As I was digging my way through the chaos that I created while I was searching for something that I shouldn't have lost... I came upon several pages torn from a notebook that I was journalling in exactly nine years ago today. Some feelings change entirely, some not so much.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
July 17, 2001
Why is it that the buzzing of a fly grates so annoyingly against my ear and yet the soft lullaby of a summer breeze played ever so gently by the surrounding pines, soothes and comforts.
Why is the tiny brown tick crawling up my shirt, the source of distaste and abhorrence but the graceful erratic flight of the damsel fly a source of joy?
Why do we so often long for the clarity of deep blue skys and warming sunlight when the next moment finds our hearts yearning for the exuberance of a a blusterous thunderstorm?
The frog strumming happily in the murky swamp is oblivious to the plane passing overhead, as oblivious as the plane is to the frog. That same frog can't remember the cool clear water of that pond in March. The crisp clean stinging air or the diligence that dammed it into being, yet he happily strums and snags his unsuspecting prey with a sticky tongue, then licks his scanty lips with pleasure. If only I could embrace my being with such simple faith.
Nature is imbued with peace. It is unconditional and automatic. A breeze caresses the strands of unrestrained hair and for a fraction of a second I feel it. Then a bush moves, a leaf crackles, the sun's warmth becomes uncomfortable and my mind is off and running once again, oblivious to the frog strumming complacently in his murky world.
Listen to the whispered words of weathered wisdom, winding down the well worn paths of promised peace. Surrender to the certainty of ever present starlight.
You never know what is going to be the trigger that sends you tumbling uncontrollably into the open arms of despair. Perhaps the long shadows on a cool summer morning, the words of a song or the notes of harmony that sink deeply into a wounded heart. The familiar expression of a loving friend when you realize that your ache is acknowledged and shared.
I frantically inhale again, not wanting to lose that incredible sense of her, but it's gone and I wonder if it was ever there at all. Perhaps she was passing by and paused to hold my attention, to whisper "hello, I love you... I'm here."
Most days that's enough. I have to force myself into the uniform of the day. I go to work, to the grocery store, to the dentist, for a mammogram... I'm anxious to talk about Shannon but they aren't always ready. I sometimes seek out someone somewhere - some distinguishing mark or scar that says "Me too." I know your heartache.
There is a feeling unlike any other ...as a tear flows silently slowly down the face of sorrow. I want to experience it fully completely, as if life will be altered somehow. Reality changed, cleansed, renewed.
Oh how I long for a glimpse of what will be. Our eyes meet in the sweet secret world of dreams and I dare not even blink, for fear that she will disappear and with her take my heart. A heart already hers, given completely and unconditionally.
I ache to feel her hand in mine again, to touch the dusted freckles on her arm, to laugh together over some unspoken joke or cry when movies spotlight a life so wounded.
If I could travel to that place where you now so gaily play. To see with my mother's eyes that you are home, complete, joyous in each moment... or if I could trust my heart, a mother's heart that knows without doubt that this can be no other way. I can't imagine loving this much, that I would have agreed to endure the pain of a life without you."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Perhaps it's ramblings like these that I shouldn't share. Ramblings that might make you think less of me or worry or shy away. But then again, perhaps there is someone stumbling upon this page that is experiencing the very anguish that I was three years after Shannon's death...and I want you to know that life has a way of carrying us through the shadows and back into the light. Don't be afraid.
I have learned that there is no shame in expressing what it real. At the time I couldn't. At the time, I felt that I had to grieve alone. I didn't share the darkness. I know it was visible to the people who love me... I know they worried, but it seemed necessary to protect them from something they could not change. I made every effort to appear "normal" even though I had no idea what that meant, but when I couldn't contain what felt like a despair that I might never recover from, I wrote those feelings down, freed them, acknowledged them, embraced them and recognized that they would always be a part of who I would become as life unfolded with my child in Heaven.
Some of the words surprise even me, like running into an old friend and recognizing them, remembering them, but knowing that they have changed in ways that you can't quite put your finger on. Evolution is subtle...like the lines that form around your eyes and mouth, with time. You don't notice them when you look into your reflection every day... but bump into an old acquaintance ... they will notice.
Living with sadness, not the ordinary hurt feelings, lost my job, poverty, war, big eyed SPCA kind of sad... all valid and worthy of a deep emotional reaction... but the sadness that comes with the loss of a child, can't be minimized or fixed or cured or placated or medicated. It is as much a part of life as breathing and we do it the best we can, without imposing or demanding or apologizing.
I suppose there is a glimmer of hope, that sharing my experience will in some way offer the same hope and encouragement that I have received. It is extremely difficult to share the painful, pitiful, vulnerable moments but they are honest and give us pause to embrace what makes us human, both in our courage and in our frailty.
Again, as so many times before, it touches me in ways I have yet to find ways to express, that you are willing to experience the journey with me.
"Thank you for the unseen but deeply felt thread that binds us together, through good times and bad. Thank you for our two new baby goldfish. Thank you for running water and clean linens. Thank you for the emerging green of late blooming lavender. Thank you for the courage to look at myself, my life, my family, my friends... and see the gifts."