Posts Tagged With: grieving

IT’S BEEN A LIFETIME

The heart is the most important muscle there is, but it does more than just pump blood.

It creates memories.

“Muscle memory” is when a movement is done repeatedly over time and your muscle creates a sort of memory for that movement which allows you to do it without really thinking about it too much; like riding a bike, or typing on a keyboard.

Emotions are born in the brain . . . but they live in the heart.

That’s why it swells and overflows when we feel joy. And that’s why a “broken heart” physically hurts when we lose or miss someone.

It all happens there. Some would argue the accuracy of this, but it would fall on deaf ears. I know my heart and what it holds.

And today it is aching.

I thought I knew what love was.

Until I had a child.

And everything changed.

I fell in love with my son the moment I knew of him.

Our life together began with his first hello . . . a small flutter from within; and with every passing month, I talked to him and he responded with little poked messages of acknowledgement, as we secretly conversed in our own Morse code; with me talking and him tap, tap, tapping in reply.

Until the tapping stopped.

And it was all over.

The dream ended; the gift withdrawn.

And I was left with nothing but empty arms and a broken heart.

When you lose a baby, you lose a lifetime.

In my case, I also lost a lifeSTYLE, because I couldn’t have another child.

And the trouble is my heart already started loving him.

My heart memorized every single moment of him. Every hope and dream; his first steps and his first bike ride, when he learned to drive and when he went off to college. My heart remembers the sound of him calling out, “Mom!” as he returned home from school; and the way his dark hair fell across his forehead when he was asleep. I remember when he fell in love with my daughter-in-law and they had my first grandbaby; and how I marveled at my blessings and the opportunity to relive it all again.

Oh, yes, I fell in love with him.

And my heart remembers the life we were supposed to have.

The one I had imagined.

Our beautiful babies aren’t supposed to die; but mine did . . . on the day he was born.

He was in an incubator . . . and then he wasn’t.

Then he was in my arms.

Then I was allowed to hold him.

And in those few moments . . . we lived our lifetime together.

Those powerful few moments have sustained me for 30 years.

I’m not burdened by the weight of grief every single day anymore.

I’ve learned how to live with the reality; you get used to feeling the pain, I guess. I actually embrace it at times. And memories of my son are kind of like breathing for me – I don’t consciously think about breathing, but I do it . . . all the time.

As for today, I am thoughtful.

I am grieving the loss of my son on his 30th birthday, I am sad for what will never be, and I wonder what motivates me to rise each day.

But I do. And I will.

And I will continue to grab the little bits of joy I happen upon, and I will embrace them. I will work hard to be good and to be kind. And to be better than I am.

Because I have a son. And I want him to be proud . . . just in case there is a heaven.

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Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

SHOVELING SNOW

On a cold and rainy Sunday morning, and feeling restless, I drive to the park to shoot some photographs. Most times, I try to capture certain images, but usually find that nature has other plans. She can’t be controlled or predicted, but she’s always generous.

Today I hope to photograph the birds, and although they are teasing me with their joyful songs, they are shy and hiding.

But I am gifted other images in their stead:

“View through the Railing of a Bridge”.

great PAGOTA SHORE THRU BRIDGE

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“Fragile Life”. So precious, tentative, and beautifully vulnerable.

GREAT BERRIES SNOW

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“Tender Heart”.  The grey is pretty, but also serves to amplify the brightness and warmth of the sun.

greatRAIN DROP ON BRANCH

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As I’m leaving, something washes over me, overtaking me like a craving or a hunger pain, or nausea, or vertigo. It is Sadness. Acute. Profound. Demanding. It consumes me, pulsates through me, leaves me breathless, and finally rests on my chest.

I drive home, crying.

Christmas week comes and I am quiet. I will not be that person who schedules her grieving for the holidays. I will not be that person who is determined to dwell on everyone who isn’t here. I will not fault those who are blessed with family and festivities. I will stay home and be still. And I will give my grief the space that it needs for just this time. And not one inch more.

The day after Christmas, I awake restless and lonely. And although it’s unpopular to admit such frailty, today it’s filling more of me. I feel the largeness of my emptiness. Who would think that absence could take up so much room?

I cannot sit on the sofa and suffer. I must do something, so I drive to my parent’s house for snow shoveling therapy.

I shovel my parent’s corner lot.

And their Police Officer-next-door-neighbor’s lot.

And the house next to his.

And the one after that.

And the one after that.

I am proof that a cranky, grieving, obsessive, manically driven 54 year old woman can shovel an entire city block of snow by taking it one cement-sidewalk-square at a time.

As I smoothly push forward, I keep catching on the uneven parts of the cement. I am finding those spots where the sidewalk is cracked and lifted and I have jammed my shovel into them, jarring my momentum and hurting myself, as all of my force is unexpectedly and abruptly halted.

It gets me thinking about how we all expect life to be easier.

And how we are surprised when bad things happen. We feel betrayed when our bodies fail us or become diseased; we are dismayed when economies crash, unemployment flourishes, and daily life is a struggle; and we are overwhelmed and grief stricken when someone dies.

I think that life is like this stubborn, long-ass city sidewalk that I’m shoveling. Every couple of squares, some cement will rise up and stop us right in our tracks. We trip over it, we jam our shovels into it, and we cuss at it, wanting it to be smooth.

But we should expect things to be difficult, and inconsistent, and even tragic, and anything else . . . everything joyous, beautiful, or easy . . .  is a gift.

Once we accept that our journey will never be an easy one, it’s just a matter of learning to adjust and maneuver.

I am not performing good deeds today. I am thinking firstly of myself and working off this twisted emptiness. And although I enjoy knowing that someone will be surprised, it is a secondary, happy consequence.  Later though, I will remember and wonder if anyone is curious about who has favored them with this act. Or maybe they will mistakenly think better of their other neighbors for gifting them this labor of love? I hope so.

The best deeds are the ones you can’t be thanked for.

I complete my task, feeling calmer, and go home and put on my sweats and my grungy old greyish-white CVS bathrobe, and pour a cup of coffee.

Now, as I sit here writing, the muscles in my back begin to tighten . . . really, like . . . A LOT. I half-chuckle and open the blinds to let the light in.

It has begun to snow.

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“The Woman, The Warrior.”

SHOES ZOOMD ME  ME BOOTS ICEa

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Photography | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

IN A GARDEN . . . AS IN LIFE

We don our gardening boots and floppy hat

and brave the sweaty burning sun.

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With aching knees and blackened hands

we love the dirt

that nourishes all our promises.

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From the coldest winds

and driest heat

we protect our unborn bulbs

with acceptance

and a smile.

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And long before she bursts open

and into glorious song

already we are in love

with the dream.

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In a garden . . . as in life

our toiling makes no guarantee

of fairness or reward

.

but we do it anyway . . . on faith.

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And sometimes . . . we are allowed

to glimpse

the gloriousness of a precious petal

only to have it

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quickly fall away.

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That is when

we must close our eyes

to see the flower.

LEAF TEARS upclose

Dedicated to all Mothers suffering the loss of a child.

Categories: God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

THERE IS NO TIME

We contemplate but do not understand elgin upclose

We try to control but settle for measuring

Like day into night

Summer into winter

Life into death

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When joyfulness visits

we cling desperately

trying to preserve it

and hold it still

but it takes flight

and vanishes into happiness

*

And when the sadness comes

as it will in life

as it should

it stands forever frozen

full of emptiness and sorrow

CLOCK FRZN SNWY

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The twisted tragedy

is that we fight to hold on

and struggle to let go

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It teases and tortures

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Years have passed since I lost you

Or was that just a breath ago?

I close my eyes and live a lifetime

and then I blink . . . and you are gone

*

In this magnificent remarkable life

there is sweetness in the rain

and comfort in a quiet winter morning

A WINTER SCENE

There is wondrousness

in birth, growth, change

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And there is healing

in the laughter of friends

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And there is love

*

These things cannot be frozen

but they can be captured and embraced

and treasured

forever

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The bitter sweetness in the grieving

is that the greatness of our pain

is the measurement of our love

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It is a blessed and glorious grieving

sunrise for blog

There is no time . . . there are only precious moments.

Categories: Grief/Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

CHRISTMAS MORNING

I awaken early. It is still dark. And quiet.

“Merry Christmas” I whisper to the dog as I rise.

Not too many tears this morning. I’m sort of tear-ed out. Although I fight the good fight, it’s been a long pre-holiday week of them.

I feed the animals and take my coffee to the sofa.

I switch on my Christmas angel and she quietly changes from glowing red to green to blue. She is my only decoration.

angel in globe

I pray.

I have already grieved those I’m missing and cried the tears of things that are no longer; the excitement of Christmas morning and gifts piled high around the tree, and the comfort of family gathered around the table for a meal.

Those seats are empty now. Those times have passed. As have too many loved ones. As do all the holidays anymore.

No more celebrations. Just endurances.

But that’s okay.

I think of friends who have risen early to ready themselves for a busy family day of gifts and food. They enjoy their quiet time to reflect and prepare. They fill my heart, but how I envy them.

My thoughts are interrupted by a commotion in the kitchen.

I look up to see that the cat is eating the dog’s food . . . and the dog is humping his Blue Bear.

((Sigh))

This time of year can be rough on some of us.

blue bear

Merry Christmas, my friends.

I wish you love, peace, health, and happiness.

xoxoJulia

Categories: Family, Friends, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

AN AUTHOR, AN ANGEL & A HEALING BRICK

I lost my infant son almost 30 years ago.

He was my only child and I donated his tiny precious body to Science in the hopes that through medical education he could somehow prevent another person from knowing my heartbreak.

I knew I didn’t need a gravesite to honor him; I could honor him in my heart. And I didn’t think I needed a piece of granite to grieve him.

But I was wrong.

Last year, I learned about Richard Paul Evans, author of the book, “The Christmas Box”, and about a statue that he commissioned called, “The Christmas Box Angel Statue”.

The short version is this:

He wrote a fictional story in which he mentioned a woman grieving the loss of her baby while at the foot of a beautiful statue of an angel.

The book was published and soon grieving readers began inquiring of the location of the statue, and since it no longer existed, the author had one created.

It is bronze and beautiful, and surrounded by a hexagon of 800 paving bricks, which can be purchased and engraved with a name or message in honor of a lost child.

angel statue frm afar

There are now Christmas Box Angel Statues all across the country and each year on December 6th at 7:00 pm, there is a candlelight vigil held at every one of them.

Last year I got my son’s engraved memory brick. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how desperately I needed healing. Until it happened.

I wrote this piece a few months later:

THE HEALING BRICK

Nervously, I approach the Angel Statue thinking I’ll have to search for my son’s recently engraved and installed paving brick, but I look down and there it is, nestled in amongst all the other little angels, his name in print, for the entire world to see.

This sight provokes something unfamiliar in me, deep in my soul, in my very core. I kneel down and through my thin grey slacks I can feel the cold, hard, roughness of the bricks on my knees.

“My knees could bleed as I pay homage”, I think, as if atoning, “let them; I would almost be grateful.”

I touch his name.

“Oh sweetie, look at you; you’re finally here.” I whisper.

006

Humbly, I bend down and kiss his words. Instantly I flash back to the hospital and he is in my arms again, and now I am not feeling the cold textured brick, but I am kissing his face.

I open my eyes, tears streaming.

Like a cat coughing up an unmanageable hairball, thirty years of guilt, grief, and torment begin to rise, large and ugly, from deep within and catch in my throat.

I remember when I was pregnant with him and how I didn’t watch my diet and I didn’t reduce my stress and I didn’t get enough sleep. And I remember laboring, and how I screamed, “Don’t let me die!” but I didn’t scream for the life of my own son.

“Please, forgive me.” I whisper.

I hear a guttural animal groan escape from inside me as the words allow my agony to detach itself and release.

I was like a broken bone that had healed misaligned and needed to be re-broken so that it could be set right and mend properly.

Michael’s brick has been my one quick SNAP! I am now re-broken, re-set, and relieved.

I am deeply comforted and grateful, and finally healing well.

*****

I cherish the moments. Please read, “WOULD I GRIEVE A SUNRISE?” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-cH.

Will you please share this? Too often the loss of an infant is suffered quietly and alone, and whether it was yesterday or 30 years ago, healing is needed. I hope that this helps you or someone you know.

For the location of a Christmas Box Angel Statue near you, or information about purchasing a memory brick, please visit the website of Richard Paul Evans at: www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations.

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

PRICELESS ART

Another day, another loss . . . all great love has a cost.

Please remember just to breathe, as you take this time to grieve.

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Life is our gift from God above, and He blesses it with love.

Some folks say these gifts don’t last, but God won’t rob us of our past.

These blessings that we receive come with no special guarantees.

One day here, gone tomorrow . . . one day joy, the next, great sorrow.

*

You won’t see that face again?

Just close your eyes, my troubled friend.

God’s gifts will never leave your heart

your memories are your priceless art.

 

One of the few pics I have of all the Kovach kids. It’s hard to believe that Teri, Chris, and Steve have all passed on. These memories are my priceless art.

 (Pic: Teri w/arms around Joe and Brenda; Chris next to her, holding Steve’s hand; me, off to the side, holding Steve’s other hand).

Categories: Grief/Healing, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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