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i’ll never…

i’ll never…

Today I am full of a bunch of thoughts that begin with the words “I’ll never…” I’m overwhelmed and saddened by the realization of the hundreds of things I’ll never do with my son. Remember that character in the Charlie Brown cartoons? Pigpen was his name, I think. Wherever he went, a dust cloud and flies followed him. Thankfully, that’s not me but similarly, I have a dark cloud attached to me today that I just cannot seem to shake.

At work, I am disconnected but feel pressure to make a difference. I usually start my day stressed, like I am a little late to the party, and hyper aware that I am missing something. This afternoon it slapped me in the face as I was listening to a conference call about the progress of our division. I was a completely different employee ‘before’ but now I just cannot find the energy to engage. I’m super disconnected, disjointed, discombobulated. I want to be that intense, productive game changer that I was, but she has gone into hiding and has been replaced by someone who doesn’t believe in the same things, who doesn’t respond to a dangled carrot anymore, and has no real reason to keep striving toward that next seemingly unattainable rung of the ladder. Instead, it’s just me, sitting here, blinking at the bright lights and looking a little bewildered. I feel bad about it too, but have no idea where to find that girl or how to grab onto her again.

I’m not accustomed to feeling lost. I’m the chick that takes the bull by its horns. I’m the closer. I’m the bulldog. I’m a catalyst for change. I’m a leader. I’m the winning ticket.  More accurately, I used to be all those things. Now, I don’t know where I fit or who I am. I don’t know what I contribute and when I finally figure that out, will it be of any value? I’m in the wrong place. Not just professionally, but personally. I’m in the wrong time zone. I’m in the wrong country. The wrong job. The wrong life. It’s all wrong, and I can’t seem to find the door that takes me to option #2. I also can’t find the gearshift to take me out of this mindless, numbing drift I’m caught up in.

Insert the I’ll nevers… as time continues to pass, and life moves on, and people keep living, and new babies arrive, and seasons change, and pages of the calendar turn, and friends come & go, I am becoming more and more aware of the I’ll nevers. These thoughts don’t hit you right away. When you lose a child, you’re too shocked to process anything but the immediate moment and sometimes you can’t even do that very well. It’s not until later that you start looking towards the future without your child that the I’ll nevers hit.

And when they hit, it’s like a ton of bricks. A mac truck. A sledgehammer.

I’ll never hear his laugh. I’ll never play with his gorgeous hair (and tuck it behind his ear to annoy him). I’ll never hear him negotiating with his online friends during a video game raid. I’ll never pick him up from school, or drop him off, or give him lunch money, or ask him if he is feeding the whole school, or laugh with him about his fantastic future career ideas. I’ll never do his laundry again, or ask him to switch the loads. I’ll never do a road trip with him, or travel to another country with him, or take another cruise with him. I’ll never watch him guzzle whole milk by the gallon. I’ll never take him to another braces appointment. I’ll never listen to his stories, or hear about his friends, or learn about something he’s learning at school. I’ll never do another fun run with Mase, or bear the brunt of his criticism about my cooking, or go Christmas shopping together. I’ll never go school shopping, or buy Dr. Pepper, or bacon by the ton… I’ll never have a new story or another picture. I’ll never snuggle on the couch with him again, or push him away jokingly, or hear him call me shmuvver and feel his amazing, epic hugs.  How can that be?


There are thousands of memories I have that will never be repeated. I could go on and on. I won’t, but I could. It’s not even those things that hurt the most. I’m so thankful I did those things with him and have those memories to cherish. What a gift our life together was, and how very blessed were we to experience things in such a short amount of time that some people never, ever experience in a whole lifetime!?!? I am thankful. I want more and more and more, but I am thankful for what we had.

It’s the I’ll nevers that didn’t take place that crush me today. The things I’ll never get to do with him that eat me alive and make me ache with emptiness. The future with him, the dreams and goals and plans with him, those are what threaten to wreck me, once and for all. I don’t know how to make sense of it. I don’t know how to let go. It’s been hounding me for a while now, and I know I need to face the reality that there are some things I’ll never, ever get to do. Period. I’m still grappling with it, and desperately trying to figure out a way to deal. How do I let go of someone I loved with my whole heart? It’s enough to lose him, the actual person, but add to that all the accoutrements and you have one blubbering mess of a mommy. It’s strange how the timing of different realizations can, without effort, take you out at the knees.


Keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I endeavor to find a way to come to terms with the I’ll nevers. Here are just a few that I’m thinking of today… Eight months after Mason left.

I’ll never throw him an 8th grade graduation party. Instead, I had a Memorial Service that day.

I’ll never see him start 9th grade.

I’ll never see him go to Homecoming or Prom, or even ask a girl on a real date.

I’ll never teach him to drive or buy him his first car.

I’ll never cheer for him in any games or competitions.

I’ll never scream his name at high school graduation, or buy him a cap and gown.

I’ll never send him off to college or the military (he was interested in both).

I’ll never meet his college girlfriends, or watch him find the love of his life.

I’ll never dance with him at his wedding, or have him walk me down the aisle at mine.

I’ll never be a grandma.

I’ll never meet his beautiful babies, or spoil them with my love… how is that fair, when I have so much to give?

I’ll never live with him (like he promised) and do his laundry the wrong way again. I’ll never be his cook that can’t cook, or his housecleaner who hires cleaners. These were all things he teased me about.

I’m not ready to be done. I’m not ready to face a future without him. It’s not fair. It’s unthinkable. I’m just not ready. Can I just say that? These are big things. Huge I’ll nevers. I can’t think about them too much or I’ll crawl back into my little hole and never come out. I wasn’t foolish to assume I would have him in my life for the rest of it, was I? We all do that as parents, don’t we?  When I was 25 years old, I dedicated my life, the rest of my days, to loving that little person to infinity and beyond. I couldn’t have known that meant only 14 years together, and the rest of my life mourning the I’ll nevers.

So life will have to forgive me for not being the person I once was. I wish I could go back in time, not only to find her, but to find him, to save him, to shmuvver him, to shake him, to love him even more.

I’ll never stop missing him. I’ll never forget how he changed me, in life and in death. I’ll never understand this.

I’ll never give up trying.

I’ll never…



  • Laura Renstrom
    Posted at 06:22h, 04 February Reply

    And I will never stop grieving for you, never stop sobbing for you and this horrific, unfathomable, and unfair tragedy, never stop feeling the constant ache and sadness in my heart, never stop loving you, never stop cheering you on, never stop being there for you, accepting and loving your every transformation. I will never stop being absolutely AMASED by your strength and hope and perseverance. I love you Holly, more than you’ll ever know and I will never stop being your friend.
    Wishing you peace and a better tomorrow. Xo

  • Debbie
    Posted at 12:02h, 04 February Reply

    Holly I wish I could just wrap my arms around you & take all your pain away. I wish you could see all the lives you have changed & the differences you have made on so many levels. I wish…I wish…I wish so much for you, Holly. Praying for you & Mason. Sending warm hugs & love.

  • Mari
    Posted at 14:38h, 04 February Reply

    Your courage and raw honesty and emotion are astounding. I feel for you and pray for your strength and peace…. Keep it up…u make a difference.

  • Karrah
    Posted at 15:05h, 04 February Reply

    Well said Laura. So very true on every sentence! Holly is an AMASING person. I grieve everyday, but cannot fathom the grief she has to live with. I think that is what hurts me the most…to see her struggle and in pain. But, then get a smile on my face when I see her blossom and the light shine, even for just a few minutes. Holly, I love you dearly. I wish, as I always say, that I could take your pain away. You are destined for great things and will help so many others in the process. xoxoxo Karrah

  • Kristen
    Posted at 20:57h, 04 February Reply


    I’m a friend of Julie’s and I think I’ve met you on a few occasions when I’d go visit her in Vegas. I’ve heard a million “Holly stories” from her, and I know how much she loves you and cherishes your friendship.

    I read your posts every time Julie puts them up on facebook, every time knowing that I will end up a blubbery mess with my heart in pieces for your loss. When I lost my brother and only sibling 10 years ago, I remember thinking that every passing day took me one day further away from knowing him and having him in my life. I don’t say that to be depressing, just to express one of the many unpredictable ways that loss hits you, similar to your “I never’s.”

    As a mom, I deeply feel your grief and at the same time can’t even imagine it–I know it’s an old saying, but losing a child is something no parent should ever have to go through. Your eloquence, your determination, and your commitment to moving forward are so inspiring, and your ability to experience and express your emotions in such a raw and uncensored way touches people in a way you can’t imagine. You will touch many lives, and you HAVE touched many lives, with your blogs and the wonderful aMasongrace Project, and I know this is the “something good” to come out of this.

    Know that you are in my thoughts,

  • Tami
    Posted at 21:27h, 04 February Reply

    If you only knew all the hearts you have touched and continue to touch. This is not said in attempts to minimize your suffering but to assure you that you are making a difference in others lives without even knowing it….or knowing them.

  • Daisy Rain Martin
    Posted at 18:52h, 05 February Reply

    I have just now read this and am lamenting with you, for it is still time to lament and part of our hearts will lament forever. Every day. I think, though, that there may be a few items on that list that you will be able to do, although not with Mase here physically. I will try to help you keep your eyes and heart open to new possibilities and opportunities that we can’t yet see in this time of lament. I’m with you. Every day.

  • Dana Ames
    Posted at 04:04h, 11 February Reply

    Holly, I am always reduced to tears when I read your blogs. I cannot ever fathom what you have gone through, and continue to go through. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your honesty, your openness and your willingness to share the most heart-wrenching experience of your life. I always thought I was a parent with awareness. You have heightened that awareness for me and so many others, with your willingness to share. You are a beautiful soul, and I am positive that Mason is extremely proud of you. He is telling is peeps in Heaven….”hey look at that amazing, wonderful woman…that is my mom!” Keep up the great work you are doing lovely lady. God knows it can’t be easy walking in your shoes, but you are setting an incredible example for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all you are doing to raise awareness. Big hugs, much love and super duper amounts of respect and admiration!!

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