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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Wishes and Would Have’s For My Daughter On Her Birthday In Heaven

I let out a big sigh and pulled the covers over my head, just wishing they would go back to sleep.  You see it was 6:10 AM, no school or work and I was exhausted.  Not to mention, I’m not a fan of being woke up in the early morning.  Nothing makes one smile more than screaming, arguing children before the sun comes up!  J    Thoughts ran through my mind, complaints to be honest, of me being grumpy wanting my energetic kids to quiet down so I could catch a few more minutes of sleep under the warm covers.  I wanted to yell “be quiet, or go back to bed.”

Instead, I was inaudibly reminded of what a blessing it was that my children were here.   Feeling selfish, I stayed silent and rose to the occasion, forcing my crankiness to take a backseat.  You see today is Lydia’s 14th birthday and I am engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions, mostly wishing she was here to celebrate.

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It’s been 8 years, 4 months, & 11 days…..since I last saw her, held her hand, and kissed her soft forehead.

Looking back, so unfathomable and hard to believe that so much time has passed.  Moments and milestones missed.  Yet, an abundance of blessings have been bestowed upon me as well. From desires, to regret, to do-overs and wishes, my mind tries to make sense of them all.

 For now, here are my thoughts and wishes today…

To be able to celebrate with you, would be my first wish. To smother you with balloons, delicious cake, see your adorable smile, your mischievous glances and determined mindset, would be the honor of my life.

Every day and especially today, I am filled with wishes and wonder as I think about the years that have passed. I wish I could experience with you all the fun and trials that the teenage years bring. School, boys, sleepovers, and endless activities.

I wish I could teach you, laugh with you, and show you the world.

I wish it wasn’t massively painful to see your friends growing up, reaching milestones that you will never achieve. I look with envy as an outsider to a world I used to know. Doing so plunges me into a world of emotional wonder and lets not sugar coat it, isolated daily heartbreak.

As I imagine you with long strawberry blond hair, I wonder if you would still be determined to wear it just how you like. Would we share clothes? Would we like the same kind of music? Would you spend hours in your room?

I wonder…

Would you still wear headbands, or would that be too “childish?” Would you wear lipstick, makeup, and have your ears pierced?

Would you still love your little brother to pieces and take great delight in teasing him?  (I’m pretty sure this would still be the case!)

 

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Would you still have that infectious personality, lighting up a room when you walked in, confident and proudly dressed in mismatched clothes?

Would you have sleepovers, still be sassy yet loveable and wear your heart on your sleeve?

Would we still argue over the television remote? Would you still love to read? Still love to sing and dance? Or would you be using your creative mind to make more magnificent art work?

Would you still want to be a fighter fighter (fire fighter) and a chocolate shopper (work at a coffee stand)?

My heart will never completely heal and the tears I cry are loaded with unending love as they slowly fall down my face and onto my shirt. You will always be my girl, my first child who made me a mother.

I will carry you with me forever.

Instead of me teaching you what life is all about, my sweet child you have taught me.

If I could do it over again…

I would have lingered while reading your bedtime story, taking my time carefully articulating the words on each page, spent more time snuggled with you on your pink princess pillow, and let you keep the disgusting boogers on your wall above your headboard.

I would have played endless hours of dress up with you, dolling up in fancy jewelry, high heels and dresses and hot pink lipstick.

I would have watched your silly TV shows more, played limitless games of candy land and hopscotch, and spent hours drawing on the patio with colorful chalk until the sun went down.

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I would have laughed instead of getting angry when you called your great grandma to tell her your parents were arguing because daddy took mommy’s debit card away.

I would have paid closer attention to you when you were telling stories of the tooth fairy and giggled a little more when you called me your evil stepmother after watching Cinderella and was told to go to bed.

I would have spent hours making the perfect snowman and sledding down the street, and not come in just because I didn’t want to play anymore.

I would have stayed in that movie theatre longer, watching Kung Fu Panda with you observing your every move, listening to you loudly crunch popcorn, smiling as you laughed out loud, if I would have known it would be our last.

I would have taken you to the coffee shops for hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls every morning, even after you would mock me in the backseat of the car with your sunglass and sassy attitude.

I would have laughed more when you overflowed the toilet creating a swampy lake in the downstairs bathroom, and the time you “cleaned up” the dogs mess by putting newspaper over it and then I stepped on it, causing it to squish out the sides of my bare feet.

I would have listened more intently when you talked about God and attempted to lure me to church when I didn’t feel like going.

I would have made more cookies with you, messing up the kitchen and decorating it with scattered cookie cutters, covering the counters with flour and frosting.

I remember the last time you got your haircut, several inches gone revealed a new you. Your little sprinkle of freckles adorned the bridge of your nose, and your blue eyes twinkled in the light. I remember how you tried to convince me to cut my hair off too and I said no. Now I wish I had.

As a little girl, I always wanted to have a daughter, someone to navigate this life with side by side, being a parent and a friend. I used to imagine what our life would be like going shopping together, cooking, getting our nails done and sharing experiences as well as the cherished ups and downs of life.

I will never forget the last time you painted my nails, bright pink with baby blue sparkly dots on them. The two jars of polish still sit on my bathroom counter, as a reminder. I’m sad to say, I have not painted my fingernails since then. It may sound strange or crazy, but that last memory together, is so preciously sacred that it is something I want to keep just between us. I can still say after eight years, that “The last person to paint my fingernails was Lydia.” And that is something to treasure.

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You have shown me what it means to love so deeply that it can literally break your heart. If I would have known these times would have been our last, I would have spent more time making memories and savoring every minute. I would have realized that moments matter. Memories matter.

Nonetheless, I have learned to navigate and carry this heavy cloak of sorrow.   I am left with an empty place in the depths of my soul, one that cannot be touched.  It remains a void that will never be filled.  Until the day we are reunited again, I will forever be wondering, waiting, yet living in the moment and treasuring every day, seeking the beauty each sunrise brings, all the while keeping you alive in my heart.

Happy heavenly birthday sweet Lydia. I love you.

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