happy birthday, beautiful February 26, 2011Posted by ballet you say in christianity, death, grief, heaven, life, loss, moving on.
A lot of my friends have been asking me how I’m doing…I haven’t been writing except little snippets on facebook. Blogging is virtually non-existent and has been replaced with one liners.
I’m good. Most of the time, I’m great. I really am. God has blessed me and given me peace and joy. I am living my life and enjoying it. Tonight I’m thinking back eight years ago waking up in labor with a certain baby girl.
I want to go kiss that baby girl right now.
But she’s getting all her kisses in heaven from her great grandparents right now. And from the angels. And from all the other little girls who have slipped from their parents’ arms into Jesus’ arms.
About a month ago on facebook, a friend asked for inexpensive ideas for her daughter’s 8th birthday party. We had been pregnant together. A few minutes later, another friend posted pictures of her daughter’s 8th birthday cake. Another blonde girl. BAM BAM. I hadn’t really had any moments of grief for a long time. Tears. But that’s not all. Then another friend whose baby was stillborn just a short month before Abby’s life ended was writing about her grief too. More tears.
I want MY birthday girl where I can see her and touch her and watch her eat cake.
Today is Abby’s 8th birthday. Where has the time gone? We only had 2 birthdays with her. Then she was gone. Now she has been gone nearly six years.
As I was thinking of my labor, I decided to look through her photo album. When I got it out of the cabinet, my tears fell. Then I opened it. On the first page is her name:
“the bright one, the shining one.”
Then on the next page is this picture.
Do you see her praying hands? I remember her folding her hands quite a bit her first few days.
It’s almost as if she was born to worship, born for heaven right out of the womb. With this thought and looking at this picture and the others on the page, Forget a couple quiet tears, my body was racked with sobbing.
I miss my Abby girl!
It’s been a long time since I’ve cried like that, and I want people to know! This has been the EASIEST February ever. I can’t even believe it. My growth is phenomenal since last year and the previous ones. Part of the reason is I haven’t had time to have a personal pity party because my heart has been heavy, so heavy for others in recent weeks. I was reminded of something I wrote a month after Abby died:
A month. 4 weeks ago tomorrow, our journey of death began. When we were driving home yesterday, Todd asked me if I was doing a lot of crying that he didn’t know about, and I told him not really. I asked him if he cried when Rachel died. The answer was no. I asked him if he cried when Petros died. No. I asked him if he cried when Corrie died. No. And I asked him if he cried when baby Anna was stillborn. No. And I asked him if he’s been broken and weeping and praying for Beth’s recovery. No.
I have spent 9 months, many nights sleepless, just crying and praying for other people. Now, there’s a million people crying and weeping for ME and God is answering their prayers and God has brought me peace and grace.
I don’t think I’m holding it in (so to speak). I asked Todd if he remembered that Thursday morning. How could he forget? I screamed at the top of my lungs and relived every detail of those almost 2 hours of agony where Abby was hurt and dying. I scared him, he said. He kept telling me to relax. He said he reverted into his Bradley mode because it reminded him of labor (before I wrote about it in that way in the funeral memoir) My release was in every way physical, emotional and spiritual. And now I have peace. And my tears are much less than his.
Happy birthday, beautiful. My pretty dancing, singing girl in heaven. I miss you.
I never got past those first 2 pages of the photo album. I’m saving those for the morning when I go to the cemetery with whoever wants to go with me. Not sure which of the kids, if any will want to come. I have some tulips from church that I’ve been enjoying all week that I’ll toss on Abby’s grave.
come sunday: a book review October 14, 2010Posted by ballet you say in book review, death, grief, loss.
Tags: Come Sunday, Isla Morley
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I buried myself in this novel on a road trip this summer. A heart wrenching story about a child who dies and a mother’s grief and journey to her homeland to find healing, this book isn’t for everyone. When my husband asked me what the book was about and I told him, he replied, “How can you read that stuff?”
Morley describes grief in such a genuine way that I doubt she is a stranger to loss. I found Come Sunday well-written and at times, poetic. For example, in the hospital scene after Cleo’s death, Morley pens,
Cleo’s lower lip is crooked, weighted to the right as it always was when she was asleep or when she was scared. Exactly how it was when she was born.
“Cleo!” I cry, calling into the abyss, calling her back from the void; a loud clear call. “Wake up, Cleo, open your eyes, darling; it’s time to go home.”
But she has gone to the burial grounds of drowned boys and crucified Lords.
A child dies. A mother mourns. What else can I say? That’s my life story.
But that’s where my path diverges with the grieving mother in the book. She lets her grief overshadow the rest of her life for a time. She places blame for her daughter’s death where it doesn’t belong. She shuts out some of her closest friends. She leaves her husband.
The main character remembers a conversation she had with her daughter Cleo about a statue of the virgin Mary:
“What’s her name?” she asked.
“That’s Mary, Jesus’ mommy,” I answered.
“Is she sad?” she wanted to know, glancing up at the Holy Mother with her downcast eyes.
“I’m not sure,” I said after a pause.
But I know now. I know that Mary’s grief is a thousand fathoms deep, where blue is so dense it becomes black. So vast is her sorrow that she cannot speak but only part her robe and reveal the crimson heart that in its stubbornness will not cease its beat.
It’s passages like this that made the book a page turner for me. I found myself holding my breath, feeling nauseous, laughing, wiping a tear from my cheek, and wanting to get to the last page to see how it ends and then wanting more of the story. I recommend the book to those who don’t mind being a little sad or mad…
In a conversational video, Morley says about the book, “I want people to feel that redemption always triumphs tragedy and loss and hope trumps sorrow. I want them to feel assured about holding onto hope, that although life is hard and sometimes there are seemingly insurmountable tragedies that there is a new day, a Sunday coming.”
genuine care or mere curiosity October 14, 2010Posted by ballet you say in family, grief, healing, life, loss.
What follows is something I wrote in April of 2008 and am just now getting around to publishing it.
As life continues to march on after the death of my daughter, I encounter people who didn’t know Abby. When strangers ask me about it, I merely tell them she died in an accident. If pressed for more information, I say what type of accident. I don’t really give any details if I don’t know the person well.
I especially enjoy talking about my daughter’s life–both her short time on earth as well as the eternity that she has started in heaven without me. I don’t mind talking about my daughter’s death. When asked how Abby died, I quickly process the request and the person making it. I need to trust the person if I’m going to tell my story. If he/she has a genuine interest in me and my well-being, I proceed. The reaction is usually one of total compassion that includes tears, a hug, prayer, and perhaps disbelief. I welcome a listening ear from someone who cares.
But if I don’t know the person very well or if I think the request comes from mere curiosity rather than a genuine care for me and my family, then I won’t tell my story. I’m vulnerable and don’t want to get hurt. I told my story to the wrong person last week.
I mean, I tried to tell my story. When I told her I don’t mind talking about it, she asked me if Abby had been sick. (this is a common question and I don’t mind it at all), but when I told her that she died in an accident, she said that her interest lies in illness and death caused by vaccines. I should have stopped talking right there.
But I didn’t. I continued my story. When I told her a couple details, she said,
No wonder why it’s so hard for you.
I include this picture from the funeral as an illustration as to why “it’s so hard for me.” My daughter’s body was in a casket. It doesn’t matter how she got there. Just that she’s there. Still there.
And why did this person think “it” was so hard for me?
Because I asked a few people to pray for me as the third anniversary of her death approached? It was the season that was more difficult than others and I asked for prayer. Usually people tell me how well I’m doing. I’m living life and getting out and mothering my children all the while living with great loss.
how to be insensitive to someone who has lost a loved one
So I continued my story. I’m not exactly sure why I continued. I guess I was as insensitive to her needs as she was to mine, meaning I should have picked up on the fact that she wasn’t interested in listening to how my child died since it wasn’t the kind of death that she likes to hear about.
Maybe if I kept talking, she would be interested in MY story that she asked to hear?? I don’t know. The third time she said this, I said, “Well, I can’t help you with that because that’s not how she died.”
Grandpa, a man of many hats July 23, 2009Posted by ballet you say in christianity, death, everyday life, heaven.
Tags: Elwyn Herrick
I’m cleaning today, digging through a drawer that is stacked with papers and photos. I found a piece of notebook paper folded in sixths. On it was the memoir that I wrote for my Grandpa Herrick’s funeral, who died February 3, 1996.
When I think of Grandpa, I see a man with many hats. I think a lot of us here gave him at least one over the years. I see a man with many plaid shirts, suspenders, belt buckles and tools.
When I think of Grandpa, I see a man in a chair. Reading, doing crossword puzzles, winning at Scrabble, and snoring.
I remember one time he accused us grandkids of eating the toilet paper because it seemed to disappear whenever we visited.
When I think of Grandpa, I see a man who was always building and making things for the people he loved. He and my dad built the house on Beecher road. He built the cabin in the woods. The bunk beds. A see-saw and swing for us grandkids. A fort in a tree so he could hunt for deer. When he wasn’t falling off ladders, he was climbing them, to erect a bigger than life satellite dish on the roof.
I’ll always remember the love and care he showed Grandma. The last thing he made …only minutes before he collapsed, was a sandwich for her.
For me, the most special thing he built is the simple wooden chest that still sits in the corner of my room. What once was filled with toys is now filled with linens and blankets. Even after 20 years, my name that he carved in the bottom of the toy box has not faded. Neither will these memories. The assurance that Grandpa is in Heaven makes the pain a little less and the memories even greater.
Isn’t it lovely that I have this old photo to go along with this memoir? Based on how old my brother and I look, I’m guessing this was taken around 1977.
don’t want to leave this house May 11, 2009Posted by ballet you say in grief, healing, life, loss.
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We’re moving. Our growing family, although diminished needs a little more room. We hinted of it before March 22. But now that leaving is closer to becoming a reality, its hard. I think its harder to leave this house now than it would’ve been before Abby’s death. I feel like we’re abandoning her a bit.
Some might think we’re running away from this house because our daughter died here.
But we’re not. Because of Abby, we want to stay. She’s everywhere. She was conceived in the blue room that is now the boys’ room. I labored in the tub with her. I brought her home to this house. She rolled on the wooden floor and then moved on her belly and pulled herself along, ever a struggle until she was up on all fours. She took baths in the kitchen sink. She crawled and walked and ran and laughed and smiled and sang inside these walls. And then one day she escaped these walls and walked outside and soared to heaven.
And now all we have of her are the pictures on the walls and the pictures in the albums and her memories. And a box in the attic filled with her things. In this house. This home. The memories of her are in every room. Every corner. This house.
In the first few days after death, I sat on the couch nursing Mary, facing the doorway to the kitchen. I ached because I waited and waited for Abby to come prancing through that doorway like she always did. I just wanted it all to be a horrible nightmare, something to wake up from with a start. To slow my beating heart. But it’s not a dream and she’s never walking through that doorway ever again.
She sat on the kitchen counter as I prepared meals and she emptied the plastic containers onto the floor. And she played with the containers in the spice rack. And she was by my side every day as I readied for the day. She opened and closed, opened and closed my makeup drawer in the mornings.
But it’s just a house. Walls and walls and floors and a roof.
We need to let it go. A possession. A home. Someone else can come and live where our daughter lived and died.
We can buy a different house and we can make it our new home.
And next spring we can visit this old house and see the daffodils blooming by our front porch that were given in her memory by so many of our neighbors. And I can take pictures of the dogwood tree, blossoming golden in Abby’s memory. And I can turn the corner and see the driveway where her life started slipping away. And I can imagine the blood pooling on the blacktop. And I can see the steps where I held her lifeless in my arms. And I can remember where she laughed and ran and sang and played. Happiness and joy. So much happiness and joy.
Seven years ago in July we closed on this house and it became ours.
And seven years this house has been our home. We don’t want to go. But we must.
Clay has turned to loose and rich soil under Todd’s constant supervision where lettuce and cucumbers and beans and tomatoes now thrive every summer, even this summer in the drought. Todd painted this plaster covered drywall seven years ago. Perfect satin finish now stained with fingerprints and smudges of boys. And there are knicks on every doorway.
I just discovered this on my computer while looking for something else. I don’t even remember writing it and it remains unfinished. I wrote this four years ago. We never did move from this house. We spent the summer searching and decided that the best house for us was the one we already had.