God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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If I Walk Away…

It may happen on expected days –

a birthday,

Mother’s Day,

Thanksgiving,

or

Christmas.

It may happen on unexpected days –

the first day of school,

an ordinary sunny day,

or

a stormy day.

It may happen at the mall

as I walk behind a teenage girl with

long, brown hair

or

when I’m introduced to an adorable,

petite, blue-eyed,

three-year old cherub.

It may happen on a crowded street

as my eyes catch

a woman’s purse adorned with

the Eiffel Tower

or

a mother and daughter

walking arm in arm.

In a split second,

my head feels light.

My stomach aches.

My arms and legs are heavy.

Harsh reality hits in

one, single swoop.

My eyes reflect a distant look

as I smile.

Sometimes people ask.

Other times they don’t.

Leaving me to wonder if

they have any sense of

the depth of the sorrow.

I absorb the moment.

Only sharing it with a precious few.

Just know that if I step away,

I may be walking into a moment of grief

or

running toward a special memory.

Know that if I walk away,

I will eventually return

but

trust me

if I need to walk away.

2001 8 aug fam walk


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Digging for Treasure…Unearthing the Need to Forgive Myself

It’s a sight you’ll probably see at the beach this summer. It’s a man or woman waving the metal detector back and forth. The treasure hunter walks up and down the coast patiently scoping something out.

He’s typically at the beach when few people are there. With serious deliberation and patience, he waits to hear the beeping sound –  a sign that there may be a hidden treasure under the sand. It could be coins that fell out of a man’s swim trunks as he ran to dive in the water. Or, the find is a woman’s special ring that fell off her finger as she lathered suntan lotion on her body. Who knows what hidden gems these sleuths unearth. All I know is that treasure hunters spend lots of time in hopes that they’ll find something of value.

Blog_Metal detector

I connect with the idea of hunting for treasure.

Writing this blog is a bit of a “heart treasure hunt” for me. I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I’ve been blogging. In the beginning, I was sharing my high-level thoughts and emotions, on surface of the sand, about losing Leah. I started by sharing facts about the experience and how other people were reacting to my grief.

As the number of losses increased over time, compounding my grief, the season become more challenging. I responded by “sprinting”  –  similar to running across the sand when a beach is too hot. I couldn’t stand in one spot too long or I’d burn my feet. I had to move fast to avoid that scalding sensation.

This movement is what I felt that I needed to do with my compound grief; I had to keep sprinting emotionally and couldn’t dwell on any one thing too long for fear it would burn me. In the last month or two, I am finding something inside shifting. Leah is gone 16 months, which is hard to believe. I find that as the intense heat of the experience begins to cool, I am able to stand still and begin to dig – and as a result, feel more emotions and think new thoughts.

I am able to face truths that are under the surface because I haven’t paused long enough to even know they are there.

One very intense revelation is the need to forgive myself. I need to forgive myself for not being a perfect mother to Leah. This knowledge came to me during a recent summer evening walk…it was like finding a treasure deep underneath the sand.

In losing my 15 year old daughter to sarcoma cancer, I am grieved that I didn’t live as more fully present every day of her life. I never, ever imagined that I would outlive my daughter. Why didn’t I gaze into her eyes more, or stop and ask more questions, or focus more on what she said when we were driving in the car? Why was I distracted? Why didn’t I take more mental snapshots? Why was I such a protective mother? Why, why, why?

I don’t know. I’ll never know. I do know that I would have made changes if I knew I’d only have Leah for 15 years. I also realize that if I knew when she was born that I’d lose her at 15, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed my time with her. The foreknowledge would have messed with my mind and caused great anxiety for years.

I know what you may think, “But Marie, we are all human. We all fail. No one is perfect. All humans have some regret.” True. But the reality is that I have to slowly let go and forgive myself for not being a perfect mother. And it will take time.

Another revelation is that I need to forgive someone else – God. I have never felt angry with God about losing Leah. Ever. This fact may sound strange to some people. I’ve wondered if I’ve suppressed feelings of anger. But I shake my head, “no.” I’m just not angry with God. I’ve got a pretty good love relationship going on with God. We’ve been kinda serious since I was 8 years old. But through losing Leah, my sorrow has numbed me. I want to be more fully present with God and have some real, raw, quality conversations with Him about the storyline in my life. This revelation encourages me to explore with God the ways that I need to forgive Him. And it will take time.

Through it all, I sense God’s patience and love. Now, I need to extend the same love and patience to myself. I have peace in knowing that I always treasured Leah. Always valued her. Always loved her. She knew these truths. But, I believe that I could have done some things better as a mother.

So, I need to process and pray about what is true…and release the rest. I know that there is a deceiver who’d like to rob me of the joy of my motherhood and memories. So, I still tread lightly on the hot sand. This “need to forgive” gem is a hidden gift that I’ve unearthed. I think there are layers of similar precious stones hidden under this particular hot spot.

I wonder what you have unearthed, at different stages, as you have experienced major loss and trials? I’d appreciate your insights  It’s a treasure to learn from one another.