I Only Have My Grief… To Compare My Grief To…

I Only Have My Grief… To Compare My Grief To…
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee

4-20-2013 060

Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… 2013
Everytime I begin to write today… it seems my words begin to talk about … Tommy. I wonder ‘why’? He would have been 43 years old on November 20th… and this is the third Thanksgiving he isn’t … here.

I know I’m thinking about him… though, my mind is thinking about other things. I’m glad I’m not crying. Do you know …I miss my son. I miss him with my very heart.

I don’t worry that you will tire of me writing about him, when this happens. You have the choice to go on to the next blog… post. This happens ever so often. I write grief, pain… it’s what I know best. Then, I write my colors/my life… my thoughts.

I was thinking today of how Tommy died… I wondered if his eyes were opened long enough to look up at the beautiful, blue sky… see the white sea gulls flying over him. I keep imagining the sea gulls singing to him… ‘Tommy, come home… it’s time to come home’.

I pray that he didn’t feel any pain in his chest… nor feel pain as his body collapsed on the sand. I pray that invisible angel’s hands guided him gently as he fell.

Did his ears hear the waves as they washed ashore close by where he lay? My son died a beautiful death… people say this to me. I can ‘see’ that they are right. Everyone would want to ‘go’ that way. My mind worries for any pain he might have felt… he had two blockages to his heart. The autopsy showed this… I wonder… is it possible he didn’t feel pain?

Imagine the music that the ocean, and sea gulls make as the sounds blend together… soothing, soft… hauntingly beautiful. Doesn’t it touch your heart? I think Tommy heard this special music as his soul … soared to Heaven. Soared to the sea gulls singing, ‘Come home, Tommy… come home’.

For the moment… I’ve went to the place where I don’t usually allow my mind to go… to ‘that moment when my son lay on that sand’. To the moment… he… died. I feel I want to cry… but, I know I won’t for now. I don’t know ‘why’ I won’t… I just ‘know’.

I can see in my mind’s eye… my little 3 year old grandson squatting down to his daddy’s level… asking him to come play with him. He probably put his little hand on his daddy’s shoulder, to shake him to wake up. Tommy was always playing with him… pretending to be asleep, and such… then, surprise his little son with a big grin, and a roar! He didn’t … that time.

Thank-God for the little group of people close by… they were the only people around. They came to Tommy, and Taban… watched over Taban until he was safely with his mother. His mother didn’t know where Tommy and their little son… disappeared to. She, her family were putting luggage up in the hotel room.

I wonder when Tommy grabbed Taban by his little hand… did he feel an urgency to get to the ocean, to play with his little son as he wished to do… as quickly as he could?

He barely made it in time to play for a short time… he left on a journey that was unexpected… one he can’t come back from.

The grief… in my grief, I would almost feel he was going to walk up any moment… appear from around the corner. It felt like ‘almost’ anytime, I was going to see my child. It was like when I was diagnosed with cancer… in that shock… I kept feeling somehow, I could step back ‘through a door’… and everything would… be back the way it was. Everything would be alright.

Some day I will sit, and try to explain that more… it’s a very interesting way of thinking. I’ve never heard anyone describe ‘real grief’… I’ve never had opportunity to be around anyone who has grieved like I have. I understand… no one’s been around me to see me … grieve … like I have. It’s a very private thing.

When someone you love, dies… somehow, in the shock… it feels like you can ‘shift the time’ just a little… and it’s like ‘they can come back’. It doesn’t make sense… I just tried to ‘go back’ for a moment to ‘feel’, so… I could describe it. It sounds strange… maybe sometime, I will examine it more in my mind… and write it, to tell you.

In my mind, I used to wish I could reach out… part the air like opening a curtain… see the steps to Heaven… go up them quietly to the top so, I could peep… hopefully, to see the angels walking by… see Tommy. I would have softly called, “Tommy”! Then, watched for his sunshine smile!

We all wish… we all think… don’t think… feel, cry… sob, weep when we grieve. Sometimes, we do nothing… I grieve quietly, privately… the only way to know I’m grieving is to see it in my writing. I don’t talk about it. Only at a rare moment will Skip see me grieving… I don’t want to upset, worry him. If I’m not alright… he can’t rest. So, I write the pain…

When you look at me… you’ll see my smile, and know everything’s alright. Because… really, I am. I don’t know how others grieve, I know how I do. I only have my grief… to compare my grief to.


I Did As I Promised… I Just … Wrote The Pain

I Did As I Promised… I Just … Wrote The Pain

By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee



My beautiful, handsome son.  Tommy Mitchell Sidden… Born 11-20-1969… Died 5-29-2010……………

Tommy died unexpectedly … no one knew he was sick.  He died of two blockages in his heart… he made it to Myrtle Beach, S.C. just in time to play with his 3 year old son… he left on another journey… he’s gone forever now.


Thanksgiving has come… gone.  Only leftovers are left in the refrigerator to show for it.  Turkey, dressing to make sandwiches with… later.


Our Thanksgiving was a very quiet one, once again.  We were missing someone very loved, dear to us.  This is the third year we didn’t have Tommy here.  I did good… Thanksgiving Day.  Today is… day after.


I kept thinking of Tommy… feeling those little waves of panic in my stomach.  They kept threatening to turn into huge waves of pain; waves to toss me around in… twisting, turning me this way, that way.


Skip, our Pups… were my lifesaver… I focused on them hard, I held on tightly for dear life.  I didn’t want to drown in that sea of grief… I’ve been there too many times.  It’s a wonder I haven’t drowned long ago… but, I made it to ‘now’…


Have you ever felt waves of panic… the feeling you are going to lose control?  Want to just melt down to the floor… cry, cry… cry?  Just let go, weep until you fall asleep?


Panic… scared of the darkness that threatens to consume you… because it hurts so bad being there.  You might not come back… if you get lost.  I’ve been there too many times… I try so hard not to go back again.  I can’t bear the pain… oh God… I can’t bear the pain.


Look at your son… your baby son… your adult son.  Look at your only child… think, try to imagine them gone, never to come back.


Did you feel breathless with fear… afraid something could happen to him?  Can you even go so far as to imagine… oh, my God… he were to die?  Die unexpectedly… when you never had any idea he was sick… he was going to die?  Can you imagine?  Can you?


Now… you can smile, be thankful that your son is still here.  You can reach out to hug him, say I love you.  Some of you may feel smug because your son is still here… mine isn’t.  Just remember… it can happen without notice… you could get the call I did… “madam, I have a man collapsed here on the sand, he isn’t breathing!”


I pray that you never do…  My fear now, is gone… my son died… he can’t die … again.  I fear the grief, pain of grieving when it strikes me like lightening from the sky… out of the blue… no warning, no clue.


Just like this very moment… my stomach feels sick… the ‘birds are fluttering again, hitting against the bars of the birdcage… trying to escape.  They are trapped… if only they could be … set free.


I take deep, quiet breaths to calm them down… I close my eyes.  Oh, my head, my head… I press it down into the palms of my hands as I sit here at my desk.  I press my palms against my eyes… hard.  Breathing in, breathing out… I need relief from such a feeling.


I don’t want to go into another grieving period… too hard to come back.  I’ve done well… still doing well… until this very moment.  It drives me… to write the pain.


Write the pain… make it go away… I promised to write the pain… when grief struck.  It’s struck now… and I’m trying to get back up…. slap the dust off my pants… stand firmly on my ground.


My breathing’s become freer now… I can take a deep breath once again… instead of it becoming stuck in my throat.  I’m going to be alright now… I can feel it … I’m going to be alright!  Oh, how good it feels to breathe the air… in, out, in… out. I hold my head back, with my eyes closed… my chest rises up, down… I can breathe again!


I made it through once again… I wrote the pain… I made it go away.  I met the huge wave head on… the one that threatened to wash me away… it’s gone now.  I’m going to be alright.


I promised to share my grief with you… so, you can see, feel what it’s like… without losing your child.  Now… you can quietly go your way… knowing all is alright in your world… go hug your son… your only child.


Don’t worry about me… I’m just words to you, a story/post for a blog… I just remind you… how it’d feel if… you … lost your son, your only child.  You still have your son… to tell him you love him.  You can still hug him… he’s still here.  Look at him with your mother’s eyes… let a gentle smile come on your face… be so thankful as I used to be… to have such a wonderful son.


I did as I promised… I just… wrote the pain.




I Just Had A Bad Time… Writing The Pain Out

Christmas Tree (1)

Christmas Tree (1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Just Had A Bad Time… Writing The Pain Out


By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee


Well…  this evening, guess what I did?  I asked Skip to bring several things from our outside building… to the house.  I was paying close attention to myself, my feelings when he brought all in.


I waited to see if I’d become sad… feel panicky, want to cry.  These are the emotions I have experienced for two years now.  It’s awful… the pain, the pure grief…. holidays have a way of making all worse.


Why?  Because that’s when all of our loved ones gather for a time to feel close, happy, glad they have each other.  It’s a time of such pure happiness looking around yourself, thinking ‘I love my family… these are my special someones in my life… I’m so thankful for them’.  I feel so safe, loved by all of them…. I’m special to these people, they are special to me.


Then… someone is all of a sudden ‘gone’…you didn’t get to tell them ‘goodbye forever‘.  Like Tommy… I did get to speak to him on the phone less than an hour ‘before’ ……… when we ended our call we said, “I love you, son.”  “I love you, mama.”


We said ‘goodbye’……… but, we never said ‘goodbye forever, mama’…. ‘goodbye forever, son’…..  When I said goodbye, I only meant until he would call me in an hour, or so… to tell me about playing with Taban at the ocean.  I didn’t say …’goodbye forever, son’.  I didn’t …. mean ‘goodbye forever’…..


Now… at this very moment, I look at what I’ve done… I could become very upset easily… but, I mean to do as I told you all I would do… that’s to make our Christmas a happier time for us… Skip and our Pups.


I just made it through Thanksgiving… and I heard Skip say… ‘This has been the nicest Thanksgiving’…..  I did it, and I’m so thankful I didn’t make it another sad Thanksgiving.


Skip is so fortunate to see this Thanksgiving… I’m so thankful to have Skip this Thanksgiving.  Wouldn’t I be awful not to appreciate, be thankful after what he has just been through when he became deathly ill?  I could have… been all alone … only the Pups and I on these holidays.  My world is complete with Skip, our Pups.  I’m so fortunate.


I’m happy, I’m sad… bittersweet is the only word I can think of to describe what I am.  I looked at photos of Skip I had taken of him in Rex Emergency Room when he was very ill, when he was in the hospital that week…. one could see ‘death was close by’… my heart hurts, I want to cry looking at them.  One photo, he was lying on the bed with his eyes closed… so still, so sick… he looked like… he was ‘gone’.


I showed these photos to Skip this evening… he didn’t know I took them in the emergency room… he knew about the ones while being hospitalized… I took them because I could see that he was getting better, and better.  Skip said, “I looked like I was dead, I’ve seen dead people look better.”  I smiled at that because Skip is funny… he is the most wittiest person I know… quick on his feet to say something hilarious.  He’s… my special someone, he’s all I have in this world… he means everything to me… him and ..our Pups.


I look again… I stop writing to turn around to see… what I’ve done this evening.  I’m determined not to get in the condition I have been in for the past two years… I may be sad but, I’m going to be a… strong sad … mixed with gratefulness…


There…. on the table is a 4 foot Christmas tree, decked out in shiny red balls, colored lights.  That’s what I’ve done this evening… ‘I’ve put up the Christmas tree’…….  I tell myself ‘everything is going to be all right’….


I keep experiencing this feeling of wanting to cry… I feel tears threaten to fall… I’m so happy, I’m so sad…. I have Skip, I don’t have Tommy.  I’m caught in the middle… I could have had … no one.  I could have been all alone.  I feel I want to lay my head down, and just … weep.


All of this is from thankfulness, mixed with grief.  One of my loved ones is still here, one of my loved ones is… gone.  One whom I didn’t say ‘goodbye forever’… to.  I only said goodbye for a little while….


For a few moments… I want to cry out for Tommy to come back, please don’t be gone!  I know I sound foolish… grief can make one do, think foolish things.  No matter how happy one can appear to be… when they’ve lost someone that is a part of them…. grief is only beneath the surface.


I see that I’m going to have to cope with this… I feel inside that the darkness is trying to come near again.  I can’t let it … happen now.  I just can’t.  I love my son, I miss my son, it hurts so bad.  I wish for my son to be back… Tommy, I wish you weren’t gone.


Today I saw a young boy … he looked alot like Tommy looked when he was a child.  I stood there, watched that boy… ‘seeing Tommy’ for several moments.  I made myself turn away… what good does it do to ‘see Tommy’?  It hurts me deeply.  I feel ………………. I feel … so much.


Sitting here in darkness around me… I have the lights out… I sit here in the light of my computer thinking, writing…. I’m beginning to feel calmness inside.  See… how this happens when I think I’m … all right?


I just turned around again to look…. at that pretty Christmas tree.  I’m so happy that I put it up for us to enjoy.  I’m so glad that I can write this pain down here.  Now… I can feel better… Skip never has to know how sad I became because…. now, I’m all right.  Everything is going to be all right.


I can smile through my tears… because I see, hear Skip talking… he’s here.  I know Tommy is gone… it’s like the glass of water…. half empty, half full.  I wish I could fill that glass right back up… Tommy to be back.


I know that he can’t come back… but, it still doesn’t stop the pain I feel.  That can come back at any time… no matter how happy I am determined to be.


Everything is all right now…  I wrote out the pain.  I was having a bad time… I have been writing the pain out.



It Was A Happy Thanksgiving For Pups, Too!


It Was A Happy Thanksgiving For Pups, Too!


By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee


I mashed the warm sweet potatoes, added real butter to mix both together.  I put a big mound in each of the two plates I was preparing with Thanksgiving foods.


I sliced turkey off the breast of the turkey I had baked to a golden brown color, placed slices on each of the two plates.  I now, had the plates ready to serve to …. two most special Pups, Kissy and Chadwick.


“Happy Thanksgiving, Kissy,” I said, as I placed his Thanksgiving dinner in front of him.  I walked over to put Chadwick’s plate in front of him.  “Happy Thanksgiving, Chadwick.”


I stood beside Skip watching them eat…  I felt so thankful to have them.  They mean everything to Skip and I.  They are all we have, Tommy is gone.


We don’t see his two children, we don’t hear anything from anyone to let us know how they are.  Nor, do we know where our grandson is at.  They’ve moved, never told us… we told his mother when we moved, our new address, phone number.   We cared.  Happy Thanksgiving, Taban and McKenzie.


Skip and I made plates for our friends, our neighbors… and guess what?  One of our friends had made plates for us, too!  Not only that… she made us a Hawaiian pie which was wonderful.  I wonder if I have the nerve to say what happened to that good pie?!!!  By the end of this story… we’ll see. :)))


Throughout the day Skip and I ate the different Thanksgiving foods I’d prepared, including the foods he came back with when taking our plates to our friends.


Later in the evening Skip said, “I couldn’t have had a better Thanksgiving”.  I felt happy inside… I wanted it to be so nice for him, the Pups.  He’s been through so much for the past months… no one would believe.  Also, he’s been deathly ill… I’m so thankful Skip is here… he almost wasn’t.


Hawaiian pie… what a wonderful pie!  It’s sort of like whipped cream… only the texture is different… has bits of pineapple, I think coconut in it.  I have to say that pie disappeared over a short time!  That was too good… Skip and I enjoyed it so much.  :)))  I’m glad it wasn’t a giant pie!


Our Pups enjoyed their foods all through the day.  It was a happy Thanksgiving for Pups, too!


Christmas Parade 2012… Thankful… Tommy, Are You Smiling?


Christmas Parade 2012… Thankful… Tommy, Are You Smiling?


By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee


This morning Skip and I got up, got ready and… left to go to Raleigh Christmas Parade.  We stopped for gas at Sheetz… I love going to Sheetz, it reminds me of our traveling days in the past.


The colors there are exciting, it feels cozy, homey to me.  All the colors are ‘warm’… yellow, red, green, orange… the colors of fall time, my favorite time of the year.  The colors of a fireplace, that keeps one so warm, so cozy.  The colors that say, “It’s so cold outside, come on inside, I’ll keep you warm.”


Skip pumped gas, I made cups of hot coffee for us.  We were now, officially on our way to the Christmas Parade!  We had one more stop to make… that was at Dunkin’ Donut in Raleigh.


The owner saw us, held the door opened for us to come inside.  He and Skip are long-time friends.. they love to talk about the Vietnam War.  Both of them are Veterans.


Myself, I walked inside…  closed my eyes for a moment, and smelled the wonderful aroma of Dunkin Donut coffee, freshly made doughnuts.  I always love doing this at Dunkin Donuts.


It is a wonderful experience for me… the aroma of that good coffee, the warmth inside when it’s very cold outside.  Cosy, special… I don’t mind waiting at all for Skip and his friend to finish their conversation.  I stand there … and enjoy the moment.  Special moments never last long.


We left, drove to our favorite spot to sit and enjoy the Christmas Parade.  We set up our chairs, blankets… went back to sit in our vehicle.  We talked, people-watched as others came early to do the same thing as we did.  We were waiting… we’d gotten the doughnuts and coffee… this is our tradition every year.


Finally… it was time to go sit in our chairs.  Oh my… it was so cold, windy outside.  I was glad to have blankets… one to put over my fold-up chair to block the wind… one to place over my lap.  Our neighbors who sat closest to us were very nice. All around, in front of us were little precious children. Some were standing near me, some sat on the curb in front of me, and to the right of Skip.


It was wonderful watching the floats go by, the different dogs, horses.  People dressed in all kinds of garb… lots of………. happy colors!  Bands marched by to the beat of their own drums :)))  girls danced, twirled their batons.  Lots of old cars, lots of Harley Davidson motorcycles drove by… bicycles, segways, wagons.  People jumping rope, doing all kinds of ‘impossible’ things/


At the last, Santa Claus came riding by with his reindeer, he was waving to everyone.  What a wonderful parade!


All through the parade, I watched little children’s faces.  I saw how happy their little faces were, I heard it in their voices.  One little boy in particular touched my heart.  He always looked quietly at me, his eyes would make a little smile.  He was the age of Taban, my precious grandson … I have to look for Taban in other children… I never see him.


I saw a little girl on one of the pageant floats… she had strawberry-blonde hair just as my granddaughter, McKenzie.  I looked at her sweet face ‘trying to see my granddaughter’ in her…


I watched a couple at the beginning of the parade… the woman reminded me of Tommy’s wife… the man looked like Tommy.  I only saw his hair, face, his body-build…. he had on sunglasses so, I couldn’t see his eyes.  Yes, I was looking for Tommy… he’s gone now but, you all know that… you have been here for me all this time.  I even… looked for his wife…..


Skip and I watched in amazement the huge Nutcracker soldier being pulled down Hillsborough Street.  They had to continually lower him to pull him beneath all the Oak trees!  I took close-up photos of him towering above me…


One of our favorite bands… Helping Hands Mission… for some reason was the last to march/dance down the street.  Santa Claus came through just before them!  I didn’t understand that because… I didn’t really care.  There they were!  They are my favorite to watch because….


Those girls can dance!  I love the wild, happy music and the way the girls, the guys in the band ‘get down’!  They ‘let go’… making people cheer, laugh, happy watching them.  I felt happy, I felt my spirit soar with the excitement their presence created… this was such fun!


Today… was the first Christmas Parade I’ve enjoyed since Tommy’s been gone.  This is the 3rd Christmas Parade……  Tommy, I missed you with my heart… I thought of you, I didn’t forget you at all.  I looked for you, Taban, McKenzie, even your wife at this Christmas Parade.  I didn’t see you all, but… I did see lots of reminders.  I was happy to have that.  I have so much to be thankful for.


On the way home, I looked at Skip and said, “Skip, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving… you could have been taken from me just a few weeks ago, I would have been left alone.  I’m so thankful for you, for our Pups, a warm, nice place to call home, good food… for our friends … for the miracles, and amazing things that have happened to us.  We have been through so much… for now, all feels good, there’s peace of mind.  I can make it through these holidays… I’m so thankful.”  Oh God, I am so very thankful…..


In my mind I have one person in mind… I know there are angels who walk among us… she touched our life in a most special way.  She has ever since Tommy died… her soft, quiet voice has always ‘been there’ speaking to me.  I heard her words, she stood out to me, because she was so … quiet, caring.   She sort of reminds me of my Aunt Frankie when I was a little girl… quiet, soft, always there.  So comforting…


She shared her new granddaughter with me when she was born, in photos… because she thought of me, the grief I go through not knowing mine.  She didn’t have to do that… that touched my heart in such a special way.  She has thought of me in a most meaningful way… thank you from my heart.


Thank you for touching our life in such a wonderful way… you know who you are.   I’m more thankful for so much… more than my words can possibly say.


The holidays… are coming.  I really feel inside… I am going to make it through them.  I haven’t felt this way since … Tommy had to go away … it doesn’t mean I don’t hurt … the pain is there beneath the surface.


What I think it does mean is………. alot of special things that are happening has created a very thick, soft, strong blanket of good, happy feelings to throw over that pain… and it is heavy enough to hold that pain down where it won’t want to come up to the surface to strike at me, to destroy any happy feelings I might have.  I think the weight of it might carry me through all the holidays this year… I need that peace of mind, I want it so much.  I’m so determined in a good way… I believe everything will… be all right.


So much more happy feelings, so much more to be thankful for, so much more… peace of mind is ‘heavy’ enough to hold that pain down.


What a wonderful Christmas Parade, I have so much to be thankful for… and I’m not afraid for … Thanksgiving to come this week.  I know everything is going to be all right.


So far, so good… I feel I will make it through now…  Tommy, are you smiling?  I am smiling… with tears in my eyes.  I ‘feel’ my son’s smile in my heart… I see his smiling eyes in my mind… it feels like the sunshine came out inside my heart.  Tommy, are you smiling?




The Pain Really Hurts…


The Pain Really Hurts


By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee


Today has been a strange day… it’s been sort of a ‘Tommy Day’.  I had thoughts of Tommy when he smiled… in my mind I could see how his blue-green eyes would soften, shine with laughter.


I just let my mind see his face… his eyes could widen in unexpected surprise that someone could say something so funny to make him laugh.  Skip was so good at doing that… Tommy loved Skip with his heart.  He would use some of Skip’s jokes to make people laugh.


To meet Tommy, one would see a tall guy (6 ft. 3 in.)… with a very muscular build, and the best posture a guy could have.  Tommy made a good impression on men, women alike.  Women really liked Tommy… even when he was very young… older girls liked him.


Tommy was a very thoughtful, caring person.  He would help someone in a minute, give someone the shirt off his back if they needed it.  He also, took up for the ‘underdog’.  Not only that, Tommy was very protective of those he loved… he would walk through ‘hell’ for them.


My son… my precious son.  How I miss him with my very heart.  The holidays are just around the corner… we won’t be having family for Thanksgiving, Christmas… he’s gone.  Tommy is gone, Tommy died.  My only child has gone from my life.


The pain that I feel at this moment… oh God.  So much that it over-spills from my eyes in tears.  I’ve been thinking about Tommy all day.  I just had to tell you.


I just had to write the pain out in words… I just wonder if somehow Tommy can know the grief in my heart… I just wonder if he knows I miss him so badly?


I was thinking today of how I used to tell him often how much his mother loved him with her very heart.  I always told him, you know.


I would tell him that he never-ever had to wonder as I always did … if his mother loved him.  I would tell him ‘you know your mama loves you, son’…. I just saw his gentle smile in my mind when I typed those words.


I’m going to bed now, I may cry silently … cry myself to sleep.  The pain really hurts.  Thank you all for being ‘there’, you mean the world to me.  Love, Granny Gee/Gloria