one year (almost to the exact time right now)...one ENTIRE year.
Every single day I think about Melissa. The pain does not go away. It does not
get better. The hole in my heart grows.
But OH my. What I have learned in the last year....(in no specific order -just how it comes into my brain)...
-that my brain doesn't work the same
-that time - hours, minutes, days - are not the same
...time is distance. That time goes on for everyone else while I want time to
-that I am blessed to have a husband who lets me grieve the way I need to - and is willing to go into stores that I can't go into, and cook, and be patient with me...
-that I am blessed to have a son and daughter in law who let me have my grandchildren when I NEED them...
-that my son in law has been generous sharing Melissa's things with me - her clothes, her camera, her CD's...anything I have asked for...
-that I am so fortunate, BLESSED, to have so many wonderful friends who have taken care of me over the last year....listening to me talk about Melissa, bringing me books (on grieving, of course...thanks Patty D., Linda R., Marla, Lois & Mary)I read them, then read them again!) and my friends who CONTINUE to invite me to do things with them even though I CONTINUE to turn them down. Thank you for asking. Some day I will say yes. I don't know when. Some day. Thank you for being patient and persistent...
-that reading is VERY difficult- so I stick to things like Readers Digest, I scan the headlines of the newspaper, then scan the stories.
-BUT reading books on grief? Especially the loss of a child? I DEVOUR. Helps me understand that I am NOT going crazy. What I am feeling is normal - that the "steps" of grief go in no particular order. (I recommend reading books on the loss of a child to ANYONE who not only has lost a child, but knows someone who has lost a child. It will help you understand what they (we) are going through.
-and also along with reading - I find myself reading the obituaries - and looking for others who died young-specifically Melissa's age. Wondering how THEIR mother's are...and if their mother preceded them in death - how blessed the mothers are now to be reunited with their child.
-that you know you did a good job raising your child by the friends they choose (chose)(I must have done a GREAT job based on who Melissa chose for friends!!!!!
-that I am blessed to have a job where my co-workers are more like family
-that meeting with friends is easier one on one than in big groups
-that a massage once a month is relaxing and needed (thanks Mikala)
-that everyone grieves differently; mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and friends - and that is OK.
-that the death of a child can pull you apart...or bring you together
-that the death of a child is NOT like losing your brother, your grandson, your mother (I've lost them all)...They are ALL painful. But you stop crying eventually...
-that I didn't know the body could produce tears on a daily basis for an ENTIRE year
-that EVERYTHING after losing someone (not only a child)is a first - not just the holidays...opening a drawer and finding something they have touched (I'm still afraid to go through dressers and closets purposely...I want to know what's there, but afraid of the pain. Seeing her friends for the first time...
-that you can get through the actual "day", the funeral, the burial, because you are in shock. It's IMMEDIATELY afterward that the pain sets in.
-that you find out you have good friends you never knew you had.
-that there are SO many good people out there that are willing to help at a moments notice
-that when you are grieving, sometimes it's difficult to accept that help because it's hard to acknowledge those who help
that it's OKAY to accept help because friends are there because they are not helping because they want to be acknowledged, they are there because they love you.
-when it comes to the holidays - SIMPLE IS BEST
-that I am NOT the same person I was a year ago. I am a different person and will be for the rest of my life.
-that you find out what kind of marriage you have when you lose a child.
-that you don't always want to talk on the phone - either MAKE calls OR answer them
-that, at least for the first year (I don't know about the second year) and for me
specifically-social gatherings that are, in my view "parties", are too hard to do
(UNLESS it's about Melissa, then I do it)
-that I ALWAYS love talking about my daughter
-that one day you wake up and think "OMG - I have another child...I have neglected them"...THAT I know to be true from BOTH sides - I lost my brother when I was 19 and
I was "one of the other children"...and now after losing my daughter...and "have I neglected my son???? My only remaining child???? (I hope I am getting better at NOT neglecting you Nick)
-that my energy level is not the same
-that grandchildren help grieving
-that I LOVE to wear Melissa's clothes (funny...she LOVED to wear MY clothes!)
-that writing in a journal is VERY helpful......hmmmmm...did I get that from her or did she get that from me????
-that I only have memories of her as a PERFECT child (isn't that an oxymoron?)
-that I have found new friends who share my grief, and KNOW my grief, because they too have lost a child and I share THEIR grief...
-that I never thought to sit down with my mom who lost her only son and ask her how she was doing...I was young and had a life of my own - getting ready to get married...(and pretty selfish I'm thinking now)...she hid her pain pretty well-
and I never thought to sit down with my daughter and talk about the son SHE lost because I thought it would be too painful for her. OH I KNOW BETTER NOW. But how
I need both of them to help me through this....why didn't I realize the pain they were going through??????? How in the world did they find the strength to go on?
-that you never realize how much you love your children until they're gone....
-that we were blessed for 31 years with a BEAUTIFUL daughter who brought laughter, sunshine, friendship, inspiration to the lives of SO MANY people...I had NO IDEA...
-that I never knew the happiest moment of my life would be the first breath of my child-her first cry...and the thought NEVER occured to me - EVER - that I would be holding her when she took her last breath....
but I am blessed to say that I was fortunate enough to be there for her from the
beginning until the end.
Needless to say, I have learned A LOT in the last year because of my daughters death.
I learned from her how to take care of others, how to listen and help others who are now where I am...
And I would selfishly give up EVERYTHING I have learned to have her back. But unfortunately life (and death) does not work that way. So I continue on-not knowing what I will learn in the second year, and the third year - or as long as I live.
I will take one day at a time, and always remember FORT's philosophy...
"no matter how bad you have it, there's always SOMEONE who would LOVE to be in your shoes!"
And as a friend who lost her son said recently on the anniversary of his death...
"she's celebrating her first "rebirthday" in heaven.
How lucky they are to have her.
Love you pretty girl.....
and of course, a post on this blog is not complete without pictures...so here are some of my favorites from the last couple of years - and also some of Fort's favorites (she took a lot of them).
I love you all and THANK YOU for continuing to be patient with me. Pam (Fort's mom)