God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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In My Dreams

Night.

Rest.

Sleep.

Dreaming.

A time to let go.

A time to release active thoughts.

A time to hear my heart speak.

I touch you, hold you, talk with you.

I even dance with you.

Your frequent visits in the quiet of the night

keep you close to me.

My love for you fills my dreams.

Some nights I see every detail of your face,

other nights you are gently present, but unseen.

Happiness and joy are freshly born

until I realize that I am dreaming.

A deep grief wakes me to teary eyes.

Heartbroken that you are no longer with me.

To see your precious face again is so worth the moments of sadness.

Dreams of you – my comforting gifts from heaven.

I wonder if you dream of me too…

“When I waked, I cried to dream again.” Shakespeare (Caliban, The Tempest)

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A Christmas Message to My Friends

Dear Friends,

White Christmas used to be my favorite holiday song. Hearing Bing Crosby’s voice was like being covered with a warm, comfy, soft Christmas blanket. Now, I need different words to describe Christmas. Holiday celebrations accentuate the deep loss our family knows. The song A Different Kind of Christmas reflects what Christmas is like for me and many others who have lost a loved one.  Life circumstances sure do change our likes and dislikes in music.

Our last family Christmas card photo, with the four of us, was taken in 2012. Little did I know that two weeks later, our world would be shaken to the core and we’d enter into a battle that resulted in the loss of our one of family members. Leah’s cancer experience felt similar to a war.

At this second Christmas without my daughter, you may be concerned and wonder how I am doing – but may be hesitant to ask. You may care, but are busy with holiday events, parties and traveling – and don’t realize that this is our second Christmas without our girl.

I trust that you are reading this post because you care and because of this fact, I will be very honest with you.

The second Christmas is feeling harder than the first. My experience is that the first year we were in shock. After walking with my child through a terminal illness, I experienced and absorbed a portion of her suffering. Like riding a tandem bike with her – side by side. When the suffering ended, I was totally exhausted, anxious, sad and stunned.

At the first Christmas, there were many distractions and many people were reaching out to comfort and uplift us –  because it was the first Christmas of our loss.

The firsts always get lots of attention, don’t they? For example, we have raucous celebrations for a one year old baby. The first year is overdone by parents – even though the child won’t remember it. The second year – not so much. Same thing with anniversaries. The first wedding anniversary is oh, so romantic. The second year – not so much.

The second year after losing a child, the earthly permanence of her absence is very much a reality. My daughter is not away at camp. She is not away at college. She is not at a job out of state. She did not get married and leave home. Death is not like any of these things. I hope my friend that you can attempt to understand this fact.  I cannot call her on the phone and check in. Please, whether you say it to me, or think it, do not compare my loss to any of these types of life changes. It is not the same. It hurts to have my loss minimized, intentionally or not.

Why do I share this perspective? I am not asking you, my friend, to tip toe around me, only to please be sensitive to the reality that losing a child is a tragically unusual, surreal-type of life experience.

What do I need most right now from my friends and family around the holidays?

GRACE

What is grace? Well, I googled the definition. It says:

“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

What an awesome online definition. I know that I have asked for and received this grace from God, but need it from my friends as well. Many of you have shared your hearts, time and resources. Having me as a friend who has gone through a major loss is challenging. It takes lots of energy to walk alongside someone in a painful place.  But, do I dare boldly ask for more? What does grace look like during this Christmas and New Year season?

Free and Unmerited – Don’t be offended. I may not be timely in connecting with you. My heart is to give back equally in my relationships. For me, in some ways, I am in a time warp. You may have called a month ago, or six months ago and I haven’t returned the call or initiated a connection. My lack of response is not meant to be offensive, or reflect a lack of caring, fondness or affection. In some ways, I am in the Twilight Zone. Please do not be offended, but continue to reach out in love.

Bestowal of Blessings – Invite me and reach out. Creating new, positive memories is important for me, my husband and son. Please don’t avoid asking me to coffee or pass me by when creating your guest list for fear that I may not want to celebrate. Offering an invitation shows you care. If I do accept, I will do my best to be fully present. Or, I may need to leave early, but just need to see your face. Sometimes, I may not know until the day of the event whether or not I can make it. If I cannot attend, I will let you know. But please know that I will always remember your invitation.

I’ll close with these words from A Different Kind of Christmas by Mark Schultz

There’s one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new way to take their place inside of me
I’m unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year

There’s voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we’ll try to make this Christmas like the ones we’ve had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made

It’s time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It’s time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you’re up in heaven, doesn’t mean you’re not near
It’s just a different kind of Christmas
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year

I thank you all for your many kindnesses and compassion. We are learning how to find joy in the present while honoring Leah’s permanent place in our hearts.

My heart goes out to many family and friends who have had to say goodbye to someone they love this year. May you feel a peace, comfort and joy that comes with the true meaning of Christmas. We can experience LOVE because of the greatest Gift given through the Prince of Peace.

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Sneaky Grief

I’ll tell you what most people think, but may not say to your face.

“I don’t want you around. Leave.”

You are not welcome.

Your presence is unfair.

You barge your way in the front door

always at the worst times.

Sometimes you give warning when you’ll show up.

Many times you don’t.

Sometimes you visit quietly like a soft wind.

Other times you put your hands on my shoulders,

shake them, and rattle my head … and heart.

I close my eyes and wish you away.

When I’m busy,

you step back and your presence

is silenced.

For a time.

But, you are determined to follow me.

A stalker.

You rudely interrupt me anytime – anywhere.

Whispering to me about my loss.

You create loneliness, anxiety and sadness.

You are like low-hanging fog, on a grey winter day.

Oh, if only the sun would break through the clouds.

Some days a sliver of light beams through –

making me think that you’ll dissipate.

You are also similar to an awkward dance partner.

Succumbing to the tense dance between us,

I am thrown off when, without telling me, you change the steps.

You make me dizzy with unexpected turns.

How incredibly rude of you.

But, here’s something you may not expect to hear from me.

Looking close, I see something beautiful in you.

You reflect the better side of me.

You exist because of my love.

Without it, you wouldn’t have a voice.

When the seed of love grew in my heart,

you grew too – although invisible.

You are the thorn to my rose and the weed to my dandelion.

You are tangled up in beauty.

Rather than feel weary of your presence

and think of you as my enemy,

I embrace  you because your birth is a reflection of my love.

So see you don’t win –

you sneaky grief.

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This is my crucial conversation with grief. Such a sneaky grief who creeps up and extends in unwanted areas. I encourage you to have a long-due conversation with your grief.