*please note I am not an expert in navigating grief, this is just the journey that one unexperienced mom is walking through. I hope and pray that none of you reading this ever experience this pain. My words are a glimpse into my heart and soul as I fight through this difficult, unchosen journey.
You see me out in public sometimes I may look my normal self, most times I have left the house without makeup. I smile, I converse, I even try and laugh at jokes. I tell the cashiers at stores I am good when they ask knowing they don't really want to know the real answer, while inside my heart is dying saying the words and I all I can think of is my beautiful daughter is dead, I am not good. I watch mothers push their children in their carts, marvel at how anonymous I am able to be, my secret demons are my own, safe and hidden from their innocent lives. I have pangs of jealousy that I am not innocent anymore, I know the secrets that life has to bring you as you move through your days on Earth, some of them are the most amazing secrets, the most beautiful joys that only one who has experienced deep pain can see and understand, and some are the most painful secrets that life is and never has been perfect, it isn't how you imagined as a child, or at least not how I imagined as a child. Life can be filled with deep sadness, great fear, and unbearable pain at times,experiencing those periods of life are what make the sweet wonderful times all the more savored, and clung too. I realize as I walk aimlessly through various stores that I am every parents worst nightmare, it is what all parents at times lay awake at night and think about, the fear of losing your child. Only my nightmare is real, I lost my daughter, I am what people fear.
This past month has been particularly hard for me, I am not sure if as it sinks in more it becomes more of a reality, or if getting through the holidays masked some of the pain, but for some reason this month the pain has run through my veins with every beat of my heart and my tears have been plentiful. Afternoons and evenings I have noticed have been the worst, the pain is stabbing then, my heart beats faster, and focusing on tasks sometimes seems impossible. While talking about it out loud it became clear why those times are the hardest, up until the end, those were the times when we didn't have nursing, it was our time with Charlotte, it was snuggle time, it was chaotic care time, it was our Charlotte time. Right about now I would be drawing up her eight pm meds, we would be starting her neb and vest treatments, and in about an hour we would snuggle on the couch. It was my time with her, my time to breath her in, my time to feel her soft skin, play with her soft curls, and let her feel my love through my beating heart. If I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough I can still imagine and remember her smell, a smell that was lost on almost everything when I took a break from the hospital and did her overflowing basket of laundry.
During these times of the day my inner demons fight up for air and put thoughts in my head that I know ultimately are not true, but plague my heart and cause tears to flow: "did she know that I loved her, what if I would have done more therapy with her, what if I would have fought harder, what if I didn't do what she needed me to do, or didn't know what she needed, was she really ready, did we do everything we could, did she really truly know that I loved her with all my heart and all my being?" Then I move on to being so frustrated with myself for not being able to pull it together, for not being able to pretend that everything is ok, for not being the usual put together me. I just love her so much, as much as all parents love their children, and I miss her just as much if not more. I miss her with my whole heart and soul.
Tomorrow will be Two months (61 days, 1,464 hours, 2,108,160 minutes, 126,489,600 seconds) since I held my beautiful Charlotte, smelled her, felt the air coming in and out of her lungs, embraced the pulsation of her heart, felt the warmth of her soft skin against my face. Two agonizing, empty months without her. My body is still in shock.
Grief is not pretty, it is not easy, it is not joy filled, in fact sometimes I wonder where the joy is in grief, and then my heart reminds me that the joy in this is that I had a little person named Charlotte who was mine for two and half years, and the reason I hurt so much is because I loved her so deeply, that is the Joy. I had her, she is and always will be my daughter, the separation into eternal life does nothing to remove the fact that I did have her here for the time she was supposed to be here, and then I had to give her back because she wasn't ultimately mine, she was and always will be Gods child first. Junji and I were entrusted with her delicate care until her mission and purpose here in the physical presence was finished, and we were entrusted because God knew that we would love deeply, fight for her, and know when it was time to give her peace, and that we would continue on with her purpose despite her home moving to Heaven. We are blessed to grieve so deeply and profoundly because that means we were blessed to create a perfect child who we love without ceasing, and whose light we will continue to carry on until the day we join her in our Heavenly home. We were and are blessed to know and love her, that is the Joy in this battle of grief.
We ask that tomorrow on the second month anniversary of her entering her Heavenly home that you take some time to spread some Joy in her honor. Some ideas include, bringing cookies to your local fire station or police station, help someone load groceries into their car, give up a close parking spot for one further away so someone else doesn't have to walk as far, leave a higher tip than normal if you eat out, bring in the paper for your neighbor so they don't have to walk out in the cold, donate some clothes or toys to a place of need. As we move forward in establishing ourselves officially as a nonprofit we will work to come up with a list of ideas that you can do each month on her anniversary or every day for that matter. We will also be organizing some monthly Joys for various people or places that all can contribute to make it easier for you! We have plans for a fun joy tomorrow for people in our local area, stay tuned for our Joy adventure! Share your pictures of you spreading joy on our Facebook page, or instagram, and make sure to tag #seizeyourjoy #joyforcharlotte! We cannot wait to see the joy spreading around the world! As always take time to find something each and every day that brings YOU joy.