"...maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that will happen right inside of you. Actually-maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments. Maybe. I don't know how, but somehow?-maybe our hearts are meant to be broken.
Broken open. Broken free. Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom..."
Today I woke; Thanksgiving.
The house is a whirlwind of sweet smells and cozy lights. I blinked my eyes open and whispered gratitude for being able to do so. The place beside me was empty, blankets scattered around. 'My husband is awake,' I thought, feeling grateful also to be able to finally say so.
The last several months have been beautiful. After a really sweet engagement on a rainy morning in Michigan, we planned a completely private wedding ceremony for two months later. It would fall in the middle of autumn, my favorite season. The ceremony would be for us and our children only. After all, that is what this life we share is; the two of them and the two of us.
And one giant, gaping hole inside of this family where our babe used to be.
We talked about it long before we actually planned to get married-that if we ever came to that point, it would be a very private occasion. And the more that it became a reality, the more we knew how important it was- for us, of course, but especially for Nora and Braden.
In our hearts, Chris and I were living out vows of marriage long ago. It was never a question whether this man was meant to be my husband and it was never a deal breaker if we chose to not be married by law. But it was important for both of us that these kids felt security in their lives and that before God we made a commitment that was pure, honest and lasting to each other.
It has been really sweet experiencing all of the emotions that led to me becoming his wife. And as always, it has been challenging at times, full of consuming sadness, and terrible missing.
Our girl only knew this man as her 'da' and never would have understood our union. But I find some peace in knowing that things really are the way they are meant to be. In that peace, I also feel a lot of sadness knowing she wasn't here to be a part of it.
This fall has brought a much different season to my life in more ways than one. I am working at a job that I literally love. I am working because I enjoy it and because it helps get me out of the house. I am working because I can and that feels good. It has propelled me forward in some ways, on days when I may have otherwise stayed in bed. This time last year I was working a job too, but one that was based more out of necessity of routine. This year, I can be alone and not on such a definite schedule and still be ok most days. That is both rewarding and feels like an accomplishment but also feels heavy at times.
How can I be ok when she isn't here?
There is guilt. There are conflicting emotions splashed everywhere inside of me. Quite literally like a canvas that one may call art but another sees as nothing but a total mess of paint. I can almost never feel one positive emotion without also feeling a contrasting negative emotion.
I accepted long ago...such is the life of the griever.
Overall, the kids are doing well.
Nora is distant and distracted as usual. It's always been her way of coping and though it bothers me, I see that it's practical and just the way her brain and heart work. It's just different than how I grieve but that doesn't make it wrong. I'm working on finding ways to connect with her through it all.
Braden, for sure, grieves more like me. He is open and wild in this grief. He talks about it, laughs about it, cries about it often. He is very much grieving parts of his life that are relevant and as he works through that, he lets it go and really digs in deeper to the next part in the process. Currently, as we were abruptly catapulted into the holidays he is missing his step-mom a lot. He cries often about how their lives are so different without her and missing the little things that are just part of grieving someone who was once part of your every day and now is not. It's hard to watch and I struggle with not feeling angry FOR all of the loss they've had to endure, but I sure try to be nothing but loving and supportive in those really hard, dark moments.
Many of you have been reading here for a very long time and because of that it is no surprise to you that when this time of year approaches, I slow myself down and try to really embrace the quiet. It has taken me many years and a lot of loss and grief to appreciate being along and digging into those really dusty places of my heart that may need a little bit of work.
I recently found my gratitude journal that I started last year and feel so thankful. Many of the months following Mabel's death are nothing but a very grey blur in my mind. I took a lot of pictures and wrote a little but during that time I really did try to jot down little things throughout each day that I was feeling thankful for. Now, thinking back on it, I can remember almost everything I wrote. It was good for me to find it and to see that those memories are not lost forever, they're probably just tucked away in a safe place where my brain and heart conspired to keep them until I am ready to remember again.
The last several months have been mentally difficult at times. Inside of my own self a war is always waging. I really am remembering things that I don't necessarily want to re-hash. Things I have made peace with about Mabel's life and death are constantly brought to the front of my mind and I have to literally talk myself away from the memories. Again, guilt.
Because I so badly want to think about her but the questions that arise are too painful and I'm just not always ready to face them.
Aside from remembering, I realize that I truly have forgotten so many things. Things I never would have dreamt I would have forgotten. If ever there is a time when another parent asks what medications we used to stop seizures, I have to ask Ash or Rache.
Thank God they know. They know as well as I do. I'm grateful because part of that coping mechanism is to just simply let myself forget so that I can continue to live.
Without those beautiful skills that God gave our bodies to grieve and cope and survive, no mother would after losing her child. There's just no way.
I'm currently reading Ann Voskamp's new book, 'The Broken Way.'
If you remember, her first book literally saw me through the worst days of my life-both when Mabel was here and so very sick, and after she died and I re-read it again.
This book is now speaking to my heart in a whole new way, helping me to see that in this very broken and mangled state of missing my daughter, I can still really go on and live a full, rich and beautiful life that is absolutely saturated in joy.
Today that is what I feel.
Joy for second chances and redemption. Joy for really rambunctious, healthy, often annoying children. Joy for a home that I love and food that smells delicious. Joy for a husband who loves me and all of these children well. Joy for a life that is far greater than I could have imagined. Joy for a hope of Heaven; an eternity where our little girl spends today and every day until we meet again.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Today, may you find yourself reflecting on all of your many gifts. May your table be full of all the things that matter and free from all distractions that would cause you to slip out of the present moment.
And today, may you take time to remember where you have been. Embrace it.
And show gratitude for where you are. Even in the hurting or the hard, God is there.
"But first, remember, remember, remember..." --CS Lewis.