As I sat to write today, a good friend texted me to tell me that it's just hours now until her dad meets my baby in Heaven. It has been a long battle for this friend and her family, her dad has been very sick for a long time. And when treatments were no longer effective and comfort was their goal, they took him home and surrounded him with love, friends, food and family. They have prayed and waited patiently for the Lord to come and rescue this man from suffering; my friend's dad.
My heart is obviously broken for her. I do not know this type of loss and though I can empathize, I can't understand it. I can't even grasp at it. But I can say that their journey has impacted my heart and I will never be the same because of it. Soon after Mabel died, I had another close friend lose her mother after a year of sickness and unknowns. Walking beside her in that journey changed me forever. I know I will look back and see the heart-shaping that was done during this time of loving my friends through loss of parents and total heartbreak.
I have said all along that I do not envy my family and friends in our own situation. Watching me and loving me through Mabel's therapy, diagnosis, and ultimately her death had to be absolute hell for them. When you worry about a loved one, your stress is heightened, you are constantly in fight or flight mode because you so badly want to help in any capacity. Knowing that they couldn't- I can't imagine. All I know is that I have the best of the best and I am so thankful.
They are so strong and I am so lucky to have them as my backbone.
This particular friend, whose dad is literally at the bridge between Heaven and earth as I'm typing, was a friend who entered my life after Mabel died. Her voice was one that soothed my spirit in the early morning hours as I attended her yoga class. I listened as she spoke about accepting ourselves for where we were in that exact moment. For where our bodies were, our minds were, our hearts were. Accepting ourselves for all we had endured, all we were capable of, all of the strength or weakness we felt. Wherever we were, on that day, was to be accepted, appreciated, and loved.
Her words, her voice; they helped heal my heart morning after morning.
I would cry as my body moved, rested and ultimately mended.
She, probably without knowing it, was key in my grief and healing.
Winter finally joined the party this week. It's beyond frigid, with temperatures in the teens. I can't seem to get warm and I'm exhausted. Grief, I'm sure, has decided to unpack from the cold and camp out inside of me for awhile, making himself warm in my heart and my bed. I cover myself up tightly, fully clothed (with layers even) but nothing helps. And the bone-tiredness of life has reached deep inside as well. But I give into that.
When Mabel was alive she forced me to slow down.
I didn't have a choice. I had to sit for an hour every 3 hours to feed her a bottle. I had to walk her constantly if she was crying. I couldn't leave the house and eventually had no desire to do so-not if we were together here. Sitting with her was always, always enough.
But now, I've had to learn to make the choice to slow down.
Slowing down is now my choice.
I'm busy, sure.
I keep myself that way. I'm working and exercising and having lunch with friends and keeping the house clean and running the kids here and there and I love it.
But I also take time to take care of me. In very deliberate ways, I am conscience about what I need, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
My routine is really important. It is helping me survive the moments that feel completely unlivable.
Make the kids breakfast.
Help them get dressed.
Pack Braden's lunch.
Get them to school.
Take a hot bath.
Lay down for a nap, if possible.
Pick kids up from school.
Sometimes work. Sometimes home to do household chores or sit.
Play games, cards, color with the kids.
And I don't derail from the schedule often. In fact, hardly ever.
The new routine that I've made for myself since Mabel died is working. It really is critical.
She died and I decided right away that I was going to live.
Even before she died I had decided that.
That I would grieve but that I would not be overtaken by the entity that grief itself can become in me. I do not want to always feel like I have already lived the best days of my life and good days ahead are impossible because she is not here with me.
I want to live.
I want to dream new dreams and do new things.
I want to travel and see the world.
I want to be a capable mother, a strong one. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I want to serve others.
I want to grow. In many ways, as many ways as possible, in fact.
I want to be a light. I want to encourage.
I want to use the gifts I have to do great things for others.
I want to pursue the art of happiness every day.
I want to be at peace and continue to feel contentment in all things.
I do not want to feel defeated by death or the journey I experienced with my daughter. I want to embrace it. Grow from it, change because of it.
I want to challenge myself in all ways; in new ways.
I saw the Dr. today for a routine checkup. I have experienced the grieving of my daughter very naturally. I do not sleep well at night so I am on a daily medication for that but otherwise, I don't feel panic or anxiety or depression like I thought I may. I encourage anyone who does feel those things to be proactive in your own health and get on something that will help you through this time. Even if it's forever... it's so important that you don't neglect what could be crucial in keeping you well.
For me, I still don't feel much of anything most days but I know enough to recognize that this is textbook grief.
The fog is still very heavy over me.
I am exercising every day so that I can remain strong and can continue to gain strength that will help me endure the days ahead that may be harder than the ones I am walking now; the days when the fog has lifted and the pain is too hard to bare.
For the first time in my life, the only reason I am exercising is truly for mental, spiritual and emotional strength. Physically, I love knowing that I'm getting stronger but I am no longer concerned with the vanity that used to be my motivation when working out. I go day after day because my mind is busy and it needs a release. And after an hour each morning, my body feels taken care of and my mind is finally tired.
And then... I nap...
Because I'm choosing to take care of me.
First and foremost, if I'm going to survive and be a good mom, a good daughter, a good friend, a good lover, a good sister-
I have to make sure that my mind is right. And my body is strong. And my heart is open.
Right now, all of those things are true.
Many of you ask about Nora and Braden often. Thank you!
The kids are both doing pretty well. Braden saw a specialist this week for some behavioral concerns and has started some medicine that has already made a huge difference. He, himself, has said that he feels better, happier.
Nora is a cheerleader now and seems to have found her 9-year-old passion. She had her first game last week and did amazing.
Both kids had excellent report cards and seem to really enjoy school. They have friends and come home happy. We have been playing cards and board games together at night, thanks to Santa, and I'm grateful for the time together.
We still really love our house on the hill. Each morning the sun rises beautifully outside of our front door to greet me and each evening it sets outside the back door, bidding me farewell until morning. It feels like such a personal gift from God every single day. I'll always be thankful for all this home has given us.
As I took a break from writing last night to spend some time with my sister, my friend's father passed away and joined eternity! She texted to say "Such peace." My hope is that now my voice will be to her what hers was to me in those days and weeks following Mabel's death-a beacon of strength, light and hope to her heart.
I spent thirty minutes before I received her text driving alone on the highway, weeping for my friend and her heart. There is such sweet relief when your suffering loved-one meets Jesus but then, eventually, the missing. And though I'm so thankful for his eternal home, my heart is broken for the loss that this sweet friend of mine will always feel.
Will you take a minute to say a prayer for their family today?
Our hope is not rooted here and with that, such deep and perfect harmony can freely consume our hearts. I yearn for my Heavenly home deep down in my belly. I feel the ache and pull for somewhere other than this world. I long for the day when I can join all of those that I love in a place that I can't even fully imagine. The wonder of it all is what overwhelms my spirit and draws me to Jesus. Lord, let me always be drawn to you.