You don’t forget, You never forget…


When you do everything you can to try and enjoy the last few days of summer break before school starts, but just cant seem to get motivated…

…Lying around, back and forth decisions, can’t seem to enjoy the beautiful weather, want to ride my bike, would love to go for a run, but instead, just sit….and finally cry with the realization that it is THAT time of year again.

No, I’m not talking about the first day of school, that actually allows for some normalcy, busy-ness, people interaction, and things to keep my mind busy.

Rather, it is August 19th.

It’s not that I ever forget, you never forget that the date is approaching and what happened on that date, but some days are more trouble free than others, while some seasons are easier to survive, and some actions bring memories from the past, but always the week or so before my son’s death date brings me to such misery; experiencing fatigue, tears, anxiety and any emotion you can possibly think of that would ravage, destroy and invade your heart and mind.

This year seemed different though, I always remember the date of course, and the weeks leading up to his death date, but this year I could not figure out why I’m so lethargic, until today.

Recently, coming to the realization that I am older now, and I seem to experience a new ache or pain more often than before, I googled health issues, wondering why I have less energy and drive these days, especially considering how beautiful it has been outside recently. Today, as I finally decided I had better do something before the day and the summer break gets away from me, I went outside to do some yard work, and it hit me just like that! Feelings and memories of the days leading up to August 19.

Good news; I’m not ill.

This same time years ago, the kids and I were walking LaFortune Park feeding the ducks. Clifton didn’t want to just have a small piece of bread, he would feed the ducks one whole piece at a time (don’t worry, we now feed the ducks food that is good for them). Who knew that 17 days later, he would be gone. Who knew?! Certainly not me!

So this time of year is difficult, and really, no one knows the depth of emotion and grief that follow a bereaved parent for years and years and years. So be patient with us as we try to live one day at a time. But don’t worry about hurting our feelings by bringing up our child’s name. It hurts more to not say anything at all.  I would love for you to have known my child who is no longer with us.  So just ask!

For those of you who know me, you know I don’t sit still.  I must move. It comes from knowing I must live in the now. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow isn’t a given. Do it all and do it now!

I’ve realized lately what people think of me with this mindset that I have: take a look at a few excerpts from two friend’s blogs:

Last week, a high school friend of mine came to visit me in New York.  I hadn’t taken a vacation since I had started my new job last October, so, I decided to take the week off; so, we could spend some quality time together, catching up on each other’s significant life events, and exploring the state of New York.  She has pretty close the the same sense of adventure I have, so, we always have a good time when we go to visit new places.  I will admit, it’s hard for my introverted side to keep up with her extreme extroverted side at times… she’s like the energizer bunny when you get her in places with lots of people, but, that’s what makes her so special and I appreciate that aspect in her because she can easily touch the heart of a stranger she doesn’t even know while walking along a bustling sidewalk in an aloof city.  Besides, she was only going to be here for a week and I knew I’d have plenty of time to rest when she went back home. 

Another wrote in his blog after taking 20 kids to Washington DC: I wonder if Ms. Essley even slept last night. Does she sleep at all?

Others have said they have learned to keep their mouths shut around me, because I will follow up on their words and turn them into action.

(My friends need to rest after I have been around, hmmmm. A compliment? )

In reading this summer, I came across a paragraph in a book which read: “ Because we find it impossible to distract ourselves from our grief, we are forced to live more fully in the now. Though the experience is not pleasant, it is at the same time full of promise.  We have the possibility of experiencing our lives in a new way, where what we see before us is more than we’ve seen before” p.  59   Finding Faith, by Laurie Short

I know I keep busy, but it is so I don’t have time to think, and I want people around me to experience things they may not have dreamed possible:

Example #1: the kids at school: I want them to experience everything my kids didn’t get to because of my son’s death. I introduce so many different activities and experiments, hoping they enjoy and learn from them, but also to let them know I love and care about them. I hope my actions inspire parents to spend more time with their kids, because they won’t be here forever.

Example #2: My daughter’s kids, DK’S for short; I love to get them out and about and play and discover things that I wish I could have done with my own children when they were younger, but grief took much of their time.  Avery, my three year old DK, is an awesome paddleboarder, turning into a great cyclist, and has already run her first Tulsa Run (fun run), as well as the Tulsa Zoo Run. All of these things are near and dear to my heart, and I love experiencing them with her. She is learning to read and seems to be a whiz at math.

Example #3: friends:  If you say something that you “wish” or “need to do” ….then let’s make it happen!

Three of my friends just went to teach overseas and I hope it is because of the encouragement and the experiences I shared with them that inspired them to live their dreams. Life is too short not to experience everything your heart desires.

Not only do I feel as though I am helping/encouraging all of you with my “live in the now” mentality, more importantly, you are helping and encouraging me while filling a big void in my heart.  I thank you for that!

I feel better now, and I am headed to LaFortune Park to walk and feed the ducks.

About cessley

I am a bereaved parent. I write to give hope to other bereaved parents who are fresh in their grief. I want them to know life begins again. It (life) is forever changed, as are you, but one day, you will smile again. You may travel, you will make new friends, your heart will mend, though never heal and it will be a painful ride. It is one step at a time....sometimes, even one breath to the next is all we can seem to live through each day. But each day will be a new beginning, a different beginning, a different you. I have two surviving children: Amy, who is married to Brandon, and they have one daughter, Avery, and one son, Dylan. and Eric who is a doctor and is Clifton's twin brother. Clifton passed away when he was nearly two years old. As any bereaved parent knows, it is tough, REALLY tough trying to live after the death of a child. I lived in Shanghai, China for three years after the death of my son, and then lived in Beijing for two years. I am discovering life again, one step at a time. I returned to Oklahoma in February , 2020 due to the uncertainty of the virus. Little did I know the uncertainty would follow me across the ocean. This is nothing compared to the death of a child. I will survive! View all posts by cessley

2 responses to “You don’t forget, You never forget…

  • Darla Nance Boydstun

    I didn’t know anything about you losing a son until recently on Facebook. I am so sorry for your loss. Your story on this site is great. Keep up the writing, you are good at it. I enjoy seeing your family on fb as well as the other friends from childhood. I went too many years without any connection to the past and missed a lot. Life takes its twists and turns and social media has it’s good and bad and I am enjoying it all.

  • Debra

    Dear, Dear Cathy … I loved him, too, and it does still seem like yesterday. I am amazed by how you have used your loss to teach others how to live. Love, peace and prayers to you, my friend. ~ Debra

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