With Father’s Day approaching, I would like to take this opportunity to express my love and gratitude to the father of our sons, my husband, Alan. He carried us through those darkest times of early grief after the death of our youngest son, Clint. As I come out of the fog of anguish and begin to re-enter our new normal, I can appreciate all the many ways he cared for us.
There were times in the early part of mourning that I was angry at myself, Alan and even Clint. I wanted someone to fix all of this pain. Despite my anger, Alan carried on with the daily duties of our lives. He kept up the cleaning, the yard work, grocery shopping and meals. Most days I would fake my way through the day, cry all the way home, and then crawl into the bed. Daily chores of life were not a top concern of mine.
Alan took it upon himself to care for us. He did the shopping and even learned to make a few meals. Gradually, I began to accompany him on his grocery trips. Most of the time, I am sure I was of no help at all. I would cling to his arm, as if seeking protection, until I spotted an item that had been one of Clint’s favorites. I would drift away and ponder the item. Then I would call out to Alan, “Look, Honey, Clint loved this. Look. Do you remember this?” Continuing to think out loud, I would add, “Oh, the number of times I bought this for him in the past.” Alan would nod his head in acknowledgement and continue shopping.
We would approach the cereal aisle and I would begin my memories again. Alan would acknowledge my ramblings and patiently remind me to pick something for myself to have for breakfast. To which I would usually reply, “I don’t know what I want. You pick something for me. It doesn’t matter.” Tears streamed down my face.
Sometimes I would beg Alan to share all his food-related memories of Clint with me. I was afraid I might forget one precious moment. Looking back I suppose if another shopper in the store had taken the time to observe us, they would have thought that I had completely lost my mind.
The weight of those shopping trips was so heavy. I felt as if I had done hard physical labor for hours. I would be exhausted. At times I would ask my husband, “How can you do this? Doesn’t it bother you?”
Alan would reply, “Of course it bothers me. It hurts a lot, but we must have food.” This is the way our shopping adventures played out time and time again. Alan, quietly and patiently, continued to care for us while he dealt with his own pain.
Alan is the poet of the family, but since Clint’s death he has not written much. About a year ago after one difficult and draining shopping trip, I asked him to join me in writing a poem about the hidden pain in the grocery store.
Our poem recently won 3rd place in the Second Annual Grief Blog poetry contest. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to revisit that time in our lives, so I could view it through different eyes. I can appreciate how my lovely husband carried us through the valley of despair.
Kool-AidTM Makes Us Cry
By Alan and Debra Reagan ?
It may seem strange as time goes by
how such small things make us cry.
As we go through the aisles at the food mart,
little memories tug at the heart.
We see things that once brought him joy
during those years when he was a boy.
When we pass the place where drinks are displayed,
we see the many flavors of Kool-AidTM.
There is purple, red and blue
and several other food items, too.
We see Fruit Roll-UpsTM and pizzas galore,
GoldfishTM, Froot LoopsTM and many more.
It may seem strange throughout the years
these little innocent memories still bring us tears.
We hope you understand if you happen by
while we are shopping, if you see a tear in our eye.
In Loving Memory of our Precious Son,
Clint Tyler Reagan
He is With Us Always.
Debra Reagan lives in East Tennessee with her husband of 28 years. They have one surviving son, Blake. She works as a Research Specialist at the University of Tennessee. Debra is the co-founder and president of Listening Hearts, http://listening-hearts.memory-of.com/About.aspx a non-profit corporation designed to help bereaved mothers.
After some turbulent and confusing experiences, her youngest son, Clint, received the dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a drug addiction. Their lives changed forever when Clint died on August 6, 2005, at the age of 20 of an accidental overdose and bronchial pneumonia. Debra can be reached through the website she maintains for her son at www.clint-reagan.memory-of.com.
Debra was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” talking about “Getting Through Mother’s Day.” To hear Debra being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:grief, hope