The Lowest Ebb – I knew my son- Chris Ritchey

July 3, 2011 at 9:28 pm 9 comments

Part 16 In Search of my Son

Depths of Despair by Chris Ritchey

Only those who have lost a son, a daughter, no matter the circumstances, can fully understand the absolute “gutting” a parent feels. We share a loss that hasn’t any words that I have been able to find to even give the reader a “glimpse” into this world of pain and ever flowing tears that only burn , compounding the icy coldness of our grief.
When Chris died that damp cold December day , the days and weeks that followed locked me in some place other than this life. My mind churned and wheeled – I tried to “wake up” from a nightmare reality that sucked me into the depths- I couldn’t think ,I couldn’t comprehend what had happened what was happening. I felt I was on some hellacious “trip”- my world was one of pictures, and sounds that made no sense, had no logic.

I have no words that can convey the ride of terror , hope, despair and desperation that we went through daily from the time of Chris’ diagnosis- the putting on the brave face, the swallowing of fears, the daming up of emotions- appearing to be normal whilst your mind is screaming. It takes an awful toll and then as you lose what little hope you had and you lose your child you lose yourself who you were.

Along with the unreality of reality doubts , guilt and self- recrimination set in .

Should I have done this – what could I have done differently- why didn’t I do this or that- why did I not ….

and then the worst thing the breaking of your promise to your child – because I don’t care who you are every mother as she holds her child for the first time makes that child a promise – to keep them safe And yet somehow you have failed -it is a terrible burden to bear – knowing that you failed.

Just try to imagine being at the lowest ebb of your life when you are in a place so dark and dank – a prison of grief – longing to hear a voice that will never say –I love you mum again, to see his smile , feel the touch of his laughter.

You desperately need someone to take away pain -to take over- to get you through to the other side – someone to please help ease the pain – to help you through – but instead you receive coldness and callous acts that take your son even further away- no healing touch- just more bewilderment, more shocks and disbelief heaped on the already untenable .

Angela artwork Chris Ritchey

As you are locked in this terrible place you are denied your final farewell- closure snatched from you and then weeks later whilst you are still reeling from the loss of a child, a denial of your closure you receive notes from someone who supposedly loved your son – wicked callous notes that arrive in a dead son’s clothes and to those you love -spewing forth a vicious vomiting of narcissistic musings as to who our son , brother grandson nephew really was and that we didn’t know Chris.
trying- for some unfathomable reasoning to take away even our relationship with Chris- the last vestige we had. This from a young woman who has chosen to be a healer Angela ritchey DO. How damaging her actions were and are to those Chris loved and loved him at the lowest ebb in a life I would only ask you to imagine . Yet it happened!

The words written by Angela , she of the 900 days – that were meant to punish and hurt ( I know we never knew her apparently – this quiet soft-spoken young woman who hid her apparent intense dislike for us very well as she dated and married my son- when would she have shown her true feeling for us I wonder?).

Her words and actions their mark but then just a little while ago I received from a young man this e-mail

Hello Mrs. Ritchey,
I was in Chris’ class in Junior High and High School and I was on the
soccer team with him. A few days ago I was looking online at news about Lorain Catholic and I came across what happened to Chris – it felt like a punch in the stomach. I am very sorry for your loss.

I feel bad that I only now have learned of it, I live out of state and my family in Lorain did not see it.

Chris was a great friend and teammate for all the years I knew him.He was always very kind and I still remember him always smiling when he talked to me and joking around. He was just a great person to see on any day. Throughout the years I knew him I never saw him treat anyone badly, just with kindness and friendship.

I remember during our Junior and Senior year he was captain of the soccer team and he pushed everybody to work hard, but he always respected us too. He was
a great leader.

I regret not knowing him better, but I think I still remember a few things.

In around 1995/1996 we had “Indians Day” at school where you could wear jeans if you wore a Cleveland Indians shirt. Well, I forgot about that special day and just wore my regular dress clothes while the rest of the school wore Indians clothes and jeans. But I noticed that Chris was wearing regular school clothes too because he
said he didn’t follow baseball and the Indians.

During that day I felt really awkward being the odd person out but it was nice to know Chris was with me as well.

I also remember practicing soccer in the summer before our Freshman year. I signed up for soccer thinking it would be just a fun thing to do, but I realized that coach Dave Thomas was going to make us work hard. All the running and practices were really tough but Chris never complained and he was always there to help me through the drills.

Chris was great at soccer and it was nice watching him score goals…from the bench. I remember going into the games and getting a pass from Chris, and always passing it right back to him. I’m sure that annoyed him, but he never said anything about it to me.

Speaking of soccer I remember hearing you at the games and how you would yell out “Move It Or Milk It!” or “Come On You Reds!” (I recently learned that is from Manchester United).

I still use the white laundry bag with red lettering that you and the other mothers gave to us as gifts, thank you.

Chris’ artwork that you show on your blog is AMAZING! They show great
talent. It is wonderful that his work that he created continues to be
seen. It’s also great that you have set up the scholarship funds at

LCCC and CIA, I will contact them soon.
I am so sorry about Chris. I feel privileged to have known him for as
long as I did, my only regret is that I didn’t know him better.

People like him do not come along very often unfortunately and I am thankful to have known him when I did. After more than a decade I can still remember his smile and laugh, and I know I will remember them for more decades to come.

As I read his words I remembered the Chris before cancer and contemptables entered our world – this was the Chris I knewthis was my son and the young man’s words brought forth, wrenching from the depths, the memories of a time filled with hope and love and expectation –

I was back on those bleachers watching him run, the determination to succeed, the pride, kindness, love and yes his laughter. I really couldn’t stop crying for days.

This young man gave me more than words of condolence, he confirmed we knew our Chris , the boy the man he was and with his words he gave me back Chris ……….

Series- In Search of My Son


Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, grief, hell is other people, Love, Mothers, personal opinion. Tags: , , , , , , .


9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa  |  July 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Thinking of you & your family always and sending much love your way ♥
    The letter-from-the-heart that you shared is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful young man who made a difference in more lives than you know.

  • 2. thatwoman  |  July 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I hate the 3rd of any month , it reminds me to tick off another month and I wait for time to heal but it doesn’t…. as you know… a fallacy in my opinion…… the unreal reality is as strong and soul numbing as it was that 3rd of December…… you just get better at hiding yourself behind the mask ……..

  • 3. Michael Cartwright  |  July 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I know the pain…god bless.

  • 4. thatwoman  |  July 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the support , my daughter and husband have not been able to read the young man’s words yet- they saw my reaction and aren’t able to gear themselves. Don’t get me wrong the words are so appreciated it is just that they opened the flood gates of memories of happier times and the flood gates of tears the missing of those times brings with it. You can’t win in this world of grieving 😦

  • 5. Mark  |  July 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Regardless of what the Evil One wrote, no one knew Chris better than you and Ritchey. She can blah-blah-blah ’til she’s blue in the face about whatever she wants, but she had no clue what Chris was like. She may have shared some of his life, but you and the rest of your family WERE his life. You have made that clear in your series on Chris, and I can’t help but wonder if we readers know more about Chris now than she ever did.

    Hugs, and God Bless.

  • 6. thatwoman  |  July 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    You know Mark I was very lucky that both my kids left from “this house” to get married- I had them on a daily basis until they were 26 and 27 respectively . Chris although had an apartment for college it was in Cleveland and I saw him every weekend almost when he would come home and all through the summer and holidays as well as Wednesday and Thurdday nights on the indoor soccer fields. and even when the obscenity entered our lives I spewnt his last weeks with him 24 hours a day in Texas and through his initial treatment caring for him ……but that is also a two sided coin as there I did get to be with him every day so it makes the missing more acute……….thank you for you love and thoughts – Loraine

  • 7. Merry  |  July 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    You linked to my post, make it stop. I found you and wanted to come and add how sorry I am that you have this loss to bear.

    I only had my son for 11 days. It is intolerable to have so little to hang on to that was him. He was always sick and damaged and not wholly mine. But at the time I was already aware that going home from hospital without him would be better than losing one of the daughters we already had and knew and who would leave such a massive hole in our life.

    I am so sorry.

  • 8. thatwoman  |  July 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you and I know exactly what you mean – when I read your words “Make it Stop” which was actually sent to me by another blogger who lost her baby son – your words touched my heart and soul as I know they touched hers as well. It doesn’t stop though does it? and as you say in your post ……….

    What has changed for me, since we walked away from Freddie’s body that day, is the sheer fury at the helpless state we are in. I can’t stop it, we can’t stop it, no one can stop the pain, or the deaths, or the loss or the devastating emptiness that follows. What I find hardest to accept is that there is so often no answer, no explanation, no fix, no comfort in understanding. What shocked me was that death was so final, so relentlessly indiscriminate. I watched my children like a hawk for all that time, guarded them as carefully as I could – and was utterly powerless to stop death from creeping in.

    What makes me angry is that there is no fairness; I have not paid my dues, I have no been inoculated against it happening again tomorrow. I cannot hand in my ticket to death, say I’ve paid and go on from here with all my chicks tucked safely in the basket. It can just keep happening, to me, to my neighbour, to a man I am no more than passably fond of through knowing him through work. It could happen at 11 days, 11 weeks, 11 years and 18 years; it could happen at 31 or 37 or when I’m old and grey but still walking when my child has stopped and will walk no more.

  • […] My brain tries nightly to file , it puts together stories only to find the body responding badly . The brain is supposed to be in control, but there is a usurper stronger than the brain – it is my grief . The body, far from resting, is pummelled hourly by a sound bites of life and experiences, thoughts and fears. […]

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