When you lose someone to death, there are lots of little things that can bring that grief back raw and messy. Some things are so simple you feel foolish for losing it over them. While others can take a while to surface.
For me, I cope fairly well. My triggers are around how my children deal with the loss of their hero. My older boys idolize their dad and I see the sadness in their faces when they hit milestones and wish he was here to see them. My youngest makes up memories to fit in. I’m not sure which is harder to deal with.
My oldest boy recently released his own music via digital methods as well as a CD. All the music is original, he wrote every bit of it. He designed the album cover and did the art work. He recorded it in our garage with the crudest of recording equipment and sound proofing. He mixed it, and published it all on his own.
His dad told him when he was 15 that no one would ever be as passionate about his music as he was. His dad was right, and Stetzon worked through it. Jerry would be so proud of him, though he would have never told Stetzon that, he would have moved on to now what. He would have forgot that crucial piece that Stetzon craves, to hear his dad say he’s proud of him.
My trigger was the dedication on the back of the album. It was kind of a football “hi, Mom” moment. I’ve been here the entire time. I held him when his friends bailed on him and broke his heart. I’ve helped pay for equipment over the years and schlepped it to Battle of the Bands competitions. I’ve supported him well past the age of 18 financially.
The album is dedicated to his dad.
I cried. Then I pulled myself together and realized it should be dedicated to his dad. I’m still here, I get to see him perform live. I get to see where this thing goes.
Tonight, I was scrolling through Facebook and one of the rodeo kids I call my own posted a video of them riding their first saddle bronc horse. As I watched his video I could hear Jerry yelling LIFT as he did with all the kids who rode saddle bronc in my head. I mentioned it to this young man and he said,”I swear I could hear him”. Another trigger, this one bitter sweet.
Jerry lived for rodeo, it was the other woman in his life. I never thought the words “I miss rodeo” would ever come out of my mouth but I do miss it. I miss the people. I miss the kids. I miss the life style. I miss the larger than life man who made everyone feel like they belonged. Sometimes I miss the chaos that was him. A trigger.
I don’t think you ever get over death. You find ways to cope and deal with it but when you spend time with someone who influences your life it’s not like you get to erase those memories like they never happened. They are the tapestry that is your life. Embrace them.
I don’t dwell on the triggers, I let them happen and cry and then move on. I recognize I’m one of the few that has the mental strength to do that. I genuinely thank Jerry for that. He prepared me for this time in my life; the whole time I thought he was being mean but he was just making me tough. I can move forward because he taught me to.
To all my rodeo friends, listen for Jerry cheering for you. I know that is where he is happiest. Ride tough and remember Momma J loves you!
**You can find Stetzon’s music by searching Stetzon Ju Music on Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and the other music streaming services. His album is titled Broken Hearts and Bucking Horses
**Photo Credit Randy Follis