Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gone but NEVER forgotten........

one year (almost to the exact time right now) 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
stand still
-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 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)


Anonymous said...

thank you pam for sharing your insight, your wisdom and your pain from this past year. not only does it make it a little easier to understand what is going on inside ofyou but also lets those of us who are proceeding blindly at trying to be loving and supportive know that we are on the right track and will just keep up the inviting, the loving, the encouraging...listen and care. we can do that love you my dear dear heart is aching for the world today - for each of us who love your Melissa but also those who didn't get the chance... but also rejoicing in the belief that in Heaven Melissa's knowin' nothing but joy! ST

Susie Q said...

This was so beautiful Pam, and such a special tribute to Melissa. You raised a glorious daughter becasue you yourself are purely glorious. I have been thinking so much about you and of her lately and have kept you and the family in my prayers. She is an inspiration, YOU are an inspiration.
God Bless you Pam...none of us will ever forget Melissa and her joy for life. She is in Heaven now, experiencing such great wonder and keeping things interesting!
Please know just how many people love you and care.
Sue and family

Anonymous said...

You know, Pam, Fort was a pretty amazing woman. She was inspiring to so many people. I guess we all didnt really realize how much until her visitation. Friends and Family touched by her life came from everywhere. You, as well as mr fortener, did an unbelievable job of raising her, loving her, and allowing her to be who she was and is. With your realizations, I have realized your and Mr. Fort's influence because Nick is a pretty amazing person too. Don't give up on finding peace, it wont get easier because you loved her so much and unconditionally. You can help people with your words; and you are by posting these thoughtful posts and conversations with her on FB. Thanks for all of it. Melissa would be proud. She is smiling and laughing. You'll see her again some day. Until then, continue to live your life with a mission. Thanks again for your words.

Kelly C

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Fort. I miss you.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable daughter! I can not begin to fathom your loss but I totally related to where you talked about your mom and your brother's loss. My brother was 21 when he passed and I was a new mother with a 2 week old baby when he left us. I never really talked to my mom about losing Doug and I too wish I had. For years my parents took a trip during the week of his birthday and the week of his death. None of my siblings could understand but I knew it was their way of dealing with his loss. We all have to grieve and each has to do it in their own way. Take care and know that many people care and keep you in their prayers.
Denyse Moore Carone

angelsamoungus said...

How beautiful!!! Don't blog anymore-but something made me look at Melissa's blog today. I am sitting her crying reading all the love you have and acknowleding her wonderful friends and especially her mother. Melissa had a wonderful life ---full of life, love family and friends. Know that I think of you and your family often and love you dearly.

Take care and God bless all