A Place of Echoes- Chris Ritchey

July 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm 14 comments


“In search of my son- in search of me.” series
Part Thirteen

SOURCE ( ED note please check out Leonnie Isaacs poem that goes with this artwork.

In the Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell- Don’t Ignore post and answer to
How are you ?

Most days I try to get through but then there are days that I am not sure I will make it through

There are no good days , at least I haven’t found any as yet, but there are people amateur and professional that have tried to give me a good day or at least move on. We have, as a family, had loads of advice. There is always a question I ask to those of the professional kind.

Have you lost a child, a son

NO !.

Did you watch your child die -take his/her last breath -watch as their heart stopped- did you scream silently for them to hold on, not to die , even though you were the one that had to make the decision to let them go?

NO!

Do you know what it is like to relive that moment every time you close your eyes?

NO!

Have you had (due to control, spitefulness and cruelty toward you) had your closure and final goodbye taken from you – Do you watch every day the pain that has caused?

NO!

NO???? Ok! then well sorry but unless you have lived that you cannot possibly , even though you have years worth of “academic knowledge” help me because you cannot relate.

This is like nothing I have ever known- I have no words that adequately describe what is happening to me .

One Dr. (a lovely person) who is childless, told me

Take down from your house all photos, reminders of Chris put them away out of sight. Put the things that are most meaningful to you in a drawer and leave them there then when you want to remember go to the drawer relive your memories you get them out and then shut them away again.

I smiled, thanked them for the advice and came home.

As I walked up the path to the front door, through the wrought iron gate Chris had helped me choose and put up , to the pair of lions that flank the steps I once again saw the chip on the nose where a naughty little boy had tried to change the shape of the lion’s nose, still visible .

The front door where the welcome bells ( a mother’s day gift) scratch the wood- And I hadn’t even made it into the hallway where a little brass lion sits , a

I am sorry for defacing the lion

gift .

There are hundreds of reminders in this house, gifts, photos, artwork. I checked there isn’t one room including bathrooms-( candles too pretty to burn) ) not one wall that doesn’t hold some reminder of the baby, toddler, child, teenager, and young man who called this house home 27 years.

I wandered from room to room -I would need a storage unit, I haven’t even touched on the attic and basement. And then what would I keep in that drawer?

As I wandered realizing the daunting task that was ahead of me, the bricks on the fireplace caught my eye -
Yes the day of the “lion’s nose” had also found him trying to leave his name on the mortar of he brick, it is still there – first left as reminder to him NOT to do such a thing again, then forgotten with a “I must get to that” and now evidence that the child existed at all.

Which drawer? Would I choose the one where resides an envelope with a nugget of coal and some pencil flowers? Another I am sorry gift made for me after he had been particularly naughty. The homemade flowers delivered by dirty chubby hands looking for a softening of his mothers face, which he didn’t get until he handed her an envelope saying “if these don’t warm your heart ( the flowers )maybe this will” as the nugget of coal fell onto a white rug- but my heart was warmed and the smile and forgiveness followed.

Assignment by Chris Ritchey


In my world the scenes of “past life’ are so real , the colours, the voices, even those terrible last months and days, are with me – We all know about split personalities , various people living in one body/ brain.

I experience split lives, going through the motions of the present, simultaneously living the past- as it comes unbidden to the fore.
I can see the toddler as he stood at the top of stairs after finding out he could get out of his crib. I see him on the kitchen floor when, at two in the morning, he had decided he wanted more of the chocolate cake , this little boy cross-legged face full of cake looking innocently up from the mess he had made

“want some???”

The archway into the dining room where he would jump up and hit it as he grew leaving handprints on the off white wall. The dining room floor he helped me refinish whilst his dad was away just a 4 years ago. Even the damned ivy that is growing over the windows once again, he was supposed to cut it back for me. As it grows, it is a constant reminder of his not being here.

I sat on the couch where he had sat dazed and afraid ( although he tried not to show it) the day the Drs. told him you have cancer.

As I sat there surrounded by the visual reminders the echoes of his laughter, the nights he would do anything not to go to bed , even in his big boy bed-

“Dad come up and kiss me goodnight”- Mum I need a drink., How come Nikki isn’t in bed?



Children’s laughter as they tore through the house playing their games. The bedroom ceiling fan he chose. The fish ,frogs and even Misty which drawer do they go in ? Which reminders are not as important as others?

Do I move out the house altogether? I see him in the street signs , I see him at Settlers’ Watch , I see him playing over at Irving , the baseballs and soccer balls lost on the roof, the broken window ( they never fixed just boarded over) all those years ago.

Cleveland Signage design- Chris Ritchey


I see him on the storefront windows, on television, his ads, his design on signage in Cleveland. I am reminded every time I see a soccer ball, a Nike commercial, Adidas,

everytime I vacuum I look at his logo on the machine. I see him in my daughter’s eyes, in her smile – my grandson’s hands . The very sign on our street designed by my son.

No there isn’t a drawer that can contain and lock away my heart memories,

Photo Mark Teleha -artwork Chris Ritchey

there isn’t a storage shed anywhere in the world large enough to lock away and hold those memories.

My parallel world of the past cannot and will not allow confinement .

There truly are days that I wonder if I will make it through until tomorrow but I suppose the day I don’t is the day the heart memories and echoes will no longer cause the smiles, the wishing, the whying and nights of crying .

Think I Am - Chris Ritchey


“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One - In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three - Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four - In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five - Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six - The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven- The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight

Part Nine- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a)There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two

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Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, death, grief, journey, Love, Mothers. Tags: , , , , .

Paula cuts the ice on the Neah Bay Lorain Dude – to swim or float but not sink

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary  |  July 22, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Loraine, no, I haven’t lost a child but I lost my brother and my parents lost their youngest son. This was nearly 4 years ago. This August 18th would have been his 40th birthday. My brother lives on in my son’s eyes. Just the other day my son was sitting on the porch and I was absolutely struck by his similarities to my brother. Certain expressions, actions or something he says will stop me in my tracks, stunned by how much like my brother my son is. The first year I was simply numb. The second year, on his birthday and the anniversary of his death, I was overwhelmed by the grief for some reason. Honestly, I couldn’t stop the crying jags. The third year I was so unbelievably angry because it wasn’t fair (there’s more to it but this isn’t the place for it). We dealt with the selfishness and cruelty from the person who was supposed to be the one who loved him most in the world. We soon found out that love was valued in dollars, cents and possessions. I kept certain things of his to remember him by. Silly things. The squeeze ball he held in the hospital. Since he was a night owl and would wake in the night, I got him a night light that was like a fish tank. I never wanted him to wake up in the hospital and lie there, alone in the dark. He really enjoyed that light. The piece of paper that he tried to write something to me (it was just scribbles) when he lost nearly all movement and speech. But his smile lives on in my son. The gawkiness that was a part of Sean’s charm is there in Paul. The gentleness is there in his hands when he hold his grandmother’s arm to help her walk to church. The mischievous twinkle in his eyes – like he knows something, a wonderful secret and he’s waiting for you to guess what it is. It’s all there. I go to the cemetery (we’re Catholic) and tidy his grave. I do that for my parents. I know he’s not there. How do I know this? Because I carry him in my heart always. I feel your grief in your writing. And I’m so sorry for the most grievous loss a mother can suffer. We may not have experienced exactly what you’ve had to go through but we are here and empathize with you and in our ways, grieve WITH you because we care. I know my parents are still devastated by the loss of Sean. I see the tears in my father’s eyes when he talks about “his poor boy” “his wee son” (despite the fact that his “wee” son was 5 inches taller than him). I see my mum totally shut herself off and collapse inside herself. But I have to make sure we all go on for the others who are still here. To that end, I have done my best to keep the wonderful memories of my brother alive for my children and for myself. I am determined that Sean will always be remembered and in that, he will still be with us. Chris, I think, would want you to keep him alive for Gavin. For Nikki. For his father. For you.

  • 2. Peter Potamus  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:02 am

    You are quite good at putting the words, artwork images, & family photos together to communicate your thoughts & feelings.

    We’re all getting to know your son just a little bit through this blending of media forms that you employ.

  • 3. C.A. Stevenson  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:42 am

    All the intellectual knowledge in the world means nothing without the knowledge that can only come from the heart. I share in your heartbreak. What adorable little boy pictures you have of your precious Chris. There is no greater sorrow.

  • 4. Antonio Barrios  |  July 22, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Hi Loraine, what beautiful words that show your pain. I also am getting to know Chris through your memories. God Bless

  • 5. Lisa  |  July 22, 2010 at 2:03 am

    :cry: I am so sorry for all that you have lost ♥

  • 6. Judy Hines  |  July 22, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Hello to you all. You are still in my thoughts. Wonderful words and memories. Take care xxxxx

  • 7. thatwoman  |  July 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Mary I believe the “amateur” has helped me more than the professionals.after all to the professionals we are a “job of work”- Your thoughts and others who have lost help us know we aren’t alone .. as for the “money” aspect I haven’t even got to that part of the story ..it just goes on and on……. I have received some off the blog emails from the way people have had to deal with selfishness after a loved one dies that would amaze you – they did me….hell can truly be other people.

    Thanks Peter and everyone- I hope that as I try to go through this journey of searching for my son and myself, you will be intrtoduced to this very complex and loving child and man that he became……actually the two peices of art work the Think I Am and the Assignment I found just a few days ago on a disc stuck in drawer when I was searching for the printer disc….never did find that – had to buy a new printer :( but it was worth it to find Chris’ disc.

    The “think I am hasn’t come out too well in transitioning to the blog format …… the face on the forehead of course is his and goes on adinfinitum ( sp)

    Thank you for all the kindness shown it is so appreaciated but of course makes me cry too…. Loraine

  • 8. Mary Beth  |  July 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    You will make it through tomorrow because that is who you are Loraine. You are THAT woman!
    That woman who is strong.
    That woman who is full of love for life and others.
    That woman who makes us “feel” every time she writes.
    That woman who we care about, and is in our hearts and prayers.

  • 9. Grammy  |  July 23, 2010 at 1:51 am

    You are strong and eventually will find that middle ground of existence where you will be “somewhat” comfortable on some days. I’m of course still looking for that middle ground, but know that I will find it eventually. I exist, I am, I remember, I grieve, I try to help others over hurdles, I try, I pray, I continue until I too am called “home”.

    Stay strong, Love and hugs,

  • 10. dave cotton  |  July 23, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Beautifully written. You have a poet’s touch and the visuals are as expressive as your words.

    Keep sharing!

  • 11. Gorillas in the Midst- « That Woman’s Weblog  |  September 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

    [...] are the days you walk through the dining room not looking at walls covered with reminders, you stay out of your son’s bedroom- because it will always be his bedroom no matter the [...]

  • [...] 12, 2010 It is peculiar how one thing in your life segues into another. The series of “In search of my son- In search of me” would never been written if it hadn’t been for the actions of my son’s wife and her [...]

  • 13. Absence of Laughter- Chris Ritchey « That Woman’s Weblog  |  November 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    [...] Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two Part Thirteen- A Place of [...]

  • [...] worry about you want you to feel “better” take the pills – see the counsellors http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/a-place-of-echoes-chris-ritchey-2/ well maybe the post script to Dr. Joanne Cacciatore’s blog might be of interest: 1) Imagine [...]

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