Candles in the Dishwasher

orange candle 2

Grief makes you lose your mind, and by that I mean literally, lose your mind.  Fortunately I have been able to continue to function relatively normally at work because I love what I do and I work in a very supportive environment, but the rest of my life has been a struggle.  My memory for ordinary, non-work related things is failing me… often I have absolutely no memory of what I did two days ago or even two hours ago… and my decision making capacity is frighteningly impaired.  Case in point, about a month ago, during the six month anniversary week of Kai’s death, I put candles in the dishwasher.

Most sane people know that there are certain items that should never be washed in a dishwasher, and a candle is such an item.  But my “grief brain,” as I like to call it, told me that putting two large pumpkin spice scented candles in the dishwasher would be a great way to remove months of dust and cat hair from the surface.  I was shocked when I opened the door to unload what I thought would be squeaky clean dishes to find a waxy orange mess.  I turned on the kitchen sink faucet and my heart sank when the sink began filling up.  Starting the garbage disposal didn’t help, either, as pieces of orange wax and dirty water bubbled up from below.

Grief consumes your life, and so little things that go wrong seem overwhelming and insurmountable.  I thought for a few brief moments about cleaning out the trap to spare myself the embarrassment and expense of explaining to the plumber just how it came about that I clogged the sink with candle wax.  After all, I had done this once before, when Kai decided it would be a good idea to help Mommy by pouring liquid wax from a burning candle down the bathroom sink.  It’s not a particularly difficult job to remove the u-shaped section of pipe underneath a sink and pop out the hardened wax.  But for a grief brain, it was too much.  So I turned off the water, closed the dishwasher door, and decided to live with a sink full of pumpkin spiced water for a few days until I could summon the energy to call a plumber.

Turned out that the wax had so thoroughly coated the internal dishwasher components that I needed to buy a new one.  Not only can grief brain make you feel silly and incompetent, it can cost you money.

These days I am in simplification mode.  I am trying not to make many decisions or come up with new ideas, whether they be small or large.   Until such time as the fog passes and my mind is functioning again, it seems wisest to try to stay in a quiet, steady routine.


For most of my life, tears have not come easily to me.  Even in times of extreme sadness, I did not or could not cry.  Now I think the tears will never stop.  I hide them from almost everyone in my life, but they are always there.  They are there every day and every night, often for a few seconds or minutes, sometimes for hours.   I feel most free to let them fall in front of those who I know are enduring the same magnitude of loss that I am.  But most of my tears are shed in private, hidden away from everyone.

Kai would be very upset on the rare occasion when I did cry.  His huge brown eyes would get even bigger and become serious and sad, and he would say, “Mommy, please don’t cry,” and then he would hug me, and of course I would stop.  Now I don’t know if it is possible to stop.

I have read and heard people say that tears are healing, but these tears are not healing, at least they don’t feel healing. They are tears of suffering and sorrow.  I wish I could make them stop, just as I wish I could make this sorrow stop.  It’s exhausting, all of it.   At almost 7 months, I thought that I would be crying less.  Instead, I am crying more.

Will it get better?  Some say yes.  Others, perhaps more honestly, say no.   But I fear bitterness, so I let the tears fall in hopes that they will wash away the anger and sorrow and let me mourn my son so that some day I will be able to think of him, smile and feel joy that I was blessed with the gift of having him in my life for almost six years.



This blog is dedicated in loving memory of my son, Kai Samuel Gonzalez. Kai was taken to heaven suddenly and tragically at 4:30 PM on Saturday, February 16, 2013, in a drowning accident. He was 17 days away from turning 6 years old.

That day changed my life forever. It is my hope that by recording my thoughts about Kai, his death, the months since then, and my life as I attempt to learn to live without Kai, I may somehow be of some encouragement to someone else who is walking this same dark path. Continue reading