A Day in the Life of a Grieving Mother

I woke up this morning and sat up on my bed, legs dangling towards the floor.  The heaviness of my eyes was overwhelming. I was exhausted, yet weirdly refreshed and thankful to find that the stinging of my bloodshot eyes had subsided after a few hours sleep.

My mind didn’t waste any time reminding me of how I felt when I laid down those short few hours ago.

Sad. Heartbroken.

As I got up, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of my heart that laid conspicuously on the pink flannel pillowcase. Black mascara decorated the top, providing me proof of the love that was shed. The fragile threads that mended my broken heart had torn apart, the years of love and sorrow finally freed. Again.

It had been a while, months since I had succumb to those persistent and pesky dog pile of emotions.

Yet they come, sure as the morning sun.  Learning to accept and live with them is difficult, yet over the years, I have learned to embrace these precious moments.

The ten years have passed by so fast. How can that be? Ten long years without my little girl.  Without hearing her giggle, tucking her in, and watching her grow.

What would she be doing today? Lounging around like most 16 year olds, getting her driver’s license, sleeping in on a warm summer morning? Arguing with her brother, or would she be tending to her lamb or eager to get to volleyball practice?

The pain is indescribable. But when I try, I can tell you that it feels so heavy and it’s difficult to breathe. When you want to talk with her, hold her, tell her you love her and all you can do is mutter the words and fall into your pillow sobbing in disbelief.

What triggered it this time? Was it that her birthday is tomorrow? Was it while we were out on a Saturday night and I overheard a mom say, “would you like this sis? Come sit down sissy.”

Ahhhh.

My sweet sissy.  I haven’t said that word in ten years.  The name that is etched in her headstone, Lydia’s nickname, “Sissy.”

Instantly, she flashed before me and I could see her strawberry blonde hair blowing in the wind as she twirled joyfully in her purple sundress giggling, looking like the picturesque poster of childhood.  So innocent and happy.

Holding my breath as my eyes welled up, I shook my head, turned and walked away.

How did this happen? Why did this happen to me?

I cry and cry. Why do we feel so much pain after all these years?

I just want to wrap my arms around her tightly, see her smile and tell her I love her.

One more time.

Five years, seven months, and 19 days just wasn’t long enough.

My mind finds it hard to fathom life without her now, attempting to piece together the two worlds in which I remain a permanent resident.

When I’m alone for the night while on a work trip or at home, what do I do?  I try to make sense of my life before and after and it’s almost predictable that tears will fall.

Silence and solidarity brings me to a place of reality.

My emotions overwhelm me. Being alone forces me to engage those pent up feelings, letting them run rampant without interruption, allowing me to be present in the moment.  So I weep and sob some more.

I talk to her and tell her I love her and how much I miss her.  How I miss her messy bedroom, boogers she left above her headboard, and her beautiful artwork that decorated the house.

I am immensely grateful current life yet still quietly yearn for my old life. I miss her being here, when life was simple, happy and free of heartbreak.  When I didn’t have to worry about grief, or her grave, or about all the years of events and triggers that seek to ravage my soul reminding me of what used to be.

Am I weak? No.

Shouldn’t I be over this by now, after all it’s been ten years?  Absolutely some would think so, but the real answer is no.  I will never get over it.

Am I strange? No.

Weird?  No.

When my faucet runs dry, I lay my head on the pillow, taking a deep breath and exhaling while clutching my bible.

Strangely I feel a bit better.  Over the years, I’ve learned that nothing or no one can comfort me like Jesus.

I am silently reminded that we are meant for so much more in this world that to hold onto heartbreak and pain.  Could I sit and wallow in my pain and loss for the distant future? Without a doubt. However, I know my sweet girl would not want this, nor does our amazing God.  Our time here is limited and our capacity to experience the complex feelings that come with deep love is a remarkable gift.

The hope we have been given shines light into those dark places of my soul.  I can rest in hope knowing that beauty will come from the tragedy of my daughter’s death and one day we will be reunited.  Until then, I wait faithfully with perseverance.

Romans 8:24-25: “In hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

 

 

 

Photo credit: Unsplash @davidwhitephotography

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How I Heard God on a Sunday Morning

Do you every wonder if God is there? If He really hears what’s in your heart?  I just had to share this morning how God was speaking to me.

My first clue was the dream I had last night.  It was the most amazing.  So here it is……I found it easier to write it in form of a letter to Lydia.

 

I found you singing in your room with your pink microphone, ever so softly and sweetly, of course you were dressed in pigtails and mismatched clothes.

“Lydia?” I said in disbelief. “Is it you?” You glanced at me with that sweet little smile and those piercing blue eyes. It really was you.

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I ran and picked you up in my arms squeezing you so tightly.  You were beautiful.  I got to hear your voice. Something I was so afraid of forgetting.   Blonde hair and pigtails, you looked just like before. Soft skin, adorable giggles.  Your Strawberry Shortcake pillow was there too, laying in my closet, just the like the matching blanket I have on the bed.

You never left the bedroom, so I rushed out to get your brother so he could see you once again, hoping you wouldn’t leave. Grabbing him by the hand, we ran back to you. As we entered the room, you smiled so big and continued singing, with your great grandma sitting next to you. You were both smiling and laughing-clearly full of joy. Oh I love you so much sweet pea.  And then, I kept hearing.   “I am alive. Just believe.  I’m always here.”

Whoa.

What gift God gave me this Sunday morning. It had been forever since I had a dream of Lydia. Seriously, it must have been well over a year. Was it real? I didn’t want to forget. I tried desperately to go back to sleep to find her again. Regrettably, I was awake and there was no going back.

Why does it always happened like this?  He allows us little glimpses and then we are forced back to reality.

Once awake, I let it all soak in. Feeling content, I glanced over at my phone and a new notification popped up, telling me of a new memory today of portraits over the years.  It’s a slideshow the phone somehow puts together and notified me of this morning.  Strangely, I don’t recall receiving one of these before.  As I pushed play, photos of my second daughter in the past years rotated.  My heart warmed with gratitude as I watched photos of my precious Sadie, the rainbow little girl He had given me.

Looking at the pictures, I became overwhelmed with love and thankfulness. God has given me another chance to love a different daughter. What a gift.  It’s as if I was subtlety being told that it’s okay.  Lydia is at peace and okay, but here on earth I have this wonderful other daughter to love and grow with.  Incredible really.

Blessed and grateful I am this morning. And then…..

Something prodded me to check my email for the daily bible verse. I get them in abundance in my email, but rarely read them every day.  Today was different, and I knew I must open it.

Staring at me was the verse John 7:37-

Eagerly, I turned to my bible and there it was.

37: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”   38: He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Amazing.  It was the promise of the Holy Spirit in today’s scripture.  Reminding me, and I’m reminding you…that we must Go to HIM,…Not anyone else, but Go to Him and we will be satisfied…He will meet our needs like nothing else.

When we are thirsty, when we get that crave for coffee, energy drinks, soda, alcohol or even bottled water, we lunge for the superficial instant gratification.  We too often reach for these temporary physical quenchers, yet they do nothing for our spiritual thirst.   We can search and search trying to satisfy our inner needs, yet, in all reality, to improve the quality of our lives, we must be still and seek Him.  Quit the façade.  Quit diluting and distracting ourselves with people and activities as we perfect the art of avoidance so we don’t have to feel the pain and sadness life can bring.

We must dust off those bibles that sit near our beds unopened for months.  We must be vulnerable, exposing out hurting hearts and imperfections to Him, as only He can bring healing and wholeness to our lives, filling the emptiness in our souls.

The key word is come. We must come to him and He will meet us there. He will be there waiting. Meet him, seek him and he will quench our thirst. We need to acknowledge our need for Christ, extinguishing all self-reliance by opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit, welcoming peace and love on an entire new level.

Be reminded, He suffered and died for us. He is alive and with us in every moment. He knows and understands our weaknesses.  When we are feeling down, when our souls need replenished, just go to Him and he will satisfy our aching hearts.

Talk about powerful. He was speaking to me in so many ways this morning, it was wild.

The promise of the Holy Spirit…

Isaiah 58:11  

And the lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

As our faith strengthens and we grow closer to God, our eyes will be opened to His blessings. Some days I’m too self-absorbed to notice, but today it was vivid and clear.  I knew I must share these little glimpses of God.   May you all find God’s presence with you this week.

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!

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