“Somehow your departing song is both sad and wonderful, a melody to dance to, to sing, to bring me to tears. I cannot help this; your dying, like existence itself, has a life of its own. As sad as I am, I cannot help but hum along.” ~Molly Fumia
In three weeks, my son will have been gone for 4 years. It seems longer to me – if only I could have had one more hug, one more smile, one more precious moment with him, but the truth is I started missing him long before he was gone. His addiction stole his beautiful soul and he became an empty shell of himself. In the end, he was numb, duplicitous, isolated, and depressed. His young life hadn’t even had a chance to evolve.
There were times when my son was in recovery, where I could see him thawing out, but those times never lasted very long. He desperately wanted to crawl out of the dark hole, but he couldn’t find the light as many others have. I’ve had to stop asking myself “why” this happened to him, because the tendency is to blame myself. I couldn’t dwell on it without going down the same dark hole my son went down.
Cody’s addiction and death created situations in my life that pushed me to the edge.
In midst of those dark times, and there were many, especially during the year before and after his death, I managed to survive. I discovered pain is the price of freedom and personal transformation is learning how to deal with the pain. I had built walls to protect myself from the pain, and for a long time I didn’t even realize it.
I found the light by taking down the walls.
At first, it was by becoming quieter inside, getting rid of the constant negative thoughts, emotions, and judgment of myself and others, mainly through journaling and meditation.
Then, I let go of the fear that people were judging me for my failure as a mother. I figured I could recognize I had this fear and work to release it, or I could hold on to it and try to hide it. I was tired of hiding it, and I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I had to come to the place where I didn’t care what others thought about my parenting skills.
I let go of the belief that I could have saved Cody if I had put him into treatment one more time. I blamed myself for not helping him again right before he died. Realistically, my problem wasn’t that I didn’t help him enough, my problem was I helped him too much. Cody had to save himself, and I couldn’t do it for him, as much as I wanted to save him.
I actually had a special moment with him, right after he died, where I knew he was present, assuring me it wasn’t my fault. At times, I think God saved Cody because he couldn’t save himself.
I had to let go of the belief that Cody’s addiction defined me and who I was. His struggle belonged to him, and although every mother makes it her struggle, it is not hers. I had to make my life my own, focus on my needs, and find my way. The reality is most of Cody’s life, especially the last few years, unfolded in accordance with forces outside of my control, regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I admit I could have done things differently when he was a teenager, but I didn’t know then what I know now.
Letting go of these false beliefs was the theme of my healing process. Then, after letting go, I was simply able to let people in. I took down the walls. This was something under my control! I allowed my friends and family to help me with my sadness and grief, and I reached out for help, too. Instead of feeling humiliated, I felt humbled by the incredible love and support I received from them.
I had to lose my false sense of pride to find the light, and when I did, the walls came tumbling down.
Freedom was just on the other side of those walls. I found freedom in opening my heart and embracing my relationships – old ones and new ones. I found freedom in not having to hide the truth anymore. I found freedom in being my authentic self. I found freedom in the pain of losing my son.
And, as sad as I am, I cannot help but hum along.
Mary Cucarola – September 4, 2017