Independence Day Pastimes-Riding the Grief Waves

Sharing again, a post I wrote two years ago….

July.

It’s here. Bittersweet. It’s a sweet month for our nation, one in which we should all give thanks.  Yet on the other hand, for me, its sharpness once again caught me by surprise, saturating my soul and wetting my face with the painful sting of how life used to be.

We had always engaged in Independence Day activities in our old town, barbeques and picnics, fun for the entire family. As the children’s parade began, hundreds of little ones dressed in their patriotic colors as they walked and rode their bikes, waving and smiling in sheer delight.  My mind flashed back to Independence Day 8 years ago, as Lydia rode in the same parade, eager to throw candy and take in the festivities. She rode in a toy jeep with her best friend, dressed in her white and red star covered shirt strawberry blonde pigtails blowing in the wind, grinning from ear to ear. It was so real.  I could see her innocent, happy smile and hear her contagious laughter.  Clearly, she was enjoying every minute of it and so was I.

Just then, the swarm of children came fast and forceful. Lots of giggles, shouts and squeals of delight filled the air.   Upon first sight of this chaotic and beautiful display, I swallowed the lump in my throat as I looked around. I saw families making memories, parents tending to unruly children, people laughing taking candid photos, and smiling faces covered in colorful snow cones.

I wiped the tears…

And then I saw one little girl who was in Lydia’s dance class, who suddenly wasn’t so little anymore.  Had it really been that long ago? The petite little girl who used to dress in leotards and twirl in pink tutus was now a grown teenager.  Shortly behind her, a lady I hadn’t seen in years. Her mother. The compassionate woman who came to my house to sit with me days after Lydia died.

Hot tears fell down my cheeks.

So much remains cloudy about that time, but the vivid memory of her coming to see my husband and I, is one I will never forget. She didn’t come with traditional gifts or cards or casseroles, she came to just BE with us. She sat close to me, one arm stretched out on the back of the couch behind my head for what seemed like hours, gently rubbing my shoulders and rarely saying a word.  She was there. Present in that moment which meant more to me than she will ever know.

Seeing her daughter so beautiful, tall and grown up was tremendously difficult.  My mind told me how it wasn’t fair.  My heart broke for what would never be.  Secretly, I sobbed, desperately longing to see my daughter grown and experiencing the joys of this annual event.

I attempted to conceal my sadness, wiping away the tears underneath my eyes, before someone could see me, quickly readjusting my sun glasses hoping no one would notice.

And just like that, the moment was gone.

The memories remained and I embraced the craziness and incomprehensible thoughts of how my life was forever now divided into the before and after of July 16, 2008.  My mind scrambled to make sense of millions of racing thoughts about my journey past and present.

Wondering how I got to where I am today, I put on my best face and pressed on, one moment at a time.  I looked at my children there that day. Seeing their excitement and happiness brought me to a place of peace and contentment.   Out of my tragedy came three new vivacious little lives, to nurture, love and raise.  Incredible. It’s never an easy road to tow, having a giant void deep in my heart. Although I may not have all the answers or understand why things happen, it’s the hand I have been dealt. So I press on. I am thankful for God’s grace, strength and ability to find gratitude in each new day. Gratitude. One secret to living life after loss.

Wishing you all a blessed day!

www.grievinggumdrops.com

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Finding Hidden Blessings While Reminiscing Down Roads of Years Past

Life the past few weeks has been a bit chaotic, so I guess normal you could say! I’ve been working on a few projects and tending to my herd, so writing has taken a backseat yet again. I’ve fallen behind but all I can do, is simply all I can do. Here are a few highlights and more from the heart.

It started off last week with a wild morning at work.
I wanted to warm up my hot chocolate, so I plugged in the microwave that we had just moved into our office. Strangely, it was not plugged in, I thought to myself. I pushed the popcorn button just to see if it worked. I then went back to the pile of papers on my desk, got distracted giving me a momentary lapse of memory. It wasn’t one minute before I smelled smoke and observed gray matter escaping from the red little appliance. I jumped up and walked over to it just as flames erupted inside. BIG flames. In a state of panic, I opened the door to see what was left of the paper microwave manual, flames rapidly burning as it left a trail of black dust. I grabbed my cold hot chocolate, tore off the lid and threw it into the fire. It wasn’t enough to stop the flames, so I ran down the hallway to the bathroom to fill a cup of water. Finally, that seemed to seal the deal, however, the remnants of smoke lingered all day and proved to be quite the conversation piece for clients.

Yes, pretty ridiculous it was. Again, why do these things always happen to me?

The days continued on. Later in the week my critters were overly active leaving trails of evidence everywhere I turned. Aside from my little guy leaving evidence of his love for butter, finding the nasty banana peel in the tea towel drawer, nearly tripping over the robbed piggy bank in front of my bedroom closet, and driving around with Clifford the big red dog on top of my car for days, things were good. www.grievinggumdrops.com

Except…

Would you believe that the flash drive my book manuscript was saved on acquired a virus of some sort, leaving the entire thing wiped clean? Yeah, another nightmare happened not too long ago. Panicked, I would try to salvage and recover my documents with no success. My heart sank. Years of thoughts and emotions combined with hundreds of pages was gone. Thankfully, my intuition told me to print it off two weeks prior to review so I didn’t lose it completely, just had to undergo hours of re-typing, making the loss a lot less severe. Thank you God!

Next, we geared up and took another trip across the state so my oldest could get his braces off and the retainer on. Six of us piled in the family truckster packed to the ceiling for five days. With lots planned, we acquired some soul-searching moments along the way.

It began with a visit to the kid’s old preschool teacher and daycare provider. Twelve years ago I randomly found her in the phone book, in search of care for Lydia and her siblings that would arrive years later. Upon our first visit, I found her to be incredible. Seemingly too good to be true. But as divine circumstance would happen, she would come to be the most extraordinary person playing such an influential and essential role in the life of our family. Having not seen her for years, it was wonderful to visit and feel the love and compassion that I had felt many years ago walking into her home for the first time.

As we arrived Friday morning, the memories came rushing back. The brightly colored walls of the pre-school couldn’t help but make me smile. Children’s artwork decorated the space showing an immense love for these little beings. Instantly, my mind was in rewind mode as I could see Lydia playing with her friends, bossing them around and leading the pack. I saw her big blue eyes looking out the window at me as I left the driveway on my way to work as she peered through the window on her toes. I saw her hugging her little brother, consoling him so he wouldn’t cry as I left. Self-assured and loving, she was a comfort to many. The necklace she made her teacher hanging on the wall, still there to this day, as was the pink and purple butterfly sticker, speaking those words “In memory of Lydia Marie,” prominently displayed for all to see. My eyes welled up with tears as the years of warm thoughts filled the depths of my core.

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How was it that I left my most precious beings in the care of another person? At the time for all those years, I didn’t realize exactly the importance of the time I had with my children. The guilt from being a working mother often haunted me…What they say is true…you never regret spending more time with family, but you will always regret spending time at work. I quickly learned it was precious time you can never get back.

Our weekend plugged along as we visited the pumpkin patch we had loved as a family for seasons. Messy corn mazes, bumpy hay rides, caramel apples, warm apple cider donuts, and picking out the perfect orange pumpkins is always a favorite time. Lydia was with us, maybe not physically but in our hearts she was right alongside.

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Loving the pumpkin patch!

And then, another bittersweet moment captured me as I took my daughter to get her ears pierced. She is nearly five, and approaching that age that Lydia was when she passed away. My thoughts were in overdrive reminding me that Lydia always wanted to get her ears pierced, yet I didn’t think she was old enough and was making her wait until some magical date that I really had no clue of.

Something I heavily regret to this day. What was the big deal?

She loved trips to the mall, which housed the exciting, fun and enticing jewelry store and nearly always resulted in her picking out her latest bright-colored head band and bracelets. Excursions to the mall in Lydia’s day were usually accompanied by a brief stop by the coffee stand for hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll on the way home. Always a good time.

So with my heart leading the way, we decided there was no time like the present to get some sparkling jewels in those cute little ears. My sweet little girl was beaming. When it was over, my heart sank as I felt a sense of accomplishment, yet failure. Failure from the reminder of all the things Lydia and I never had the chance to do.

It didn’t take me long to push those destructive and undesirable thoughts aside and savor the moment. My girl was adorable in her sparkly rainbow flower earrings and I was so thankful to be able to share that moment with her.
And so, in brief and priceless times like these I silently count my blessings and proudly thank God for all He has given me.

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Perfectly Imperfect!

I’ve been working on some blog posts, but it has definitely been challenging to finish them due to the crazy days I experience. I’m also trying to pack for our trip tomorrow, but with no success.  Here’s a snapshot into today which is just like any normal day!

It started early in the morning…got out of bed, walked to the porch to get some wood when I smelled something not too pleasing, looked but couldn’t find the source, then suddenly felt my sock squish into a little surprise my adorable dog had left… It was awful..I think grandma forgot she’s only allowed dry food!

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Came back in, started a load of laundry, made breakfast for the kids,(ended up with a heart-shaped sausage which was fun),  did some cleaning and walked back into the living room, minding my own business and stepped directly on an upside down baby dinosaur sending a sharp pain right through the center of my foot.  It seems the two-year old had emptied the basket of plastic animals while I was out of the room…. After wanting to scream with anguish and frustration, I took a deep breath, telling myself..”it’s gonna be okay, not the end of the world…,”  but seriously…it felt like it was….

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And then, lunch time. I made macaroni and cheese for the kids and of course I lost the cheese packet…no clue where it went, so plain noodles and butter it was….(thank goodness my kids are so accepting!)

After lunch my daughter and I made chocolate chip cookies….The first batch was perfect and without fail, the second batch not so much…quite crispy and a beautiful shade of dark brown, as I got side tracked and forgot about them….

Finally, right before dark, I was summoned to the garage to extract a shoe that flew off in an attempt to drop kick a soccer ball, landing directly in the center of the roof…..I’m so thankful for strong kids and sturdy ladders….

And then it gets better…I’m so tired I didn’t realize I pushed publish instead of save draft on this blog post when it wasn’t finished!  Aww man.. Lol!..Sorry if it shows up twice..happens to the best of us!     🙂

“Life is good today!” -Zac Brown Band    🙂

 

So, now onto our great weekend to bring some joy to children in need!  Remembering Lydia and throwing some birthday parties always brings a smile to my face, leaving the stress and chaos behind!

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May you all have a peaceful weekend….

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