Monday, September 05, 2011

Grieving is Hard Work



Those who have never buried their child cannot know that pain... it is different than having another family member or loved one die.  I carried my girl in my womb for 9 months and had morning sickness that whole time. I gave birth to my Jessica, cared for her through all her special needs, many complicated medical problems, did therapy (OT, PT and speech), gave up so many of my own needs for hers and fought for every little thing for her for 22 years.  My heart yearns to care for her again.  To brush the hair out of her eyes, touch her cheek and calm her fears.  I spent so many sleepless nights calming her down, helping her see the good in her life and helping ease her physical pain.  So many little things I did for her that nobody even knew about because she was embarrassed that she needed my help with those personal things.  We had a bedtime routine that increased over time to where it took me hours to get her calm, tummy full and pain under control so that she could finally sleep.  I used to pop popcorn EVERY NIGHT and we would eat it together while watching TV in her room.  I can't eat popcorn anymore, especially the regular butter kind that she and I would eat.  There are still popcicles in our freezer that we bought for her last year hoping that she would be able to eat them but no, she couldn't even keep that down.

Most days I'm OK but that might be that I'm trying to ignore the closed bedroom door.  A small piece of me is hoping ... or wishing... that all I would have to do is open it and I would be able to rush in and hold my sweet girl.  I miss her so much... I think my heart will break into a million pieces.  I saw her heart give out.  Her heart fought a long hard battle and survived much longer than anyone ever expected, ... but not long enough.  It would never be long enough.  After she took her last breath and her heart's fluttering stopped we sat there looking ... and watching... are we SURE it was done?  Could it start beating again?  She had cheated death so many times before, why couldn't she do it just one more time?  We saw so many miracles during her lifetime why couldn't we have just one more?  The miracle that came was for her, not for me.  The real miracle is that she is no longer suffering and will never feel pain again!  She suffered for so very long.  I grieve over the pain she went through for so long and how I fought so hard to get someone to listen to me and help me ease her pain.  I couldn't get anyone to understand how incredibly ill she really was.  But I knew.  I knew her whole GI system was shutting down.  I knew her heart could only take so much and I knew her spirit was growing tired.  I knew I needed to cherish every kiss, every hug and every "I love you Mommy".

Eleven months ago I told my precious girl to "Go to the light", that it was time to go to heaven.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I had fought for her to LIVE with all my might and strength for 22 years and 4 months... but at 3:27 am on October 4th, 2010, I told her to "Go!  You will be great!  You will be beautiful and happy and free!" just when I wanted to cling to her and cry out, "Don't leave me!!!!"  One quick look, one huge tear, one huge frown and one last breath and she was gone.  She was finally free of the body that held her back in so many ways... that kept her from doing all the normal things that most kids do... kept her from having the biggest dream of all... to get married and have a family just like Mommy and Daddy.

I know her dreams will come true someday.  It's just soooo hard to wait.  Last year she told me so many times how much she wanted to get married and have a family - she didn't want to die yet.  I told her about what life will be like when she is resurrected... she will no longer need her oxygen, no tubing to trip over and no oxygen tanks to take with her... she wouldn't need a wheelchair either, she would be able to run and play with her children and not sit in the wheelchair and watch.  She wouldn't turn blue and get short of breath... she would breathe freely and be able to do ANYTHING that she wanted to do.  Her healthy body would be able to have as many babies as she wanted and she would be able to take care of them herself.  She would have a good husband to love and who would be a good father to her children just like her Daddy.  She would get married and have her family - she would just have to wait a little longer.

Someone said to me yesterday, "You'll see her again in heaven".  Callus.  That doesn't help me NOW.  It could be 40+ years until I see her again... I don't think she (the commentator) would want to wait that long to see her little girl.  Another comment from someone else when I replied, "It's just such a long wait".... "if you think about it in her perspective it's not that long at all."  I didn't even respond to that.  Please.  If you want to comfort me don't brush my anguish aside.  If you can't respond in a caring manner then don't respond at all.  I tried not to let those comments affect me and I went about doing other things.  I don't always feel this bad but I HAVE TO FEEL IT.  I can't just brush it aside as if I never even had a daughter.  I did have a daughter - I STILL have a daughter, I just can't see her or touch her right now.

This weekend was my in-law's 50th anniversary celebration.  Each of their 4 children had a display table for their families to set up, anything we wanted to as a representation of our families.  We had pictures and a digital photo frame.  My sis-in-law recommended that I bring the photo display board that I had set up at Jessica's funeral.  I brought it and quickly added a few photos.  We had it set up next to our little table.  I saw quite a few people looking over the photos - I had her birth date and death dates on there so I'm sure everyone knew she had passed on.  I met some people I didn't know and there were quite a few people asking about my precious angel.  It was such a huge hole not having her there.  What made it worse is that Justen and Ravyn weren't able to make it so 1/2 of my children weren't there.  It was very nice to see the in-laws, some of whom I haven't seen in quite awhile.  A couple of the young nieces remind Karl and I of our little girl - who was a "little girl" her whole life.  We had a lot of emotions that night at the party and I sobbed on the ride home.

Yesterday (technically it was yesterday but I still haven't gone to bed so it's "today" for me - lol) was one of those dates.  It was exactly a year ago that we celebrated my birthday 16 days early so that Jessica wouldn't feel the need to linger on and suffer needlessly in order to be here for my birthday.


She was so thin and weak... I couldn't get behind her to hold her up without causing her too much pain.  It was a very difficult birthday for me... but little did I know that she would not only be here for my actual birthday (September 20) but she survived until Oct 4th, 2010.  Exactly eleven months ago.  

I can't believe that it's been 11 months since I last held my girl.  It seems like AGES and I'm so tired... I can't even begin to think of living my life without my girl for YEARS.  It's such hard work to grieve.  Even when you think you are doing ok, it's still there.  The void.  The yearning to care for your own child is still there.  Wishing to hear her voice again, hear her laugh and see her smile... it's even there when I sleep.  I dreamed that Brandon put one of our kittens outside, shut the door and walked away.  I was frantically looking for the kitten who I just knew was out there, afraid and alone.  I realized that my dream wasn't about the kitten, it was about my subconscious worrying that Jessica is alone and afraid.  She always needed me to be nearby.  If I left to go somewhere she would call me every 5 minutes asking when I would return.  Most of the time I worried about her welfare while I was gone... was she breathing ok?  Was she calm and happy or was she worried and scared?  In my heart I know that she is in a place where the cares of the world are laid to rest.  She is with people who love her and she is happy.  She is able to do anything she wants to do and I believe she is able to visit me whenever she needs to.  But my subconsciousness doesn't know this.  It worries because I can't see her, I can't ask her how she is doing and I can't hug her worries away.  I keep thinking that I held her up and carried her for 22 years... now it's her turn to help me from the other side of the veil.  I've worried about how I would grieve over my daughter's death for so many years... and now it's a reality.  I can't just wake up and go to her room and hold her.  She really is gone this time.   

I'm not sure if anyone will read this or not but I think I needed to write it for my own good.  I thought I knew what grieving would be like but it is different than I expected in some ways.  Each day is a new day... not one that I readily get up and am excited about.  It's like I get up and put on a 100 pound sack on my shoulders.  I don't want it but it's there.  The pain, the sorrow, the loss... it's actually even there when I'm asleep.  I've heard that you become stronger to carry that hole in your heart after you've buried a child but it never goes away.

Earlier in the evening I decided to write down a little of what I was feeling and several hours later (taking several breaks from writing) I think I'm done writing for the night.  Sorry if I rambled on and went on different tangents.  I've had a few people tell me that they wish I would go back to blogging since they hate facebook. I think that the main purpose for me to write is to get it out and also, if anyone should happen to read it, maybe they will become more aware of what a mother feels after losing a child.  Maybe they can avoid some of the pitfalls in the unwelcome remarks and maybe, they will just offer a hug or an ,"I'm so sorry" instead of trying to brush off the grieving mother's feelings.

Good Night blogland.


4 comments:

sandyseashells said...

I'm so sorry.

falwyn said...

I'm so sorry it's so hard. I'm sorry I can't help more, say more.

At the workshop I attended last month, Orson Scott Card (who had a son with cerebral palsy) said: "We love those we serve." No wonder your love for Jessica overflows so...

A friend of mine (who lost twin babies) recommends a very slender book by C.S. Lewis called A Grief Observed. Maybe something to look at.

ParkerMama said...

This was an absolutely beautiful tribute to the love shared between you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing it with us.

xoxo

Tammy and Parker
www.prayingforparker.com

Catherine Castle said...

I'm deeply sorry for your loss. I recently lost my dear and beloved grandma too and I can completely relate to you. She was suffering so much towards the end that at first I felt it was the best for her, but now I just wish she never got cancer in the first place so that it wasn't the best outcome for her!