William and I shared a special day that I am so grateful for in so many ways. Being with William on this rainy day filled me with hope for my son’s future and for a future for me to share more time together. As always having unconditional love for my son, I felt an intense love for him this day. He made me feel honored to be a mom and to be his mom.
William had called or texted me earlier in the day wanting to go out to eat, but I couldn’t go right away. So later when we connected again we settled on a late lunch at 2:00 that afternoon. He told me he was so happy it was working out for us to get together. While we ate lunch he took a picture of his meal that he stated how good his food was and that he hadn’t had food this good in a long time. From across the table he took a picture of me. Never do I recall William taking a picture of me and this moment was just one of the many on this day that made me feel special. He thanked me and the waitress and complimented the cook. After finishing our meals he excused himself to walk outside to smoke a cigarette. I always hated that he smoked. Shortly after I walked out to the front porch of the restaurant to be with him. We stood there together watching the rain with what seemed like all the time in the world. Eventually, we dashed across the street and into my car. Again time seemed endless so we just sat and talked while the rain poured all around us. Wanting to give all my attention to William I turned sideways in my seat and it was then that I was reminded of my baby boy’s beautiful green eyes. He is 23 now but he’s still is and always will be my baby boy, the youngest of 4 sons. Not remembering all of our conversation, I do remember looking into his green eyes and telling him he had the most beautiful green eyes. He was such a handsome boy and I reminded him of that fact also even suggesting that he probably gets jobs so easily is in part due to his handsomeness. As he was acknowledging my comments with a bit of his boyish reserved and modest mannerisms, I went on to say, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Am I?” With his cute Irish like smile he somewhat bashfully let me know that I was accurate.
Gradually and with caution I eased into traffic from our parking spot. Looking back on this one moment I amazingly remember specifically remember what I was thinking and how I felt. It was like when I have my grandchildren with me. Everything I do is with extreme caution and nothing can be rushed. William felt that way to me as if he was special cargo and I wanted to be careful for both of us. I didn’t want anything to come between us or ruin what we had at that moment. Knowing we were going to the Speed Art Museum and that it would be closing in a couple hours was the only bit of urgency that moved me forward. Honestly, I just wanted to be in this moment with William forever. Losing him didn’t seem to enter my mind rather keeping him close and safe with me seemed to prevail.
We arrived at the Speed, parked the car and ran through the still steady downpour of rain to get to the entrance of the Speed. Suggesting the Speed to William as part of our plans earlier that day, I remember feeling both gratified and a little surprised that he was willing to go with me. So when entered to purchase tickets I told William I was getting a membership because that way we could go whenever we wanted and that he could go with me every time I went even to the special events like “Speed After Hours.” Well, he didn’t jump up and down and didn’t voice excitement. In fact he didn’t seem to acknowledge these future plans of mine at all which I felt was a little standoffish, but sometimes that’s just how William was. He wasn’t one to talk just to be talking. It bothered me a little though because I was grasping for some acknowledgment of the fact that we’d be spending future times like these together. After purchasing my membership we walked upstairs to the “Pablo to Picasso” exhibit which was ending the following day. William really enjoyed the exhibit and wanted to take pictures, but we weren’t sure it was allowed until I saw the sign which stated photographing without a flash was allowed. Later, I was told that he had posted the museum photos and our pictures from lunch on instagram. We talked about the art and I remember explaining to him during WWll how the Nazi’s stole art from the Jews and how the Jewish artists were exploited. We left the museum through the gift shop and William wanted this little $6 silver case that could be used for holding credit cards, but he wanted to put his rolled cigarettes into. He was rolling his own tobacco as he discovered it was cheaper than buying cigarettes. Saving money was good and I was proud he was at least practicing my money saving habits, but I still didn’t like that he smoked cigarettes. I bought the case for him and that’s the last time I saw the case. Later I asked for the case but it was never collected by the police, EMS nor the hospital. His dad and brother said they didn’t see it anywhere in his room. Even his x girlfriend went to his room after he died and couldn’t find it. For no particular reason I bought a greeting card from the sale in the shop. I still have it.
After the museum we came home and watched the U-L basketball game that I had recorded. We fast-forwarded through first half commercials and half time then we watched the second half live. We drank beer but I was careful to not offer the beer liberally and directed him to the beer with a lower ABV%. He also ate his lunch leftovers and mine also. He said the food tasted so good and that he had just been so hungry. I took William home that night and that’s the last time I saw him. I’m sure I hugged him and I’m sure I told him, “Love You” as I always do with my boys, but strangely I can’t totally remember the words or the embrace. However I do remember him closing the car door and me watching him go. I have been scanning my brain to recall the hug and the last words we each spoke. Maybe knowing at the time that I would see him again, my brain didn’t see the importance of storing that particular scene that I had repeated many times before and would repeat again. Maybe that beer I drank earlier dulled my memory and maybe also the fact that I was turning my attention to my next activity which was that I needed to head over to son #2’s house to babysit sleeping granddaughter while they went out for a few hours that evening.
Reflecting back on this day I felt like I had my “old” William back. I am fairly certain he was drug free this day as he had a big appetite and his beautiful green eyes were so noticeable because they were clear. He was vibrant, full of life and a real joy to be with that day. He was my boy.
Our last Text
That evening I text William several times. I felt a need and a desire to stay closely in touch and connected as often as possible. Snow was falling heavily as predicted and I was still at granddaughters. While she slept I watched the snow fall while wishing my son and daughter in law would get home soon because I was so tired and concerned about being able to get home in the snow. William and I continued texting back and forth. Driving about 20 mph through the snow I got home. Shortly thereafter I went to bed and text William asking him if he was still ok. At 11:53 I received a text from William letting me know he was home as he text, “Yes I’m home now thankgod”.
Sunday morning after yoga I drove over to the Kroger close to where William lived. I offered to pick him up and take him shopping. No reply. I text him at 12:48 that afternoon to invite him to join me for a beer and free barbecue and macaroni and cheese at the local brewery. He responded that yes he needed stuff from Kroger and could I just get him a gift card. It had been four hours since I’d offered the Kroger shopping trip and obviously I was no long gone from Kroger. This is the kind of stuff that frustrated me about William at times. My offer was to take him shopping with me with the intent of obviously doing the shopping as well as having time together. This was just another way I was hoping to take care of him and keep close tabs on him.
Excitedly that Sunday evening on January 20th I text William at 8:39 to tell him to quickly look outside to see the moon bow. Then after midnight Sunday I received my last text from William on Monday, January 21st at 1:21 am. He said he’d meant to send it earlier. It said something about not being sure what I meant in a previous text. When I awoke On MLK holiday Monday morning I saw this text from William. So at 7:27 am I sent him a text asking him when he was going to work. I never heard back from him. Later I saw on his phone he sent a text out to someone at 2:20 am that Monday. Several more text from the same number came in but William never responded. Later his dad told me that when he came in the house from working at about 1 am William yelled up the stairs from his bedroom because he smelled the chili his dad was reheating and asked if he could have some. His dad ate and went to bed and that’s the last he heard from William.
Pretending it’s a Normal Day
Although now some of the day was a blur, there are some specifics I recall. I received 10 missed calls beginning sometime after noon on Monday that I think were from a hospital phone. I thought it was son #3 bothering me for something and I didn’t want to be bothered as I had my grandchildren for the day. Eventually, I received a call or maybe 2 from William’s dad that I didn’t answer but listened to the message(s). William had overdosed he said. Then I received a call from son#3’s surgeon calling to check on me and wondering what happened with William. Embarrassingly I said that I didn’t know because I had been busy with the grandchildren all day. Then I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe the other message I was later hearing that from William’s dad that I listened to while son#1 was at my house to pick up the children. My son could hear the message as I was listening to it. After I hung up I just stared at my son and then tried to begin saying the words. Son#1 stopped me as he said he heard the message. The message William’s father left that time was that William had overdosed and didn’t think he was going to make it. I requested that it would be best for my son to just go home with the children and be safe. It was quiet and kind of slow motion as Son #1 and children left my house. As always I hugged the grandkids and my son and told each of them I loved them.
Once they left I grabbed my purse and car keys. I wanted to go alone. On the way to the hospital at a red light I texted my sisters to tell them what I didn’t want to believe. Of course they texted back immediately. I just told them where I was headed and left the rest up to them. It was 5:30 pm when I left the house and I am at the hospital within 15 minutes. I look at William in the hospital bed with the beeping and monitors keeping track of his vitals as he is barely alive. He is only alive because after he overdosed his strong body kept him breathing as what is known as agonal breathing. It is more a reflex than actual breathing. I stare at him in disbelief. At 6:30 pm a scan confirms his swelling brain had gone too long without oxygen. The horrid details were explained to me. Eventually his brain will slip down into his spine. He is brain dead.
The first Week
Planning the Funeral