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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7 Amazing Gift Ideas for Your Kids That Won’t Cost You a Dime

“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ― Amit Ray

I was enjoying getting lost in the large store, books piled high on every shelf. It seemed it didn’t have an end as I navigated my way through the vast categories of books.

As I sat perusing my fingers through some pages, I felt something staring at me.  I peered over the top of the pages, spotting a pair of eyes outlined with royal blue accompanied by an adorable little smile.   Dressed in black pants and a striped shirt, I noticed he had drawn a mask over his eyes with a blue sharpie. No doubt he had to trace it a few times to get the full effect.

Waiving softly, I mouthed hello and smiled.  His superhero face and mischievous grin warmed my heart. Instantly it took me back to those days when Lydia painted herself with make-up. The bright blue eyeshadow you couldn’t miss and the hot pink lipstick covering her mouth, chin and almost up to her nose, made you want to laugh. But she felt beautiful.

Wiping my eyes, I smiled in awe. So hard to believe she is gone.  Oh those years, what I wouldn’t give to rewind time and go back, just to have one more chance. To share those gut-busting giggles, kiss those sweet freckled cheeks, to build that snowman, to do it all again.

The days of our lives are fast and furious, passing by ever so quickly. Years fly by in a second, making us look back wondering where the time went.

You see my daughter Lydia, just turned fifteen and lives in heaven. She passed away when she was five. In hindsight, there’s so much I would do differently. When she was here, my focus wasn’t where it should have been.

Of course, I would want to shower her with gifts and all her favorite things, especially during Christmas, however, I have learned that that only brings temporary and superficial happiness as well as empty pockets.

Now as my daughter’s 15th birthday came and the holidays draw near, her absence is ever so present. My heart is heavy and tuned into to what matters most.

Take it from a mom who knows, here are 7 gift ideas for your children that don’t cost a dime.

7 Amazing Gift Ideas for Your Kids That Won’t Cost You a Dime

1. Give them your time.  Give those precious kiddos the last minutes before bedtime, the first minutes in the morning awakening them with hugs with wide open arms.  Take time to push them on the swings, play cards, or attend that special event.  Give them your undivided attention when you walk through that door from work, greeting them like they are the best gift ever, because they are!

2. Give them your ear. Listen to them.  Put down all the technology that we are chained to and really hear what your children are saying. Listen to the stories of their day, the drama with their friends, and the excitement about their activities.  Listen to their adorable giggles, what makes them smile and what hurts them.  They will forever be grateful for this.

3. Give them unconditional love. Tell them you love them daily, even when they mess up.  When they spill a bag of flour all over the kitchen floor, or when their grades are not as good as they should be, let them know how much they mean to you.  When they overflow the toilet or paint on walls, embrace their uniqueness and make sure they know they are special.  And when they get on your last nerve, take a deep breath, and be thankful that they are there alive, and always end every conflict with an “I love you.”

4. Give your kids the gift of teaching them about the true meaning of Christmas. It’s so easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of presents, shopping, and Santa Claus.  Let them know that Christmas is about love. Let them know they matter, that they were created for a reason and are beloved in the eyes of our heavenly father.   Show them and teach them that faith is everlasting and provides guiding principles for life.

5. Give them the gift of giving back.  Take them to volunteer at a homeless shelter, purchase a gift for a child in need, or other philanthropic acts, being sure to explain the challenges and difficulties so many endure.  Let them see life from a different perspective. And as a bonus for all you parents, your children will gain hearts filled with compassion for others, guaranteed.

6. Give your children the gift of gratitude.  As they learn to be thankful and grateful for everything they have in life, they will gain maturity, responsibility, opening their eyes to the value of hard work.

7. Give them encouragement. Make sure they know how proud you are of them. When they pass a test, get dressed by themselves, clean the house, or make the sports team, tell them how delighted you are. This will empower them with confidence and give them the courage to explore and try new things.

These seem so simple, yet they are gifts that I have neglected to give my children on many occasions. Things and times I have taken for granted, which have haunted me with regret.

I too have been guilty of showing my children with tangible gifts that go unappreciated time and time again, soon to be forgotten.  As parents, I know we all have.   So before you hit those sales in the stores, this year, I challenge you to give your children something they will never forget, making those memories that will remain with them forever.   Your heart will thank you and so will they.

Strengthening Faith Through Trials-My Goals For 2017

We had just spent three and a half hours on icy snow covered roads, listening to whining children, four of them to be exact, arguing with discontent in the back seat.  I personally, had had enough and was bursting to receive the freedom awaiting me, as my car pulled into the driveway. We were home.

We had left Christmas morning, after eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus and enjoying an unwrapping madhouse.  We corralled the kids and embarked to see my dad and brother who live a few hours north.

After enjoying a few days with family,  it didn’t take long to realize that children rapidly become exhausted from traveling, putting them off schedule.  In addition, road trips seem to plant wild seeds in them making them appear like undomesticated animals to others.  It was time to head home.

So happy to be home, I unlocked the door, walked into the kitchen and my ears were alerted to a loud, hissing, splashing sound coming from the next room.  Yep.  It was water spewing from a pipe, squirting up on the wall, and had created what appeared to have been a kiddie wading pool in our breakfast room.   Ahhhh  no!!  (Yeah, I may have screamed just a little bit.)

This led me to wonder, why….WHY?!   Why do these things always happen to me? It seems when I get one situation under control, another one is lurking in the corner waiting to pounce on me again.

I’m praying that 2017 will be the best year yet. I have to admit, I’m not sad to see 2016 go, as it hasn’t been my favorite.

2016 was a year of enormous loss, which had a big impact on my heart.  Three wonderful men, two father figures since childhood and my beloved grandfather were called home.

It was tough. The grief was heavy and loyal. It forced me to ponder this life a little more seriously, and connect with what matters. Life events, death, disasters, tragedy, even blessings and gifts occur every day, yet if we pay attention, they can be a catalyst to reveal what is most important.

And then my story of turmoil continued as just a month before it was the broken car, and during summer it was the damaged septic-unleashing sewage back into our basement, and now the flood of the year in our house.  Oh I’m sure there’s been a lot more, but these are the most prominent in my mind.

It all demanded time and money we didn’t have, leaving us struggling to find hope again.  It seemed we could never get ahead.

Insurance companies, water restoration guys, sewer repair bills, mechanic bills, it just kept piling on.

But why do we doubt? Why do we suffer? Our patience has been tested, our faith and emotions were checked.   I surely could have wallowed in self-pity for countless hours, however, that wasn’t going to be a viable solution.

1 Peter 4:1- So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose, patiently to suffer rather than to fail to please God.

But then I reassured myself, remembering we always have hope. God suffered for US.  His love is immeasurable. God has never failed us.  He has always taken care of us and shown His presence in difficult times.

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When I prayed for help with the sewer, it came.  When I prayed for a resolution to my vehicle problems, it came.  When I prayed for that work at home job, he opened the door and offered it.

And now, ruined floor, broken pipes and water damage throughout-He was there.  Living 100 miles from nowhere, the water restoration guys just happened to be in our tiny little town and were able to respond immediately, minimizing the damage.

As I worked in the basement, wearing my muck boots treading through inches of water, I found some devastation in the corner of the cellar.  Dripping water had flooded our storage room, saturating multiple boxes that hadn’t been unpacked since our move two years ago.

My eyes looked in fright as panic set in, remembering that Lydia’s belongings were in there.  This was all we had left of her…boxes of her clothes I had yet to go through, boxes of her artwork, photo albums of her every move, her shoes, her last bedspread, etc. Yet, in this moment I failed to remember our cherished memories.

I came across her hand and foot tree that she made in 2007 when she was four, her green handprints were now smeared and water had wedged itself under the glass frame, completely distorting this once precious treasure.  Lifting a soggy photo of Lydia and her brother, I crumbled to the ground and let the meltdown consume me.  My emotions took over and I was broken.  Again.

After the weepy storm had subsided, I realized I had been clinging to all of these “things”, certainly precious things, but they remained in boxes that I hadn’t seen them in years… And that wasn’t right.

I opened another dripping wet box, and pulled out the most beautiful gift.

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Tears instantly occupied my eyes, rolling down my cold cheeks. Overcome with emotion, I was made aware had this monstrosity not happened, I mostly likely wouldn’t have seen these. The strip of photos Lydia and I took in a photo both at the State fair all those years ago. Aww yes!! I remember it like it was yesterday. Priceless.  And they weren’t ruined!  Yes, it was time to open those boxes, de-clutter, restart my life and regain control. What a blessing waiting in the midst of this horrible mess.

Grief had caused me over the past eight to save everything, afraid of losing those memories .  Afraid to let go, I had acquired so much that it was overwhelming.

Clutter, possessions, some useless and others obviously irreplaceable, had been weighing me down.  An extra burden and load I didn’t need.

I constantly have to be aware of His presence and understand that my trivial problems, are just that, little compared to the struggles so many others are facing. Really-how could I even justify being so upset over a broken pipe?  In the grand scheme of things, I really don’t have anything to complain about. We all get so complacent and accustomed to a certain way of life, that when it is destroyed or disrupted, we automatically believe we deserve so much more and life as we know it, has ended. I’m so thankful for a much needed reality check.

Losing Lydia brought me to years of trials with friends, family, in my marriage, and in parenting as well.  Looking back over the past eight years since the accident, I can now see that every tangled mess, every shattered part, and every moment of grace and mercy, were pieces of a puzzle that fit together to form an exquisite masterpiece. He has picked up every piece and carefully placed each one with the next, restoring life and joy into this broken body, giving hope and healing to me and my family.  It is among the dark places of grief, pain, and sorrow that I found that God is nearest to us.

So, as I welcome 2017, I invite you to join me as I embark on a journey to simplify life while being acutely cognizant of God’s presence in my life, taking notice of life’s gifts bestowed upon us and making a life pleasing to Him.