Life’s Best Lessons

Lately I’ve had the feeling that life just isn’t fair. No matter how you spin it, how you define it, it’s just not fair. Good people die. Good people get diagnosed with bad diseases. Or so it seems. All I have to go on is my own life. I can only speak to what I know. And what I know is that life is not fair. Never has been nor will it ever be. Because it’s life.

So how do you deal with that? You just pick yourself up and keep moving. I can’t explain it. I try and write about it. But at the end of the day it’s something deep within me that keeps me moving forward one step at a time each day. I also know when I stop and spend too long reflecting on the negative, I feel worse. So life has taught me some valuable things. One of the most important is how to get up and dust off the pain and hold my head up high and get on with life.

It does wear you down, and some days it seems exhausting to work so hard at just breathing. In the end, when I have remained determined to keep moving and to keep breathing, it gets a little easier. Living is hard work. It takes a lot of hutzpah to get back up off the ground and get up swinging. I took the high road. That is the gift life taught me. Take the high road – every time. My mom set the bar very high for this philosophy. I learned from the best.

Life is not fair. Life is hard. But some days, life is beautiful. Life is love. Life is free. So spend it freely. Love freely. Stare the unfair life in the fact and tell it to get lost. Do something that heals people. Feed the hungry. Mentor a young person. Build a community. Love yourself.

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Picture

I’d paint a picture for you

But you wouldn’t understand

The colors are absent and the pattern is vague

The concept is hard to see; and you can’t

Wrap your head around it;

The thought of it you can’t imagine.

Picture dropping a family heirloom,

One that was valued at a gazillion dollars.

And you come home one day and it

Lay before you shattered into a million

Pieces

But you wouldn’t understand

The pieces are just part of something

You cannot see; a vision of what was once

A form that brought beauty to one’s eye.

Now it is just a mess on the floor.

That is my heart…..

Malissa Moss

Surviving Loss

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Over the past four years since my daughter’s death, I have found that healing comes when I have moved with it, leaned into it and accepted it. I know this because when I have chosen at times to fight it, to avoid it or be angry about it, my healing became stagnant as if I’d taken the wrong turn. – from my blog in 2010

 

The past few months I have spent a considerable amount of time avoiding this blog. While I admit I’ve been distracted, I have been fully aware that I was avoiding writing. Why? I’m not exactly sure – but I believe it had something to do with feeling stuck.

Getting stuck is normal when on this journey, and what I find most interesting those periods where I am I stuck in my grief is when something profound is about to happen. I posted the quote above as a reminder to myself and any of you who find yourselves stuck on your journey.

I found thoughts running through my mind that my writing no longer came easily as it did in the early years since Brittany’s passing. Now it is more thoughtful, I have to concentrate on staying on topic. I even struggle to find a topic I can write about. But that is not what this about. This blog has never been about finding a topic to write about – it’s always been about writing my deepest thoughts about loss. Finding a creative outlet for the pain that gripped my heart – an outlet that would not only help me, but help others along the way.

I have been praying for a while now that I would find the courage to write again. I wanted to know if my writing was helping others. Today I read a post from a follower and it solidified for me that indeed my journey, my pain, my sorrow sketched out before you in this blog, dripping with tears of grief, is helping someone. That snapped in me to understand that my journey is evolving. It’s no longer just about me.

Those of you who take the time to read my blog – I am honored. For those of you who take the time to comment and share your stories with me – I am privileged. Thank you for your support and your time – it is so very valuable to me as a writer and as a mother who struggles daily with the loss of her only child.

Until next time,

M

Memories are a Gift

One of the things I think we all fear when a child dies, or for that matter any one that is close to us, is the loss of the memories of them. As time passes year after year it feels as if there is this unspoken distance where I feel that it takes more effort to go back to a place in time and think of some of the great memories I have of her and our life together. Especially the last two years of her life. This has been my greatest fear of all.

As on that fateful day October 13th, 2006, the day she disappeared from my life, I feel that the memories are now fading away just as she did in a physical sense. While I do have videos, photos, a few items I’ve put together of hers that meant the most to her; it is know that she lives on in the memories of those who loved her most. Her friends have stayed connected with me over the years and I’ve been so grateful for that.

At Brittany’s funeral I spoke of them, yes I was actually able to speak which was a miracle in itself. They befriended my daughter, loved my daughter and became a very important part of her life, while many distanced themselves, bullied her, excluded her, all because she was a little different. But not her closest friends. And of course, the love of her life. I have such great memories of how they would hang out at our house on Eastlawn and we would have so much fun. As a mom, I cherished those times because I knew they meant the most to my girl.

At her funeral they got up and spoke about her and what being friends with her meant to them. I had no plans to speak at her funeral but after hearing their stories and seeing the dog tags they made in her honor, I felt compelled to speak. As many of her classmates stood in the back, as there was standing room only that day, I shared my gratitude to her friends for taking the time and investing in my daughter. They were given the greatest gift back and that was her devoted love of friendship, a terrific sense of humor and many hours of laughing. I felt so strongly that many did not know this side of Brittany. On that day I think a few realized just what they missed out on.

The memories I have of my daughter are firmly fixed upon my heart and soul and while the business of life distract me from sitting and just remembering her, I don’t ever think they will ever disappear. Today, the sweetest gift came to me in a text from one of her closest friends. She shared a memory that means a lot to her and little did she know that it would mean more to me. It gave me the greatest gift, better than anything material. And it’s this simple, but profound message…..

Brittany is still alive in her heart and she still feels connected to her through those memories. I wept when I read it, and I laughed when I read it. But most of all it touched my heart in a way I am sure she cannot imagine. For that I am and will be forever grateful.

It’s so very important to those of us who have lost our children, that we know they have not just disappeared from this earth, but that their memory, the impact they had on others, that the love shared has not disappeared, but perhaps even moved them into a space now that has made a difference to them. The lessons we learn from those departed can be the best lessons of all.

So if you live in GR, go sit on her bench and spend a few minutes remembering her and laughing out loud because you know she is…..

until next time
m

The Final Chapter

Chapter 15 = Heritage in a Graveyard

This is the last chapter in the book by Jerry Sittser “A Grace Disguised”. As I reflect on this chapter I am reminded of the amount of Grace that God has extended me these past 4 years since Brittany’s death. And it is in those moments of Grace that I have been able to keep going and to realize that although I have endured a great loss and lived with many losses, I live today knowing I am a survivor.

In this final chapter Sittser writes about taking his children to the cemetery for a stroll to see the burial-place of his mom and wife, their mother and grandmother and their sibling who parished in the auto accident. For those of you close to me you know I’m not a fan of cemeteries.

Over the past 20+ years, I can recall going to my mother’s maybe 3-4 times. I find it very difficult to go there. Actually in all honesty I find it unbearable to go there. I can recall two times, other than the day of her burial, that I went to see her burial site and to take flowers. Once it was with Brittany, perhaps she was somewhere around 10-12 years old. I didnt’ want to get out of the car. I pointed out in the direction and told her to go and I’d wait in the car. So off she went and then I felt bad for doing that so I got out of the car and went over to her.

She was just staring at her headstone, as if she didn’t know what to do. Then I got down on my knees and wept – I missed my mom so badly and I think it was then that Brittany understood what loss looked like and how much the relationship between mother and daughter meant. I got back up and dusted myself off, as I always do when I’m in pain, took her by the hand and left. I didn’t return again until a few years ago with my niece Devon.

Devon and I went to the cemetery one day and I got out of the car and found it to be much easier this time. Perhaps the sorrow that fills my heart today from Brittany’s death has made things like walking up to my mother’s grave easier. We cleaned off the headstone, which is still a sore spot with my family, it bares the name of her short-lived marriage and not our last name. Devon and I placed flowers there and spent a few moments in quiet. Then left. I never want to go back.

For me it is a place of sadness and a place that reminds me all too well of how much I have lost in my life. This feeling is why Brittany is not buried. Her father and I chose to cremate her and she is with me today. For me it’s just better. I don’t have to go to a burial site to see her – which has always been a hard thing for me to do. It would seem less painful.

1-1/2 ago my aunt passed away and for the first time I returned to a cemetery where some of my family is buried. As I stood over my great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s graves, I was reminded of good times, but such sadness overwhelmed me that I had to turn away and walk towards the car. My uncle in fast pursuit as he knows, probably better than most, that death is devastating to me no matter how long it has passed.

Going to a cemetery is a painful reminder for what has passed no matter whose buried there or not. It’s a symbol of loss, pain and devastating grief and so I choose not to go again. I have enough reminders as I look around the room at my daughter’s pictures – I don’t need more. I honor my families memories in my own mind and in my picture albums. That is how I best respect that life. It works for me.

Sittser reflects about his thoughts on his own heritage and his role and for me he nails it here in this passage:

“Heritage has always been important to me, but never more than in the last three years. Much of who I am is a product of the heritage given me at my birth. My story is part of a much larger story that I did not choose. I was assigned a role for which I did not audition. Yet I have the power to choose how I will live out that story and play that role. I want to live my story well and play my role with as much integrity and joy as I can.” – Jerry Sittser

I couldn’t have said it better myself. That my friends is why I continue to grow in my faith, accept God’s grace to move on and continue my story. But know I will always have that pain, that sorrow, that hole in the space where Brittany lived. And some days will always be harder than others. So as Mother’s Day approaches, please pray for grace because this holiday is one of the toughest I live through each and every year.

Until next time

m

Sudden Separation

With the sudden separation of accidental death, you were wrenched apart,
and the numbness, confusion, alienation, depression and “walking dead” feelings
that you have now are the result of not being able to assemble a
whole person out of the fragments left behind. – Deepak

 

The above quote from Deepak  Chopra in an article I read recently on Oprah.com really validated on of the many things I’ve spoken about over the past four years about the grief from a single mother’s perspective. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all of his comments he made to this mother, I do feel he has been able to describe in words what I feel I have yet to do.

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Spiritual-Side-of-Grief-Ask-Deepak

The link above is there for your reference to the story of a mother, a single mother of an only child, who dies suddenly. Her story is the one closest to mine that I’ve found that speaks to some of the issues I’ve dealt with or still continue dealing with. I would encourage you to read it and if it resonates with you because you are at that place, try some of his ideas. I plan to.

Although I’m in a place of healing now, it’s going to be a life-long journey and one that I prefer to have God on my side or better yet at my side carrying me when I need to be carried, nudging me when I need to be nudged and lifting me up when I fall down. And finally bringing people into my life that will support me and validate me where I am and not where they want me to be. That is how the healing begins and will continue to flow.

until next time

m