He took the tiny baby from the doctor’s hands. She was so small, so delicate. Her tiny features were perfect, ten fingers, ten toes, perfect little body and all of it topped off with a mop of dark hair. He was nervous this second time around. He had attended the birth of his first child, but this time he lowered the tiny baby into a warm water bath. She was crying, not thrilled to be thrust into this cold, scary world, but as her pudgy little body slipped gently beneath the surface of the warm bath, the crying ceased and there was a calm that came over the entire delivery room. Another miracle made.
Today marks thirteen years since my daughter, Lindsey, died. It feels like an eternity since I heard her voice, kissed her cheek, felt her arms around me as we hugged that day, not knowing it would be our last time. It was Easter of 2010, a beautiful day, as we had dinner together and I left for work. Three days later, she was gone and nothing would ever be the same. I would never be the same.
The loss of a child is like an explosion. It destroys everything around it, leaving nothing but rubble in its wake. There is nothing left that is recognizable and what is left will never return to its previous state. The smoke billows all around, the sky is dark, and it feels eearily quiet.
Eventually it is safe to enter the area where the explosion occurred. . Carefully you step softly, you look around you. You survey the damage. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to rebuild what is lost. Do you give up and throw away what is left or do you reach down and find a little piece of something that was part of your life before the explosion?
That’s what it’s like to lose a child. Everything in those early days is dark. There is no color in your world. It is as if you are playing an old black and white movie. As you look around your world, you recognize small pieces of you. It’s not the same, but it is part of you and who you were. As time goes on, more bits and pieces begin to surface. The part of you that was destroyed starts to regenerate little by little. Often no one can see it but you or maybe you are afraid to let others see it. You are afraid to feel, sometimes even afraid to love.
It is a difficult journey and everyone’s journey is unique to them and to their loss. It takes strength you don’t have, energy you can’t muster and internal drive that you lost along with your child. How do you accomplish this, it’s much too hard.
In my case, it was a choice to give up or give in. Live or remain dead inside and miss all that life has to offer. That day 13 years ago, brought me to my knees. Today I drop to my knees for a different reason, to thank God for my incredible daughter. I am grateful for my 29 years. Would I have liked more, absolutely. I was there when she took her first breath, got her first tooth and took her first steps. I was there to love her through some tough times. I was there when she walked down the aisle to marry her best friend. I was there when she had her son and love of her life. I was there for it all and I am so thankful for that. That is why I drop to my knees now.
Carrying grief and gratitude is a difficult task. Sometimes the load shifts and you lose your balance. Sometimes you just lose your footing and sometimes you fall to the ground. Some days are easier than others. That is just the way it is and you can’t change it. What you can do is to rebalance your load and when you feel the weight shift, stop and take a minute to feel. Follow that by straightening the load and setting out again. You’ll never be completely balanced because the weight of the load will change. As you continue on your journey your load will lighten. You’ll unpack the things you don’t need anymore and you’ll balance the rest with your memories.
My load now is not nearly as heavy. My journey will never be over and my life will never be the same, but what I carry with me every day are my memories and they are lighter. What I carry is my undying, never ending love for my daughter. What I carry is my continued zest for life. I want to live for her and to live for what I still have. I want to be able to see her when we meet again and I know we will. I want her to say. ‘Good job mom, I’m proud of you.”
I miss my daughter and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and how blessed I am to be her mom. Although life comes with pain sometimes, the journey is worth it if you have love and give love. When you love this deep you grieve to the same depth. Grief is not a bad thing, it’s just a best friend with no other place to be.
Lindsey, I love you. I miss you and I will see you again….I will be forever grateful I got to be your mom.