to make this okay.

But you can bring me a latte and tell me about your awful new neighbor or you can bring the new dress you just bought for a baby shower and show it to me. You can help me to laugh. You can help to take my mind away.

This part of my life is hard. Some days, it seems impossible.

That doesn’t mean my life doesn’t have joy in it.

Two halves that don’t make a whole.

I feel like this was a ramble today. But that’s what’s on my mind. I just simply wrote what I felt. I hope when I get done, it’s understandable. I’m too tired to go back and see.

Please keep our family in your most fervent prayers. We need your intercession.

Not Much Independence Yet

It’s July 6th. I made it. We made it.

We didn’t just skin by, either. We nailed it. Like on Pinterest.

I get more upset as each milestone hits for me and Kade. It’s funny, you raise a child and each thing they accomplish is celebrated. First laugh, first step, first days of school, graduation, girlfriends, jobs, new cars, new apartments…..

Then for me….

I’m marking dreaded days off of the calendar and white knuckling through days that are meant to be celebrated, not met with apprehension.

I spend most of my prayer time on my mind. Soothing it, asking God to lift my eyes. I have a battlefield going on all the time right now.

This weekend I won. We won.

The Fourth of July was Kade and Kyler ‘s holiday. Each year they reverted back to 11 and 14 year olds, acting like crazy idiots. Their firework’s display grew larger and more dangerous and more hilarious each year. It is a favorite holiday for our family.

This year we did it completely different. I actually didn’t want to do that. I wanted to keep it just the same, holding onto that tradition. I wanted it how it was when Kade was here. However, Kyler just didn’t want to, knowing it would be too hard for him.

He and Katelyn planned the biggest brouhaha at their house. She made a kitchen full of bbq and all the fixins for Sunday and Monday. He took care of all of the fireworks and movies. And the kids, of course, they make everything better.

All I had to do was show up. Which ended up being so nice! I always go all out for the Fourth, get too worn out and too hot (that’s a bad thing for MS people, I did that one year and quit walking) and I end up in bed for a week. I love it! I don’t care to do it! I ENJOY doing it! But it’s too much now. I hate that. Kade forced the handing off of the baton. Even though I held on to it, digging my feet into the dirt. I finally let go, and let God.

We played. We ate. We laughed. We told stories. We stayed up too late and got up too early. For two entire days, I stayed at Kyler’s house with my kids and grandkids and we had the absolute best time.

Kyler rented an eighteen foot water slide. A company delivered it, set it up and got it all ready to go. Easy peasy. Karter went down that slide 8329 times. Kensley went down four. 😂😂 She flew down the slide, spread eagle with a look of horror on her face that any scream queen would envy, but no noise was coming out of her mouth. She’d been scared into hushing up. Kyler, of course, went to the extreme, sometimes launching completely off the slide, air born until he slammed into the pool of water at the end of the ride. I didn’t get on it, I took videos and pictures. Even so, I was soaking wet. Kennedy trudged up and down the slippery steps, over and over, she couldn’t ignore Karter’s pleas to ‘please go again, Aunt Kennedy!’. Eventually Katelyn filled what seemed like a hundred water balloons. Kyler, in typical fashion, grabbed a dozen or so, stepped back and started pulverizing everyone. It was like he was channeling Sammy Sosa. He smoked Katelyn in the back of the head and the shoulder and then smashed one against Kennedy as she tried to peg him first. Kensley mostly picked them up and busted them on the ground, with the exception of the one she zinged at me. It hit me square in the chest and soaked me. Man, I was just supposed to be the photographer 🙄😂. Belle and Ethan got the worst of it as they arrived and came around the end of the house. Kyler, Katelyn and Karter hid behind an outbuilding as they strolled across the yard. They waylaid both of them. I think Karter got the biggest kick out of pelting Ethan with one right after the other. Luckily he’s a rotten shot and Ethan only got hit twice.

The weekend was relaxing and the most fun.

It was the beginning of a new tradition, I’m hoping. A change. I have a hard time with change, but God pushed me through this one and I came out on the other side a joyful, wet mess.

We are all learning to navigate this different life we have now. We talked a lot yesterday and what it would have been like if Kade had been there. He and Kyler would have caused hysteria and cussing because they would have pushed all limits like they always do. It was nice, it was easy. It was an easy thing to think about because everything else was so good.

I hate when people say, “A new normal”. New is usually good and there is zero normal about our lives now. But whatever I decide to term this second half of my life, we all made a success of it this holiday weekend.

I caught myself getting ready to write, ‘God just keeps showing up for me’. I had the first three words typed out then it hit me how absurd that statement is. God has never NOT showed up for me.

I’m the one who doesn’t show up.

Head in the sand.

Negative Nancy.

I’m learning how to let God embrace me. Comfort me. Allow me to feel cleansed and whole. How to grieve and let him cradle me through.

Out of this thing I continue to call a horror show, I have been able to learn to wrap my arms around my Father’s neck and let Him carry me. I’m trying desperately to help my children learn this too.

Good from bad. I just kept hanging on to that. It’s my mantra in life now. Look for the good in the bad.

I hope your holiday was as nice as ours. We are so blessed. We continue to bolster each other up and we are learning to play different roles now, as they have changed. We have to pick up the pieces that were dropped when Kade left and learn how to fit them back together, each one of us garnering one of his roles and adopting it as our own. We all have an extra sense of responsibility to comfort one another.

Please continue to pray for our family. We need your constant intercession.

Fireworks and heartbreak

The holidays have been hard. The not-holidays have been hard. Each of us are affected differently by the absence of Kade. Each of us feel it stronger at times than the rest of us do.

Of course. We each had a separate, intimate relationship with Kadey, so we have separate, intimate mourning.

However, the Fourth of July is hitting ALL of us especially hard. This was a big holiday for us.

When Kade and Kyler were little, young may be better, they were horrible, awful boys. 😂😂

If you knew them then, this needs no explanation.

For those of you who didn’t, here we go.

When they were old enough to run around outside without much supervision, the reeked havoc most of the time.

We got them a basketball goal and had put it together but hadn’t stood it up yet. Those two brats went out and stood it up. Unfortunately it didn’t have any sand or water in the bottom of it so it fell right over, and landed on Kyler’s head. Stitches.

We got them a PlayStation for Christmas one year, Kyler got mad at Kade and peed all over it.

We had a shop at our house that Bill ran our painting business out of. The guys would all come there every morning, Load the work trucks up and then leave their own vehicles there for the day. For some unknown reason, my mother had bought the boys BB guns that year for Christmas and I had hid them knowing this was a terrible idea. Well they found them without me knowing it and went out and shot all the windows out of one of the workers trucks. Every window.

Our workers would get off work and it would be so hot outside and they would be covered with paint. They would wash up with a hose we had out back and usually get drinks from the house. So the boys thought it would be funny to pee in the hose. And then sat back and watched and waited on someone to get a drink.

When they were teenagers they watched the Jackass movies and began to do stunts. Then they would come home and tell me what they had done that day. I would beat on them and tell them they were never leaving the house again and I would take all the stuff out of their rooms and none of it did any good.

They fought all the time and they would slam their bedroom door until one day I had enough. I made Bill take their bedroom door down. They didn’t have a door on their room for maybe a year.

During their teenage years they fought a lot. They were at odds with each other on a daily basis. Kade was growing up and had girlfriends who he wanted to bring to the house and Kyler still wanted to be crazy and wild. Kade wanted to beat the crap out of him most days.

They got past that quite a bit after Kade graduated and started working and they were away from each other a lot. And then Kyler had Karter. Good grief. Kade love that child before he was even born. The very first thing he bought him was a Chewbacca from Build A Bear. He would go by Kyler’s house all the time because he wanted to spend time with Karter. That’s when Kyler and Kade‘s relationship changed and they became good friends as well as brothers. 

We have always had Fourth of July up here on the lake. Well, for the last eight years anyway. It’s always been a brouhaha. We’ve always done fireworks but when the boys began to buy the fireworks themselves, there was nothing better. Last year on the Fourth of July, Kyler spent four hundred dollars on fireworks and Kade spent three hundred. They are so nuts. 😂

Then came time to shoot them off 💥

They became twelve again.

Let’s see who can hold at the longest without blowing your hand off. Let’s tie these six together and see what that does. Let’s light them and hold onto him as long as we can and then throw them across the water and see what happens.

The rest of us would pull our vehicles down by bank, sitting in the car to avoid being sucked dry by the mosquitos. And it’s always hotter than a tamale. 

So there we would sit watching how beautiful the boys fireworks show was and the whole time we would be saying “OH MY GOSH!! RUN” because we were watching them taking insane chances. That’s what they’ve always done. It was just like they were kids again. And it tickled the crap out of me. We would all be laughing so hard, or yelling at them because they had scared us to death.

It was a time for our family where everything was the same when……

When we were all together every day. When We woke up together and ate together and went to bed together. When, for the kids, things were so simple.

And now here we are this year. And none of us can stand it. We talked and talked about what we’re gonna do and everybody was on a different page at first. But we all felt like this was going to affect Kyler the hardest so we are surrounding him with our protection and love and we will all get through this together

These are the things that suck so bad. Things you have to go through and can’t stand to go through it. Your mind fights your heart. I’m so sad, so angry. The anguish of this is too much to bare alone.

But…..

We are not alone in this. We have someone right by our side.

That’s where I try to have my heart stay. Knowing.

Because we get distracted by the enemy and he fills our minds up with so much dissatisfaction and dismay. Shame and harm. Self loathing and doubt about whether our Father loves us.

Those are lies. You have to start discerning the garbage from the truth. If you read your Bible, you will learn what God’s love really is. It takes a while to form that kind of relationship with our Father. It takes practice and will. But oh my God, what it feels like when you finally have an understanding of who God is and who you are to Him. I don’t know the words to make you want to crave it. You just have to trust and dive in. Head first.

And trust me, you’re going to thunk bottom a lot. Keep going. Even if you can’t feel it or see any sort of manifestation in your life. You will. God shows up for His children.

I didn’t teach my children these things. I didn’t know to teach them. I didn’t even try. That’s hard to live with now. I’m working hard all the time to help them understand.

Start early with your children. Teach them about the Holy Spirit every day. One day they won’t need you anymore, they will always need Him.

Make memories this holiday. Take lots of pictures and tell stories about all the past holidays. Create things your family will cherish. Because in the end, that’s what counts.

We miss our Kadey. Please keep us in your most fervent prayers. We count on your intercession.

Happy Fourth of July 🇺🇸

I’m an odd duck. Always have been.

It takes just a LITTLE bit to tickle the crap out of me.

Sometimes it’s a package of graham crackers I’ve squirreled away. Maybe a Scentbird I thought I’d lost. Fresh sheets. My favorite pjs being clean. And animals.

Any surprise encounter with any animal can transform thunderclouds in my heart to a song in .324 seconds. (I did the math this morning)

I have been feeling pretty bad. It’s hard to feel this bad for five weeks. It wears you out mentally and physically. Every night I go to bed and think, “Tomorrow will be the day this gets better.” And every morning for five weeks, it’s not.

Multiple Sclerosis is a constant surprise party. I had no idea. Unless you have some sort of chronic illness or are close to someone who does, you’ll not understand fully what we go through.

For instance….

I’ve started getting car sick. Terribly car sick. I’m not in the car three miles before I’m nauseated.

Kennedy moved back to Arkansas recently and Katelyn and I planned a surprise welcome home party for her this past Saturday. I wasn’t up to it to begin with. I’ve been have a hard time physically for several weeks so I was moving super slow on Saturday.

Katelyn had gotten to Kennedy’s apartment and was waiting on me. I had to go by and get the key from Kennedy without telling her what was really going on. There was a string of not-very-thought-out lies to be told to get said key, and by the time I got there, I was green 🤢.

Every acceleration and stop was a fight to not throw up. Every curve and turn I groaned through. I’m pretty sure Ken thought I was being dramatic. This is new, you see. So he’d not been in the car with me yet. It was another surprise package to unwrap with him.

We finally got to Kennedy’s apartment and I opened the door, leaned out, and threw everything up but my shoes. Ken, shocked at the voracity of my sickness, said, “Well Tracey!” And it made me laugh. Even though I kept telling him how sick I was, he didn’t get it. I soiled my cute dress and sweated through all of my hairspray.

I went inside, straight upstairs, and hooked a clean pair of sweats and a tshirt. I took my dress downstairs and threw it in the washer on speed wash. Then I had to get busy getting ready for the party. I sent Ken on errands and began to unpack everything I brought. Thank God for Katelyn. I mean it. Although she is my partner in everything celebratory, she now ends up doing nearly all the work. I am purely here for brainstorming and online shopping. She handles the rest.

She kept asking if this was okay here and what about this there, I just nodded. Past the point of even caring.

Since Katelyn’s birthday was the next day, I had brought all of her gifts and pretty paper to wrap them all in. As I pulled them from my bags, one by one, some of them still in the packaging they were shipped in, I said, “Here, this is part of your birthday. Oh! And here’s this one, and this one and this one” She didn’t even care, it made me want to cry. I had special plans for these things, now those plans didn’t matter. Well, they mattered to me, but I couldn’t pull it off. She’s my helper, I couldn’t ask her to wrap her own presents. I mean, I could have, and she would have, but that seemed un-Christian to me 🙄

Also, a cake and cookie fiasco.

I have the most lovely cake gal in the world. She was no where Saturday. She wasn’t answering my calls or texts. And it was party time. Neither Kate nor I were mad, we have used her for five years, she’s way more than accommodating to us and she puts up with all of our nonsense. We knew something was wrong. And there was, as it turned out. So she ended up needing prayers way more than we did.

Ken went on an errand and fixed it for us. Thank God for Ken. He doesn’t whatever he can to help, and never complains. Not even an eye roll. That’s why he’s my favorite.

The day didn’t go as planned. At all. Kate was stressed, I was sick. Things weren’t how we envisioned them at all. And Kennedy couldn’t have cared less. She was tickled to death and she got so many nice things. It was a party and even though the details changed, the outcome didn’t.

Okay, back to animals and little things that make me smile.

I’m still not feeling well. My doctor increased my zofran and that’s helping the nausea a little. It’s like I have morning sickness all day and night and then I get in the car and it’s a gamble on whether or not I’m going to toss my cookies. Add this to pain level, mental health issues and fatigue and I’m a train wreck.

So God sends me little pick me ups.

I got a big ol’ chicken snake in my Rose of Sharon tree last week, I had a herd of squirrels on my front porch in the bird food can I forgot to put the lid back on. Several herons who came up to the yard to squawk at me, Velociraptor like. And this morning I got a possum.

I was sitting on the front porch listening to music and something caught my eye. I just got her back half and tail as she was walking under the front porch. I know, you’re thinking that’s gross. Everyone is freaked out by a possum. But not me. I think they are hysterical. And it tickled me to no end knowing that there was one practically right under my feet. She was as fat as a town cat which made me think she probably had babies in her little pouch. I tried to FaceTime Belle and she wouldn’t answer but Ken had just left for work so I called him. We talked about how big she was and that I needed to maybe leave some cat food for her on the front porch. He was excited because I was excited.

We hung up the phone but he called me right back and asked me what I was going to name her. I said, “oh my goodness, What’s that woman’s name who was in the Mama’s and the Papa’s and sang ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’?!” He replied immediately “Mama Cass!” I told him that that was it! She looked like Mama Cass!

I know for most people this sounds silly. But for just a minute I forgot how awful I felt and I was excited and happy. That’s God. He tends to me in such a personal way. He knows exactly what’s going to lift me up. If you had a sick child you would know exactly want to cook for her and what to flick on the TV for her and you would know exactly the things to say to make her as comfortable as possible. That’s what God does. For whatever reason, He has chosen not to heal me from all of this. Because I know He is sovereign, I have faith that He has a reason for that. But I also know because He is sovereign that He is going to walk me through it with joy if I will just listen to Him and look for Him in all the quiet places.

In all the things that went on Saturday, it was all okay. I’ve learned not to panic and I’ve learned that at the end of the day things are just going to be OK. And they were. It takes time to learn how to meet God in His place instead of yours. Once you do, it is a game changer. That is His peace that passes all understanding.

It’s not easy. The devil trips you up everywhere he can. He’s constantly stirring the pot. The key is to stop and remember that he really doesn’t control the spoon. So you can take it from him anytime you want to. I pray a prayer every day that the Holy Spirit opens my eyes so I can see what he sees. That way I can see the spoon.

I’m still nauseated. My arm feels like it’s on fire. I dropped my coffee cup this morning because my hands aren’t working. I’m speaking into my microphone this morning to blog. I’m also sad this morning, it’s almost the Fourth of July and my Kadey isn’t here this year.

But I have a possum under my front porch.

Which made me smile.

I know my Father is working everything out for me all the time. I’m white as snow to Him no matter how filthy I get. I’m His. There is such a freedom in that. I know that everything is going to be ok. If not here, then there. Embrace that. You have to learn how then practice and practice. I still fail daily in all of this. But I have hope. And I have faith.

And….

God is good every day.

If I Can Make It Til Four

If I Can Make It Til Four O’clock

🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰🕰

About four years ago, I went to Indiana for a week to spend some time with Mother and my oldest son, Kendall. I hadn’t been home in a while and I was excited. I’d not been feeling all that great, but when you have Multiple Sclerosis, you never feel all that great so it’s always a twisted guessing game to see if it’s ‘normal’ not good or ‘something stupid is happening’ not good.

Unfortunately, it was the latter and two days after I got there, I found myself in the hospital for four days.

When I was discharged, I went back to Mother’s house so I could just completely rest. It’s hard for me to do that at Kendall’s. Not for his lack of trying but I just want to see him so I stay up to late and get up too early, I don’t nap and every time he asked if I’m ok, I say, “I’m fine!!”.

So Mom made up my room for me. It was my Grandparent’s house, my Grandma’s old room. The house is old. The doors creak and the all of the ceilings are slanted upstairs. My Grandma had all the walls wallpapered and all of the ceilings are too. Sometimes in the same paper, sometimes something complimentary.

I was staying in her old room, the one that has become my room, in what is now my Mother’s house. It has white wallpaper with tiny blue flowers scattered all over it. There are two closets, his and hers, both shallow and long. It’s funny, when I was a child I was so afraid of the closets in my Grandma’s house. They were all so dark and seemed to go back in forever. The one window in the room is tall, and in the summer it blows the voile curtains across the end of the bed. The wide, wooden trim that encloses the doors and windows, ceiling and floors, is the same blue that colors the flowers in the wallpaper. Hardwood floors, that hide their age well, are spread out beneath a plush rug added for warmth.

I’ve been sleeping in this room my whole life. I came here the day I came home from my birth and I’m still going.

I know you have to yank on the closet doors upstairs to get them open. The bathroom door won’t shut all the way. If you forget to turn the light on or off, it’s ok, there’s one at each end of the staircase. I know the first few steps, from the top of the stairs, talk when you step on them, announcing your arrival.

I love this house. It’s the one constant home in my life. I’ve been there since the day I came home from the hospital.

So of course, feeling crappy and missing my dogs, this was the most comfortable, comforting place for me.

I don’t remember how late we stayed up that night. We inevitably stay up past our intentioned bedtime. Mother always has things to show me she’s forgotten about and I always have 40-11 things to tell her. I always forget them until right before bed, just as I did when I was a child. I don’t remember how late I fell asleep and I can’t tell you what time it was when I woke up. I can tell you that I was the most scared I’d ever been.

I woke up scared. Terrified. I didn’t wake up, then become afraid. I woke up completely wigged out. I was absolutely sure there was someone in the house. The very second I was aware I was awake, I knew someone was there, right below the stairs that would give them away. I laid there, trying to control and quiet my breathing, not moving any part of my body for what seemed like so long. The longer I laid there, the more scared I became.

Now….

Mother was in the room right beside me. I could walk through my door and touch hers.

She has an alarm system that I knew she set because I reminded her then watched her poke around on the keypad, right outside my bedroom door and I heard the little beep that tells you the alarm is engaged.

I’d heard no creaky steps warming me of an intruder.

None of this mattered. I was scared out of my mind.

I was afraid to yell for Mother, I didn’t want whoever was in the house to know I was there and awake. I didn’t move!

After perhaps an hour, (no, I’m not exaggerating), I wiggled down in the bed enough that I could get the sheet, blanket, quilt and throw blanket over my head. I had my phone and finally dared to turn it on. Only because I felt like the person in the house couldn’t see my phone light through all of the covers. I put the phone on silent and quickly began texting people…. in Arkansas.

I was afraid to text Mother, her phone would sound and give me away.

So I sent texts to Ken, Kade, Kennedy, Kyler and Belle.

Kade answered immediately.

“What’s up? What’s wrong?”

I typed out as quickly as I could that I’d woken up and I thought someone was in the house. He called as soon as the text sent, it seemed. I rejected the call and furiously typed that he couldn’t call me, they might hear!

He began asking questions. Why did I? The alarm? What did I hear? How long? Did this wake me?

My explanation was short. I woke up and knew someone was in the house.

As usual, when my brain causes me to have a short break with reality, Kade talked me down. I asked him to stay on the phone with me until 4:00 am, because in my unreasonable reasoning, if I could stay safe until 4:00, I’d be ok.

Mother got up a bit before 4:00 and when she did I called out to her. I was fine after that and I told Kade he could go back to sleep. It was as if someone had suddenly flipped a switch on and just as suddenly flipped it back off.

I do not live as a frightened person. I never have. Any place I’ve ever been. I’ve never been scared of staying alone or being out in the country or city, traveling somewhere alone late at night. I’m not scared of people. I’m not even scared of spiders. That’s just not my personality.

After a talk with my doctor, we came to realize this was actually from the MS. I have lesions that affect mood and emotions. (This makes my family SO HAPPY!🙄🙄😳😳)

I have irrational emotions once in a while. It’s always been fear and it’s always happened when I wake up from a sound sleep.

This has happened three other times. Spread out over several years. It’s always as intense as the first time and I’ve always texted Kade and Ken. Ken has been at work each time and always offered to come right home. Instead I would talk to Kade. It didn’t ever matter what time in the wee hours of the mourning, he always answered and talked me through it. Until 4:00 when I knew I’d be safe.

I have no idea about the safety of that time. Nothing about any of this has a good explanation.

Last weekend was Kade’s birthday and we were able to go away for the weekend and get away from home. It helped a great deal. Mother and Kennedy came from Indiana and Belle, Ethan and Ken were able to come too. It was calming and cathartic. We came home Monday and Mother and Kennedy stayed until Thursday. I’ve been exhausted. I push myself too hard sometimes. But my mindset is, one day I won’t be able to push at all.

Thursday night I woke up at midnight and I was so anxious. Like, I’m anxious a lot. But I’ve only been this anxious one time in my life, the night Ken woke me up to tell me we had to go right now, there had been an accident.

My mind was more calm than my body was. My shoulders and neck were hot and my arms were hurting. My chest was heavy and my heart was racing so fast. My stomach was sick and I was taking deep breaths trying not to throw up. I prayed and talked to God and myself. At 12:30, I took medicine that normally calms me right down and puts me to sleep. Thirty minutes later I was just as wound up.

I finally decided to go wake Ken up. He was so asleep, he answered me but I knew he wasn’t lucid. He had to get up and go to work in a few hours and I didn’t want to mess his night up. I knew if I called Mother or Kennedy it would scare them snd they both had to work that morning. Belle would have her phone off and Kyler would wake up the kids if he answered. Kendall would wake up Whitney.

And I couldn’t call Kade.

Everyone else would have taken care of me and helped me along. They will most likely be aggravated if they read this. I’m embarrassed writing it a bit.

Kade is who I call when irrational Tracey happens. He was the one that answered the first time, from then on, that’s who I called. There is a safety in patterns you form. Although I wasn’t scared this time, I knew my anxiety was irrational and that my body was attacking itself. This was the first time it happened and Kade wasn’t here.

This was so much worse than his birthday. This brought all the agony on that I thought I’d handled so well his birthday weekend.

All the horrible anxiety I woke up with was multiplied immeasurably because Kade wasn’t there.

I have no words to describe the next hours. The anxiety, the grief, the anger, the sorrow. The fear of it all.

And even though I felt so alone in those hours, I buried my head in my pillow and called out in anguish to my Father. Begging, pleading, bargaining. Then thanking Him for his strength and grace in all of it.

Then it was 4:00 am and I fell asleep.

Don’t think for a minute I get through each day by myself. My ‘strength’ isn’t mine at all. I also know you can’t bargain with God, but when you’re in the depths of this kind of despair, you’ll resort to all kinds of things. 

I talked to my girls about this a lot yesterday. They made me pinky promise and lock-it to call them the minute anything like this happens, if it ever does, again.

I am not alone. Physically or supernaturally. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

I don’t know why my mind does this. Neither do the three doctors I’ve tried to get answers from. I mean, why can’t I wake joyful and excited! Happy just right out of my freakin mind.

I don’t know. There are mysteries in life.

What I do know is, I miss my son. I miss his orneriness and his helpfulness when I think I’m crazy. I even miss him when he was an a-hole. I’m so thankful I have the memories and moments I have with him.

I’m trying not to dread the next time I am awakened by delusions. That might not be the right word. I’m rational enough to know I’m behaving irrationally. But it makes no difference. This is the first time it was anxiety instead of fear. They are equally horrid.

We are formulating a plan so that I can better handle it, if it happens. I’m voting for the way they did it in the old movies, a handkerchief and chloroform. Apparently that’s against the law though.

If you don’t know a lot about Multiole Sclerosis or other autoimmune diseases, learn. And give to the societies that garner money to do much needed research. The things these diseases do to our bodies would make a saint swear. After that, scoot on over to suicide awareness and immerse yourself in that. You’ll learn a great deal about empathy and you may figure out something to say or do that will help a survivor of unimaginable circumstances.

Please continue to pray for our family. Your intercession is essential. Pray for my MS to leave my sleeping mind at rest.

I’m on my knees a lot, if you need someone to fervently pray for you, just let me know.

#sixmonthstoday #kadesmom #ShareThisPost

#inkwellswimmer #SuicideAwareness #multiplesclerosis

Kadey’s birthday week…

It’s Kade’s birthday week this week. It started yesterday, which was Easter Sunday, but I didn’t let myself dwell on that too much. We had eggs to fill and hide and anxious grandbabies coming to hunt them.

My youngest daughter, Belle, and I got up early yesterday morning and cleaned and cooked and cut flowers and picked out something pretty to wear. My husband mowed the yard and Belle’s boyfriend Ethan was on dog and trash patrol. We had a good morning.

Then company came, and we ate too much. Kyler declared the carrot cake I made from scratch to be the best one he ever ate. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and I tweaked it just a bit, it was pretty awesome.

We had put the dogs in our fenced in back yard and allowed them to access the screened-in backporch. At one point I looked over and four of them were on the couch I have out there, every nose pressed up against the wall sized window. They were sad and pitiful and I let them in.

So, four dogs and a two 1/2 year old and a five year old. Kids hopped up on chocolates and the dogs hopped up on kids. Picture taking and loud conversations over the racket in the house. I was loving it.

Then my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter proclaimed quite loudly, “Dere’s Tade!” I immediately looked at the door, still laughing at Belle and Karter, expecting him to walk through the door.

The struggle began.

Some of you might be thinking I misunderstood her. Or some of you might be wondering if Kade’s ghost is walking around in the house. (I’m sure of it some days 🙄😂)

Neither is the case, however.

I have an almost life-size black and white framed canvas of Kade and his bloodhound, Barlow, hanging on the wall in our living room. I ordered it the day after his services. My daughter in law, Kate, has used this small company in Texas to purchase a couple of canvases for her living room and they were so beautiful. So naturally, I decided to use this company. I ordered the largest size and when I mounted it to the wall, I noticed he was nearly life size and I had attached him to the wall where we were eye level. If I ever have something to say to Kade, I go to this picture and we talk it out. He was mostly silent during most of my rants in his lifetime so I just pretend we are still on that same wave length.

I was sinking fast. I was worn completely out and in a bit of pain and tired enough to sleep outside in the patch of rocks and mulch we have around the porch. So it didn’t take much to knock me over. Just a feather.

Kensley looked up and noticed this picture, not for the first time, and pointed him out. Naturally She loves her Unlcle Tade.

Continue reading “Kadey’s birthday week…”

My Savage Mind

I have been reluctant to post lately. I write about what I think about and right now I just think about Kade.

The reluctance is from worrying I might upset or offend someone. Or because I think people will just simply get tired of listening to my voice mourn. Tragedy scares people. Especially if it’s too close to home. We think, “What if we are next?” Or “If it happened to them, it could happen to me.” That causes people to shut you down or out. So I’ve just been quiet.

Today is a really bad day. The kind where I want to take a pill and go to bed. Asleep is safe and quiet.

You know when you go to the dentist and they numb your mouth and it feels like your lip is as big as that kid’s on Fat Albert? It’s really NOT big, it just FEELS huge. Sensation issues.

Today I’m having a sensation issue. I’m sad. Down. Beaten.

And I can feel it in my face. It feels like I slathered something all over my face and it’s made it swell and pull down. Picture gnomes with strings giving my skin the ol’ heave-ho. I can feel the corners of my eyes and lips turning down. (I’m not being dramatic this time, I promise)

That’s how wretched this is. Your face rebels against you. I can’t take too deep a breath, I’ll cry. I have no energy. It’s an effort to make the trip to the bed to go to sleep. And that’s what I want to do, sleep.

I had to fill out a questionnaire for a new counseling service and the questions were difficult.
-has my energy level changed
– has this affected my work or school situation
– do I feel shock
– do I feel guilt
– am I angry
– what’s my support system like
– am I angry
– am I confused
– am I numb
– am I hopeless
– am I sleeping too much/not enough
– has my eating changed

I began answering these and I stopped a minute. I had all of this before Kadey, it’s just much worse now. So, how do I answer this? It provided a scale from 0-4. Mine were mostly 4’s, which I am comfortable with right now. I could go higher up the scale had there been bigger numbers. I feel like I’m ‘supposed’ to feel this way right now, although I do know not everyone handles grief even remotely the same. But in my head, I feel how I’m supposed to feel. For this.

But what about before?

What about 6 months ago, before this hell?

Why was I on this scale at two’s and three’s before my heart was so broken.

After I filled that out and emailed it back to my new counselor, I started cleaning our bedrooms. Stripping beds, sweeping, dusting, lighting candles, feeding Jud and cleaning out his cage. I got incredibly busy pretty quickly. Then I wondered about that.

After a lot of soul searching….that’s a lie.

I turned my mind toward a couple of issues and God put it on my heart right now.

Why am I all of a sudden so busy? Where did this energy come from? This motivation?

I did all of the things above in about forty minutes and I didn’t think about anything but my next step and wallpaper and craisins. I had turned my mind off. I didn’t want to wonder why I felt like maybe I was a mess before Kade. I was no longer dwelling on Kade at all for a bit. It was all about me. So I got busy. Tasking. That fills your mind up.

My lack of energy and motivation and sadness are all linked to Kade right now. If I fill my mind with something else, my flaws, my ‘depression’ I quit thinking about Kade. I’m knee deep in my own self-perceived failures. That takes up SO MUCH room in my head when I camp there, that it blows my son right out of my mind. This was all subconsciously working, but the Holy Spirit had gotten hold of something and he wouldn’t let go. So I had to start thinking instead of pushing it away.

So why am I, a basically happy person, answering such high scores on a depression scale and thinking to myself, “I was like this before, just not so bad”?

It took about three minutes to come up with an answer, and two of those were shushing the dogs up so I could think.

Multiple Sclerosis. This insane disease that has ravaged my mind and body. Over the last six years, I have sunk deeper and deeper into depression and didn’t even realize it until I had to put it down on paper.

On one hand, it’s crazy what your mind will protect you from. In the other, it’s crazy how deep your mind will let you be in denial.

It’s also amazing how when faced with another tragic circumstance, you can immediately shut down all thinking and have no idea you’re doing it. That is, until the Holy Spirit’s biff thunks you a couple of times. Once He has hold of you, He won’t let go of your mind and emotions, your soul, until you give in or deny Him entry all together. I don’t deny anymore. I did for years and years. Then I figured out the funniest thing. It’s easier to give in! Who’d have thought? You think that closing your mind off to hurtful things, things that require steadfastness and growth, will protect you. Obviously it won’t. (You can use me in your example of foolishness in your paper or sermon) I learned a few years ago, it’s so much easier to accept than dismiss. He’s the only one that knows what’s happened, happening or will happen. So you have to just listen.

I had clamped down on the way the MS was truly affecting me. I had (partially) been successful in hiding that from myself. I’m sure everyone around me knew, idk, I haven’t asked them yet.

I’m going to have to dig all of this up. Which would be overwhelming to me even without Kade. So I’m kind of scared. I don’t really want to do anymore soul-searching right now. But apparently I HAVE TO. Because once God has his hand on my heart about something, I have learned I have to face it.

That kind of makes me mad, it’s like, ‘Hey God, NOW? REALLY? Haven’t you been paying attention to the horrible shame my mind is in right now?! Then you threw this on the pile?! Really?!”

Yes. He does. That’s my flesh talking and sometimes you want to smack your flesh around a little. Or many times, I guess. The point is, He does know. He knows it must be the exact right time for it or He wouldn’t have biffed me.

My face is still sagging sensationally. (Oh brother) I’m still sad, so so sad. But my bedrooms are clean. Always look for the silver lining.

I start counseling tomorrow at the Center For Good Grief at NEA Baptist. We have supported them monetarily since they started the center. I am always humbled by things like that. Thanking God I don’t need their services, I’ll help those who do. Now I’m in the latter category and I’m even more humbled and thankful.

Keep praying for our family. Keep praying for Elizabeth. We are all struggling right now. His date is right around the corner, then his birthday on the heels of that. It’s like a weighted blanket, so heavy there is no throwing it back. You’re just stuck under it, hot outside, cold inside and nauseous all the time. We need your intercession. Thank you for reading this and taking note of us.

Oh, and I’ve decided not to be quiet anymore. About my Heath issues or Kadey. It’s my voice and I should be able to use it. No, no one has ever said anything or eluded to their distaste. This is all something I’ve worked up in my own mind. That’s something else your flesh wants to do, listen to the enemy. I find great comfort in writing, so the devil wants to kick that idea right out of my head. What better way than a big dose of self doubt with a sprinkle of ignorance.

Thank you for being my perpetual reader. 💙 Stay with me as I walk through this valley.

Kadey

My children went to a private Christian School for a large part of their lives. Belle didn’t get to experience that and Kyler got just a few years. Kendall and Kade got the most.

Kendall was in the fifth grade when Kade started preschool. The school was in the same building as our church, which we had all spent our entire lives in. It was a large congregation and we were friends with most, familiar with the rest. This was a home for us. My parents and grandparents attended church there, as well as most of Bill’s family. My point is, this wasn’t a strange place or a ‘new’ place.

Kade was petrified. I would drag him to his classroom, screaming the whole way. Him, not me. (yet) Kennedy would be skipping along, happy as a lark and I had Kyler on one hip. We would be at the door to the classroom and I’d be juggling Kyler while trying to pry Kade’s fingers off of the door jam. He had a death grip on it and he’d be wailing like I was leaving him forever. The teacher would finally be free to help me and we would finally loosen Kade’s grip enough to yank him free and drag-walk him to his chair. Meanwhile, Kennedy would have taken his place at the U-shaped table and would be happily waiting on the morning snack to be handed out. We’d get Kade to his desk and then I’d then I’d have to drag Kennedy out of the room, screaming and crying to stay. This went on every day for two years of pre-school and kindergarten year. I cried a lot.

This mortified Kendall. He was quiet, reserved, disciplined and respectful. Kendall was a good student and very social. His screaming little brother was something that made him cringe.

When they were in first and seventh grade, they took their lunch every day. I packed awesome lunches 😂 One day Kade went to ‘check on his lunch’ , something he did a lot, and his lunch box was empty. Omg the hysteria that followed. 🙄🙄

Kade didn’t report this to his teacher. Oh, no. He snuck out of his classroom and went looking for Kendall. Kendall’s class was on the opposite end of the building and upstairs. Kade couldn’t find Kendall’s classroom so he just started screaming Kendall’s name. The teacher came out to see what all the commotion was about and Kade was in full-blown panic mode. He refused to go back to class and just clung on to Kendall. They escorted Kendall and squalling Kade to the office to call me. I went and picked the little one up, the big one wanted to go back to class. He was red-faced in anger and embarrassment. I was trying to comfort them both and sort of trying not to sit down and cry.

I went to church camp at Camp Indogan in Angola, Indiana. I went every year from about third grade to my sophomore year. Most years I went twice. I loved this.

When it came time for my kids to go, I was so excited. Kendall went first, then when the younger kids were going, he was in an older group. But the three middle kids all went together. Their friends were there. My cousin, Tana, who we have always been extremely close to, was one of the counselors. Kade lost his mind. The first year he went, he got the ‘Where’s my brother’ award. Kennedy and I have talked about this recently. She said she was embarrassed by him making such a fuss. He cried all the time and clung to both her and Kyler. They wanted to have fun, Kade was miserable the whole time.

And we made him go. I thought it would be good for him. I had no idea what was going on in his mind.

Kade struggled in school. He learned differently and none of us knew it. He was treated by his teachers in Indiana and by Bill and I like a little trouble maker. He stayed in trouble at school. We eventually placed the kids in public school. It declined rapidly for Kade. He started fighting. He was so angry. He was expelled his seventh grade year.

We made the decision to move to Arkansas. Academically, this was the best decision we made for Kade. He went to school in Tuckerman. Many of the teachers there had been Bill’s teachers when he was young. Kade was a SODEN. And that meant something in our community. He was suddenly proud. He still got into trouble for fighting, so we got him involved in MMA. He could punch anyone he wanted, as long as they agreed.

When Kade was grown, we talked about his issues from his childhood. His explanation for his actions, his reasons, took all the breath from me. We had no idea the damage we were causing.

His whole life was fear led. If he wasn’t with me by a certain time each night, he knew I’d die. If he didn’t turn the light on and off a certain number of times or touch the doorknob or wash his hands, or tap his head or close a door, all seven times, I might die. His fear was attached to me. And we were pushing him into the nightmare.

He explained that when I left him at school, he would think about me being in a car crash on the way home. When he went to church camp, it was a terrifying week of waiting on someone coming to him to tell him I was dead. That’s why he always wanted to be with Kyler or Kennedy, so he wouldn’t be alone when he found out his mom was dead. He hated staying at my Mother’s house, wouldn’t stay with friends. Even as a teen, eighth and ninth grade, he would start off staying the night with someone, but 90% of the time, he would call me and have me come and get him.

Of course we had no idea. He had great teachers who had no idea. We didn’t talk about mental illness in children. There was no Facebook or Instagram or any other kind of social media. The internet was expensive dial up and I certainly wouldn’t have known what to search for on the World Wide Web.

We just told him to straighten up, man up, shut up, do it, do it, do it. And when he failed, in his eyes at nearly everything, we asked him over and over again, “What is WRONG with you?!?!” I couldn’t understand why he could just get his shit together. Neither could he. And all he heard was “You’re failing”

By the time I understood, it appears it was too late. All roads point to my failure of Kade.

And I tried so hard to be a good mom. Kade thought I was the best mom. He told me all the time. Because what he remembered was the mom who played games and introduced old movies and made iced sugar cookies and bought him all the art supplies he wanted and sung him sweet songs real low, where he had to be so quiet and still to hear me.

I was a good mom. But it didn’t matter. Because I didn’t have the right information, the right tools, the right things to say. Until he was twenty. Then I never shut up. And we worked so hard and I prayed so hard.

I think when your mind tells you ugly things all the time, it’s too hard to decipher it all. Kade saw nothing good about himself and he couldn’t imagine how you could either. He was so full of shame, regret, remorse. He couldn’t function. He couldn’t catch up and grab on. He couldn’t figure life out because all his ears heard were lies in which he was a failure.

I have regrets. That’s normal when a family goes through this. But I know a purpose can rise from this. It would make Kade feel proud that his story might help someone. That’s what spurs me on. Good from bad. God help me.

Teach your children about the Holy Spirit, our helper. You won’t always be with your child, the Helper will. Teach them what an intimate relationship with God looks like. And if you don’t understand your child’s behavior, dollars to donuts, your child doesn’t either. That’s a red flag. Go get some help. If the first place you land on doesn’t work out, don’t quit. Dig.

I wish I would have.

Please continue to pray for our family. The loss keeps getting heavier for some of us. The weight is suffocating. We need your intercession.

#kadesmom

Kadey

Kade had colic beginning at about six weeks old until he was nearly four months old. You could set your watch by it. He started screaming at 6:00 pm and stopped at 9:00 pm. Every night. It scared Billy Don and I so badly when it started, we thought something must be terribly wrong with him. Bill would take our older son, Kendall to Dairy Queen each evening and they would eat inside then go to the park or on long rides, maybe go visit the Grandparents. It was summer and we lived in an old farm house from the 1800’s that the farmer Bill worked for furnished as part of his pay. It was a neat old house with lots of floor to ceiling windows in every room. It had tall ceilings and real hardwood floors. And no air conditioning. I lost every bit of my pregnancy weight in two months. Sweating and walking. Sometimes I cried too. It was exhausting.

Kade was a trying child. He was curious as a cat and was forever getting into something or creating messes or scaring us to death.

He emptied an entire can of comet all over the bathroom one day while I was changing my sheets. It took me more than an hour to clean it all up. When I finished, I took all of the towels, washcloths and rugs and shook them out outside the back door then put them in the wash. When I got back in the bathroom, he had done the exact same thing with a whole container of Johnson and Johnson’s powder. I sat down in the middle of a fog of talcum and cried. Then got up and cleaned it again.

He drove Nana’s car into the side of her house when he was three. It pushed the wall of her bedroom in several feet. Kendall was in the backseat and never even looked up from his book. I cried hysterically at the thought of what might have happened and didn’t.

He hid in the dog house when he was about four and when I went running to the phone to call the police after several minutes of panicked searching, he came out and said, “Here I am Momma!” I paddled his butt and bawled the whole time I did it.

He got stuck in the clothes dryer because he thought it would be funny to hide from me and shut the door behind him. I found him by following his hysterical cries that time. This time I laughed instead of cried.

He started talking about ‘bad guys’ when he was three. He was afraid to go anywhere. We were cautious about what the kids watched and listened to. We still have no idea why Kade was always scared.

Kade had a terrible temper. He got mad at Kendall when they were four and ten. Kade chucked a rock at Kendall because he was provoked in some way and Kendall fell off his bike and broke his arm.

He took a stick and ran it down both sides of both of our neighbor’s cars and left nice, deep scars the length of the cars.

The strange thing was, he was always startled he was in trouble. Most of the time he couldn’t figure out why anyone was mad at him. He wasn’t malicious or pernicious. He was curious and inquisitive. He just wanted to ‘see what would happen’ in almost every scenario I’ve described.

He was also the sweetest baby you’d ever have the privilege of holding. He hugged on everyone he met. He said, “I love you Momma” or Sis, or Kendall or Daddy or Kyler. He wanted to nuzzle in beside you and just be held.

And he wanted to please. That lasted his lifetime.

It wasn’t until Kade was eight that I really noticed the different way he handled things, felt things, thought about things. That’s when the fear he never escaped escalated into something that was a hindrance to him. That’s when the OCD really started. I don’t know if it started before then, that’s just when I remember noticing small things that, at the time, I didn’t understand at all. I had no idea what was happening.

That’s when the anger began to rear its head.

That’s when I realized that Kade wasn’t just ‘ornery’, something else was going on.

Unfortunately, these things weren’t even on most people’s radar at that time. No one spoke about this stuff. I don’t know if others talked about childhood depression, OCD, anger issues. At school he just got into trouble and at home he got more of the same.

I had four children, a bad marriage, a business to help run. I had no idea what I was doing. And I was doing my best. I know that in every fiber of my soul. I tried so hard at everything. But I was lost and floundering. The chaos between my husband and I created a space that left my children feeling so insecure. I just couldn’t see the forest. I certainly couldn’t see Kade. Not the way I wish I would have.

Kade always just had a hard time.

The one thing I think made Kade’s life nearly impossible was that he couldn’t feel love. He always felt unworthy and left out and unloved. If you know our family, if you know me and what kind of mother I tried to be, you’d think I was just pulling that out of my behind. The thing is, what I know now, it wasn’t my parenting, it was Kade’s brokenness. I didn’t know he was broken and it wasn’t addressed at all. Not for years.

We created the perfect storm for Kade’s ending. He was reeling and we had no idea.

When I finally figured out something was seriously wrong, he was a teen and it was like trying to shut the door on the barn after the horse was out.

Next week I’m going to talk about what school was like for Kade. He struggled so much.

I’m hoping that these steps I’m writing about will help me understand and come to terms about Kade’s death. I’m praying it will help me put the puzzle pieces together just a little bit. Or God willing, a lot.

Kade had mental health issues from a very early age and I had no idea. Hindsight is 20/20. That’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever had to dwell on. What I didn’t know then that I know now. It leaves me wretched and fractured. Please pray for me.

I’m also praying these will help someone else. Trigger something about someone you love because you recognize them in what I write about my sweet son.

He was, just my sweet son. Being here without him is an anguish that’s unexplainable.

Thank you for sharing in this with me. I hope you continue to walk through Kade’s story with me. Please share these. This is part of the good from the bad for me. Trying to help someone else.

kadesmom #mentalhealthawareness