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I don’t play that song anymore…

The other day I was thinking about Ella, and the song Tears in Heaven came to mind. I remembered that is was about Eric Claptons son, but I couldn’t remember exactly what had happened and where the song came from. My curiosity led me to his wiki page, and I read the tragic story of a sweet little boy gone too soon. At the end of my reading I came across a quote from Clapton–and his explanation for not playing that song anymore. He said too much time had past and he didn’t feel he could convey the song in the same spirit in which he wrote it. He was devastated back then, and he wasn’t so much now. Loss of a child thirty years later…He also said he didn’t want to go back to that place.

I’ve thought about this a lot recently. The two songs I’ve written about Ella are now played far and few between. They bring me back to a very dark and sad place, a place that I don’t really have the luxury of living in now that I have another child to care for. The other night I got a request to play climbing clouds, and I actually turned it down, I said it was too sad and I didn’t want to go there. Its very strange to me that we can choose to “go there” when it comes to grief. The mind can lock things away and put walls up around certain memories and thoughts that are too painful to feel constantly. My grief for Ella is always there, but I do not always choose to dwell on it.

Recently I had a heart-to-heart with a very close family member, during which she told me that she was confused by my appearance of being ok, and this blog where I continually confess I am not. She didn’t understand how I could feel both. How I can function and smile, and be in so much pain underneath the surface. I am a complete paradox. If you have not experienced a life-shattering death…I can understand your confusion. To put things bluntly, sometimes I don’t want to think of my daughter and be sad. Sometimes I don’t want to think about what happened at all….but I do think about it all the time. I am resentful of my grief at times, while at the same time thankful for the opportunity to love. What I am struggling with is the definitions. I don’t want my daughter to always make me cry. I don’t want her name to illicit tears of sorrow and remorse. I don’t want to think about her helpless precious body….

I wish I had funny stories about her. I wish I could say “remember how she always used to do this…” I wish that there were other ways of feeling close to her. That is what I am struggling with currently. How do I love her and honor her and think about her and smile? I want to. There was a time that I would’ve slapped myself silly for thinking such a thing…but I am realizing that I don’t want Ellas life to just be something sad that happened in my past. How do I carry her on with me in life? Not only death…

Even when I smile, even when I laugh, even when I see pink tutus and hear a little girls voice speak momma–there is a current of unfulfilled desire. Sometimes I can handle it, other times I can’t. But she is always here with me in my heart. This is new territory for me…and it’s scary. It’s acceptance in a lot of ways. It’s faith. Faith that this is not the end of the story. I haven’t been ready for that faith or perspective until now. I am desperate for it. I will never understand why she is not here, but I am thankful that she wasn’t taken from me in a brutal way. Ellas gift to me has always been compassion…I know there are FAR worse ways to lose a child.

My words aren’t exactly coherent or graceful now, but I feel the need to begin to unpack some of these realizations, and fears. Not a lot of time has passed, not even two years since her death. But so much has changed. Our family has changed. Seasons have changed, and I have changed. Ever since her death I’ve not only mourned for her, but for myself. I mourn for the person I used to be. The woman who didn’t lay in bed every night playing out every scenario you can fathom of all the horrible things that could happen. I miss the old me so much. I miss my carefree spirit. I miss how oblivious I was. I miss not worrying. I miss being able to live in the moment. Mentally I haven’t occupied a single moment in the present…I’m bound to look behind and wonder why, and bound to look ahead in fear. I can’t go on like this, missing out on the joys of the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. I see this about me, but I don’t know how to change. I just know that I need to. Because time is flying….and I don’t want to look back and realize that I spent my whole life living in my past, and worrying about my future.

So I’m navigating. Learning to be grateful. Learning that love is always constant, but does not always surface in the same ways. I am realizing how very human I am, and how my need for a great big God is the all encompassing desire of my heart.

I am missing you always Ella, and I am learning to celebrate your life in joy and seasons. I still miss you terribly. You are the tear and sigh behind every smile, but I want you to be the smile behind every tear and sigh…You are both my sweet darling daughter. I love you, and I am learning that I don’t need to prove that anymore…

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Another Mother must bury her Son

 

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Today I am carrying someone else’s burden. Earlier this week my mom called to let me know that a former classmate and nephew of some dear friends of ours was dying in a hospital in Miami. Hearing the news really broke my heart, and I found myself unable to really focus on anything but praying for him and his family. I prayed fervently all day..that he would know he was loved by the God of the universe, and that angels would be sent to comfort him and his family. I prayed for healing. I prayed that his parents would not have to bury their son. I prayed as a mom who has lost a child. I’ve mentioned in other posts that my relationship with God has changed since Ella’s death tremendously. I no longer ask for selfish things that I want. I don’t ask God for protection, or blessings, or good health…I only ask Him the things that I truly believe in faith He will answer. I believe that God wants to hold Alex more than anything…that He wants to heal him from the inside out. I prayed for Alex to accept that love, regardless of his life or death. I know from experience that God doesn’t answer every prayer the way we want Him to or the way we expect–so I’ve changed the way I pray. I pray knowing that God is able, but for whatever reason He is not always willing. 

I believe that God did answer my prayer to cover Alex with love and warmth and light…even though he has died. His death has shook me again. In three weeks or less I will give birth to a baby boy–God willing, and Alex’s death has made me realize all over again that I do not have control. Alex was someone’s son, someones nephew, someones brother…he was carried with love in the womb, just as I am carrying my son. I can’t help but think about my son when I think about Alex. It breaks my heart knowing that I am powerless to save my son from disease, cancer, heartbreak, and even death itself. Finally, I am at the place where I can at least admit that Ella’s death spared her from knowing pain–and this does give me a little comfort sometimes. But today I am carrying his mothers burden –she had to watch her 26 year old baby die. I can’t imagine going through 26 years of things, of clothes he wore just last week, of sheets, and pictures, and memories. I hate that I cannot take away his mothers pain. I can only bear it, and all I can pray today is “Lord carry them.”

 

The picture above is of my sister Brooke at Ella’s first Birthday. We released lanterns and it was very special and symbolic of letting go all over again. I want to share a beautiful poem that she wrote about Ella, and her questions and grief…

 

Are you here with me?
Can you hear my voice….
There is so much noise
Am I one among many, or can you recognize me?
I see a blade of grass, it grew apart from the field

it is shaking in the constant might of the wind

But it has no bend in it, Can you see me standing here?
Surrounded by outstretched limbs and reaching branches, almost as fists shaking in the sky

Angry so angry
Do my words reach you? My whispers in my head, do they matter?

I’m afraid they are meaningless words that float through empty space, and then sink to the soles of my feet
If I had an anchor I would trade my sails in for it any day
Will this wind ever die down? If only my troubled heart could reach you, and rest

Just rest in whatever dose of healing you would lavish on it
All the happy words and easy phrases, shallow unbelieved praises, spoken from uncompassionate faces

Apathetic to any tragic life changes, eager to judge my response to MY personal anguish
There is this ache that burns like an ember resting on your skin

Tearing through layer by layer, melting flesh to reach your bone

And as it restfully burrows in your whole body ignites within as a raging flame, spreading head to toe, heart to head to mouth

What I speak comes as black smoke left from ashes smoldering in a pit
Never will my eyes see a beautiful thing and truly recognize it, or an ugly imperfection without surprise or expectation
You give and take away, but for some reason it feels as though you have stolen from me

From us
I imagine If I extend my hands I could release this frailty of belief and trust and that it would shoot from my hands into your being

And I would know that you know how little I have to hang on to and you would send out your life rafts to rescue this drowning soul

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The Sound of Silence

I’ve been meaning to write for awhile now, but my continued fear of others and myself has kept me silent for too long again. This sharing never gets any easier for me. Fear of hurting people and fear of being misunderstood can keep people in a lonely silence. I want to share a journal entry I wrote a few days ago on Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving I wasn’t feeling particularly thankful…After examining myself, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t sad, or depressed…but that I was standing back at angers door. I had to remind myself again, that its ok to be angry. Anger is an acceptable emotion when your child, your hope, your daughter has died. 

Jason and I feel so keenly aware of our empty home, especially lately. We were so ready for a life change with Ella, and we had planned and prepared for the next stage of life. Laying on the couch tonight, Jason commented that he feels cheated…cheated out of being a father in the way he expected. Cheated out of all this time without our daughter. If I’m honest I feel I was cheated too. The silence of her birth and death has only grown and gotten louder for us, not quieter. As we see other babies grow, our longing for the hole that only Ella can fill deepens. The empty room, quiet hallways, hassle free life, date nights, clean rooms, good sleep, and clean floors only remind us of all that we have lost. Even as we anxiously await the birth of her brother, I cry and mourn for the relationship they will never have here on earth. We hear the silence at all times, and we are keenly aware of it’s presence. Sometimes I wonder if others hear it too.

 

I know I should be grateful, but I don’t feel very thankful

Thinking about my little girl, she should be here now

Two Thanksgivings past without her

She has made me so lonely

She was born in silence, and the silence has remained

It is deafening

Do people realize or hear the silence of our home?

Oh it aches, we try to distract ourselves and make some noise

But we will never hear her song

I’m angry again, I didn’t realize it until now

I’d almost mistaken my lack of tears for apathy

Attributed my silence for time gone by

But all the while I’m boiling underneath again

I’m so angry, and the anger doesn’t go away–often comes out and is misplaced

I’m angry she’s not here

I’m angry at the silence I feel we are forced to live with 

The emptiness of our hearts and home is evident to us

The sound of our silence is the only sound we hear

 

 

 

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Kerosene

This is a song I wrote about my feelings towards God, Ella, and the grieving process…How to have faith and hope in the midst of this anger and sadness.

Kerosene

Scratch that itch
God knows it hurts
God knows there are no words
God knows they run dry

Send your love
Send it wide
Cuz I don’t know if I can go another mile

Flickering
Oh my soul is withering
Your light is shining
But I don’t know if its getting in

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I burn like kerosene

Did you see?
When I wept in my husbands arms
I just want to see her
I just want my baby girl

Drink it up
This sorrow is a cup
And my soul can’t get enough
This poison is rough

Feel the heat
Rising in my very bones
This anger is a blanket
And you’re never coming back home

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I burn like kerosene

There you go
I laid bare my burdens
God only knows
If anybody’s heard them

The wind is blowing
Rain is coming down
I’m trying like hell
To not let this fire out

I’m just a wick
married to your kerosene
Only you know what fuels my fire
What keeps me burning

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I’ll be burning
Like kerosene

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Swallowing

Drinking from the cup of grief is swallowing battery acid

A burning, constricting, end of life anxiety and torment

Torment that ascends like a rolling wave, gentle and deadly

All encompassing, all consuming

The thought followed by the swallow

I swallow death, and death swallows me

This particular poison never kills

It incapacitates it’s victims with anxiety and disbelief

I swallow these thoughts, a concoction of bitter sadness

Lost dreams, splitting heart, and ripped seams

I swallow this poison, or does the poison swallow me?