Busy is the new happy

Weeks ago someone special was telling me how busy they were. “Super, super busy,” they told me. I wasn’t super, super busy or even a little busy as far as I could tell. I shared with a friend how “super busy” this special person was and my friend told me, “Oh, yeah, haven’t you heard? Busy is the new happy.” Well, I hadn’t heard. My first thought was oh, maybe all I need to do is be busy after losing my 16-year-old son, Sam, nearly 21 months ago, then I, too, could have some form of happiness since his death. I started to “get busy.”

First, I considered my “to do” list which is really just a mental list of my known priorities to be addressed over the next several weeks. First on the list, was to follow up on what was needed for Sam’s tribute page in this year’s high school yearbook. A very thoughtful and wonderful undertaking by the school and staff to remember Sam in what would have been his Senior year. I put that activity in motion by setting a meeting with the yearbook sponsor and set aside time to research beforehand what a tribute page looks like. I knew this would mean finding pictures of Sam for the yearbook. Another busy task that I could be busy with pulling together. I decided okay, if I am busy with the tribute page then what else could I get busy with?

I was already doing daily outreach for Sam’s Watch with schools for participation in National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week so I continued with that, arranging to speak and signing up schools with a total of over 34,000 students to participate this year. Over 1,000 more Hoosier students than participated via Sam's Watch last year. Plus there were registrations from Michigan and Tennessee as the awareness of Sam’s Watch participation has grown. I was also busy with Kelly Wallace of CNN for her awesome article. I was working with NIDA for their excellent Drugs & Health blog on Sam’s Watch, too. Last for media, I talked with the local paper, the Daily Journal, who was promoting the upcoming SWaP Meet (Sam’s Watch & Parents Meeting).

On the home front, I had cleaned out one of Sam’s closet so I needed to continue with cleaning out his room. I set a date during this time to tackle his second closet. After completing that in the morning that worked, the rest of my day I couldn’t be busy. I was left useless afterwards as I tried to process the memories, hopes and pain of loss generated from that one activity. I could not “get busy” the rest of the day.

As I met with the yearbook sponsor, all seemed well with that busy-ness until I had to find pictures. I began to feel like I was moving in slow motion in a direction that I did not want to go because of the pain and suffering that was happening with each picture I saw and that generated again memories, hopes and more realization of loss. I looked on Sam’s phone for pictures that he might have wanted included; it took me days to get busy enough to hook his phone up to the charger so I could turn it on. Once on, it took many outbreaks into tears to reconcile that the so, so handsome young man in the pictures was no longer here with us. I couldn’t be busy.

I ordered the free materials from NIDA for drug facts week and thought about what I would share with students this year in the four assemblies for this week. Then I considered what I could share with parents now that might make a difference at the Feb. 1 SWaP Meet. In the midst of the speaking prep, I found it almost impossible to be busy.

These three main areas were focus above and beyond the quality time with Nick, meeting his needs and participating in his activities as well as the current events of playoff games and planned personal engagements. Those are the high points of what I was caught up in to “get busy.” The low point was I couldn’t be busy, the new happy, with what my life daily has in store for me. I had to take my time, going very slowly, planning appropriately so as not to be tipped out-of-balance, and making very precise baby steps in order to meet what I believe Sam would want, how he can be remembered now and how I can share my mother’s love for him with others. I continue to find myself not knowing what to do; I just know I can’t be busy. #muchlovetosam