|BWS Stories - "My World is Empty Without You Babe"...Losing Loved Ones|
"My World is Empty Without You Babe"...Losing Loved Ones - Life Goes On
Carolyn Horton was born in 1953 and lives in SW Florida with her husband of 28 years.
Life Goes On
I married my high school sweetheart, but soon discovered that we should have just remained friends. Next I married a man that filled me so full of passion that it destroyed us both. Two years later, a drunk driver killed him. In the two weeks that followed I lost my job, my car, and my apartment. My cat had a litter of kittens and they all died within hours of birth. Three weeks later I miscarried. My descent into hell was swift and definite. I stayed drunk for about a year.
Then I met my soul mate. I decided to close the past chapter in my life and start a new one. I had two beautiful baby boys with this wonderful man. Bills piled up on the desk and we didn’t have a lot of material things, but we had each other and did a very good job of living on love.
Then 12 years into our marriage, the past came back to haunt me —the personality disorder I had lived with since I was three reared its ugly head once again. I lost so much of that time. I simply can’t remember anything about most of it. My family went through hell. My children heard and saw things they should never have experienced. My husband swallowed enough pride to destroy 10 men. I would disappear and wind up half way out of the state several days later. I applied for a job at one place, completely forgetting that I had a full time job somewhere else. I would pick up the phone and hear a voice that would trigger me to switch, and sometime later I would be found in a bar somewhere. This visit to hell would be much worse than when I lost my late husband because I dragged my family there with me. It took about 10 years of patience, love, and therapy before I finally found a place that helped me see that it was possible to put Humpty Dumpty together again.
Two years later, my oldest son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a horrible illness that slowly steals your life and turns your mind against you. We battled with this illness for five agonizing years. The in the month of August 2001, both my husband’s older brother and sister died from a family inherited illness. Four days after his sister’s funeral, on the evening of Monday the 27th, my son walked past me in the living room and asked me, “What cha doing mom, your homework?” Not turning around, I said, “Yes son, getting ready for class tomorrow.” Those were the last words we were ever to share.
A half hour later as I was going to bed, I went into his room to say goodnight only to discover he wasn’t there. I looked out on the front porch to see if he was smoking a cigarette. I didn’t see him and started to close the door when the cats, out in the carport, caught my eye. They were acting very odd.
I walked outside, figuring there was a raccoon or possum in the front yard. It was then that I saw my son lying out on the grass. I called to him and asked him what he was doing. When he didn’t answer me by the third time, I yelled for my husband to come out and take care of it. I figured the illness had taken over and he was having an episode again, and the only one big enough to control him was his dad.
His dad went out and asked him what was wrong. He looked up and then all around and said, “Someone beat him up.” Then he looked back down, stepped back about three feet, looked at me and cried out with a sound I will never forget, “Oh my God, Carolyn, he’s got my gun!”
My only thought was to get my husband inside and far away from the gun. I called 9-1-1. They must have thought I was the coldest woman that had ever called. I told them my son had shot himself in the head. They told me I had to go see if he was still breathing, and again, I told them he was dead. I didn’t have to look; I knew he was gone. I knew it from the depths of my soul. My son was dead. The police arrived, then family, and somehow the world kept moving. I had gone cold stone still inside. There was no emotion, no tears. I went into survival mode and could only think of my husband, my other son, and my mother. I kept saying over and over, “I can’t tell mom that Robert’s dead.”
About a week later, my husband was talking about Robert and crying. He started to get a little angry with me because I wasn’t reacting. I wasn’t crying. He said that he felt he was alone in his bereavement. I told him this was one time I couldn’t join him. I told him that I could grieve and go where he was, but if I ever did, he should just have me committed because I would never come back from it. If I ever allowed myself to go to the depths of depression and sorrow that I knew was inside me, I would never survive it. He held me close and told me that he understood and he wouldn’t push me again. He just needed to know that I cared.
Now I had the choice of my life to make.
I remembered the day my child was born. I had always known that he was here for a reason, that he had saved my life. He had brought me back from hell after losing my first husband. Now the gates where open again. Would I walk through?
I thought about how much he had suffered. How the medicine made him sick every day of his life for the last five years. How the voices haunted and taunted him 24/7. I remembered the times he had crawled his six-foot-two, 250-pound body up in my lap and begged me, “Mom, please make them stop.” How every single morning I’d wake up and go in to his bedroom, watch him as he slept to see if he was still breathing. Had he died from a heart attack from the medicine or overdosed? Or maybe he had left the house in the middle of the night and hurt someone in an episode. I remembered the times he had nursed me when I was sick or recovering from surgery. I remembered the friends he had because of the wonderfully sweet person he was and the smile that reminded me of his gentle soul.
That night I had a dream about Robert. He was following me around the house telling me about his latest epiphany (like he did so many times the past 5 years) and I mentioned that we would have to tell his doctor about that the next time we saw her. Then it hit me – Robert was dead! I swung around to look at him and there he stood, with this beautiful peaceful glow all around him. I ran over and grabbed him and started screaming to his dad to hurry and come. I kept saying “don’t leave Robert”–telling him that his dad had to hug him one more time before he left, telling him to wait. But he just smiled at me, that smile that had melted me so many times in his life and he started to fade away – and as I watched - I felt a peace engulf me like I’d never known.
I decided to let him go.
Because I did, I was able to see the signs that were all around me, telling me that he was okay, that he was an angel once again.
I hadn’t written in years, and all of a sudden the words just flowed from me. Everywhere I looked I saw him. I began to live again.
He had gone so peacefully, just laid down on his back and looked up into the beautiful, clear, star-filled night. He believed in God, an afterlife, and angels. I wrote down my thoughts of what his last moments on earth might have been:
Angels’ pillows befall my gaze.
White moonbeams glisten
to map my way
past willows bent to kiss the ground.
As I blissfully listen
to the silence of sound
for just this passing moment,
I truly know
that peace has touched
this gypsy soul.
We planted a tree in the front yard where he had left us. I chose the tree at the nursery because a yellow butterfly was flying around it. When my husband got home from tennis, I asked him when the last time was he saw a butterfly. He told me it was funny I asked because when he had gotten out on the tennis court, a yellow butterfly flew all around the net and then disappeared. I felt a little chill, but didn’t think too much of it until the next day when we walked out to the tree together and a yellow butterfly started flying all around the tree and all around us. It even followed us up to the carport and back to the tree. I sat down and through my tears and laughter I wrote:
Butterfly angels in Robert’s tree.
Fluttering this way and that way
free as can be.
I love you my sweet child
and I miss you today,
but butterfly angels let me
know you’re okay.
Sunsets and rainbows more vivid
since you’ve arrived on the scene.
Peace finds my heart and
I’m more quiet and serene.
So fly on my life child
free as can be,
and thank you my sweetheart
for butterfly angels in your tree.
Oh, I have sad days; he was my child after all. But I think if I had chosen to stay depressed and let myself get lost, I wouldn’t know he’s with me still. So I decided to close the book this time, not just a chapter, and start a new book. I decided to see what the next half of my lifetime will bring. I’ve decided to go on a new soul searching journey.
In 2003, my son, Travis, and his love gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. My grandbeauty has given me the chance to redeem myself as a grandmother for all the mistakes I made as a mother. It’s a chance to show my son that he was loved and cherished as a child through his daughter. It’s another chance to experience life through the eyes of a child.
And Robert visits me often. He touches me as he passes through, sending us signs that he’s happy and free at last. I used to fear death, but I don’t anymore. I just KNOW that it will all be okay and I will be with him again one day.
Now I try to grow emotionally and spiritually every day. I try never to look back and to enjoy every moment of my life – and no matter what may come – I look forward to the fact that life truly does go on.