I haven’t written in a while, and that’s okay. I’ve been struggling lately, and that’s okay too. Mother’s Day was rough. I went to her tree to visit her and spent the entire weekend crying while my husband held me. So if I don’t write for a few days, I never want this blog to feel like something I’m required to keep up with. I’m writing for therapeutic reasons, and if I have to force myself to do it, that just won’t work. However, this evening, after spending 8 hours putting together IKEA furniture and Marie Kondo-ing my youngest sons’ room, everyone in the house is in bed, and I felt the urge to write again, so here I am.
I try not to think about it. All day long I keep myself busy, just so I don’t think about it.
I go to Zumba class twice a week. The first day back was just one week after she died, and it was absolutely brutal. I stood in the back of the room, spaced out like a Xanax zombie, half-assed moving my arms and legs, but not really there mentally at all. The class was an hour long and it felt like an eternity. Every time one song would finally finish, another one would start and I wanted to run away. I couldn’t believe I was even there. It had taken every ounce of willpower to get out of bed that morning, but I had to take the kids to school that morning, and Gold’s Gym is on the way home, so I had no excuse. I made it through to the end of class, went home, took an hour long bath and slept the rest of the day until I had to pick kids up from school. It was exhausting.
I would love to stay in bed and wallow and mope (which I do my fair share of)… however, I’m a MOM. All the time, every day, every moment, with no sick leave or paid vacation. I mean, I do love to travel and I spend time apart from the kids, but no matter where in the world I am, I guarantee you they will text me to ask where stuff is, if I took care of the thing, if I ordered whatever they need. No matter where I am, I am always a mom, whether they are with me or not. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!
So anyway, since I already had to get out of the house, I forced myself to go to Zumba. I have a dear friend who offered to along with me, so I knew I wouldn’t be alone. Ever since that first very raw day back, it has been easier each time. This week was totally different. Last week, the instructor had changed things up and went to a throwback old set of routines that I’m not as familiar with, and it was right when I was starting to really get it! That was last week. This Tuesday we were back to the usual and I CRUSHED IT…. I gave it my all, sweated my ass off, the class flew by. After class I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and I spoke to the class after we finished and the music was off.
I said, “Hi everyone, I’m Emmy, and I’ve been coming here for a few months but I haven’t really had a chance to meet many of you. Um, my daughter is Alydia Johnson, and last month she took her own life. She was 15 years old, a sophomore here at KHS. Last night KMOV channel 4 aired a story about her on the news, and they spoke about the mental health crisis we’re facing with our youth. I would love it if you got a chance to see it, it’s on their website. I also want to say that I have absolutely loved coming here. It has forced me to get out of the house and keep moving, so thank you all so much for being here with me. I would love to get to know you all better, because I don’t have a lot of local daytime friends while the kids are at school and my husband is at work. Some days I can barely function and I spontaneously cry for no apparent reason, but now you know why. So, uhh, yeah…” (Why am I so awkward?)
I was met with sweaty hugs, and tears were shed from women I had really just met and opened my soul up to. We continued to talk for a while, and made plans to get together outside of class for happy hour, and I get to be added to their email chain – yay! When I got home from the gym, one girl messaged me and said that I have found a great and supportive group of women. She said that someone’s husband had died, someone was battling cancer, etc. We are all fighting our own battles on our own time. I feel so blessed to have found someplace I can go and let it all out twice a week.
After I left Zumba, I took a shower and decided I was feeling pretty good, and set off for IKEA. This is never a small task. I knew I was on a mission for furniture, so when that happens, I always take two trips through the store. First I go through and buy all of the little stuff, check out, put that crap in my car, and then go back in without a cart to tour the furniture display floor. I was a woman on a mission. I came home a few hours later with two new beds for the younger boys and one main job: get rid of their bunk bed.
My son and three stepsons share two rooms, two boys per room. Previously they were all in bunk beds, but as the teenagers grew older and got bigger (They’re 16 and 13 now) we needed to get them into separate beds. Last year, we moved Alydia’s bed into their room, and she got the bunk bed. We bought an additional twin bed for the boys, and everyone was happy. Alydia loved the bunk bed. When her friends stayed over, they had a place to crash. When the cleaning lady would come, she would throw all her stuff on top instead of actually cleaning her room! She strung Christmas lights around it, and hung blankets to make the bottom bunk into a bunker. I never imagined that stupid bunk bed would haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life.
It was that bed that she hung herself from, from the top rail, with a guitar strap. To see it replay over and over in my head is absolute torture, but I can’t escape it. I knocked on her door and she didn’t reply but there was music playing so I figured she didn’t hear or had fallen asleep. I entered the room to say goodnight, as Radiohead’s “High and Dry” played from her radio. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness and Christmas lights, I realized what I was looking at. I cannot even begin to type out the words to describe the events that unfolded, because it was just horror. Maybe someday I can, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s too soon. I’m still suffering from dozens of flashbacks every day, and I can’t bear to put that image into other peoples’ minds.
So yeah, I spend most of my days trying not to think about it. Whether it’s at Zumba, IKEA, putting together the godforsaken Swedish furniture that takes 4 hours and 3 beers to complete. At least it kept my mind busy for today. The room looks great. The bunk bed is leaving and I never want one in my home again. I had Alydia’s bed destroyed the day after we got home from the hospital. I still haven’t figured out what a normal day is for me yet, but one day at a time, I’m making it through. I sure do miss my sweet Alydia Jeannine though.
You can find the link to the KMOV news interview here: https://www.kmov.com/news/i-ll-never-be-the-same-parents-left-grieving-as/article_1d054692-75cc-11e9-96ee-6fe1a9aadc35.html