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after loss: why my daughter’s birthday is the hardest day February 26, 2016

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, moving on.
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I’ve been mulling this post over since summer, waiting to write it on the occasion of my daughter Abby’s 13th birthday.

This post is my answer to the question that has been voiced more than once:

It’s been 10 years; when are you going to get over it?

The 10 years is in reference to the 10th anniversary of my daughter’s death which occurred last March.

To put it simply, I will never get over it. I will never forget my daughter. Not her birth. Not her death. Not her life. Her birthday is the hardest for me, even harder than her death day, her heaven day, the day that she stopped dancing with me and started dancing with the angels. For those of you new to my story, she died suddenly. No warning. An accident.

Abby grew in me. Thrived in me. Moved in me: just like her siblings Alex, Caleb, Mary, and Jackson lived in me.

On the eve of all my children’s birthdays each year, I remember these things and I bake a cake. Judging from facebook and talk at baby showers, I am not the only woman who does this. It seems that every woman whether the baby is still in her arms or in high school or her baby is a 50 year old neurosurgeon, the mother remembers how hard the labor was, or how short, or how horrendous, or how he came out butt first, or how the labor went on for 48 hours or how it was so fast,they barely made it to the hospital or the midwife almost didn’t make it in time to the house. Oh happiest of days is the day that a new baby is born into a family! Every single year, we women, remember those moments of labor and birth on our children’s birthdays.

Abby dying doesn’t erase the memories of her pregnancy, labor and birth, and 2 short years.

Just because Abby is dead, doesn’t mean that my mind stops going to my last hours of pregnancy, when I labored to bring her into the world so I could finally hold her in my arms.

I do this with all my kids. But with my other children, there is joyous celebration, and an anticipation that comes with a present or two, and a special birthday lunch followed by a birthday box or envelope from Grandma and Grandpa VC. Alex, Caleb, Mary and Jackson are right there in front of me and can smile at their cake and blow out their candles as I take photos. I can think about how small they once were, and revel in how much they’ve grown. My 8 pound babies are now tall, one is over 6 feet tall.

But with Abb12742685_10153930579642801_6103281711424171089_ny? She is not in front of me laughing at her cake and presents. There is nothing. Only 2 years of memories. Only flowers to take to a cemetery. And sometimes it just gets to me. The absence of her overwhelms me and I weep. I cry hard. I need a hug and a little understanding.  Is that bad? Is that wrong? To borrow a friend’s line, I just want to be extended the “grace to grieve.”

Remember my first sentence? My daughter Abby’s 13 birthday? Oh. My. Word. 13 years old she would be.  13 years old she is in heaven at the feet of Jesus.

Happy birthday baby girl. I know that I’ll see you again someday.

These are the flowers your sister picked out for you 🙂

 

 

dropping petals in march March 18, 2014

Posted by guinever in grief, healing, life, loss, moving on.
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i walk upon this barren land; it’s cold
the season that has no color
the ground and trees are dark and gray and brown

scattered around me are the stones
etched with names and dates and poems
symbols, the markers of death, of no more life

buried here are the children
who never lived outside the womb
who were born and breathed, but died
and some like mine who lived longer, but not so long at all

this place beckons me every march
nine years ago death came and grabbed her
and took her breath away
it took my breath too, but left me living

buried far away from here and not too long ago
are the bones of her grandmother
she would walk this place with me
with love and tears, but she never will again

and now this march i grieve
for both my mother and my daughter
but I know that they’re together

i bring flowers to this grave
that are dead and nine years old
white roses dried and kept
the same ones that had been draped on a little casket

they’ve been sitting on my dresser
dropping petals into their vase
gathering dust, lots of dust
i’ve held onto them,  cherishing them

but I scatter them now, releasing the dust
these petals, the color of earth
some will blow away
some will cling to ground or stone

the crumpled petals unleash the tears
i try to let go of this burden
will I be lighter?

soon this landscape will come alive with spring,
the colors will chase the brown away
daffodils and forsythia and tulips
cherry trees will drip with pink blossoms

i’ll come back to see the spring
and smell the sweetness
and drive these tears away
and think of those i’ll  see again

happy birthday, beautiful February 26, 2011

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, heaven, life, loss, moving on.
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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:

Abigail
“father rejoices”

Helene
“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.

So sweet!

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.


on painting Easter eggs October 7, 2007

Posted by guinever in christianity, family, healing, moving on.
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My husband is watching football, the kids are in bed, and I’m on the computer doing a bunch of stuff. I’m listening to the music at Serving God and Family, a blog I discovered tonight by a mom who left a comment on my website about pregnancy and birth. I found encouragement and great reminders of how to be content while staying at home with my kids.

I also visited Nitty Gritty where I haven’t been in several months. Mommy blogger Jody describes herself as

I am a wife and mother of 5- four of them are at home and underfoot and one is in Heaven.

mary-eggs.jpgThis one sentence describes me perfectly, although the similarities in our biographies probably end there except for our shared faith in the Lord. I always page down to the tag of “missing Teagan” to see what’s new and how she expresses her grief about missing her daughter who died when she was 4 years old in a freak accident. (sound familiar?) I came across this post about painting Easter eggs with her girls.

c-eggs.jpgReading about painting eggs with her kids just for the fun of it is timely for me. I just cleaned out the sideboard in my dining room to make room for some of the kids’ school stuff (homeschooling produces lots of piles of papers, clutter and books) and one of the things that I threw away was a couple egg decorating kits. This may seem insignificant except those kits have troubled me for 3 Easters now and I don’t want the same stress next Easter which is still a half year away; I want to start afresh. In March of 2005, I had purchased these things to decorate eggs with my 3 older kids. That never happened because my life turned upside down when Abby died the Tuesday before Easter.

The next Spring, the first anniversary of her death, I bought a bunch of eggs to do the decorating with my boys. I couldn’t bring myself to do it even though I know they would’ve had a blast. I put the stuff away. And then this year, I was determined to overcome this obstacle. I mean how hard can it be to dye some eggs? I hard-boiled the eggs, but again I a-eggs.jpgjust couldn’t do it. Abby was supposed to be here in all the fun. Plus, Abby had been 2, now Mary was 2. Mary was so much like Abby last Spring. I wanted both my girls here…

I did however, take the kids to an Easter egg hunt, something I was unable to do last year.  I felt this was progress and I decided that I would make every effort to decorate the eggs next year.

So when I was going through things in my cabinet and I came across the egg kits, I decided to pitch them (not very frugal of me, is it?) I had to throw them away because when March and April come in 2008, I can start over with new egg kits. My kids and I will love decorating them, especially little miss Mary. You can ask me in another 6 months if we painted the eggs.

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