Wednesday’s wildflower…♥…”She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.”
Once upon a time, I sat down to write a letter to my parents, a simple letter, postcard length, recalling happy memories that were still with me from childhood. I can’t remember the details of that letter, nor all of the things that I said, but I do remember making a list of all the special moments that hadn’t escaped me yet, as an adult. Things like…
…Mom, reading books to me as a child…Dad, playing ball with me outside…our bike rides around our small Minnesota town in the late afternoon and evenings…and being carried into the house after nighttime car rides when I was too sleepy to walk the short journey by myself.
I remember the way the two of them would each take an arm and swing me while out on a walk…how Dad would bounce me on his knee for a “pony ride” before breakfast…how I loved helping Mom hang our clean clothes up on the line to dry…and being completely breathless with laughter when Dad expertly found my tickle spots.
I was remembering this list the other day, trying to recall some of the things that I’d said, wondering if my parents still had that letter, when I glanced up and saw this photograph here. That’s me down below, in the front, followed by my siblings, Dan, Dawn and Darin.
And suddenly, as I looked at this picture, a whole host of other memories came back.
Brushing my sister’s long beautiful hair, before she broke my heart and cut it…playing Kick the Can with a large group of friends in our neighbor’s backyard…catching fireflies in Northern Minnesota while on our annual two-week summer vacation…enjoying a game of Operation by candlelight during a rare winter power outage…lying on our backs in the sun, finding pictures up in the clouds…and eating popcorn on all fours, pretending that we were hungry puppy dogs with only our tongues to lick up the kernels.
We would run outside in our swimsuits during drenching Minnesota rainstorms, splashing each other from the rainwater that had quickly gathered by the side of the road. And I remember water fights…water balloons…water rockets…apple trees…sunshine…and laughter.
Then I grew up, and new memories were formed. Best friends…first loves…and wedding days. College…careers…and personal independence. Staying up all night to see the sun rise…sleeping in all day, just because I could.
It dawned on me as these things came flooding back, that I had somewhat forgotten all of these memories because life, at least for a bit, “got in the way.” Or, maybe I should say that the memories were still there, but that I’d halfway convinced myself that they belonged to someone else, in a different time, in a different world, like an old black and white movie that I’d seen once–had loved and thoroughly enjoyed–but that I’d dismissed once it was out of sight, as though it had never been there in the first place.
That’s because, suddenly, I had new memories…memories that clouded my vision. Those of…
…pregnancy…the birth of my first child…the fatigue of being a new stressed-out mother…and, the devastating loss of the five children who came next.
It was in that space of time that a new definition of grief was born for me: the detached reality of being alive, yet viewing life from the inside of a hard crystalized bubble that I couldn’t seem to escape. My bubble was a prison…I lost every single friend in my grief, temporarily lost my family, lost my physical health and, very nearly, lost my sanity. But with this loss came something I didn’t expect: rebirth. And rebirth, in a way, I’d never before experienced.
It didn’t come from a Bible, it didn’t come from a church, it didn’t even come from a person. It came from me, changing my mindset. From choosing to see the gifts in life–those gifts that God had given me–and from focusing on those gifts, moment after moment…day after day, even if that gift was something as simple as a bird’s lonely call. Soon, with all of this practice, I didn’t have to focus so much…my bubble was cracking. A gratitude list was constantly churning over and over in my mind. Instead of seeing darkness or negativity, I surrendered intently on noticing only lightness and positivity. I forgave my mind for being “fuzzy,” I forgave my body for losing my children, and somehow I managed to turn the inconceivable into a gift. The moment I let go and began defining the loss of my children as “a gift,” everything changed. My past took on a different meaning, and my future became a vision in which I can now believe that anything is possible.
Life is short, and it’s so much shorter when we live in the past, fear the future and fight the present moment. Let’s face it, it’s pretty much guaranteed that most of us will, in some way, struggle. How we deal with those struggles is optional, how we fall or rise is our choice. I fell. I fell hard, and…I didn’t like it. Something inside of me begged to come back, screamed to live, to laugh…to love, once more.
Maybe the process of healing isn’t pushing, or fighting, or trying or forcing. Maybe the process can be that of merely relaxing into it, going inside and surrendering to what we find there, facing our fears and asking them: “What? What are you trying to teach me?”
I got a second chance, and if you’re grieving or suffering in any way, so can you. You can take this opportunity and grab it with both hands, refusing to let go, stubbornly looking for the gift in everything you’re experiencing. We don’t have to be perfect people to heal, and nothing we’ve done has brought our pain to us. We are merely on this journey called “life,” and just like a flower opens up to the sun, so can we open our hearts to renewal and change.
I’m not trying to tell you that it’s going to be easy…but I am saying, that it’s worth it.
“They say that time in Heaven is compared to the ‘blink of an eye’ for us on this Earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my children running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what they are doing that when they look behind them I’ll already be there.”
Thank you for “sharing” and “liking” any blog that moves you. Have a special day…♥
Photos on Visual Hunt. Photo credit: B Tal on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC. Photo credit: Frodrig on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND
You put your feelings down in such a special way. It is good to read and experience some of what you went through, special memories and very sad ones. Julian was given to you to help you through some of the difficult times. You were always loved so much and your memories show this.
It was fun to remember memories from the past, so much I’d forgotten. And now, to make new memories…
Your short haired sister is sitting here in the doctors office bawling. Loved this one very much
Oh yay…that makes my day 🙂 Not that you’re crying, of course, but that you loved it. I’ll never forget your hair and how special I felt being given permission to brush it…
Oh how I needed this! So amazing and so true.
“if you’re grieving or suffering in any way…….You can take this opportunity and grab it with both hands, refusing to let go, stubbornly looking for the gift in everything you’re experiencing.” — yes, yes, yes! I am truly trying to do that because I know there is a reason for everything and life is a gift.
Thank you my dear. You are fantastic!
Yes! It’s such a liberating way to live! Instead of playing the victim–like, this morning, I had a headache–you can take a step back, face “the headache” and ask…what are you trying to tell me? And in my particular case, it was telling me that I was feeling overwhelmed and overworked and once I backed off on my schedule and let some things go…poof! Headache gone 🙂 There’s always a gift, if we look.
Absolutely AGREED!! 😊😊
Really nicely sad: finding and facing the fear… it is a process, but once you get over it, the beauty of life appears to you :).
Letting go is so hard, grieving is so hard—this was just beautiful❤️
Thank you. Grieving is definitely a journey, as you know. We have to keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and allow that light to give us strength.
Thank you Amy for encouraging us to always look at the gifts in life!
My pleasure 🙂
I was just saying to a friend today..the best part of grieving is learning that going deep and sitting in the tears and trauma and saying thank you for continuing to remember how important my son is and thank you for reminding me im still alive when I feel numb..thabks for allowing me to dive deep into your ocean and for just allowing me to float there and know that place is ok too!
Beautifully put. There’s an app out there…I think it’s called something like, “You’re gonna croak.” Anyway, you put in on your phone and it sends you a text message 5 times per day…just to remind you that you WILL eventually die. We all will. Some, like your son, just go sooner than others. But hey–just think of the party at the end!!
EXACTLY, and is the end..or just another beautiful beginning? I only know what Zak tells me…..until I see it for myself but he sure has some incredible insights..
This is beautiful! So many nuggets that should be shares. Passing this on to a friend who recently lost her child.
Thanks for sharing this part of your journey 🙂
Thank you. So many hugs to your friend, and sending many thoughts of peace to her grieving heart. ♥️