A Letter to the Mother I Never Wanted to Be

We mothers will never forget those precious moments when we held our children in our arms for the very first time. We cuddled our babies, sniffing these little miracles swaddled in blankets as we stared in awe of what we have just experienced.  Overflowing with unconditional love for our children, our hearts are forever changed. We would instantly sacrifice our own lives for these blessings from above. Our minds are etched with memories that eternally transform us from the inside out.

To be a mother. The most difficult job on earth but the most rewarding.  A job we fantasized about as children ourselves, never imagining the possibility of how a little being would change our lives, never once considering life without our children as we are caught up in explicit joy, when life couldn’t be more perfect.  We map out all of our children’s milestones and birthdays, planning for a successful and blissful future, down to the last detail.

Then suddenly without warning the day comes when circumstance out of our control happen and our child’s time here is over, forcing us to say goodbye. What? No one tells you this is even a possibility when your child is born.  Would that alter our perspective on wanting to be mothers? Would the pain be too much to bear, diverting us from embarking on such a journey?  Possibly.

Yet, no matter how long our children stay with us on earth, we are mothers forever and our souls are permanently changed.

We often lose ourselves as we are submerged in deep grief.  The connection with our souls and outside world is severed and we board the unpredictable emotional roller coaster for the rest of our lives.  We regulate the bundle of tears that lies just beneath the surface, waiting to flow when we are pierced with moments of sorrow.

We are unrecognizable from the mothers we used to be. We struggle to find ourselves in our new, and unfathomable journey, wondering why this had to happen to us.

Who are we? Honestly, I’m not sure. We know we are still mothers, however, we have become mothers we never wanted to be.  Mothers, who if honest would tell you the last time we cried was in the darkness of night just a few hours earlier.  A mother who keeps silent the internal struggles she faces as the sun rises every day knowing her child is not in her arms.

We long to remember how it physically felt to hold our children and their unique sweet scent we would give anything to smell again.

We retreat from the activities and events of others with children the same age, ridden with secret jealousy as we hide from the realization that our children will never get to experience such wonderful times.

Our Saturday nights turn from dinners with friends and social engagements to sitting in our pajamas wrapped in blankets on our beds frantically searching for online support, desperate to share our children and find someone who can be with us in our moment.

We madly try to erase those vivid images of our children’s last moments, those casket bearing pictures of unbelievable traumas that couldn’t possibly have been real.

We are mothers who have lost their motivation for life, who have become self-critics rehashing everything they should have done differently, obsessed in guilt.  Mothers who are vulnerable and afraid of the future.

This was the mom I was in my early years of grief.

Yet after ten years, she’s not afraid anymore.  She has grown in ways she never believed possible, living outside her comfort zone for so long.  How was it possible to live so long as a bereaved mother when we could barely breathe, believing we would never make it one day, let alone months or years?

There is no hiding our true self. We have less tolerance for the mundane and superficial things in life. We learn to be honest with ourselves opening our eyes to the beauty of being alive and the capacity to love unconditionally as we’ve known devastating loss.

We are talented and inherently blessed as we balance life in two worlds, embracing the pain of our past, while carrying our children with us into this uncertain future.  Bereaved mothers think of their children first thing in the morning and before their eyes close at night.

We walk blindly in faith, one day at a time, clinging to one another and the only hope we can find. We are lead on a destination of self-discovery and purpose, evaluating where we’ve been and where we are going, tossing aside our imperfections. Knowing the value of each breath, we navigate through the intricate weave of life’s delicate threads possessing heavy wisdom beyond anything imaginable. In due time, we will come to a place again of self- love and happiness.

We get it. Loss has ignited a passion for life a place to thrive while we’re waiting to for that ultimate reunion. We strive boldly to honor our loved ones while bursting with compassion and a vigorous drive to serve others.

The strength of a grieving mother is enormous.  As we unite, we create a place where life is real and pain is palpable, yet hope and faith dominate. Differences are washed away and we are transformed into super heroes without even being aware.  God holds us up.

United in loss, stronger together. We can do this.

Advertisements

The Ultimate Revelation of Faith

I didn’t really fathom the enormity of the meaning of Easter until after Lydia died, my adorable five-year old baby girl.   I knew absolutely nothing about death until July 16, 2008.  Prior to that, it was elusive to me. It was terrifying, and something I shied away from in every conversation that arose.

Death was dark, gloomy, heavy and emotional. I didn’t have time for that, nor did I want to acknowledge that it even existed.  My superficial protection and avoidance tactics took hold. I was happy and safe in my little bubble.

Then life suddenly changed. One beautiful summer morning, on our way to daycare, my own daughter died.   How was that even possible? My world was shattered in an instant. I was in shock. Things like this didn’t happen to people like me, so I thought.

Undeserving, guilt ridden, shameful-that was the new me.  The cloak of despair was heavy and unrelenting. I endured perpetual days packed with hopelessness and sorrow.  I just couldn’t comprehend that I was of any worth at all, as I had failed as a parent.

Those first weeks and months, I could barely breathe. My body was will filled with panic, as I tried desperately to grasp this horrible realty, while endlessly searching to find my girl. It’s a feeling that you cannot describe.   I needed to know she was okay and for her to know how loved she was.   Tears poured, as I couldn’t quite reach her, no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t able to kiss her sweaty forehead, draw her bath, or hold her tightly in my arms.  It was paralyzing.

After some time had passed, I became accepting of God’s mercy and grace. Acting on faith alone while opening my heart to Jesus, knowing I couldn’t survive this on my own, I imagined Mary pondering what she endured as a mother, watching her baby boy suffering on that old rugged cross. The baby she birthed, held and mothered all those years. The suffering she was feeling on the inside, her tears and helplessness must have been unimaginable.  A sense of comfort it gave me, as she knew my heartbreak. Yet she was anointed with a strength unfathomable to many of us.

This pain is so unbearable, living through the death of your child or death of any loved one, but to comprehend that God gave his only child, His only Son, to be tortured and to die for all of us, I struggle to find the words.

How could someone love us so much, that He would give His only Son to die, for the sins and wrongdoings of someone like me?  The pain was intense and the tears overwhelmingly plenty.

I couldn’t understand how was I worthy of such love?   But I was. And you are too.

It brought me to inconsolable weeping, instilling in me a renewed hope and outlook that my Lydia and Jesus were waiting for me when my time here is done.  I think that we get so preoccupied with ourselves and our lives that we don’t take the time to study and really gain insight into the story of Jesus, the magnitude of His love and the purpose of our existence.

Although it’s always bittersweet as we gather on Easter without my dear Lydia, I am reminded of the promise of new life He has given us. God sending his own son, to die for our sins, now that is some kind of love. Love that is more powerful that anything we could ever imagine.  Knowing that my precious daughter is home with Him, comforted and loved, brings peace to my heart.

Let us be reminded today, that He conquered death. He arose! No matter how difficult and life altering our sufferings are here on earth, there is nothing to be afraid of now. There is nothing we can’t handle through Him. Keep pressing into that faith.

Remember….

You ares so loved

John 3:16…”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

How I Survived The First Christmas Without My Daughter

It had been five months since Lydia passed away and that dreaded first Christmas had snuck up on me. A festive holiday when it seemed there was nothing to celebrate, and it was here whether I liked it or not.  Had I forgotten about the real meaning of Christmas? Absolutely. Completely focused on myself and my pain, I hated to see this holiday come.

            With Santa filling every store shelf, every movie, and every enticing commercial, the broadcasting the coming of Christmas and all of its festivities was horrifying. But what does a mother do? She somehow endures the pain, with another mask to wear, another façade to play out, while attempting to put a smile on her only child’s face.  The excitement, fun, and anticipation waned as the first holiday came around without my girl.  Taking my son to see Santa proved to be a traumatic experience that I never wanted to do again. While parents were proudly snapping pictures of their children grinning with excitement sitting on Santa’s lap, all I could see was the last photo of my kids together on Santa’s lap, one year ago. Once again, regret consumed me and the mask, and the act became too difficult to continue. Seeing only my son with Santa, his other knee vacant, crumbled me and brought me to my knees in tears. How I hated life, hated myself.

The Santa photos used to be my traditional Christmas card, and now I wouldn’t send another one out for years. I became bitter towards those family photo cards, you know, the ones with all the smiles, milestones and happy times. For the next two years when we received them in the mail, one by one they all went straight to the garbage, sight unseen. Absorbed by jealousy, I wanted to rip them to shreds, and never wanted to see those joyful faces again. Sorry friends.  It became too painful, like a slap in the face, bringing to the forefront that pain I had worked so hard to hide. And I didn’t feel bad about it one bit.

Being the first Christmas without our baby girl, I hadn’t the drive or love in my heart to get a tree and decorate it.  Just the thought of the holidays without Lydia would make me fall apart and retreat to a solitary hiding place, just me and my tears. There was no tree, no Christmas cookies baking or decorations or laughter in the kitchen. This year was different.  Yet, because of our son Hunter, I knew we had to try to do something.  We opted for a live tree that we could plant after the holiday season. Jake went to Wal-Mart and bought a new box of lights to put on the tree.  I wanted nothing to do with those totes full of memories, so in their box they stayed and our tree without decorations.  I counted the days and “faked it ’til I made it.”  This holiday couldn’t be over soon enough.

It had been five months since Lydia died. How could that possibly be? Christmas was just hours away when my heart was warmed by an amazing gift.  In the car, where much time was spent, was a place where Lydia would compose her masterpieces – beautiful, one-of-a-kind, spectacular illustrations of creativity.  One rainy, winter day, I happened to put my hand in the back pocket of the driver’s seat, the one in front of where she used to sit.  As I pulled out multiple hair accessories, ponytail holders, and nail polish bottles, I was caught off guard and choked up with tears at what I saw.  Between my fingers came a neat white envelope and on the outside, carefully written it said, “To Hunter, From Lydia.”   Without hesitation, I gingerly opened up the top and peeked inside.  My hands trembling with anticipation as I pulled out this precious gift at just the right moment.

Christmas would arrive in a number of hours and I had found the perfect present for our son. Something to bring warmth to his tattered and torn heart, something that would provide him with the hope and love he desperately needed from his big sister.  It was a drawing of a Christmas tree, complete with ornaments and a star!

lydia tree hunter

Drops of love poured down my cheeks, what a gift! The pain my heart felt was indescribable, yet this little blessing provided a glimmer of hope and I couldn’t help but smile amidst the tears.

Friends, I know that deep pain of the first Christmas without your child. It’s the most heart-wrenching feeling ever. The blanket of hopelessness and fear is smothering, allowing no light to seep through. I wore those exact shoes once. Take care of you. Do what feels right. Cry, laugh, hide, embrace whatever feelings come. Hang on. One day at a time. Most importantly, remember the real meaning of the season.  Jesus. Focus on Him. Equip yourselves with the truth. You can do this.

Romans 8:18 “The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

griievinggumdrops.com

Matthew 19:26   Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

ps theres hope

~On the journey with you,

Daphne