It’s been 15 days. Most days we are ‘ok’ but, there’s not a second that things don’t feel wrong. We feel like we are supposed to be parenting yet, there’s no one here to parent. I should be making snacks, packing a diaper bag, arranging a baby sitter, reading books…….but I’m not. It’s only been 2 weeks and I have no idea how I’m going to live the rest of my life without her.
Grief. It’s a weird emotion. We all know there are stages. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. We’ve been grieving in one form or another since our life changed on May 18th. It cycles over and over, sometimes all in one day. We grieved our old life, our child’s innocence, our relationships with everyone else in our life, and our little bubble of happiness. Then we kind of got acclimated to the cancer/hospital lifestyle and it started to feel normal. A new normal. We had resigned to that being our life and we were going to handle it because we could do this if it meant she’d be ok. We could put our life on hold for 3 years and get her through this.
Then August 7th and relapse happened. Again we started grieving. We fought HARD that month to keep her alive and then we watched as the horrendous rescue chemo took all of her independence away. So again, we grieved-her voice, her walk, her playing, her moving on her own, sitting up, eating, drinking….. we grieved as it all went away. Then YET AGAIN we started adjusting to a new normal. Chemo, speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, mouth care, feeding tubes, new meds…..all became normal. And finally, another relapse and then she left.
Grief has taken so many forms since January 4th at 2:11PM. It looks like so many things and I quite honestly don’t have the energy to put them into full sentences so, I guess a list will have to do. What does grief look like? It looks like…..
-Holding her for the last time because it’s time to lay her flat
-Giving the last bath and putting on lavender lotion because it’s her favorite
-Signing partial autopsy permission forms
-Writing ‘mom’ next to relationship to patient for the last time
-Leaving her in a room alone and walking out of the hospital
-Leaving her giraffe with her so she’s not alone
-Picking out clothes, Crocs, a bow, and what we wanted in the casket with her
-Laying on the kitchen floor crying because her pictures are on the fridge
-laying her Mattress on the floor and trying to find her smell
-Cleaning medical supplies out of the bathroom because you can’t stand to see them anymore
-Being in the funeral home building at the same time as her but not being able to see her
-Watching my husband fall apart over and over as we sit on the bathroom floor together
-Getting enraged at really dumb stuff
-Irrationally hating everyone with healthy kids
-Sniffing everything trying to find her smell- pacifiers, toys, blankets…..
-Sleeping with 2 blankets and a giraffe because they were hers
-Carrying the pink blanket all over the house with me
-Eating once a day and losing 20 pounds because you’re constantly nauseous and at the same time hungry
-Feeling like you should be parenting but you can’t
-Knowing no one has a reason to call you mom anymore
-unfollowing every mom blog that you’ve gotten advice from for 2 years
-Not leaving the couch all day
-Not being able to watch them close the casket
-Your arms ache because they’re empty
-Resenting everyone for going back to ‘normal’ when your life is still blown apart
-Reliving her death over and over and seeing her laying there perfect and still
-Praising the Lord for her freedom while crying out for her to come back
-Sitting in the shower to cry
-Standing in front of hundreds of people and giving your child’s eulogy
-Seeing her everywhere-her hoodie towels in the cabinet, her raviolis in the pantry, and her dishes in the kitchen
-Laughing because it’s ludicrous that you’re sitting on the couch at noon instead of at work or the hospital
-Feeling like you’ve moved away because you miss the hospital and the nurses
-Doing stuff you hate because she did much worse for 8 months
-ignoring your phone for days and days
-Having no purpose because your full time job for 8 months is over
-Laughing with friends then feeling bad about it
-Falling asleep on a couch in a room full of 30 people
-Letting your friend’s 2 year old fall asleep on you watching Mickey because you’ve missed it so much
-Sitting at the cemetery, alone wondering how in the world this is your life
-Relearning how to be married full time
-Seeing a Trolls alarm clock at Kohl’s and losing it
-Getting a ‘mommy and me class’ flyer in the mail and sitting on the curb by your car sobbing
-Aching for a baby but, knowing you just want your baby back
And a thousand more things that pile up each day
I wish I had a redeeming moment to add to this. We aren’t just sitting on the couch crying all day but, we are sad everyday….all day. There’s moments of happiness in our days but, still we are sad. It feels wrong to be here. Every part of every day feels so wrong. My arms physically ache for her. My husband can’t stop watching videos and looking at pictures. We are broken.
BUT GOD IS BIGGER. BIGGER THAN CANCER, BIGGER THAN GRIEF, BIGGER THAN US.
Today, Jonathan opened his Bible and it opened to Jeremiah 31 and its there that I’ve found hope today. While we are oppressively sad and crushed by the weight of her absence….there is still the promise of joy. There’s hope in what’s to come. And for now, we try to….yet again….find our new normal and continue through the process of grief.
Jonathan and I are getting on a plane tomorrow and heading to California for 8 days together. We are packing those days full or touristy activities, food, shows, shopping, and marriage. Please, if you think of us, be in prayer for safe travels and for true connection with each other. Please pray for our broken hearts and for peace that can only come from Jesus. Pray for God to show us ‘what’s next’.