Digging Up Memories, Laying Down Dreams

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only bereaved parent who has boxed up things post loss and left them untouched for years.

Life kept moving at a fast pace after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven and it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve had the time to even consider going through his stuff.

Time alone was not enough to push me toward doing the hard work of deciding what to keep, what to give away and (most painfully!) what to throw away. But various circumstances forced my hand and I’ve spent much of the last year digging through stuff and digging up memories.

To be sure, not everything has a direct connection to Dominic. I have a giant pile of craft materials that needed sorting and organizing.

Even then, as I put like items together I remembered pushing two littles in a buggy with two older children on either side through the craft store or Walmart. I knew where this tidbit was purchased and what school or church project prompted buying dozens of a certain sticker or wooden cut out.

This past week I’ve been working on “my” side of our two-car garage.

It’s never been used as a garage but instead as a catch-all for a house that has no basement. My side is where I store pantry overflow and all kinds of supplies from toilet paper to party goods.

It’s also where I put some things from Dominic’s kitchen when we had to hurriedly empty his apartment over seven years ago.

Seven years. How can it be seven years?

I finally had to do the hard work of deciding what I should REALLY keep and what it was time to let go of. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one little bit. But it is necessary.

I’m taking it in small doses-two or three hours a day-and trying to give myself grace when even that amount of time doesn’t seem to make a dent.

It’s grueling labor to dig up memories and lay down dreams.

Unrelenting emotional work.

Every bit tossed in the trash is a declaration that he isn’t coming back to claim it. I can’t ask him if he deems it worthy of saving because I can’t ask him anything.

That in itself is a kind of concession to defeat.

Where he is he doesn’t need or miss this stuff but it represents hopes and dreams to me.

I have to lay them down.

And that hurts.

I Still Struggle With Sleepless Nights

I first shared this post about two years ago.

I was planning my daughter’s wedding and juggling a number of other pressing responsibilities. I managed to keep my composure most days when talking with caterers, family members and vendors but all that pent up stress kept me from falling asleep when I finally put my head down at night.

I had just begun to settle back into a decent sleep pattern when my mother suffered a stroke and died a few days later in September.

That threw me right back into the sleepless cycle that plagued me for years after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven in 2014. I couldn’t fall asleep or when I fell asleep I couldn’t stay asleep. What sleep I managed to get was filled with terrible and terribly vivid dreams.

I’m back in that pattern once again for no apparent reason.

I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy the blissfully ignorant and pleasant slumber I knew as a young girl.

My heart won’t let me.

For the first couple of weeks after Dominic left us, I couldn’t fall asleep.  

It was impossible to close my eyes without a dozen awful scenes flashing behind the lids. 

Silent darkness was not my friend. 

Read the rest here: Sleepless Nights

Swallowing Panic

In the daylight

In the dark

In my dreams

Things creep in at the corner of my vision

Or sounds slip in unnoticed

Until my brain puts them together and screams, “Oh no!”.

It’s nothing worth getting excited about, nothing worth the surge of adrenaline that raises my heart rate, brings whatever I ate last back to my throat and sets my mind racing.

But the damage is done.

Now I’m fully engaged in a losing game of questions with no answers.

If I was asleep, I won’t be now.

If I wasn’t, I won’t be any time soon.

And if I was trying to get things done, I’m done for the day.

Doorbells.

Phones ringing.

Movie scenes.

Scents.

Anything, anytime, anywhere.

The taste of panic fills my mouth and I swallow it down.

Unsettling Dreams: Grieving In My Sleep

I’ve always had vivid dreams.

That was a problem as a young child because often I couldn’t tell where the dream ended and real life began when I woke.

Many, many nights I’d cry out from my bed, begging my parents to come save me from whatever monster followed me from my dream.

I pretty much grew out of that as I got older and learned to be very careful what I fed my mind-especially right before I fall asleep. I don’t watch horror movies, dark so-called comedies, violent dramas or anything that my brain might twist into scary or disturbing shapes in the dark.

After Dominic left for Heaven, I once again experienced a season of uncomfortable dreaming. Only one or two of my dreams were actually awful, but I would often wake feeling out of sorts, a bit “off” or vaguely aware of something just outside my consciousness that was sure to frighten me if I could see it clearly.

That season passed and only very rarely was I troubled with those kinds of dreams these past few years.

But since my mama joined Dominic, I’ve had at least one disturbing dream every single night.

I can remember some of them-like the one that woke me at two this morning-but not all of them. Even when I can’t recall the exact sequence of events, they all have a similar theme: Someone I love is in peril and I can’t save them or something I hold dear is lost and I can’t find it.

And that awful feeling of helplessness follows me when I open my eyes.

It doesn’t take a PhD to interpret these dreams.

Grief is leaking out in my sleep.

All the feelings I’ve become so good at pushing down during waking hours since Dominic left us are growing stronger again in the wake of my mother’s death.

Image result for dream

The lid my conscious mind keeps screwed on tight is no match for the power of the unconscious.

Off it pops and all the sad, scared, anxious, helpless, longing, fearful emotions stirred up by losing one more soul my heart loves come flying out and swirl around until they create a perfect storm of awful to parade across my mind’s eye while my body tries to rest.

I think I’ve only had one night of more than three hours uninterrupted sleep since the week Mama was hospitalized.

I’m trying all the old tricks of carefully tending what goes into my brain each day. I’m feeding myself healthy and wholesome images and words. I’m ending each day with prayer and asking God to give me sweet dreams or no dreams at all.

I may have to revisit some of those old feelings.

I would rather face my fears in the daylight.

I don’t want them to leak out at night.

Image result for dream

Night Time is So. Much. Harder.

I’m pretty good at pushing away uncomfortable or sad or downright horrifying thoughts in the daytime.

Sunlight means there’s plenty to do and plenty to keep my mind from dwelling too long on anything that will make be cry or bring me to my knees. 

But there is a dangerous space just between wake and sleep, when the house is quiet and my mind is free to explore random corners that guarantees unpleasant thoughts will pour in and overwhelm me.

I can’t tell you how many times the last moment before sleep claims my consciousness is filled with thoughts of Dominic.

Not sweet memories of his smiling face.  

Oh, no. 

Instead they are graphic images of what he looked like, crumpled on the ground, perhaps gasping one last time trying to fill his lungs before his soul flew to Jesus, leaving his body behind.  

It’s impossible to describe the electric current that shoots through my midsection like a lightning bolt.  I cannot help a heart that doesn’t carry this awful burden understand how such flashes disrupt any hope of peaceful sleep.

I used to be afraid of ghosts in the dark.  

I never slept without aid of a nightlight until well into my adult years.  

I’m not afraid of specters anymore.  

They are small potatoes next to a mother’s own heart screaming, “Where WERE you????” when your baby breathed his last.

Nights are just plain hard.  

No distractions. 

Only sorrow and a broken heart in bed together.  

night silent tears

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