God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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At the Cave Opening

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I hover closely to it.

Right there next to me – I can touch it.

Cut into the huge mountainous rock.

Its dark opening calls me closer.

Sometimes its mouth whispers, “Come in.”

Other times I yell into it, “Is anyone there?”

“Is anyone there?”, my voice echoes back.

Its emptiness looks formidable from where I stand.

Anxious about going inside, I’m afraid that I’ll be absorbed into the cave and

never get out.

Sometimes I stand on the edge of darkness and daylight too long

and, out of weariness, I decide to step inside.

Once I do, my eyes pick up unusual shapes.

Feeling solid ground beneath me, I hear drips of water.

The cave is more than an abyss, more than a void nothingness, – there is something inside.

My heart races.

Adventure speaks, “What if there is a treasure inside? I’ve heard about this type of thing. The best gems come from the darkest of caves.”

Taking a few more steps inward, my eyes adjust again.

I run my hand along the coarse, bumpy rock.

A rock formation reflects tiny specks of light that sparkle and shimmer far more beautifully than any manmade glitter.

My heart pauses.

Tempted to move forward, I hesitate.

“What happens if I keep exploring and don’t find my way back out of the cave?”

Or, “Maybe I won’t want to come back out? Maybe I’ll become a cave dweller.”

These concerns pull my legs back to the opening –

a safer place to be.

Although, as I look in and out at the same time, I can’t really see either side fully.

If I only considered that once inside the cave, the beauty of the sky would draw me back out.

Maybe I’ll take the risk and go in all the way.

One day.

Some day.

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Note: Since I experience my emotional world through metaphors, I have been thinking about the image of a cave and how it may be a symbol for the difficult parts of my story.  Although I frequently think about and write about losing Leah, I realize there is something inside me that prevents me from going to the deepest part of my grief – almost as though it is an emotional cave. Am I too afraid to fully go into the grief for fear of getting stuck there? Afraid of what I’ll find?

On the other hand, I imagine there are  beautiful gems, symbolizing my love, that I’ll find if I do choose to go deep. Gems such as memories. All this said, I think that I need to lean into trust – trusting myself and God that I won’t get stuck in the dark cave alone. Just as cave explorers need to get over their fears, I have to get over mine. Something to think about.

I hope this metaphor helps you as you consider something difficult that you are facing.

 


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Realizing these photos are it…

Processed with Snapseed.

Processed with Snapseed.

As I was preparing to lead a Walk for Wishes team in Leah’s memory, I was going through photos of her. My plan was to give everyone participating in the walk a photo of Leah on a lanyard. Going through the photos themselves wasn’t the hard part for me. I actually enjoy seeing my daughter’s beautiful face.

I couldn’t find the right type of photo that I wanted to put on the lanyard – a photo of her that had perfect clarity, color and angle.

Then the thoughts hit, “This selection is it. These photos are it. I’ll never have any other photos of my daughter. Ever. All the best photos of her are taken. There will be no more. This is it.”

In this moment, the horrible reality of losing Leah was fresh. It was as if I lost her again in my mind.

Time slowed down and a sadness deep in my heart formed for a few hours.

It feels so strange that after two years of her absence, this specific thought created pain. It felt weird to think the thought … and then realize that I never had this exact realization about “no more photos” before.

My realization probably sounds so obvious to you, but I never had this emotional reaction about photos of other people for whom I’ve cared and lost – friends, parents or relatives.

The next day I decided to select a photo for the lanyard that boldly featured her beautiful blue eyes – the photo here in this post. I wish her hand wasn’t in front of her face, but again, I can’t change it. This is it.

And I have this photo because she took it as a selfie.

Leah was always on her phone and at times it was maddening. Aren’t all teenagers constantly on their phones these days? Yet, I’m so grateful for all the little gifts she left me on her phone – many photos and videos of herself. The Christmas before she passed away, she took a video of herself, very close-up and singing Christmas songs. So cute. And now priceless.

With this fresh realization about “no more photos,” I’m trying to shift my perspective to one of gratitude because for most of human history, people didn’t have multiple photos of someone they loved and lost. If they had one photo of a special person, they were lucky.

I’m sharing this story because, for me, it’s a very current example of the way that sadness can resurface unexpectedly, after time, and freshly.

It’s also another reminder to be kind to myself when an unexpected grief wave hits. I need to let myself “feel the feels.”(urban dictionary definition of feels: a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained)

As we support one another during hard times, we know that circumstances and emotional triggers affect each of us differently. It is helpful to consider this fact, try to understand one another and accept our uniqueness in this way. What affects me, may not affect you and visa versa.

So to close…speaking of photos, I’m sharing a photo that Leah took. It’s so appropriate being fall. I’ve added her favorite Bible verse. I think she would have been a great photographer … she took a great image here and I’m glad to share it with you. I hope you enjoy its beauty.

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What I Wish You Knew

You may know me a little.

Or, you may know me a lot.

We may have never met in person.

Either way, there are things that I wish you knew.

Really knew.

I wish you knew that my life has been filled with wonderful family, caring and loyal friends, a meaningful career, unshakable faith and good health…

I have so much for which to be deeply thankful.

And I am. Grateful.

And yet,

I wish you knew that walking my daughter through cancer was devastating and losing her is excruciatingly painful.

There are times when I try to share my loss in words, songs, dance, prayers, drawings and tears.

These days are good … when I am trying to communicate from the depth of my heart.

There are days when you see me smiling and laughing, but I may awkwardly look away.

I may stuff and suppress my feelings at times like these.

For fear of imploding, I find a way to return to sharing my experience.

I wish you knew that losing a child to cancer is similar to being in a war.

Disease is cruel and relentless – a destroyer of life.

Just as a war causes suffering and takes precious lives, the aftermath of terminal illness has ripple effects that cause additional agony.

The battlegrounds look different – but the enemies are real.

Survivors suffering intensifies after the loss of a loved one, when the battle appears to have ended to other people.

And recovery after a war can take months, years and a life time before restoration.

I wish you knew that I am honored to have served my daughter. And would do it again.

Loving and caring for Leah through her illness taught me the deepest meaning of being a devoted and faithful mother. Her presence and courage freshly opened my heart; I am a better human being because of her.

I hope this reality is evident in the way I treat you and others.

I wish you knew that time does not heal – and will not heal this wound.

Period.

Never will.

Only heaven will mend this wound – the place where all wrongs will be made right.

Please don’t wish I would heal or move on because doing so would erase a huge part of my heart.

Until then, I wish you knew that that my broken heart finds comfort in flowers, music, dance, time with friends and family, antiquing, writing, my career, helping others, being with people who I love and love me and my faith in God….

I wish you knew that when you smile at me in the check-out line, ask how I am, or keep a commitment – you are restoring my hope and bringing light to my heart.

Thank you for showing-up, stepping-up and standing-up for me.

With love from,

A mother’s strong, yet tender,

Grieving Heart

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