Our new normal

We had a full house down at our shore home this Memorial Day weekend. My mother and her boyfriend, my two children and alot of their friends and also one of Andrew’s best friends and his girlfriend were all down for the weekend. It was a nice distraction to be around everyone and they all kept me busy. We had some beautiful beach days and we met other family who were also down  and had a nice time. It was a great start to the summer. I feel very blessed to have this beautiful shore house and love to share it with our friends and family.

We spent a lot of time talking about Andrew and telling funny stories about him which always make us laugh because Andrew was quite a character. We went up to the boardwalk and ate pizza & ice cream and did the traditional seashore things we have always done with our family over the years. Only one thing was missing & that was our middle child, Andrew! His absence was so apparent and we all missed him being with us so much! It is so hard to truly accept that my son is gone and won’t be joining us in our family time together ever again. It’s so unnatural to not have my 3 kids with us. Now it’s 2 kids and not having my son here with us enjoying the beach and boardwalk really is so heartbreaking!

Andrew passed away 2 weeks before his much anticipated 21st Birthday. He had been talking about it for a year and was so excited for the day to come and he died before he ever was able to have his first legal drink or go to a bar. We had a party to celebrate his life with our friends and family and a lot of Andrew’s friends. We had his favorite food which was BBQ and we wanted to have live music because my kids all love music, concerts & dancing. We were trying hard to find a band that played the type of music Andrew & his friends listened to. Andrew loved a lot of different music but his favorite band was Green Day and he also liked classic rock and rap. We found the perfect band, “Angus Road”, who were young guys (my boys ages) and they played classic rock. They refused to let us pay them and played at our house for hours. This band, “Angus Road,”will always have such a special place in my heart. They did such a fabulous job and I felt Andrew’s spirit at the party, especially through their music.

“Angus Road” was playing at a bar near my shore house so we went to hear them play. They were awesome & it was great seeing them. Andrew would have had such a fun summer being 21 & able to go out to the bars and listen to the live music.  I thought about him all that night while I was out with my daughter, Amanda and her friends and Andrew’s friends Nick & Berniece. He would have had a ball dancing & partying with his sister and both of their friends.

We went to another spot that had a great band playing. We were enjoying ourselves but this was the last place I was the night before Andrew passed away. I got the call the next morning that he was gone so it brought me back to the last night when my life was normal. After that phone call my life changed forever and it will never be the same life it once was.

I got very emotional and I was ready to go home and so we left. We got home and my youngest son, Michael and his friends were all hanging in my kitchen listening to music so we all were in there talking and the kids were dancing. Michael was sharing with me how much pain he has been in and how he feels alone in his grief. Michael has been through so much in his short life. He had stage 4 cancer at age 14 and at age 17 lost his brother so tragically & suddenly! Everyone assumes because he’s playing football, out with friends and making plans for college that he’s doing fine. He said that nobody ever asks him how he’s doing….they ask him how I’m doing. He was very upset and shared a lot with me and I was glad he did. This is something I need to get better at….checking in on how my kids are doing and make sure they get any help they need. Amanda is better at communicating her pain and dealing with it in a healthy way.

I get so lost in my own grief I don’t think about my kids pain. Mike (my husband) and I talk a lot about how we are coping and share our journey with each other. I never want to put my pain on my kids because I know they have their own to deal with. But now I know that I need to initiate more conversations about how they are feeling.  We all have our own grief and cope in our own way but it’s important to have safe people to share with. I need to make sure my kids know I’m always available to talk about whatever their dealing with and if I can’t help I can find someone who can.

So today everyone was gone and I stayed down with my puppies to wash all of the sheets & towels and clean the house. I find it therapeutic to be down here alone and just mindlessly clean and wash. After a busy weekend I like to have a quiet day to just unwind and get in touch with myself and my feelings. I felt very somber today. It was a very emotional weekend with some good laughs and some painful cries. We need to take it as it comes. Enjoy the fun and embrace the pain as well. This is our new normal and we need to just allow ourselves to feel how we need to feel!

Life without Andrew will never be the same and I’m just trying so hard to accept this is my new life. Andrew will always be a part of who I am and I will miss him until the day I die! I long to see my boy again someday! Until then, I will keep trying to do my best to live my life to the fullest. I want to make Andrew proud that I didn’t just crawl into a ball and give up! I’m fighting to live, to smile & to feel the love I’m surrounded with!! I’m grateful I was given Andrew as my son for almost 21 years! He was a precious gift in my life and I’ll miss him forever. I look forward to being reunited with him one day! My precious son….I love you so much and I thank you for all you gave this world in your short life!

Published by


My name is Melissa Shelly and I am a 46 year old mom who lives in Newtown Square, PA. I never thought of myself as mighty but when my 14 year old son, Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on August 18, 2014, everyone kept telling me how strong I was. Three years later on August 12, 2017, my 20 year old son, Andrew died instantly in a car accident. Again, people kept saying I was so strong and I actually hated when people would say that to me! I have heard 100 times “I could never do what you’re doing....if my child died I wouldn’t be able to function!”. That’s what I thought about myself until it was me! I didn’t ask to be handed these tragedies & painful traumatic events and I never felt I had a choice....I had to be a mighty leader!! I am a mother of three children and a wife to a wonderful man. We needed to survive and keep hope alive in our hearts! I wish I never had to be strong....but unfortunately we don’t control many things in our lives; however, we can control how we deal with them. It isn’t easy and I have some really bad days but I continue to work on healing and living my life with meaning and purpose. I want to share my pain and my successes with anyone who wants to walk beside me!

5 thoughts on “Our new normal”

  1. The shells on the beach are beautiful, your sharing is beautiful, your shore place to hang out in and remember Andrew and talk about him the way you do is beautiful.

    Your family clings together, holding one another close while the inner pain would be too much to go it alone. How healthy is this! Survival 101.

    We’re all with you here, Melissa, all your readers, family and all your gazillions of friends. Maybe your example of depth writing is to exemplify that we all need to ask one another, sincerely, “How are you doing? How are you managing?” Then look that person in the eye so they can answer because the person knows we really, really want to know.

    Peace be with you on this next to the last day in May 2018. Maybe Michael can write a song and you and Amanda and Mike and Michael can sing it. I wonder what you could call it?



  2. Melissa, you words are so real and astonding. I love reading your blogs. I also find cleaning as therapeutic. I do it for a living now. This New Normal life is a tough one, but like you, I try to make it as memorable as possible. I want to spend all my time enjoying my family. I wish we had a chane to get to know Andrew. I still remember seeing you at the U Dance with Michael. This was after Noxah passed. I had a roller coaster of emotions. So happy to see Michael doing so well and so confused , angry and sad as to why Noxah wasn’t with us anymore. Then some time later, I am laying in the back seat of my car coming home from a trip to.Maine and Annie texted me the tradgic news of Andrew. My heart broke even more and sunk . I cried for you so hard and again became confused, angry and sad. The only answer the rest of my life I want so bad and will never get is Why? Why Andrew too? Why Noxah? My faith has been shattered. I realized no one ever asks me how I am doing. They say, “Moms not doing good.” They see me breakdown or a trigger. I have always talked to my kids about being here if they ever want to talk. Some are now starting to open up, talk and ask questions. Big hugs Melissa and thank you for sharing.


    1. I agree Peggy….the why did this happen to our boys is so hard to let goof. Life is fragile & we just need to enjoy the time we have with our family…..even though a huge part is gone! I appreciate you thinking about me and my family & I wish neither of us had to know this pain! Thank you for reading my blog, it means a lot to me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s