I miss my little boy.  The fact that I write that should come as no surprise to anyone, but my reason for writing that may…  You see there are times where I do not miss Rees.  – now before you stop reading and turn off your computer in disgust, bear with me. –  There are times where I forget that Rees is gone.  Times where my life is just as it ever was and my days are completely indiscernible from the days prior to his death.  These times are few and far between, yet I have noticed their duration apparently burgeons on a daily basis.  With each passing day I notice the constant pain that followed immediately after Rees’ passing seems to yield, ever so slightly, to a peace that no longer seems alien to me.  Unfortunately, that peace comes at a price…  All of the sudden, out of nowhere, I am reminded that Rees is gone and I feel that pain all over again and I find myself missing my little man.  It’s a pain that is indescribable and immeasurable.  Every time it happens, I lose my little boy all over again.  Every single time.

Nothing that I described is out of the ordinary for a parent that loses a child.  I know this pain will be a lifelong one, and I realize that what I am going through now is all a part of the grieving process, whose very job it is to ensure that I can go on functioning and be a productive member of society.  Even though I am aware of the process that grieving entails, I find it quite perplexing.  The whole process seems paradoxical in that its designed to heal you by taking things from you…  In the beginning of the process  you find yourself holding on to everything about your lost loved one’s life in a mad scramble reminiscent of someone trying to save a family heirloom from a fire.   Your brain overloads trying to process everything that person was in a vain hope to place it all in a safe location so that you may recall it at a later date.  As the days pass you start to wonder if you are already forgetting parts of their life with you as you face little moments where you accept the fact they are no longer here.  As time continues its inevitable march you stop worrying about holding onto those little things mostly because you start to fear you are forgetting the bigger picture.  Meanwhile, at the same time you find yourself going a greater amount of time without remembering or thinking about your loved one’s absence.  Before you know it, your life sets into a new routine in which that person is simply no longer a major part of your daily life, you accept it,  and  you enter what many call “The new normal”.

I hate the “New Normal”.  For me, it means that my life is in a place where I am supposed to be able to function as I used to, and for the most part I do.  The “new normal” is the place where your friends and family want you to be so that they no longer have to worry is he ok?  When the new normal is reached I think most people assume your life is back on track and you are ready to move forward and all is well.  The kid gloves come off and people expect that you are good to go.  This is really the hardest time in the entire process.  It is the time where the inner you wants to scream “NO!  I AM NOT OK!”, with the outer you belying any such notion.  It’s the time you find yourself crying for no reason in moments of solitude, and often times faking a smile to insulate those you care about from your pain.  I often refer to this phenonomenon as “the hidden me” – as almost no one knows that you are going through it at the time.  The end result of the “new normal” is that, in reality, a new YOU is made…

There definitely is a new me that came into existence on October 27th, 2012.  This new me is less brash, confident and social.  The new me has fears the old me would have laughed off as needless worries.  Recent events in my life which should elicit utter joy, have instead filled me a dread fueled by my knowledge that life can change in a nanosecond – and not everything can be fixed.  To my old self, the new me living in this “new normal” would appear to be a gross aberration of what I once was: broken and not quite “right”.  It’s like a shattered porcelain doll that once glued back together takes up the same physical space and form yet always feels broken due to all the cracks in its visage.  I often wonder how much my cracks are showing to those around me…

Not everything about the new me is a negative change however.  The events that transpired after Rees’ passing, both good and bad, placed me on the course I find myself on today.  I knew early on in this process that Samantha and I needed to do something positive lest we be consumed by our grief and despair.  I had the guidance of those who lost children before me to help steer my course and give me guidance.  I was aware of the challenges and keen to avoid the pitfalls.  It seems that, almost universally, parents who lose a child either transcend the loss with something positive or they fall into the abyss and never recover.  It is almost as if there is literally no middle ground in this situation.  The loss either allows you to magnify your virtues or your vices, never anything in-between.  I knew the course I had to follow and I believe that path was set by Rees.

I used to suffer from terrible night-terrors for years.  Night after night I would awaken from my sleep with an overwhelming fear of the presence of something “else” that was in the room watching me.  I never could place my finger on what it was, but in my stupefied state I seemed to have an awareness of it that faded when true consciousness returned to me.  Sam used to ask me what it was, and I never could explain it – almost like it was something that was just at the edge of my recollection.  Regardless of what the presence was (Sam used to joke it was the aliens from my homeworld that wanted me back), the feeling I got from it was always the same:  I did not succeed in what I was supposed to do and my time was nearing an end.  Often times I would awaken so startled from this experience I would jump out of bed and turn the lights on screaming unintelligibly back at “it”.  Sam would always calm me down and ease me back to sleep.  Of and on this happened for more than 10 years.

It all stopped a week after Rees died.  The last night terror I had was that night.  As I recall it started the same way, but this time there was a difference.  There was no nebulous presence, it was clear this time who it was: Rees.  He wasn’t my 22 month old Rees though, it was his spirit, his essence – his soul that was talking to me.  I remember seeing lights darting across my bedroom ceiling like electrical signals zipping across a circuit board.  I never saw Rees, I just “heard” him and saw these lights.  I remember reaching my hands up towards the ceiling at them, and I recall the message loud and clear:  “You know your path now, you know what you have to do.”  The commotion woke Sam up and she grabbed my outstretched arms and put them down.  She started talking me down like she always did, but this time I was calm.  This time I was at peace.  I told her what I saw, and that what we had talked about in regards to ReesSpecht life was the path we needed to follow and Rees wanted us to.  She never questioned it and though I know those lights and his voice was not there in the room for her to see, it was for me.  I don’t care if my brain was making all of that up – it was real to me and it was an affirmation of what we were about to do.

I am not a religous man.  I was raised Catholic but I do not practice any religion at all anymore.  I admit that at one point in my life I was a devout Atheist.  I did not believe in anything greater than that which I could observe.  That all started to change after my father passed away (Read Goodbye to see why).  Whatever doubt I had about something greater than me has since vaporized in the wake of Rees’ passing.  Too many things have occurred that I can not write off as merely coincidence.  I believe that Rees was put here by a higher power to change our lives.  I truly, deeply believe it.  I don’t care if people think I am crazy for that thought.  I believe it, it’s what drives my wife and I to do what we do, and in the end  that is all that matters.

A couple of weeks ago we received a really horrible message from someone who accused me of trying to capitalize off of Rees’ death.  She admonished my wife and I for doing what we do merely for a little boy “Who toddled off and drowned”.  To her, our loss was nothing compared to the loss that others have gone through and we seemingly had no right to do what we were doing because we simply did not experience the magnitude of loss that she apparently thought we needed to start something like this.  To her, and anyone else who would question why we are doing this, my answer is simple:  We believe it is what we need to do.  I believe in ReesSpecht Life and the kindness it promotes without any sense of doubt whatsoever because I feel there is something higher telling me this is what I was meant to do.  I don’t have anything empirical that backs this up, but then again that is precisely what faith is all about.  I may have my doubts about whether or not we will achieve our goals, but that is healthy.  Doubt fuels the fire of success.  Without doubt there would be nothing to strive for, because all would guaranteed.  My new normal has me in a place where I am a changed man with doubt; the difference is that doubt is countered by a faith a I never had before.  I miss my little boy… but I thank him every night for the faith he gave me that we can make this a better world, one Rees’  Piece at a time.




21 Responses

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  2. We r in the same terrible club. I lost my son Easton to a rare genetic disorder called Alpers Syndrome. He died 15 months ago and should be celebrating his 4th birthday in May. My wife and I are on the same journey – encouraging all parents to cherish the time with their kids and encouraging everyone to love for the sake of loving. We introduced the concept of taking an “Easton Time Out” to enjoy children and life. ETOs are spreading all over. Please join the Easton “superman” zanger Facebook page to see how a beautiful 2 1/2 year old curly haired little boy with amazing blue eyes has taught do many how to love.

  3. I truly believe that children who pass are one’s of a higher soul. They take all the effort to come here to teach many of us. Compassion, love and unity are just some things that come to mind. I agree with Erin sometimes people are hurting and are so angry that have misdirected negative energy. What you are doing is touching many people’s lives. I am down in Richmond, VA and your little Rees has touched my life. 🙂

  4. You are truly blessed to have “let in”something so beautiful, empowering and loving. Things happen for reasons we could not possibly understand. We don’t always get a glimpse of the “why”. Your son,may have , been given to you only for the short blessed period of time so that your bond would be strong enough to transcend time. Your love appears to have enabled you to start this amazing,truly uplifting,loving and much needed in today’s world ,”ReeaSpecht Life”. It is what I look forward to reading while I peruse through FB. I only post uplifting, inspiring things on my page because the world is harsh enough. I’m so very sorry about the loss of your son, but, so very grateful to the lemonade you have made. I believe you have found “the why” and although this could never replace your son, you are truly spreading goodness, light, joy,inspiration and a whole lotta love into this world. May peace and love continue to find you and your wife and THANK YOU so much for what you are doing

  5. Beautiful and heartfelt. You do not have to justify to anyone why you are doing what you are doing. The path is set for you, and this is where you are supposed to go. I remember another poster telling you that Rees chose you because he knew you would love him so much that you would be the perfect vehicle to spread his message. There are no coincidences. I am not religious, but I firmly believe this was part of a bigger design. What you are doing is changing the world, and what is true will always prevail. It trickles down to me changing my daily interactions with people. It reminds me to be kind, and go that extra mile to connect with people. It is great to see that positive impact and know it will spread the rest of the day through their interactions with others. That is exactly how we change the world. Nothing worthwhile is easy to do. Your Reeses pieces are all behind you. Bless you and your family ♥♥

  6. I have to write this after reading everything. God bless that person who wrote that letter, we all need to pray for them. What you are doing is the best thing an angel could show us! I heard about this baby boy at our dinner table on thanksgiving day with my family, my aunt read the card to us, we all had many tears , said a pray at the table holding hands and sending our love, as we all took the cards and asked for more. Bless you and your family. I love when I see you’d cards passing around. Make me feel there is hope in the world. Xxx

  7. Our family live with “the new normal” but not in the way you do. My son Matthew has an ABI he hamerorridged after having his tonsils removed and his heart stopped for 15 minutes, he is severely brain damaged he can’t walk,talk or even roll over in bed!!! It has been nearly 12 years, my other children have had a lot of lessons in life…. I think about you and your family often xxx

  8. My new normal has been around longer than my old normal. Thank you for putting into words what such great loss feels like inside.
    Keep pressing on, and love, love, love. It’s all about the love.

  9. The perfection, insight, faith, and vision put into humans is at its peak, I believe, when we are has a way of drawing it out of us as we grow old, a little bit at a time. It is amazing and thrilling to me that the bond you had with Rees enabled you to see and hear his little soul that night you awoke and heard his message. There are no coincidences, and because your vision and intention are pure…and come from a place of unconditional love for your me it is simply a matter of time before you achieve all of the goals you have set through your mission. Please have no doubts whatsoever..with Rees’ guidance and will succeed an continue impacting people with kindness all over the world for decades to that is something to hang your hats on each night..well done. ~ SPG

  10. I too have had two very big losses in my life. My 3 year old nephew Tristin Hart and my sons very best friend in the world since 2nd grade Liam Armstrong. There are people in this world that go through terrible tragedies and despite that, no BECAUSE of that they find a way to dig deep inside of there souls and create change in this world. I often wondered if I was doing it for the persons lost or for the ones left behind who struggle with there grief and despair. I realize after great reflection that we do it because that is who we are meant to be, and the ones we lost were special…. and maybe, no definitely their lives were gifts to be shared with others. It gives us meaning and reason to get out of bed, when maybe we just want to pull the covers over our heads. I can remember exactly where I was standing when I heard about the loss of your son Rees, I didn’t know you but I felt taken over by a feeling I had known all to well, it was how I felt when my Nephew Tristin passed away. There was no electricity due to the storm… and I just wanted to find a way to help you and your family, little did I know that you and your family would end up helping me. I have never come across more beautiful, vulnerable, honest people in my life. Your ability to share your journey with the rest of the world is a gift I do not believe you even realize. Rees IS making a difference one piece at a time because of your ability to share him and your mission with the rest of the world. You are the true hero Mr. Specht, and I Thank You for it.


    Susan Walsh

    • I agree with you .i think of Rees so often and all the love he gives us through you Mr and Mrs Specht

  11. Eastern religions believe that all souls come here to either teach or learn and obviously your little boy’s soul came to teach. I am sorry for your pain and suffering but the work you are doing is exactly what Reese came here for. Carry on and know that his spirit is always beside you and so very proud of his wonderful parents. <3

  12. You are the conduit for your little boy and the world. You will probably never know how much light you will bring or have brought to people everywhere….in your son’s name….he lives on in your actions that have spurred the best in people everywhere. Continue your writings, your works, and THANK YOU for sharing such very private feelings with all of us.

  13. I too, live with a “new normal.” While the details are different, the feelings you express are so familiar. I can’t even imagine the pain that woman has in her own life that she would lash out toward your family like that.

    • Erin, I am saddened to count you among our unfortunate fraternity 🙁 I hope you find peace and comfort – though I know, at least from my own perspective, there is a part of me that will never have total peace or comfort anymore. God bless you and your family.

  14. Your strength and determination to make the world a better place a piece at a time, in the name of your son amazes and inspires me.

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