Separation anxiety is real.

Andrew, age 4. Dow Gardens, Midland, Michigan.

Deadlines and urgent requests were pouring in so mom and I decided to work through lunch. She ran to get the food and took longer than I thought she should. Instantly, I could see her mangled car on the side of the road and waves of anguish approaching…then she walked in and all was okay again.

Matt and the girls will be away from me, and if I text and don’t have a response within minutes my panic starts to rise. Matt will go out with his friends and if I wake up before he comes home, I envision the massive hole he would leave if something happened to him. Sometimes I worry that something might happen to me, and the girls and Matt would have live without me.

I’m not trying to be fatalistic or depressing, I don’t try to think of these things, it’s just that Andrew died when I was 13. It felt like life had a pattern and this was part of the pattern. Sometimes I expect something tragic and expected to happen at certain milestones. I thought Matt and I should have three kids because if something happens to one, we’d still have two.

Why am I putting this out there on a blog? I have no idea. It’s embarrassing how my brain processes life sometimes. The thing is, I know I’m not alone. I know that if I tell my story, it might help someone else know that they are not alone, they will get through this and it will be okay. Yes, it’s going to hurt. Yes, it’s going to feel weird. Yes, you may feel like you are on an island. Here’s the catch: you aren’t. I’m not. Yes, our experiences and feelings are our own and no one else can feel them. But other people have gone through loss of a sibling, parent, friend, family member, spouse and pet (just to name a few).

Georgia, Matt and Violet living a life.

Life is a daily thing. That sounds obvious. What I mean is that life is new every day. They say history repeats itself. That may be true, but my history won’t repeat itself. I have one life. I have to live it. I can’t live it out of sadness, fear or anxiety. I have to live it with joy, happiness and peace. That may mean that when Georgia or Violet turn seven (the age my brother died) I have to buckle down and forcibly make myself not cling to them out of fear something might happen. That means that now, I have to stop telling Georgia “be careful sweetie” every time she builds a pillow tower to jump on or walks four feet away from me. I need to not check in on my husband if I think something is taking too long. And I need to let Violet cry a little more (not that I’m saying I need to just let her cry, but rather, let her figure things out before I rush in to save her from a few frustration tears.

I don’t want my girls to think of their dad as the “fun one” (although he really is awesome) and me the “anxious, worry-wort.” Matt can be the fun one but I want to be a fun mom. I’ve been thinking about all of this lately as I work hard, try to sell our house and try to redefine who I am and who I want to be now that I’m a wife and mother of two. Andrew’s death doesn’t define me, it’s a part of me. Every time I let the anxiety lead me, I loose me. It’s time to take me back and try to live a less anxious and stressed life. Stress and anxiety are going to come, but if it’s anxiety and stress I bring on myself that’s just silly.

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