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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A Look Back..Seven Years Ago

 

Today marks nine years since Lydia departed to heaven. I found this blog post I wrote a couple of years ago and wanted to share.    Thinking of all of you grieving hearts and sending prayers of peace and love. Hope is just around the corner.

 

My travels last weekend brought me through another five hours alone with four kids in the car. By the time we got back home, let’s just say I was exhausted, drained, and tempted to sell my little monsters to the troll under the next bridge. How can such beautiful blessings pick on your last nerve sometimes? Well with the screaming, whining, pinching, teasing, and Cheerios flying through the air… it happens!

We had a good few days on our travels, making it to the beach for the first day. Of course I told the kids not to get soaking wet in the ocean before dinner, only get wet to their knees. Well, I should have known. That worked for about a minute and before I could stop them they were rolling in the sand and water, completely drenched and laughing loudly. The smiles were priceless. How could I ruin the fun?

www.grievinggumdrops.com

The next day we traveled on to our nieces wedding. On our way there we had the privilege of stopping by the annual picnic held by The Compassionate Friends, the same group we started with so many years ago. Seeing these familiar faces was heartwarming. It was fun going down memory lane and seeing how our lives have changed so much since we first met them. These people understood. They did not judge us that day we walked into our first meeting engulfed in sorrow and deep grief, barely able to speak our daughter’s name. They have seen us at our darkest and worst times and also at our best. We were so thankful to reunite with them and talk about our children with those who are also along this journey.

A favorite part of these gatherings are the balloon releases, especially for the kids. It touched me deeply to see my boys writing on balloons sweet messages for their sister. And after the balloons were let go…my oldest succumbed to the emotions, hugging me and burying his head in my shirt, tears flowing freely as he said, “I really miss Lydia.”

www.grievinggumdrops.com

www.grievinggumdrops.com

Needless to say, it broke my heart again, tearing open those wounds that time had patched together. Seeing your child feel the pain of grief is so incredibly difficult. Brings tears to my eyes just talking about it. I so wish I could take his pain away. Yet it was a beautiful moment and expression of love.

After the picnic we headed to the wedding, our spirits full of memories and eager to witness such a magnificent union. The grassy field made a perfect setting for such an event. Simple and colorful, not too hot, calm and peaceful. In the barn as we walked to find some water to quench our thirst, my husband and I came across a table.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

Catching me off guard, I was not expecting to see a picture of Lydia on that table that brought instant waterworks to my eyes and a lump in my throat. It meant the world to me that our sweet niece remembered her and wanted to honor her life in such a way. I felt grateful to be her mother, yet also experienced that profound ache that lives deep inside me rise quickly to the surface.

How had time gone by so quickly?

Today it has been seven years.

Seven LONG years since I have held you in my arms, smelled your sweet scent and looked into your big blue sparkling eyes.

How can that be?

Strange that it can seem like only yesterday we were shopping and enjoying our regular trips to Starbucks for hot chocolate and bagels.

And then it was all taken away in an instant. No more playing Barbie’s, no more arguing over the TV remote, no more painting our nails together, no more dress up, no more late night snuggles and sleepovers.

It’s not been easy. Even after all these years, when I slow down and look at your pictures, that deep love comes pouring out. That scar gets torn open bringing back the reminders of the brokenness and what I have missed.

I see a strawberry blonde little girl and stop to take a second glance thinking it might be you. I see a little girl wearing the same dress and it still brings me to tears.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

Seven years of silent loneliness and deep penetrating heartache, envying those around me who have all their children…Yet, I was so thankful to be your mom and still am. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

You’d be twelve now……What I would give to hear your voice just one more time.

We went from a family of four down to three in a mere second….and then with the blessings from above, back to four, rapidly to five and then surprisingly six. But in reality, we are a family of seven. I am blessed beyond measure. Being the mom of five unique and boisterous children is completely awesome.

You have transformed my life in so many ways and opened my eyes to a world I could never imagine. I am older and wiser. It may sound strange, but being given this gift of grief and the excruciating pain has made me a better person. It made me real. Now, I am able to see with eyes of compassion deep into the soul, experiencing the real emotions in life knowing what is most important. I was living, but not really until I experienced the tragedy of my child dying. It revealed who I was deep inside, giving me a great appreciation for my faith, family, friends and the simple blessings of every day life.

Life is a gift. Every single day.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

Forever in my heart.

Kind Words and the Impact of an Extraordinary Nurse

These stories never get old.  Sharing one dear to my heart in honor of National  Nurses Week.

Hearing of parents mourning the loss of their children due to sudden and traumatic ways, brings back vivid memories to me, knowing the helpless feeling all too well.    The devastating losses of others, is was a strong reminder about how fragile life is. My heart just breaks knowing that dark and hopeless pain that newly grieving families experience.   Grief is a such lonely feeling.

There are no words for the unimaginable. Never in a million years would I have dreamed this would have happened to my daughter or my family, forever changing our lives. No one would ever be the same.

It made me think back to those early days after losing Lydia and what helped me through. Who did God place in my life at the right time?  Eight years ago, it never even occurred to me that I could lose a child. I mean, I always knew about life and death, but such accidents and tragedies didn’t happen to people like me, or people I know.  It just didn’t happen.

Well, news flash. It DOES happen and we never know when, where, or sometimes why.  There is no way to prepare for the heartbreak and devastation that accompanies loss.  In hindsight, I clearly see God’s workers; angels that were placed in my life at the right moments.

One being a special nurse who was by my side at the hospital that life changing day- July 16, 2008.  The day my life was forever divided into before and after.

A few months after the accident, I returned to work.  Waiting for me in my mailbox, was a pretty baby blue envelope addressed with my name on it.  My heart was apprehensive and cautious as I opened it and read the first few words…

”I am so sorry for your loss.  My heart broke for you that day and I will never forget you and the pain you and your family are going thru. That day changed my life, my nursing approach and my realization that life is not fair.“  

It was from one of the ER nurses that was with me. Although I do not remember who she was, she was there. She remembered me. She treated my injuries, listened to my horrible screams when I received the news, and cared enough to send that card.

Immediately, the tears of sorrow began.  For the next few months, I would open it up first thing when I arrived at work daily reading those words which would resonate within me the entire day.

This letter I kept in my purse for five years. Yes- five years, reading it at just the right moments when I needed to feel that someone cared and that it mattered.

It was those times where I wanted to give up but needed some encouragement and hear that someone else’s life was impacted by my loss-my daughter’s death.  Now, having been working on writing my memoir, it came to me a few months ago.

I need to write to this woman to thank her for her compassion and simple words that meant so much and kept me going when I struggled to continue.

Not speaking to her or seeing her since that horrific day, I knew I must contact her to let her know how much that card had meant and still means to me to this day.

So I wrote a letter to her, thanking her for her compassion and told her of the immense impact her thoughtfulness and kind words had on me.

I didn’t know if she still lived at return address that was on the envelope, after all five years is a long time. Well, after about six weeks, I received an email from her. She had gotten my letter, however, it was not an easy journey.  She had moved a couple of years earlier and due to the kindness of the others, the letter was forwarded to her at her new residence.

She was so happy to hear from me and stated that she often wondered how I was doing. Her life was different now, but she was doing well.  She was pleased to hear of the amazing blessings that have come into my life since then, which showed her the power a little hope can bring.

Maybe we will meet again one day, but for now, we will exchange kind words, holiday cards and life stories.  I am so thankful that she will be contributing to my memoir by sharing her experience with me that devastating day.  After reading her recent email which illustrated my daughter’s death from her point of view, a nurse tending to a mother’s tragedy-it pierced my heart and was difficult to read, yet filled my soul with God’s love.   Here’s a brief excerpt of her words

“I will NEVER forget the horrifying sound of Daphne crying over the loss of her daughter Lydia. Still to this day, I cry when I think of it. It broke my heart! I still remember her wheeling out to go home from the ED and her head was down and I felt such pain and sorrow for her.  I mailed Daphne a card shortly after. I had never done that before to a patient. Maybe it is because I had never been so moved emotionally before like I was with Daphne. I was a newer mom with a 1 year old. I had fertility issues and wanted my child so badly and went thru a lot to have her. I kept thinking that I could never live with the pain I somehow felt she was living with, by the loss of her daughter. “

While we may never realize, it’s pretty incredible how our experiences can impact others. Hearing her side put everything into perspective.  It wasn’t only about me.

I cannot emphasize enough, the  importance of people like this extraordinary nurse.  Please pray for those who are the first responders, the officers at the scene, paramedics, firemen, emergency room workers, chaplains and more. For these are truly God’s workers who serve others with all their heart. The situations they face day after day, is no small feat. Heroes they are so deserving of our gratitude.

Consider the power and impact that a few words can make in someone’s life. Go the extra mile. Take the time to send that card, email, or quick note.  It could be the difference they have been waiting for and forever change the course of their life.