My heart is with you all during this process.
My only suggestion is working hard on yourself in your interactions with Joey to keep the emotional tone as smooth as possible, no excessive highs or lows, while also allowing yourself to be true as well. “A new normal” was the most striking phrase I saw here in the comments. He may need a little extra space to process. Also watch within yourself that Joey not become an emotional crutch that you lean on, lest he begin to feel that “he’s the man of the house now” and must emotionally support you in a more dependency role.
“You’re my best friend” can be a strong message for a son to get from his mother. And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that; I have a best friends relationship with my mother and was raised by her alone – at the same time, it can be hindering at times as well.
Seek outside therapy if you don’t already have some, both together and separately if you can, through the process. You’re in center stage and objectivity will be difficult through the process.
Most importantly, you’re not going to everything right. You can’t. It’s impossible. Forgive yourself every single day because you *will* make mistakes. You *will* say the wrong things and you *will* do things that you later kick yourself for.
All is normal and you are human and never forget that. You are strong and Joey comes from strong stock. Forgive yourself, make amends when you feel it is necessary. There’s no perfect way except for one; the way that is true for you.
It may sometimes feel like a lonely road you are taking, because it *is* a lonely road that you are taking; you have to do what you can, from wakeup to sleep in each and every moment that there is, to decide what to say, how to think, how to feel, wade through the static of uncertainty and doubt and attempt to foresee and construct the future based on what you know of in the past. Yet, as hard as we try to follow patterns and make decisions moment to moment, the future is entirely unforeseeable ultimately; like driving a car forwards and trying to decide “What’s coming up next” based on what you see in the rearview mirror only.
You’re going into unfamiliar territory.
Prophets are few and scarce. The future is a frighting place because our glimpses are limited.
But you have you. Joey is in your care. You are in Joey’s care. You have good friends. You have a strong support network. They can help carry your weight and lighten your burden. Yes the road you walk is yours alone, as your life and path is unique to you, yet you are not alone. We’re all walking beside you. Our hearts are with you and Joey.
The webs of friendship are very real and we’re all rooting you on. You are strong and yes you can. I wish I had better advice than this but I hope something in here is useful. If nothing else, know that I’m thinking of you two and have run out of things to say for a change