1

I Feel Your Pain

I am sharing this post as part of a blog series I guest write for– an organization called STONES. I was asked to share about my journey through grief. In case you don’t know what a STONE is, I am going to give you a quick recap.  A
stone is a physical representation of hurtful words, self-defeating mindsets, insecurities
and personal tragedies. We all have STONES, although we do not get to choose which
ones life throws at us–like in the case of personal tragedies.

Until two and half years ago I didn’t have many stones in my life. I was a pretty confident person who felt like she could do anything. I didn’t really struggle with poor self-image, anxiety, or debilitating fear. That all changed after a world-tilting loss. My husband and I lost our firstborn daughter unexpectedly in utero. One day she was alive, the next day she was gone. I will never forget the moment our Doctor told us there was no heartbeat. My heart literally stopped, and the wave of emotions hit my husband so hard he almost threw up. That’s the raw stuff of life, and our hearts were splintered into a million pieces.

Maybe you are like me and you must live with a new reality; you carry the stone of grief
and like me you will never forget when your world was shattered.

At first I was too afraid to talk about this Stone, because grief often makes me feel alone. I often buy the lie that no one else has deep pain from personal tragedy or that I
shouldn’t make people sad—because that’s all I’d be doing by being real. But then as I
was lying in bed thinking about what I wanted to say to YOU, my little sisters, I thought
of the few that were BRAVE enough to share with me their own personal tragedies,

stories of deep loss. Some of you lost a friend to suicide, some of you lost siblings to accidents, even murder. I listened as you broke open your hearts and shared with me the most precious parts of you. You shared the love you had for your friends, siblings, parents. That courage will never get old to me, and because of your pain I feel I must remind you, you are not alone.

Thank you brave, young woman for speaking out about the pain that you feel. I know
how hard it is to be perceived as a “downer.” I know how out of control you feel, and
maybe you even unfairly blame yourself for this tragedy. Maybe you have picked up
self-harming habits because your pain is so great and you have NO IDEA how to handle it. Your stone of grief is a very HEAVY and COMPLICATED one. You carry it day and night, and until you find someone trustworthy and compassionate enough to help bear the load, most of the time you are alone.

I will share with you how my stone of grief had so many layers, and still does. Before life threw this Stone at me I never had anxiety or near panic attacks. But now this has been my daily struggle to overcome. The anxiety usually comes from feelings of lack of
control and incredible fear that I will lose someone else close to me in a horrible way.
This is so “normal” for those of us that carry this stone. Another way this stone has
really crushed me is my self-image and security. All of the sudden I found myself so
profoundly uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt like a failure to some degree, and the
weakness that I couldn’t help exude seemed to scare people away. I began to shut
down and go inward in social settings. I just wanted to disappear. But I didn’t
disappear…Thank God!

Sadly, I’m not here to tell you that you can leave your stone of grief and just walk away.
No, some stones, believe it or not, stay with us our whole lives—and this is one of them. I am here to share with you how I have handled this stone, and for those of you who haven’t had a personal tragedy I can hopefully help you help a friend in need of a loving ear.

Because this stone is so foreign and new, I often times wish there was some kind of
guidebook for how to handle the stone of grief. I don’t have a book recommendation, but I can offer some advice from my experience. The first advice I would give would be to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. This may sound silly, but
it’s really quality over quantity. Before my daughter died I had many social type friends,
but after she died, most casual friends found it very difficult to handle my grief. They
didn’t say anything, and if you’ve lost someone you know that the worst thing someone
can say is…NOTHING. So I lost a lot of friends, but the ones that I kept were people
that were not afraid of my grief. Sometimes you may feel that people are afraid of
“catching” your stone. They may avoid you, talk about you behind your back, or make
you feel awkward. Maybe they even make you feel like it is your fault. It’s not, and you
owe it to yourself to gently remove these people from your inner circle. Your heart has
been broken and you need to protect it from people who are truly too selfish or oblivious to care.

The second thing I want you to know is, it’s not your fault and whatever you are feeling
is ok. I spent so much time beating myself up over feeling certain emotions. Emotions I
had NO control over. If I was happy, I would beat myself up that I wasn’t sad enough. If I was sad, I would beat myself up over not being happy. You must learn to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.

The reason that I can still get out of bed in the morning after my daughter died is
because I FEEL and FELT it all. I didn’t bottle it up, hide it, or avoid my stone. I didn’t try
to bury it. Instead I used all my pain and wrote songs, and pages and pages of music
about my daughter and the anger and sorrow I felt over losing her. These songs turned
into music videos of my story—and now they are being watched all over the world by
other parents who have lost children. That is the power of sharing your grief.

Maybe it doesn’t look like that for you. Maybe instead it’s going to a grief support group
and finding out you are not as alone as you feel. Maybe it’s following a blog of someone
else who has experienced a similar tragedy. Maybe you channel your pain into
something beautiful, like starting a 5k in honor of the one that died or writing a poem or
painting a picture.

There are still days when I wake up very sad and even depressed that she is not here,
and nothing will be able to fix that feeling. I just have to feel it, because I loved her
deeply and I still do. I have learned to live with this stone—sometimes it feels like a
boulder, other times like a tiny pebble.

Time does not heal all wounds. But time does change them. They get more bearable in
time. This does not mean they go away or the pain is not as deep. It’s just different.

If you carry this stone of grief like me, know you are not as alone as you feel. You
cannot see what personal tragedies people have gone through by looking at them—but
more often than not, you may find that your stone of grief will be a LIFELONG bridge,
connecting your broken heart to another broken heart.

I know mine has.

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Anecdote

Sometimes after the passing of time, someone you love can sort of be turned into an anecdote. “Grandpa in heaven,” or “so and so always liked this,” or “I bet Ella is so happy in heaven.” The tenderness and quiet honor that people once observed seems to be a thing of the past. Now, when people talk about Ella…it’s just so matter of fact. I do not harbor any bitterness or resentment towards people, but I do not know how to react. I cannot feign the indifference that time has brought to others. I cannot feign the acceptance that others have chosen to embrace. I am still her mother, and I have not accepted her death.

The other night I felt the clouds of grief descend upon me, and the tears would not stop. I don’t know why it’s difficult for me to admit these feelings and tears to others and even to my husband. The words struggle to come out. The truth is–at times I am completely submerged in a sorrowful anguish. My heart breaks open anew continually, and all of my memories, regrets, questions and broken hope come spilling out. I feel lost again, when all I want is to feel found and safe..even for a moment.

I thought that after Beck came, I would feel infinitely more grateful to God. I thought that that gratitude would somehow propel me to a greater intimacy and closeness to Him. Beck is here, and although I am grateful–I still struggle with a faith that is to me, so fragile. Sometimes it even seems a facade. I don’t know why I am still ignorantly trying to “figure God out.” Trying at times to stuff him back into the box of my past understandings…how I long for that child like trust and naiveté. I am trying. Trying to do the things that I think I should, and the things I think God wants me to do. Read my bible, memorize and meditate on scripture. The truth is, I do not know what the truth is..and I don’t think thats good enough. I wrestle with God on lots of fronts, but I really desire peace. I wait vainly for a prompt or secret message that will suddenly make life and all it’s tragedies “click.” I know that Jesus is the answer…and that He was a man of suffering and sorrows. I know this. I like this Jesus. But I still don’t understand Him.

A relationship without trust must not have any love in it, and that scares me. I cannot reconcile my former faith and foundation, the death of my daughter, and the birth of my son. I don’t know why this is so challenging for me, but it is. I can pin-point the time of my doubts and the start of the extreme testing of my faith.

After Jason and I found out that Ella had no heartbeat, we were required to go to the hospital and get an ultrasound for a second opinion. We called my entire family, and had everyone praying. As we went into that room, the ultrasound tech searched, but found no heartbeat. My dear family…sisters, brother, mom, dad and brother-in-law all came in the room. My mom asked the tech to leave so they could pray over me and Ella. She left, and my family prayed the most fervent prayers I have ever heard in my life. They begged God, petitioned God, recited scriptures to God, rallied their faith, wept their tears and asked. Then the tech came back in and checked again….and still no heartbeat.

Before Ella died I had made the habit of reciting the Lords prayer everyday…”Our Father who art in heaven hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” I cannot pray this prayer right now. I am afraid of Gods will. I wish I was more godly, and a stronger person…but I am shook to the core, and my foundations are laid bare. All I can cling to is that God is doing a work in me, and that He will finish it. I cannot change my own heart, and this current excavation is incredibly ugly and broken to me.

1

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

 

 

 

12

10-11-12 3:21

Almost exactly this time last year, I woke up in a quiet hospital room and looked out the window with brand new eyes. I remember everything like it was yesterday, the whole sequence of events from the news, to the delivery, to the exact emotions I felt as I looked out at the crashing waves, and pink and blue sky. The splitting ache in my soul has yet to subside a year later. Greeting me the morning of Ella’s birth was silence, and pain, and unmentionable solitude. There was no infant beside me, or inside of me anymore…just an aloneness that truly haunts and shakes me to my very marrow even now.

A year later and I am still looking out that very same window, asking God “How could you let this happen?” A year later and I’m still questioning, still struggling, still broken, still wanting the ending we never had. I honestly believe that there is no redemption this side of heaven for me.

This whole week has been dedicated to Ella–more specifically I’ve given myself permission to mourn for her in any way I feel fit. The magnitude of the actual date of her birth was really overwhelming for me–so this whole week has been about unpacking, reliving, relishing, loving, creating, dreaming, crying, talking and thinking about her and her life. Lately I’ve given myself permission to revisit as many memories as I can, and to let myself cry, and break again. Jason and I have talked a lot this week–even mentioning some things that we’ve never been able to speak to each other. He told me this week that he remembers how she smelled. This prompted me to revisit the short time I had to hold her, look at her, and touch her. I realized that these memories are very rarely visited for me–because of the shock of labor and the trauma of her birth. Facing these truths has been very monumental for me. Allowing myself to remember these things that have felt too fresh and painful have brought me closer to her, and Jason. I wish I could’ve studied her longer. I wish I would have held her longer–although I realize that when your child has died, there will never be an amount of time to say goodbye that’s long enough. I wish I wasn’t in shock. I wish maybe I could’ve sang to her..or said something profound.

At the same time I realize I sang to her all of her life. She heard my voice, and my love for her everyday. I believe that I was just holding her shell, and that her spirit was gone. Reconciling this faith, and knowledge with this temporary and fading world that we live in is astounding. My heart knows that there is more to life than this…and she is on the other side. Regardless of this knowledge, the amount of faith it takes to believe the truth at all times is staggering.

This week has been such a special journey for Jason and I as parents. One night we laid in bed and just looked at her pictures. We haven’t looked at her pictures in months…at least I haven’t been able to. We looked, and marveled at her again, and I couldn’t help but wonder who she would’ve been. We also talked about what and when we thought her final moments were…and even wondered aloud if she felt any pain. These thoughts are ones that have been unspoken and thought in solitude and maybe even guilt–but speaking them to one another has brought tremendous support and oneness.

I’ve done a lot of hard things this week. My mom and sister came over and helped me go through her closet. We packed up things to give away, and saved the truly special items. This is something I haven’t been able to do until now. We also made a special tribute wall to her in our bedroom. We used quilts, fabrics, sweaters, and dresses that we bought for Ella and displayed them in looms on our wall. This is the first thing I see now when I wake up, and it brings me a sense of peace. The wall project is so special to me–because it’s just as tangible as she is. I can touch her dresses, and see the reminder of her light and love–and the joy she brought us. There is something powerful about having something as a reminder…so she’s not just in my heart, or my memories–everyone can see and be reminded. We also put a pair of moccasins in a shadow box and displayed it on my mantel. Looking at these little remaining pieces of her is still heartbreaking–but somehow your heart can break and find peace and joy at the same time. It’s so bizarre. My project today was framing her hand and footprints. I literally debated in the frame aisle for twenty minutes, no frame was good enough. The framing was the last little project I really wanted to do–and they are also a beautiful reminder of the miracle of Ella. My sentiment towards these projects can be summed up in the lyrics I wrote “Sometimes I just want to hold something your body has touched, I don’t have much, I don’t have much…like the little pink ribbon that we put in your hair, while you were lying there, you were lying there…” My mothers instinct is still desperately yearning to be close to my baby girl, and these little tokens allow me to be that much more.

I still have a million more things to say and process, but this day is about honoring Ella and that’s all I really want to do.

Dear Ella Rae,

Thank you for bringing me so much joy. When I found out I was pregnant with you I was completely overwhelmed with a heavenly love. I didn’t know a mother’s heart until You gave it to me. You brought me so much joy–especially when it was just you and I in the silence, or you and I in the car, or you and I on stage singing. Knowing you were there, and knowing your light made everyday such an adventure. You gave me brand new eyes to see the world. Everything was brighter, and better, and more hopeful. You put into perspective life for me. You helped me realize that the only success worth striving for is love. You helped me realize that my music, my career, money, things, and status are garbage in comparison to love. I know I should’ve learned these things before, but I was waiting for my little teacher and gift to give me lessons only you could give. I can remember when we told both of your grandparents and aunts and uncles about you–and the joy and elation and pure happiness we all felt. The world was brighter for everyone because of you. You are and were so precious to us. I remember most fondly how your dad cried, and sprinted out of the house and ran laps, and did jumping jacks…and finally fell on his knees in gratitude and awe. You made your dad melt…and I’d never seen him exhibit such wreck less abandon and joy before. There are countless memories that we have with you, at Niagara falls with your Aunt Beamer (who made you go on the splash deck :)), and festivals, and memorials, and roadtrips, and beach days and boat rides. Every day spent with you was special. I know people say that you wouldn’t want us to be sad for you…and I’m not sad for you. I know I’m sad for myself. Maybe you can ask God for more angels, or signs, or love for me…or just strength to keep going.

I remember right after you were born, seeing your dads face for the first time was like seeing  a stranger. Your dad was smiling with such pride, and love…that I’d never witnessed before. You had changed him, and I saw it. He loves you so much, and he has an easier time than I do imagining you playing. He often remarks, “I wonder what Ella is doing right now?”

The gifts you gave after you left are just as important and valuable to me as the ones you gave while you were here. Ella, you have given me a changed perspective on suffering and pain. Your short life has made me care so much more than I ever used to about people around me. You gave me more compassion. You gave me understanding. You gave me a perspective that is so precious to me. Never again will I be so oblivious and callous as I once was. Thank you for life and light…and I know that the ultimate thanks will be to God our creator and Father. He chose you for us, and these gifts are ultimately from Him…I am sure you know that much better than I do. I don’t believe you are watching over me, or that we can even communicate..but if by some design you can hear my heart…I just want you to know that I love you, and I miss you. And I really can’t wait to see you again.

Love your MomImageImageImage Image

Video
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24

Tomorrow we are at 24 weeks. I have been avoiding my blog the last few weeks like the plague. Afraid I’ll go on another rant, or find myself sobbing at the computer screen as I try to figure out how I feel. In fact, I’ve been avoiding a lot of things in my life lately. Avoiding awkward situations that I simply don’t feel capable of handling. Avoiding writing my feelings. Avoiding talking about them. Avoiding looking at little girls. Avoiding dreaming about the good things that can come from this new baby. Avoiding listening to the songs I have written about Ella. Avoiding watching the music video that is plainly our life. Avoiding her empty room. Avoiding opening up these very present and real wounds again. I’m sure it’s normal. All I can say is that I’m tired of being broken. Tired of being afraid. So damn tired of crying and missing Ella so bad it hurts every fiber of my being. I am avoiding myself…

So much of this pain is psychological…my last post was about the doppler. Well I have only used it a handful of times. This might be surprising but I find that since I have it, I don’t need it. When I have a moment of dread and panic I simply wait. I don’t do anything really. Just sit and breathe with my hands on my belly and wait. Baby always complies..usually within minutes. I feel bad sometimes for putting so much pressure on Him. I think that this whole charade is something about the control. If I at least have the illusion of control then I don’t have to use it.

Anyway…back to the avoiding. From 19 weeks to about 22 may have been the darkest time for me. I felt like I was “relapsing” which sounds ridiculous because I definitely should know by now that grief comes in waves, and you just keep going around and around. But it surprised me. The anxiety came back…and the sorrow…the sorrow so heavy I felt like she had been ripped from me yesterday. I think grief is so odd and beautiful.

Within that time period I also released my first single off of my new EP called Climbing Clouds. The single was released with a video that is entirely and incredibly autobiographical. Releasing that into the world so to speak was incredibly freeing, terrifying, healing, disappointing, and a myriad of other emotions. To say that things have been a bit tense with exposing myself in this way is a huge understatement. The need to retreat and hideaway has been the primal instinct ruling most of my avoidances. In between releasing the video I have also been touring a bit more, and with that–playing my songs for the public about Ella. Make no mistake, being an artist–someone who writes and communicates to connect is exhausting. I feel so burnt out and tired of being up front. I feel like I am exposed, needy, weak, naked, broken, and that I must continue to be these things in front of everyone regardless if I feel like it. This is my life. To share songs, and my life with others who are lost and hurting. Lately though, I really wish it wasn’t. The bottom line is I’m tired of being vulnerable. It’s getting harder. I am tired of being so blatantly honest to the many, many people who ask me if this is my first child. I’m tired of having bad days. I’m tired of sharing my story and I don’t know why. Other than the fact that being vulnerable is scary. Sometimes vulnerability and honesty are met with awkwardness and rejection. That’s a really hard pill to swallow when all I really need is love and acceptance. I know that by putting this all out now, at midnight no less–I am uncorking myself again. Opening up again. Releasing. Unclogging. Speaking honestly…but even as I type this I don’t want to go there.

Every morning for the past few weeks when I wake up and go to the bathroom I look across the hall and see Ella’s room..with the door wide open. Jason keeps opening the door every day…and every day I close it. It’s actually physically hard to close–the door gets caught on the carpet every time, but I close it every day nonetheless. I don’t want to look in that empty space. I don’t want to look my loss in the face. I don’t want to think about what could have been. And I don’t. I angrily close the door. I know that this action is a small manifestation on what is happening in my mind and heart internally. I don’t know what to do about it at the present. I don’t feel like sharing will make it better…but I guess it can’t make it any worse. My mom came over today and asked me how I was doing, and I just brushed her off and said I was fine. I might have been fine, but I don’t really know honestly how I am because like I said..I am avoiding myself. You know how I avoid myself? Distraction and busyness. I make sure there is never a moment I am alone with my thoughts and feelings. There is always constant noise, constant stimulation, constant fixation. Online shopping…work….pinterest…emails..facebook…youtube…cooking shows. It all leaves me feeling terribly empty and dissatisfied. Come to think of it, I’m avoiding God too. I don’t really want to think about Him at all. I don’t want to talk to Him, and I don’t want to tell Him how I feel, or what I want, or even what I need. Every prayer I have uttered for myself since Ella has died has felt like a small victory to me. It’s hard to talk to God. I don’t feel like I know Him anymore, and at times..most of the time I don’t feel like He is safe anymore. I’m afraid to admit this…but I think I must diagnose my true beliefs and be honest with myself..and probably with God too. Life has really lost its luster. The small things that used to bring me joy now seem pretty meaningless…with the exception of my husband and this baby. Baby has brought me little folds of joy…little quiet glimmers. I don’t think anyone but God knows how special they are to me, and how feeling him move inside me really brings me a little piece of heaven. I need that heaven, and with every day I abandon myself to the joy as much as I can. I’m pretty sure that is all I can do for now. But it’s all so sacred still. I really can’t be free to rejoice and smile and laugh and plan and think about the future with the world, family or even friends. We haven’t bought anything yet, decorated, or signed up for any classes…we will cross these bridges when they come. I know at some point I will no longer be able to avoid doing those things..but maybe avoidance has a time and place. I will try to avoid worry about the future and be content with the day I have been given. Ha, way easier to say than do. Anyway, I am going to share the video with you..because this is the time and place. One thing I can’t avoid is my undying love for my daughter…here is Ella’s first song…one of many.

3

Still Loved

It has been over a month since I have written really anything, here or otherwise. The passing of time has been really stifling to me. A few mile markers have past. June 11th was the 8 month marker from the day Ella died. Her gravestone marker also came in, and that brought on a mix of emotions from sadness and anger to guilt and fear. My Grandma actually was the first one to see it, because Ella is buried next to my Grandpa. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to see it right away–then I felt guilty for not going. I finally went with Jason, we looked at it, and I fought back every morbid thought with the knowledge that she wasn’t there anymore.

I’ve actually been avoiding my blog because my last post caused a lot of strife and hurt, and I felt afraid to be honest. But this is my safe place to express, and if someone is reading this for ammo I will be sure not to give them any. This has never been a place to do anything but grieve for my daughter, and process my emotions. I can honestly say I have a clear conscience. With that being said, I’m not going to be afraid anymore, and I wont ever be silent about my daughters impact. I miss her so much these days…

This grief now plays with my imagination. I walk into my kitchen and I think she should be there in a high chair, smiling at me. I continually mourn for the time I never got with her. Its no longer a thought like, “she would be here in two months,” it’s “oh she would’ve been four months old today.” The utter unfairness of it all is what baffles me.

I’ve been incredibly busy with my music, and my video projects–and as they are coming to fruition and completion I feel an incredible tidal wave of fresh grief. Two of these songs and videos are about Ella and the incredible void she has left. I will have to reenact our story. The joy, the disappointment, the hopes and dreams being dashed all over again. I am sort of dreading this,but at the same time every bit of my heart is pushing for it. I need to tell this story with every fiber of my being. To honor her, to break the silence, to say once and for all here the truth is…you cannot pretend this did not happen. I need to do this for all the mothers who cannot express their sadness.  This Thursday is the day, the props are gathered, costumes set, storyboards finished…now all that’s left is to go back to that innocent time, then watch my world crumble again.

 

This past weekend was incredibly rewarding and draining. I had a big festival, played seven slots and probably met a couple hundred people. There were a few bittersweet moments that really touched me. One of these moments took place at my merch table. I was signing an autograph for a little girl, and when I asked her name…she said Ella. I then told her and her mother that I had a daughter named Ella, but that Ella was in heaven. I wanted to cry, but at times like that you kind of have to hold it together. The other bittersweet moment was backstage at the artist tent. Jason and I were taking a break from the heat when we ran in to two band wives that we knew. They were both pushing strollers and both had an adorable baby girl. Sometimes when I run into these kind of situations I push Ella and my loss to the back of my brain and I kind of enter robot mode. If I were to truly express my grief and sadness in that moment, I’m afraid of what would happen. Being polite I asked their names, and that was when mom number two told me that they had actually named their daughter Jetty. Even though I avoid holding baby girls this little Jetty was the exception. I held her for awhile and she brought a little peace and love to my mothers heart. When I left, I burst into tears…Ella should’ve met little Jetty.

 

My weekend culminated at my mother in laws birthday party. My adorable niece was there. Seeing how big she had gotten, and how much joys she brought to my family made me ache. I locked myself in a bathroom and cried. I cried because although I am functioning and living, I couldn’t remember the last time I had truly laughed. I’m missing that carefree joy. Im missing the little girl who should’ve brought it to me. I’m missing the little giggles, the smiles, the hair bows, the dresses, the beach toys, the sunblock. I just can’t even imagine how amazing it would be to hold your daughter, and have her hands hold you back. Thank you KV BIJOU for sending me this beautiful ring.

 

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5

Friends & Suffering

This period of my life has sort of inevitably and unconsciously sifted out friendships and people that used to hold pieces of my heart. You really learn who truly cares when you are in grief. Grief has a way of making things like returning phone calls, or making dinner plans seem like the last thing on earth that matters. These tasks would require me to perform a certain way that would be deemed “socially acceptable.” Most of the time grief throws those mores and performances out the window–whats the point anyway? The people that have been there for me has been surprising. My friend–let’s call her “Sam” has been through an unspeakable amount of suffering, physically, relationally, and emotionally. She has become one of my best friends after Ella died. She still texts and calls me daily–and regularly acknowledges the fact that I am not ok. Her example of love has changed me, and set my own bar for friendship pretty high. The next time I have a friend who is experiencing death and grief, I will grieve with them and be there for them in a way that is so personal. I won’t expect anything from them. And I will do my best so just be in the depths with them. I probably won’t say “I’m here for you,” or “I’m praying for you.” I will cry and grieve with them…I hope I will.

Part of me has wanted to tell so many people from my past and present that the old me has died. If a friendship continues–you have to acknowledge that. You have to acknowledge that something as simple as a dinner date or a phone call is sometimes a lot for me to handle. Family and “friends” have ignored me, let me be, neglected me, and then expected me to respond the same way. The old me didn’t need as much. The new me does. For my own emotional wellbeing I have written off people who fail to realize we are still suffering and we are still broken. A conversation without this monumental realization is quite pointless to me.

I’ll give a little example of what I am talking about. This past Christmas we received countless picture cards…none of them acknowledged the fact that maybe Jason and I would be having a hard Christmas without our baby. People I thought would remember or care simply signed their names and wished us a “Merry Christmas.” Needless to say it was a very painful holiday, and all of those cards ended up in the trash. One card stood out from the rest though, a cousin of mine asked me if her card with her pregnant belly on it would be too much for me to handle. Thanking her I told her yes it would be too painful. She will never know how that little consideration and thoughtfulness blessed me. Now I understand that people forget. I get that. That used to be me. But the new fact is that I live life with a wound, and that wound is tantamount…it IS my life right now.

Some people in my own family have inadvertently made me feel terrible for my grief. They have sort of silently threatened me to act, to put on a happy face–so they don’t have to feel my pain. I don’t know why this is, I surmise that it makes them feel uncomfortable and sad, and afraid. Perhaps to deny my grief is somehow making sure it won’t infect them? Not sure. Maybe it simply is oblivion. I’ve had to choose to forgive many people for their lack of concern and for their insensitive remarks. Like I said, I used to be like that too…and if I’m honest I still am. We all let each other down as humans.

As a human being we can only carry so much. I carry grief and loss, and I don’t want to carry bitterness and unforgiveness in my load. I want to share an incident that also happened around Christmas that took me some time to forgive, and apply grace. I am still choosing to do this today. A family member and I where talking, and during that time they said they had to protect their newborn baby, and they weren’t sure if they wanted to be around us at Christmas time. This person also informed me that the maternal instinct was to blame, and it was hard for her to explain to me. Hard to explain to a mother of a stillborn who had no power whatsoever to breath life back into that little frame? I was devastated. That conversation literally left me speechless. I’m glad that God did not allow me to say what I was thinking or feeling. It would have been explosive I’m sure. Understanding where people come from, and assuming the best is always the key to letting go. It took me a long time to forgive her, and I’m sure to this day she has no idea how much she hurt me.

I wish that, that time was the only time I had to feel low on account of a family member or friend, but we do this to each other all the time. We are all selfish, self-consumed, and thoughtless. I want to share these accounts because I feel like it is an important part of my refining. For awhile I really damned up my heart, and made myself cold. I didn’t want to let God continue the refining that he started in me the day we lost Ella. There is a constant battle to keep my heart tender and right. A constant battle to look at my own inadequacies and failures. A constant battle to bestow grace that is and has been bestowed on me. This is so hard to do. Sometimes I want to be bitter and mean…and blatantly honest.

I get random texts sometimes from people I knew when I was eighteen, saying things like “When can we catch up?” But they haven’t been here with me in this fire, or on this journey. We are different people now. Catching up involves me opening my wounds up and being honest about who I am now. And I am quite certain that most people don’t want that, because if they did–they would’ve been here with me in these seven months. My mom had a vision one day, and she said she saw me, and Jesus..and He said “She’s coming with me.” She had the impression that I was going on a different path, and that most can’t go with me on that path…it is ours alone to take. Friends and family with young babies and daughters can’t expect me to go on their paths with them. I am mourning, and in death…and they are celebrating in life. I think this is the best way of putting it. We are on different paths. We are different people. So this is me releasing old friendships, old expectations, and old ways. This is me embracing others emptiness and brokeness. This is me not pretending. Seven months later and I’m still mourning. RIP the old Me.