Time Travel

This may come as a shock to my city-dwelling readers, but there is not a UPS store on every corner in rural Alabama.

In fact, there isn’t one in the whole county where I live. 

So when I had to return something with a prepaid label,  the nearest place to do it was up the highway and off an exit that I probably haven’t taken in a decade.  After dropping the package, on a whim, I scooted across the street to the Winn Dixie store for just a minute.

As soon as I entered, I knew I’d made a dreadful mistake.  The store had not changed even a little in the years and years since I was last there.  

And the last time I was there was with all four children.  

Those were the days when we piled into our Suburban and did marathon shopping runs to take advantage of every sale in one day.  My kids were experts at finding the right size item specified on whatever coupons we might be using to drop the price even further.  I would dispatch the boys to get heavier things as I went up and down the aisles loading the buggy with canned goods.

So when I walked in and the store even SMELLED the same, I was instantly transported to those days.  I could almost hear the laughter of my sons, see my daughter next to me and feel that blessed togetherness I cherished even then but long for painfully, desperately NOW.  

I’m not sure that my heart didn’t stop for just a second or two.  I know I held my breath.

It was both beautiful to remember and more painful than I could have imagined.

I was utterly unprepared for the grief wave that swept over my heart.

I forced myself to walk slowly to grab the item I needed.  I got in line, made small talk with a friendly customer and a chatty cashier.  And then I practically ran out the door and to my truck in an attempt to escape the sadness.

At home, I let the tears fall.  Sat in silence and gathering darkness and let myself FEEL all the feels.

I am oh, so grateful for every single moment I can remember but oh, so sad there won’t be any more.

it has been said that time heals all wounds rose kennedy clock

 

 

 

 

Repost: A Little Extra Grace

Each day I am reminded by sights, smells, sounds and memories that Dominic is in Heaven and not here.  

But there are moments and seasons when his absence is particularly strong-when I can’t breathe in without also breathing a prayer, “Father, let me make it through this minute, this hour, this day.”

And that’s when I need grace-from family, friends and strangers.

Read the rest here:  A Little Extra Grace

Surviving Grief Anniversaries

I know I’m not the only one who carries a calendar in my head that threatens to explode like a ticking timebomb.  Days that mean nothing to anyone else loom large as they approach.

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The date of his death.

The date of his funeral.

His birthday.

My birthday.

The day he should have graduated from law school

On and on and on.

How can I survive these oppressive reminders of what I thought my life would look like? How can I grab hold of something, anything that will keep my heart and mind from falling down the rabbit hole of grief into a topsy-turvy land where nothing makes sense and it’s full of unfriendly creatures that threaten to gobble me whole?

Every family,

every child that has run ahead and

every situation is unique.

What works for one person (even in the same family) won’t necessarily work for another. But there are some ways to make these days a little easier.

Here’s a list of what has helped my heart and the hearts of others walking this journey. Take what may help and toss the rest:

  • Invite friends and family to a special celebration featuring foods and/or activities that honor your missing child.  On the first anniversary of Dominic’s homegoing, his friends brought lunch and they shared stories and memories with me-many of which I hadn’t heard since he was living away from home when he left us.  I didn’t do a lot of talking, but just listening was a beautiful way to pass that day.
  • Ask folks to do a “random act of kindness” in your child’s name.  Some parents have printed out cards (like photo Christmas cards) and distributed them with a picture and brief information about their child and a way to post the RAK online (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • If you have a charitable organization or scholarship or other project that bears your child’s name, remind people of it and request donations (if appropriate). Many times friends and family long to do something tangible to show they have not forgotten either.
  • For birthdays and holidays, purchase a cake (at a local bakery) or toys/gifts for a child the same age as your own.  I went a couple of days before Dominic’s birthday and paid for a cake ordered for a little girl’s first birthday.  I left a note that said, “Children are a blessing from the Lord.  Enjoy your sweet blessing.  In honor of my son, Dominic.  Love, His Mama.”
  • Some people launch lanterns at the cemetary or another meaningful place.  Check with local regulations before you do this-you don’t want the occasion marred by a confrontation.  There are environmentally friendly lanterns available online for those concerned about that. (This is why I don’t recommend letting balloons go.)
  • Gather gift cards to give to a local Ronald McDonald House or other charitable group that provides support for families of pediatric patients.  I know one family that did this for a group that had ministered to them during their son’s illness. The response was overwhelming and it touched them as well as all the families that benefitted from the gift cards.
  • Create a quiet memorial space in your own yard honoring your child.  There are lots of ideas online to get you started.  Some parents plant a tree while others use smaller plants and stones along with a bench and special items that remind them of their missing child.
  • Some grieving parents spend the day at home, under the covers and waiting for it to pass.

Most importantly, no matter what you do or don’t do, be prepared to give yourself grace whatever the day holds.

Don’t do what you don’t feel like you can do-even if you made plans ahead of time.

Do whatever helps your heart.

Hug anyone who chooses to come alongside and bear witness to this awful anniversary.

And hold tight to the fact that even the worst day only lasts 24 hours.

track record for bad days is 100

 

But I Had All That BEFORE!

I absolutely understand that when people say things like, “Just think of all the wonderful memories you have” or “He brought you so much joy” they mean well.

Because it’s true-I have beautiful memories of Dominic.  And he DID bring me great joy.

But I had those things BEFORE he was beyond my reach.

Childhood memories, photographs, mementoes from school and athletic teams-they were already displayed on the walls and shelves of my home.

But there were things I had then that I don’t have now:

  • his physical presence;
  • his laughter ringing down the hallway;
  • his text messages telling his absent-minded mama that there were storms headed her way;
  • his level-headed relationship advice;
  • and his tech-savvy, “I can fix it” help when I crashed my computer or other electronic device.

I don’t have a hundred different uniquely Dominic parts of my life anymore.

And I miss every one of them.  

missing from me

 

 

 

 

The Rememberers

This was not how I expected it to be.  

Children are supposed to be the legacy of their parents, not the other way around.

But it IS how it is.  So I will remember.  

I will carry the light that was the life of my precious boy and make sure that he is remembered and that the gifts he gave me are given to others with his name attached.

rememberers

75 Percent

I have tried blogging at various times through the years and always given up after a few posts.  My life was full and I found that in a few weeks or months I didn’t really have all that much to say.

It’s different this time-I have been writing every day for almost 20 months and seem to always have at least a sentence or two that wants to burst forth from my keyboard.

I think pain births words.

But one thing I never want to forget is that although Dominic is gone from my sight-my other three children are not.  I still have 75 percent of my children with me.

I do not take that for granted.

They are each a successful and highly-functioning adult in their own right.  It would be easy to run from a broken family and run toward a life that didn’t include daily reminders that their mama cries often and is not nearly the woman she once was.

But they don’t.

Instead they check on me, love me and encourage me with text messages and Facebook memes and silly photos.  They listen when I need to download a pile of frustration and disappointment.

They help me remember that life is still happening, even when I wish (in some ways) it wasn’t.

When each one of my children was born I received him or her as a gift from God.  I could not imagine there would be a day when I would treasure them more than I did on that day.

But I do.

I miss Dominic, because he was a gift from God too.

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But I will be forever thankful that, at least for now, I have Fiona, James Michael and Julian.

Forced to give one child back, I will never, ever, take the ones I have left for granted.

beach-and-family-better

 

The Missing Never Fades

This popped up in my Facebook memories today:

dom looking up with camera

That face!

What I wouldn’t give to see it again, to feel his beard against my cheek when I hugged his neck, hear him laugh, know he was only a phone call away!

I’ve learned to carry the sorrow because I know it will be redeemed.

But the missing?

The missing never fades.

missing-someone