Saturday, June 1, 2013

A New Journey Begins

One step, one fragile step at a time. 

There is a slow transition that happens deep within our hearts and souls. When we let God in and give our traumatized heart to Him, the healing begins. I know this, because it is happening to me, as I write and breathe, the healing is taking place.

I had to learn that healing is not forgetting. Healing means I am trying to take care of myself in the middle of my turmoil, because I know deep inside it is the right thing to do. There is no glossing over the death of a child. It is not something one can fixate on and then let go. This is a whole different dimension of pain.

But, I can promise you this-when you are ready to accept the Hand of God-His Holy Spirit will lift you up and support you on your journey. At first, I felt I needed to feel the pain, it was a reminder of how my world was changed. I allowed my pain to define me. Then I realized, the pain does not make me a better person, or a better mother. It simply is-

The first year was so dark and dismal. Clouds seemed to engulf me and I didn't fight them. I rather let myself fall into them and remained there until I was ready to move into a different direction. God does not push, He will not pull-He is a gentle hand to hold, and a shoulder to lean on. He will not rob you of your greatest joy nor will he prevent the pain. Because I learned, it takes both-to feel and understand the other.

I relied heavily on family, friends and most of all-prayer, to get me through that first year. I will say I was not living so much as existing in my world. I could smile on the outside, but inside I was crumbling. When I learned I did not need to pretend to feel a certain way, the stress lifted some. I wasn't acting for an audience of one or anyone else, I was just trying to survive in my torn apart world.

Memories would comfort and torment all at once. I remember laughing and crying at the same time on many occasions because I would find myself immersed in reliving a particular event or celebration. Those treasured moments became my reality for a while, because in them-she lived. I could lull myself into a place and time where Shannon was singing and dancing and being her sweet self. All too soon, my world would crash and splinter into a thousand pieces when I awoke from my dream.

On those days, I would bury myself in guilt and anger. I would try and find answers to questions that had no answer, and on some days I invented my own. I would go in circles trying to piece together the same day with a different ending. How could I have stopped it from having this outcome? Why was I not more vigilant in the ways that a mother should be. Never mind she was a grown woman with children of her own. None of that mattered, only that somehow I had failed her, I could not save her from death.

Into my second year of my Hope Journey, I had gone into counseling and attended some groups that focused on grief and working through the process. I learned a lot from those groups. Not everyone grieves the same, and it is very private and personal. There is no 'process' to follow, no steps to carry you through, no handbook on losing a child, and no one, and I mean no one, can take your journey. The truth is we created our journey long ago should this time come. How I lived my life, how I loved and interacted with my  children created the journey I was now taking. 

I had to forgive myself before I could move forward-even one small step. That frightened me because when I reflected on my past history as a mother, it was far from perfect and not very picturesque. There was no fond memories of a charmed life without stress or tribulations. There were many bad decisions I had made that paved a tougher road that my girls and I had traveled. I would not run and I could not hide, my past was back to remind me of the choices I had once found easy to make.

The journey to forgiveness is another story I will recall at a later date. It is a road taken not always by choice, but circumstance can take us there. Sometimes a place that is hard to visit and filled with painful thoughts and memories. But once you have looked your mistakes in the eye and dealt as best you can with them, making amends and letting go-you reach the end of an exhausting and necessary mountain that you climbed and conquered. Then, you begin to explore the other side of the mountain.

So, this is where my story actually begins-today.

And, I will always remember to pray because I know the power of prayer and faith as a mother heals.