Lick my tears away!

Ten months since my precious son, Andrew died….ten months! I haven’t heard my son’s voice or seen his handsome face in ten months! This is such a hard concept for anyone to truly grasp! I’m living this nightmare and I can’t even understand how I’m surviving day by day….let alone 10 months without my child, my 21 year old child driving into our driveway, walking though the door or sleeping in his bed! I miss him so much and my heart aches every minute of every day!

I went to the cemetery to pay my respects to my son. I don’t feel any closer to Andrew there, yet I crave to go. I’m not sure why…maybe because I just want him to know he will never be forgotten. I don’t want his gravestone just sitting there with his name engraved in it like it has no meaning. So I go and I always bring my dogs with me. Andrew was a huge Batman fan so our dogs are named Bruce Wayne & Harley Quinn for him. I never would have gotten these dogs if Andrew was still here so I was telling them that they need to thank their big brother because he’s the reason we have them. I’m convinced that Andrew picked these two puppies for our family! They have brought us so much comfort & I never knew I could love any animal as much as I love Bruce & Harley!

I’m trying so hard to make my life meaningful every day but it takes a lot of effort! I am constantly talking to myself in my own head about changing my thoughts & what I need to do to honor my son! I see people who feel sorry for themselves and are consumed with self pity and I know I do NOT ever want to live that way! I cannot change the fact that my son has died. Asking “why me?” won’t bring Andrew back and only make me feel worse than I already do so I just try to  remind myself about the good things in my life. My beautiful family and friends, the love and support that surround me and the fact that my faith tells me I will be reunited with my son keep me going.

I had therapy today, which is a huge help because my therapist is an amazing person. She is wonderful at making me feel heard and validating my feelings. She also lost a child so we have an instant bond & connection. She has walked in my shoes and continues to shine so I admire her immensely. She tells me all the things I’m doing right and of course that makes me feel better. She has been a gift in my life & I’m very grateful for her.

I came home after therapy and my daughter Amanda and the puppies were on a walk so I went to find them. As I went looking for them, my mind was nonstop racing the whole time with my internal dialogue. I’m not sure if everyone does this but my brain is never quiet. I have full blown conversations with myself. I was having a conversation with myself about the fact that I have conversations with myself! Wow! I just can see how the pain of losing a child can ruin a person and I don’t want that to be me so I work hard at not letting that happen.  I crave to laugh, feel joy and actually live while I’m still alive! I never knew that just living would be something that I actually need to work so hard at!

Later, I was driving home from running errands and it’s the same route I drive 100 times a week. It’s the only way in & out of my street and it’s where my son took his last breath. One block from my house, where he crashed into a fence! A wooden barn fence that killed my son! How is that possible? It’s a one in a million freak accident and it happened to my son! So I was driving down that same street I travel multiple times a day & Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” came on the radio. This song reminds me of Andrew so I blasted it as I drove by the cross we placed at the sight of Andrew’s accident and I had tears streaming down my face knowing this is where my son’s heart beat for the very last time.  I will never get used to driving by that spot no matter how often I am forced to….it will always be the place my son crossed over into heaven. It is a sacred space for me and I can’t pass it without acknowledging my baby boy! I either say “I love you”, “I miss you”, or “oh Andrew”! If I’m honest sometimes I scream “WHAT THE FUCK!” (Sorry Mom) but it’s the truth!

I pulled into my driveway, cried in my car and then came into my house where I was greeted by my sweet puppies!  I am grieving my son but at the same time I have to continue to live my life. So I allow myself to cry & then come home and let my puppies lick my tears away!  It’s so much more complex than I would have ever realized. What I know for sure is my son was a special kid & I was blessed to be his mother for his short life. So, I will continue to work hard at being the best person I can even though my heart is forever broken!


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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!

4 thoughts on “Lick my tears away!”

  1. Sending you a huge super hug. I think your son Andrew is very proud of you, walking through the reality of losing someone sucks. The loss of a child, unimaginable. While I don’t believe those we love ever truly leave us since we carry them with us in our hearts and memory – it feels like a sad substitute when craving to hear their voice or feel them hugging you. Yay for Bruce and Harley’s wiggly puppy loving!


  2. Bruce Wayne & Harley Quinn are your little buddies during your painful journey, Melissa. Our fuzzy and furry friends can read our feelings so instinctively and be such great sources of solace. I loved our crazy dog, Beauty. Real original for a black lab, right? She was hysterical and your two are, too. Beauty always knew how I felt and I’m glad you have your two side-kicks. Boy, wouldn’t Andrew be so happy to see how you reached for them and your family so you could feel the love. Sometimes people’s agonies of loss are so overwhelming they reach for the bottle or, heaven help us, bad situations. Not good and makes a sad situation far worse. I know because I’ve seen it happen and not just to strangers but to people that I dearly loved.

    Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. I was lucky enough to have been there in Padua several summers back. It was the only church in Italy that I saw that had signs all over stating “silenzio!” Not a whisper was heard as the believers marched around the sarcophagus of this ancient Franciscan who was born 13 years after St. Francis who – we all know – loved animals.

    I’ve no doubt that your intuition to get these little friends to be around you was a whisper from your son Andrew because he, like all of your children, always knew your heart.


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