Have you ever thought about the comfort of seasons? They are consistent, expected even. We prepare for them. We know about how long each one lasts and when the crossover is nearing.
I’ve heard many describe grief as a season in one’s life. “This too shall pass…”
The difference, it seems, is that this season is unexpected, I was unprepared. I don’t know how long it lasts. What I have read and learned about the grieving process is quite simple: There are no rules, there is no instruction booklet.
I’ve thought a lot about a line from Frozen after a recent conversation with my family:
“Conceal it, don’t feel it.”
That’s really bad advice. Terrible, unfortunate advice. Don’t get me wrong, it is a favorite around our house and I have a little guy who thinks Olaf is pretty cool (pun intended). But come on. One of the most helpful ways for me to deal with the loss of my daughter is being allowed to “feel” it. I choose not to conceal, I’m afraid it would eat me alive. Can I still be strong if I admit when it hurts?
Grief feels a wee bit like a jack-in-the-box. I never know when to anticipate it or when it’s going to pop up. This past week since Audrey’s service, I have kept busy in ways like catching up with special friends, lunch with my Uncle Mike & Aunt Carol sharing tears, salads and memories, an entire-day-playdate, family time at the lake full of meaningful conversations and high-pitched squeals of laughter. Things will seem fine and I’m getting along great, then POP! Something will hit me out of nowhere, it snatches me from the moment and I’m overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by what? Anything. Everything.
I’m afraid I’m starting to forget things. One evening before her service, I was looking for a special outfit she wore many times and couldn’t find it. During the search, I happened upon a bag of her things from the hospital that I hadn’t yet found the strength to unpack. Nestled in the bottom the bag was a sack of her clothing that had been worn. Items that I needed to take home and wash. I knew the second I opened the sack, I would smell her. I knew it would hurt a little, but I wanted a real reminder of her. I thought to myself, “Make it quick, don’t let it all escape…this is all you have”. So I did, I took a quick but deep breath in.
Into my nose and down to the deepest part of my lungs, her scent filled me. It was better than any fine wine or freshly baked cake I have ever smelled. If a scent could be beautiful, it was.
Quickly, I closed the sack completely as if keeping any more of her from escaping. I haven’t opened it since.
I can’t remember what her little body felt like in my arms. I can picture it, watch videos of it, but I can’t feel it. Sometimes I pray for dreams. I so badly want to dream a dream so vidid that I can still feel the weight of her in my arms when I wake.
My mind drifts to the second verse of You Are My Sunshine, which says:
“The other night dear, while I was sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
And when I woke dear, I was mistaken
So I held my head and I cried…”
Such simple words to a children’s lullaby. Words I have sung sweetly to Cooper and to Audrey, but now they come coupled with a lump in my throat.
I thought recently about The Story of Audrey. The whole thing. From the moment I learned I was pregnant until the moment we watched her heart stop beating. I thought about all that I wanted for her and with her. What I have realized is that I got everything I ever wanted…and more.
We have a beautiful, healthy son and so badly, I wanted him to have a sister. I wanted a daughter.
I have one.
I wanted my daughter to know her family and friends, and for them to know her.
Audrey was visited, held, kissed, snuggled, sung to, talked to, read to, prayed over, cared for and loved by many.
We wanted Audrey to have a life free from suffering and pain.
During her life on Earth, medical teams kept her comfortable with as little stress as possible. When the suffering and pain became too much, she peacefully flew home. Home to a place where never again will she know discomfort.
We wanted her to be clear in her needs.
She was. Always.
We chose life for our Audrey and prayed that the decision would be blessed and that she would have purpose.
She has and will continue to bless our lives and her purpose will live on long beyond her Earthly body.
What more could we ask for? To wish her back is selfish. It isn’t what is best for her. While it might satisfy my own desires, my soul would know better. Nothing can ever replace her. I wouldn’t want that. My heart grew to make room for her and I want it to stay that big and this full forever. I believe it will. I believe in Heaven and I know she lives there. I have two children. Both have my heart, one is here with me and the other lives eternally in a perfect place where some day we will see her again.
So many times I wrote to Audrey, “We’re here for you, we’re waiting for you…we can’t wait for you to come home, baby girl”
Now it’s her turn. Now I think she says to us,
“I’m here for you, Daddy. I’m waiting for you, Mommy…I can’t wait for you to come home, Cooper.”
Wait for us, angel.
Love & Hugs,