Mother’s Day

A New Normal

So often I have read about this idea of a “new normal” that one begins to experience after a loss such as mine. I do wonder who may have come up with that label. I don’t believe the word normal belongs in a sentence that would describe one’s life after loss. Normal doesn’t reflect what is really going on with one’s life at this stage. I do think that you can move through into a new stage of your life. One that can be happy. One that can be fulfilling and rewarding. But normal – I don’t think so. 

Who defines what is normal? 

I know I don’t, probably never have. I can say that with all that has happened to me over these past couple of years, I know that normal is far from what I have experienced. I also know that what I have experienced and what I am continuing to experience is God’s love and grace sufficient to exist in a life that has continued to remain somewhat meaningless to me. Please know that this is not a bad thing, I just see this life as a pathway to the next. I am working hard to do what I need to do to fufill my purpose for where I am right now. But where I am right now maybe not where I will be tomorrow. Remembering that I only have control over right now. Right now, I choose to write about how I feel in hopes that someone else can identify with those feelings and know that they are not alone.

Life does get better.

It does get less painful. And, at times, can be rewarding. I find that in my job, I find purpose. It is when I am alone in my home or alone in my own thoughts that I begin to think about the future and where I see myself  in it. Please know that normal will never be a part of anyone’s life when they have lost a child. Don’t assume that becoming normal again will ever be an option. So much of what I have read from many different parents echoes the same – “life will never be normal” – it just becomes different. I have found that there are so many days that life can be rewarding and fulfilling. I love what I do for a living. It gives me such gratification to know I am helping to shape nurses to be health advocates for those who need one. But I also have an emptiness that resides in my heart and it is unbearable some days. But I don’t let you see it. It’s too painful and I know if you really saw it – you might cry. It’s a place I try not to visit very often. 

As Mother’s Day approaches I feel that uneasiness start to well up inside me. It’s like hearing the rushing water of a white water falls way off in the distance. You find yourself having to stop and listen very carefully to hear it. As it is with grief. It’s calling my name again as it does every October. It’s quite unimaginable that I have had to endure this – seems like a lifetime ago. Yet sometimes it feels like yesterday. As I wonder about my life aimlessly looking for what I am missing – I understand it is her smile, her crazy quirky self and the biggest heart I’ve ever known! 

God has brought me this far.

I know He will continue to keep me in the palm of His hand until it is my turn to return to Him. I have a great deal of faith and a small amount of will. So life is out of balance for me and living a “normal” life just doesn’t seem appropriate. But a new life, one filled with hope for an opportunity to help others is what I know I am meant to do – for now. 

 until next time,

M

Holidays are over – so why am I still so mad?

Each holiday season I pine for January. Since my daughter passed away, I find the holidays to be less than cheerful. So when January arrives, there seems to be a collective sigh of relief that comes. But not so much this year. Now I’m just mad.

I’ve been mad for weeks now. A few weeks ago I found myself out walking and at some point during the walk I’m talking to myself and asking “what is wrong”? Then it hit me and I began to cry. Sobbing for the remainder of my walk and I’m sure had anyone crossed my path they’d have thought I was having a breakdown. Actually what I was having was a breakthrough. I wasn’t sad. I’ve been sad for too long. I was just plain mad.

So when I get mad, I cry – that is how I roll. Then when I cry, I get madder. I’ve spent too much time crying these past 8 years, in fact, I’ve spent many years crying over tragedy after tragedy. After the realization that I was just plain mad, I realized that I am so tired of grieving. It’s worn me down to a place where there is nothing left to grieve. Not sure why now. Why now am I just so mad?

I think it may be in large part because I have battled the good fight of grief and now I’m just pissed. I want to know why me. Why my daughter? And I know I won’t know the answer to this until I’m face-to-face with God – and that does not make me feel any less mad. I’m still mad. I feel beaten down, dragged through the mud and kicked until I can’t breathe. Yeah that is grief. It’s hard, it’s tough and it’s exhausting.

So I pray and I talk to God and I talk to Brittany daily. I ask for help to understand. Because my human brain can no longer make any sense of it. I do know too that I’m too distracted and haven’t done my homework. Reading, writing and prayer – those things have kept me from losing my mind some days. When I stay focused on my faith, my writing and connecting to those who understand what I’ve experienced – well it helps. But even that is exhausting some days. I know it has helped me get to here, but now I feel like I’m at a cross road and need to know what I need to do next. Praying for that guidance is all I can do now.

Until next time,

M

What Christmas Means to Me

Originally written December 25, 2009

Today I chose to write about what Christmas means to me today in comparison to what it meant to me as a little girl many years ago.

I remember many Christmas as a young girl, that gifts under the tree were sparse. My mom was single mother of six children. She worked many jobs just to keep us together as a family. She never took money from sources, other than family, she was a proud mother. She did what she could to provide for us and most importantly to keep us from being separated.

There were times when the state threatened to separate us because we had no money for food and moved a lot. We lived in downtown Indianapolis until I was in about 4th grade. There is so much more about this story, but I’ll save this for another day.

The one thing I do want to say is that Christmas to me growing up was about family and about being together. It wasn’t so much about the gifts. Now my grandmother she always made sure we had gifts under tree, especially when mom couldn’t. Christmases at my grandmothers and great-grandmother’s houses were – well they were just amazing

When I say family I mean extended family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas family would come from all over to gather at the Wisehart house for holiday dinner and fellowship. Aunts and uncles, cousins (1st, 2nd and 3rd), grandparents and great grandparents, moms and dads (well except my dad).

We would sit around and eat so much food until we were about to burst. My great grandmother’s Butterscotch Pie was to die for. No one to this date has ever been able to make it the same way she did. I miss those days so much.

Then there was the Christmas’s during my 18 year marriage and life with my sweet Brittany. It was my new tradition. Yes, we did visit my great grandmother’s until those events stopped. Eventually it became too much for her. And after my mom died our family virtually fell apart. So we all had to create our own traditions.

So for 18 years Christmas meant getting up and watching Brittany open up her gifts and jumping for joy. When we were with her father’s family we would hear the Christmas Story from the book of Matthew in the New Testament. You see it was very important to us that Brittany new and understood the true meaning of Christmas. That it wasn’t always about the gifts – however it sure was a lot of fun.

Now I find Christmas to be one of the loneliest days of my life. The people in my life that created all those memories are gone. First my great-grandfather, then my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather, my great-grandmother and most recently my daughter. Just thinking about it makes me cry out in anguish. But then I remember….

The real meaning of Christmas. I would encourage you to read the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. It talks about the wonder of Jesus’ birth – the real reason we celebrate Christmas – it talks about his life – it provides us the way to live our lives – it speaks of His death and His resurrection.

His resurrection is the reason I keep believing that there is a reason I am here and why I keep moving forward one day at a time. Because the resurrection assures me that I will see the family that has gone on before me. The family that helped to create my Christmas memories early in my life and late in my life; I miss them so much – especially my dear sweet Brittany.

Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus – to remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only son – Jesus.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and they will call Him Immanuel which means God is with us.” – Matthew 1:23 (NLT edition)

Merry Christmas my friends because even in the midst of our grief there is hope.

Until next time

M

A Time to be Grateful

Monon in Carmel

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” – Oprah

As I sit here reflecting on Oprah’s quote I can’t help but think back over the past eight years and see the many blessings that have come my way since my daughter’s death. I believe a person needs to have great faith to see that and to believe that life can still have meaning after such loss. But also understanding that it will be different. Never the same.

I’m a fighter and I have always gotten back up and dusted myself off and took another step in faith that God has my back. He has up till now and I have every bit of faith that He will for the rest of my days. The problem is always me. I get in the way of my own recovery, my own journey because of my human nature to disbelieve.

Life has handed me more hurts and sorrows and at times I’ve often wondered how life could have any meaning left for me. It would be so easy for me to give up, to stop believing, to stop living.

But my faith is so much stronger than my disbelief.

And that my friends is where it begins and ends. So today I am thankful for my faith, for it has carried me this far. My Thanksgiving prayer for you all that is that you can find gratitude in the little things. It is the little things in life that rebuild faith, strength, foundational love and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving

until next time

M

Grief Exposed

Last night I as I attempted to sleep thoughts of my journey played out in my head keeping me from a restful sleep. I said to myself – “you should get up and write” but I finally succumbed to the exhaustion and fell asleep. I don’t recall what it was specifically that I was dreaming about and that annoys me. I feel like at times I dream of things that have a message. But last night it was more like a restlessness that I cannot pinpoint. I cannot identify readily as this or that. It is just simply the restlessness that comes with grief.

I am coming into the dark days but it is a bit early just yet. I usually experience the dark days  beginning in September and it usually  lasts until the new year. With each year that has passed since my Brittany’s untimely death, I have called the days leading up to her death as the dark days. I have included the holidays for they have lost their luster for me. Can’t get that back. In fact, the meaning for many celebratory things have left me with a void that I cannot fill. I can only live in the moment and I cannot find the hutzpah to look into the future. Life for me is simply this….fill my day with busyness. Distractions work well.

Pondering on a past life that I longed for so long was ripped from me and in the wake of that,  I was not left with much to rebuild on. Not sure what the message is for me. I have resolved that I cannot figure it out and that I have to be ok with that. But haven’t quite got a grip on that yet. I still question “why me” a lot. I can look back over my life and say “why me” so many times that one might imagine any normal person would have gone berserk by now. I keep the faith that one day it will all become clear to me. Why so much has been taken from me. Why didn’t I get what they have. When I say “they”, I say all those who continue to enjoy their children, see them grow, graduate, marry and have children. My arms ache for the loss of so much. I cannot put it into words how profoundly empty that feels.

I hope that some day it will perhaps make more sense, but for now I am at a loss, my broken heart profoundly exposed and my sorrow spills over into a river of tears. I wrote today this which pretty much sums up my sorrow….

“Sometimes I just want to go back because going forwards means the distance between me and you fades and all I’m left with is the faint hint of who you were in my life.”

Until next time,

m

Grief at Christmas

Red Haired Angel

Grief at Christmas is like no other. Grief knows no day or time, it comes and visits you when it wants and however it wants. No Christmas, or Easter or Thanksgiving holiday keeps it away. When a child dies, those holidays are hard. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or how it happened. The holidays are never the same.

I have had to change my view of Christmas especially since the death of my daughter six years ago. This will be my 7th Christmas that I will not be wrapping fun gifts for her to open on Christmas morning. I will not be getting up early to watch her open her gifts and see her funny face and how she would always put bows on her head and face as she collected her gifts. If you haven’t lost a child, you can’t know the gravity of this space.

This space of grief is overwhelming at times to the point that nothing makes sense and y ou want to go back to bed and cover up and forget it all happened. But it did happen and it happened to me and perhaps it’s happened to you. I know it’s hard. There are no words that can adequately describe the pain and sorrow that the loss of a child can bring. The recent events in Newtown Connecticut brings it all back. As I imagine and know all to well, how these parents are feeling today. It’s numbing, it’s painful and it hurts beyond belief. Waking up to know and understand that there has been a huge hole created by the loss of your child is unimaginable.

The stages of grief are a welcome in the early days. Shock helps you get through the difficult early days that follow a loss. In fact, I found myself preparing to celebrate my daughter’s life during the three days that followed her death fairly painless. Even speaking at her celebration of life seemed to come easily to me. It was the days to come that made me drop to my knees and asky “why”.

My dear friends, these newly grief-stricken parents are going to need so much love and prayer in the days, weeks, months to come. Each day that passes the loss becomes bigger and harder to manage. Please don’t forget them. They need us. As a nation we need to lift them up in prayer and support them however we can.

I know and understand all to well just how much prayer and support means, even today 6 years later. I still get cards, Christmas gifts from those “angels” who supported me throughout my most darkest days. I know they are moved by God to provide and support, whatever means that is, it’s a gift to those of us who grieve.

Christmas, while it is a time to celebrate family, it is also a time to celebrate the greatest gift of all, Jesus. This is how I make it through – remembering the real reason we celebrate this holiday. Because if left to celebrate it as I have in my past, I’d never make it through. So I am thankful this holiday season. I have been given much. I have been blessed beyond measure. And yes, while I have lost much, I have been blessed with much more.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays however you celebrate.

until next time,

 

 

Birthdays Are The Toughest

It has been just six short years since my daughter passed away and today would have been her 24th birthday. It is the seventh birthday I have had to endure this lump in my throat that comes on the eve of November 30th and stays until I choose to release it.

Her angel date is always difficult, but it’s her birthday that I find extraordinarily difficult to think about. Birthdays represent life, birth a promise of a future to come. One filled of years and years of joy and yes, even some sorrows.

I fought so many years to have her. Suffered from many painful and expensive infertility tests and finally she was born. Even that wasn’t without difficulty. Last minute c-section and a dislocated hip but it was the most joyous moment of my life.

Throughout her life I had to hold on tightly to her as she had suffered from different illnesses from having a bout of encephalitis at 11 months. But mostly we just survived life the best we could. But there was always this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

In looking back the many years of fighting for her rights, her healthcare and her life – it seems as though life was always a battle. But there were also so many moments filled with joy and happiness. Laughter came easily to her despite her many setbacks over the years. She faced life like no one I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps that is why her birthday is the hardest day for me to live through. Each and every one represents a loss so profound in my life because I fought so very hard to have her, keep her and care for her. Every fiber of my being went to be her mother. Her caretaker and she – she was my everything.

As the tears stream down my face, I can’t help but also laugh because she made me laugh. She made me proud to be her mother. She made me a better person. And although today will be hard. I know she lives on in our hearts and minds. And I will see her again soon.

In the meantime I will continue to honor her life by doing the things I know she loved – loving people.

until next time

m