The Purpose Behind It All: Maria Mock‘s Personal Memoir, In it I spare no punches as I recount all the things that came to the surface over the last few years following my son’s death. After counseling, meditation, deep prayer, and time, I have finally found some healing and a new purpose in life.
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The Stages of My Grief
What’s unusual about that day is that there was nothing unusual about it. I woke up, went to work, and came home around dinnertime to my husband of two years at the time, Joe, and our four kids. After more than a decade working my way up through the nursing home industry, I had started my own business a few years earlier called Hands from Heaven, LLC: a home healthcare agency and adult day care facility. It was after we ate dinner that I noticed that I hadn’t heard from Bry Bry all day.
Three months before and years before that, it wouldn’t have been unusual to not hear from him every day. Our relationship has always had its troubles. From the time he turned 12 until I had to give up custody of him at age 13, our relationship had been fractured. But for two months leading up to that night, we spoke every day.
After all the time and distance that had passed between us, we were finally closing the gap and getting closer. I had been calling and leaving messages for three days asking him to call me, no matter the time. I was worried. Not calling me back after three or four days was unusual. Was he avoiding me? He owed me some money, but I couldn’t care less about that.
The night of July 10th, I hadn’t heard from him all day but I didn’t think much about it until around midnight when the phone rang. It could have been him, but my heart said that something was wrong.
It was Maja calling to tell me that my son, my first-born Bryon Jr., had been in an accident on his motorcycle but that they didn’t know more than that. She told me, “Maria, we need you to get here now.” The next moments – honestly – the next few hours were a blur. Looking back, it was as if I were sleepwalking through the day. I was out of the door and on the road fifteen minutes after hanging up the phone. How I managed to get myself together to get on the road and to ride 86 miles to reach him is beyond me.
My husband was there, as well as my daughter and my youngest son. Joe sped the whole way and I sat in silence from what I remember. What stands out in my mind about those first few hours is that premonition that God had given me a month earlier. Now here it was again, the question He repeatedly asked me was rolling in the pit of my stomach:
‘If I take one of your boys, would you fall apart or would you continue to press on?’
God was warning me that one of my three sons might be taken from me and yet, prior to that night, my response was always the same –” I will not break. I will keep going.” But now, with the real possibility of that situation, I wondered, Could I? Would I? I believe it was God’s words, and that question that helped me hold it together as we made our way to Portsmouth. I felt a sense of Zen, almost as if I was floating and my body was moving on its own.
As God’s prophetic Words rang in my spirit, I think a part of me hoped that this was an Abraham and Isaac moment. Perhaps this was just a test, and, at the last moment, God would intercede and allow my son to come off of the altar. Maybe He wasn’t actually going to take one of my boys but instead would use this moment to grow my faith: to prepare me to endure through the battles yet to come but would spare my child.
When I reached the Portsmouth hospital, they told me that the hospital was transferring “his body” to Cincinnati. I knew then for sure that he was gone. This wasn’t an Abraham and Isaac moment.
Seeing the white sheet, any hope that I had that my son was still with us or that I would see him again was gone. At that moment, I knew that a part of me was gone forever too. I just stood there numb. There were no words for what I was feeling. It was as though I had feet for 25 years, and suddenly they got cut off. I was going to have to learn how to live again without them.
Never before had I needed my closest friends as I did in that moment, and they were there for me, surrounding me with their love. I couldn’t have made it without them. I wasn’t alone at any point from the time I showed up at the hospital. They were there with me, catering to me. They shared stories with me about my son. We laughed and cried together.
After we sat and talked for a couple of hours, I was so tired with worry and contained grief that I slept heavily that night and then woke up numb. I knew that I couldn’t react the way that my heart wanted to…the way that any mother would have. I wanted to fall apart but I had promised God that I wouldn’t.
That next morning my husband Joe took the kids, my baby girl, and my youngest son back to Columbus to get clothes before coming back down to help me prepare for the funeral and to pick up my second son Hakeem, but Hakeem didn’t come.
He died on 7/11/2017 at 12:01 in the morning. Randomly I remembered that he was 7 pounds, 11 ounces at birth – 711. We got a room at the Ramada Inn. The address was 711.