I have felt the urge to open the box. You know, that box I put neatly together nearly six years ago that would forever hold safely the memories of my daughter. I typically reserve this ritual for her angel date 10-13; however when the spirit moves you – you move. I got myself a cup of coffee, not sure why, as I have found it difficult to go through this exercise without large volumes of tears, tissues and drinking anything seems nauseating. As I sat down to open the chest that contains the remains of my daughter’s life I felt that this time something would be different. And I was right.
I first took out the photos I have of her and family, with her friends and the few picture of us together. They still make me smile. There have been some incredibly beautiful photos of her taken over the years. In two instances by my dear friend Cyndi at Inspirations Photography in Grand Rapids Michigan. Those I cherish so much because Cyndi was able to capture the beauty of my daughter in ways we had not seen. We knew of the beauty in her heart, as did some of her closest friends – but to capture it on film – priceless to a grieving mother.
As I moved through the chest I remove things and look at them like prize possessions. Then I arrive at the “box”. This box contains some of my most private memories of Brittany. They contain stories, emotional significance and most of all my connection with her.
As I remove the lid and see the first picture of her – the one we put up at her celebration of life – I am left with a feeling of wonder because she was truly a beautiful spirit and taken way too soon – in my opinion. As I lifted up the photos to uncover the next memory – her blanket. The one that used to cover her bed and at the hospital covered her body while she fought for her life. I grabbed it and buried my face in it hoping to smell her – but it was no longer there. That scent I had become used to when I opened the box in previous years – I cried tears of sadness into that blanket and then moved to the next item. Her stuffed bear that she received from her boyfriend Andy while she was at Cleveland Clinic weeks before her death. I hugged that bear and cried some more.
Then I saw a couple of the t-shirts I had saved because she loved them and wore them often. I brought them to mu face and again, her scent has faded and they no longer smelled like her. Things have changed. Something is different this time. I was hesitant to move forward in fear of finding that the last remaining connection I had with her would be gone.
Next I moved to her glasses. I have written about this glasses before. They had a powerful connection in the early years. You see Brittany had her glasses on while working at her desk. Sensing something was up, she removed them and placed them safely on the desk, and then she must have begun her seizure. So the last thing she saw was through those glasses. The first time I picked them up – there was such energy with them. Now, it is gone and they are just simply a pair of glasses. This made me so sad and I cried a river. There was too much change going on here and I almost closed the box again as I couldn’t take it anymore. But I pulled myself together as something else caught my eye.
After Brittany passed, the Child Life team came and took pictures of her and they took a casting of her hands. Her father and I have one of her hand prints that is cast in this plaster casting. I painted it a long time ago in a color that would represent a life-like skin color and put it away. I reached for it and set it out. I looked at it, like I’d never looked at it before. Then I placed my left hand on top of her print and there it was – the connection – knowing it was an extension of her. Each finger was just like hers at the time of her death. I sobbed.
After reading a few cards, the newspaper stories about her passing I realized that again – she was such a gift from God. That for a short time she was the best thing that ever happened to me. She made my life complete. And now that she is gone – it no longer feels complete. It’s empty in a way that I cannot begin to explain. I know that only mothers who have lost their children understand it. There is no filling it back up. That is not possible. The one thing I do understand is that love has been taken from me so many times; my heart has been broken by loss more than once. While I am able to keep moving forward and building my new normal; there is a price.
Love doesn’t come easy for me any more. I don’t trust it. Each time it as visited me it has left me broken in pieces and my faith in love is once more reduced to the thought that it is not what I am supposed to be doing with my life. It would seem that the normal life would contain love, joy and happiness. I’m not saying it’s not going to be mixed with time of sorrow. But for me – maybe I was never intended to have a normal life. I haven’t had it so far and maybe I need to quit trying to find it. Because it’s not there. It’s not what I am to be.
Today, I am in a succesful job which I love. I have done great things with my career. I have continued this blog in hopes of helping other grieving moms – but love – I find that to feel odd, not normal and just plain painful. Love to me equates to loss. It has been repeated over and over in my history. It is what has made me a strong person. Why I am so successful in my business life. But my personal life…. I’m in a place I don’t know how to move forward. That means I’m stuck somewhere. I will need to continue to process that.
until next time