You may think you know me, but do you?

I am a person, a parent, a women, a mom, a friend, a daughter and a wife just like you, but different.

I am honest.

I am real.

I am a black and white kind of girl.

I am strong.

I am positive.

I am a faith-filled women.

I believe laughing is the best medicine.

Music soothes my soul.

And my family is everything to me.

You may look at me and question my words. You won’t be able to see any scars or deformity. You may say, you smile, laugh and act normal. This is where it is so hard to make you understand who I am without becoming…ME.

You see the person I am is different from the person I was on August 23, 2013. I look at life different, I feel pain different, and I am a different person. I have a pain like no other pain that I carry in my heart daily. Some days it is so intense it brings tears to my eyes and stops me in my tracks. Other days I am reminded of my pain from a song or a special picture I see. Those days the pain is a happy pain because I am not reliving the moment. I am reminded of a memory. I hope you never have to feel the pain I feel. It is a pain only a bereaved mother can understand.

So to know me you must know my life before August 23, 2013. I was a mom of three kids. I was a photographer by profession and wife. I was happy and felt my life was good.

Then the night of August 23rd came like lead balloon.

My world changed.

My family of five was now four.

My strength grew exponentially.

My life became very real.

My faith was unwavering.

I had changed in 30 minutes.

My son who had just turned fifteen years old three days before was now gone. His thirty minute outing with friends ended up in a deadly car crash.

If I would have only known I was going to say “goodbye forever” when he left that night, I would have done so many things differently. I would have hugged him longer, I would have said I love you, or did I? So many things running through my mind I can’t remember. If my love was only enough to protect him, he would still be here. But God had other plans.

So to know me, you must know I did not choose this life. I am living it because God chose it for me. Or I should say, I am surviving it. I am still a mom of two amazing kids who are older now. I have a husband and an angel in Heaven. There are days I am breathing, but suffocating. I am moving one step forward, but two steps back. I laugh but feel like I should not be happy.

I am stronger than I have ever been; that I gained the night of the accident. I remember when my husband called to tell me that he had found my son Tyler and that he was not good—I fell to my knees. It was at that moment I gained my God-given strength. It is a strength I cannot explain. It has guided my family through the days, month and years that followed. Oh, how I have changed.

I am the same person, but not. I look the same on the outside, but yet I don’t. I have aged, my hair has grayed, and the stress of losing my son has weathered me. I am happy, yet sad. I am more understanding, but not. I look at the small things that people complain or worry about as minimal.

If they only knew I no longer have my son! Oh, how I have changed.

I have a compassion only a mom who has lost a child can have for other bereaved mothers. I know others have told me they know how I feel. Some truly do, but others have no idea.

It is hard to make you understand who I am without becoming me.

I am a person like you, but different.

I look the same, but I am not the same.

I am a mom who lost a son.

I am a bereaved mother.

You may also want to read:

Everything is going to be OK

The Storm of Losing a Child

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Missy Hillmer

I am Ma to the four Shorties. I am married to Craig, fellow educator and college football fanatic. Jesus and a good cup of coffee make me a happy girl. Teaching middle school science and front porch rockin’ are two of my many daily adventures.