Time is a funny thing. For the past few weeks Jess and I have been constantly reminding ourselves that “time heals” – we knew that we just needed to give Lily and her body some time to get over this bout of…well, whatever it was. And of course we were right, but those weeks felt long and it was sometimes hard to keep focused on the light at the end. But, as all of this was happening, I woke up one morning and realized that, for the first time, I had missed the anniversary of Lily’s cardiac arrest. Although I will never hear the date “July 15th” without knowing what it means in our lives, July 15th came and went this year and it wasn’t until it was over that I realized that it had passed us by. And that’s the joy of time – sometimes it really does begin to heal you.
I feel that a lot of this year has been spent moving forwards. Not only has Lily’s development moved in leaps and bounds, I think that this year has given me the chance to start moving forwards as well. In April we had an event at work where a patron died suddenly and being involved in that situation threw me for a bit of a tailspin. It brought me to the point where I questioned whether staying in my current career was the best decision for me, if I would ever be able to be involved in the kind of situations that we deal with and actually do my job without it causing this same type of reaction. I felt weak and humiliated. But then someone said something that truly and completely resonated with me; she said, “things may not get better, but that’s okay.” For the first time, I began to accept that I may never be able to react the same way to an emergency situation: I may always get anxious and I may always have a day or two afterwards that are really hard, but that’s okay. This may just be who I am now and that’s okay. For all of the times that I’ve said it about Lily, I’ve never given myself permission to accept it about myself. We’re not perfect people – our past experiences shape and define how we react to future events and for me, this means accepting that while I can deal with an emergency while it’s happening, it’s more than likely that I’m going to have a rough reaction once it’s done. By knowing and embracing that fact, I can now focus on how to get through it the next time – showing myself the same kindness and patience that I show Lily. It may not get better -it may just be different, and that’s okay.
A mom post tonight…
I’ve been struggling with this post for a few days, mostly because I just don’t know which way to take it. I could start by telling you all that I really am not a fan of mother’s day; not because it’s a hallmark holiday, but because mother’s day is always the start of a bad week for me. Mother’s day and the anniversary of losing Ben go hand in hand and I’m not sure I will ever be able to separate the two – they just happened too close together. So, I could tell you that in this week, regardless of what else I’m doing or how I may seem, the only real thought running through my mind is, “Ben should be (insert age here),” and the age keeps getting bigger (it’s 6 this year, I should be the mom of a 6 year old), but the memory of him in my mind stays tiny – because he was tiny and he will never get bigger than the little man who stretched out and still was only as tall as my two hands. I could tell you that even though my mind keeps telling me not to give into the sadness that creeps up around me during this week, my heart just keeps pulling me there. I never thought, never ever ever, that I could still feel his loss so sharply this many years later, but maybe that’s part of the grief process when you lose a child – instead of being able to look back and see the great things that did happen in their lives, you only really get to see what was lost, of what they didn’t get to do.
Or I could take this post to Lily and tell you how her smile, her amazing giggle and her constant squirming out of arms to reach for the dog, is the perfect antidote to sadness. On Sunday, when I was missing Ben and Jess was missing her mom, there was Lily, who instantly made us happy again, who brought us away from the grief and reminded us, just by hearing her blow raspberries, that you have to let go and live in the moment. Loving Lily has made me whole again, in a way that I wasn’t sure was possible after losing Ben – it is all consuming, but it has also come with it’s share of lessons: you can’t look back, you can’t change the past and you can’t be afraid to move forward just because things are scary. Beyond being the guidelines of life with Lily, these are also the lessons that have helped me heal from that grief.
So maybe, what I really should be writing about it how once upon a time I really did not like mother’s day, but going forward I think I just need to look at it from a different set of eyes – in our house it won’t be about how great mother’s are but about how lucky we are to be mother’s; how lucky I am to get to be Lily’s momma, who challenges me everyday to be more patient and more understanding, and how lucky I am to be Ben’s momma, to know that (insert number of years) later, a mom’s love doesn’t ever stop.