I decided on this tenth anniversary that I would write you a letter. Simply said, I miss you. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you first thing in the morning and last thing at night and much of the time in between. The life of a grieving mom is one of wondering, wondering what you would be doing now, wondering how you’d wear your hair, wondering if you would have had more children, just wondering. It’s like being on a very long trip, looking out the car window, but with no destination or time of arrival. You just ride and ride and ride. Everyday is a challenge for me now, trying to make a difference somewhere.
After you died, I got involved in a group called The Compassionate Friends. There I met some of the most courageous people I’ve ever known. They live much like I do on an unending road trip. We are all the same, doesn’t matter the age of your child, the reason they died, the complicated circumstances, it just matters that it was someone you loved with all your heart. The eyes of a grieving parent are very similar, there is a sadness in them, regardless of what is going on in their life.
I’ve learned a lot, from others, from reading, from conference speakers and from endless conversations with grieving parents. I am humbled to be in the company of this inspirational group of people. I have seen people climb to incredible heights after being what I believe to be the lowest point in a parents life. I have seen someone who could hardly form a sentence fighting back the tears to eventually being the “go to” person for newly bereaved. It truly is a miracle to watch this growth and a gift to be a part of it.
I’ve learned so much about grief and grieving. I learned that people will come and go in your life. I have always had a tough time with change, but now I know people are in your life for a reason. There are some that will be there forever maybe only surfacing in difficult times. Some will remain in your everyday life and some will come into your life at just the right time. It may be to help you or it may be for you to help them. I do know that you are much more aware of those around you and I do believe it makes you a more compassionate and caring person.
I’ve learned that so many things we worry about really aren’t worth it. Life is like a fast paced carnival ride. You get on with great anticipation of what’s to come, and you experience the twists and turns and ups and downs and eventually the ride comes to a halt. You enjoyed the ride, but the parts that’s were scary, were really scary. Surviving the twists and turns, not knowing what’s coming next, presents challenges you weren’t prepared for. Sometimes the ride is so frightening, you really don’t want to take the chance again. May you never take that chance again in the hopes of having a good time, being happy, feeling that exuberance of what’s to come. Then you look back and remember how the ride made you feel. You remember the overall joy you felt when the ride began and the laughter and the screaming and the anticipation of what’s in front of you. I realized after you died, that I was afraid of the unknown. This, as you know, is not my norm, but fear of living without you was like not being able to catch your breath. I just didn’t know if I could do it.
At that point, I looked back and remembered how the ride made me feel. I remember everything from the news we were having you, to the day of your birth, to all the milestones that we, as a family, were blessed to enjoy for 29 years. We did it all, my precious girl, making the most of the ride. You taught me that the ride was worth it. Those moments are treasures for me, as they are for your sisters.
You taught me as much in death as you did in life. One of the last times you were in the hospital, you and I discussed writing a book. It was a goal we set. I tried to start many times, but it just didn’t feel right. After dad died, I started this blog to share my journey of grieving with others, hoping to help just one person. Surprisingly, I am close to 10,000 views reaching people all over the world. Who would think anyone would care what I wrote? It isn’t because I’m a great writer, but more because I am writing it with pure love in my heart.
I’ve had many more twists and turns since you left ten years ago with loss after loss. I thought I had seen the worst life had to offer, but the world is a mess right now. The Pandemic has taken over our lives in an unprecedented way. I think of all the families facing the challenges of loss in the weeks to come. My heart breaks for them because I know they are scared. I’m scared too, just like I was when you died, scared of what’s to come. The one thing I know though is life goes on and it is a personal decision as to what you do with it. Not ever taking the chance to feel the joy of the ride doesn’t seem like a good choice.
Loving you and being your mom was one of the great joys of my life. I was blessed to have you as my daughter. I miss your smile, your laugh, the smell of your cologne, the sound of you coming in the front door, you and dad fighting over the remote, your love for your family, your loyalty, your advice, and finally… I just miss you. What started as an incredible adventure seemed like it ended in tragedy, but did it really or was I so lucky to have had you as my spunky, feisty, outspoken, loving, one of a kind daughter? I believe I am the one who is blessed beyond measure. My three daughters are my greatest accomplishment in life and I thank God for them each and every day.
The maze was less dense for awhile, but with the world situation has become difficult to navigate once again. Thing is, I have lots of memories of the ride to keep me going. I believe when this is over, the sun will be brighter than ever. When things are better, I’m going to get back in line for the ride because my family taught me “it’s all worth it”. I love you my sweet girl, every hour, every minute and every second of every day. Give dad a warm hug from me until we all meet again…
Love you with all my heart today and forever, Mom