Year Two

It is just a random day but my daughter’s absence is weighing heavily on my heart.  My boys and I were talking about her this morning and while I smiled as we reminisced I just felt so empty. We were chatting about how Lydia took her medicine every day.  She had a plethora of meds we had to give her – seizure meds, GI meds, supplements…some crushed, some by syringe…you get it.  They all had to be timed carefully with her food intake too. I remember them so clearly but certainly not fondly.

A few years into our special needs journey I had taken her to this holistic physician who put her on supplements, one of them being cod oil.  If you have ever smelled cod oil  it isn’t exactly pleasant but we religiously put it in applesauce each and every morning (mixed with her other meds) and as Lydia took that 1st bite she grimaced and then gulped it as if to tell me it was horrible and gulping helped her suck it down without tasting it.  However, as we talked about it I told the boys she never once spit it out.  She just went onto the next bite as if to say “I know it will be over soon.”

As we talked, we laughed and tried to mimic the face she would make on that first bite.  None of us could do it but the memory is clearly there for all of us.  None the less it was just nice to talk about her, say her name and smile even when the topic of meds wasn’t a good reminder.  Devin then opened the iPad and showed us some photos of her.  She was in the hospital and had her big, thick tongue hanging out.  I thought she was sleeping but Devin said no her eyes were open.  I couldn’t recall that visit and just like that he shut the photo album and she was gone again.

During our conversation about her my mind went to the day she died and her medicines she took. She had a plastic shoe box full of meds with information on what and when she was to take them.  I remember later after she died someone telling me that Tom immediately went into the cabinet and took all the medicines and threw them away (yes, I know hospital folks this was NOT the right way to do it, however it was too late when I finally knew about it).  It was one of the first things he did.  He said he just couldn’t stand seeing them anymore and hated that several times a day she had this regimen of shoving these things into her body.  As I sat at the table with the boys this morning I sat there half listening thinking about her medicines and how Tom felt about them and the medicines we gave her.  All of them.  Everything we tried to keep her healthy and alive.

Not every time we talk about Lydia do I feel sad.  But year two is proving to be harder than year one.  And knowing that expectations are such that I should be “moving on” and “living life” my sadness is often in silence like today.  It is crazy to see how people around you move on so quickly. But then again they didn’t bury their child.  I do, however, enjoy the people I can be around to simply just talk about her or how I’m feeling.  I saw someone the other day at the ball field, in fact someone I don’t see often or have close conversations with but I’ve known for a very long time.  It was nice and casual that we were just chatting about missing my child and how it has affected our lives.  It was nice not to see someone flinch because I mentioned her name or give me the “I’m so sorry” face – they simply talked, two people having a conversation about things.

So why is year two harder?  Well, I asked that question of a fellow mom who lost her son a few years ago. She approached me after church the other day and hugged me and asked me how I was doing.  I gave my usual response “day by day…today is a good day.”  She nodded as she knows the road I’m traveling but is a few years ahead of me.   I then said to her “it seems harder now but you can’t tell people that…why is it harder?”  I think I knew but she put it into words so much better than I could have at that second.

What she said wasn’t anything I needed a psychiatrist for, what she said was true .  She said what I couldn’t put my finger on. She said “year one you are numb, you go through the motions to get through the ‘firsts’ and then year two is where it all becomes real.”  I wanted to scream and grab her and shout “YES! YES! YES! this is exactly how I feel!  Year one I was in shock, walking out of Kohl’s and thinking about how I was a mom of a dead child, waking up every morning seeing her picture and finding hard to believe she was gone and just hoping to get past birthdays, Mother’s Day and anniversaries but now….now it just HURTS like HELL!”  But I didn’t scream or shout as I stood in the dark church still standing in the pew I was just sitting in listening to her name be read off that day.

I realize I haven’t blogged about her or us lately and while blog posts swirl in my head almost daily I find it hard to sit down and actually write out the words.  I think it makes it more real and real is hard to accept, especially when it is your child.  For us the last year has been a whirlwind of decisions and activity and I often wonder too that because now it is quiet in our daily lives are we more quiet in our thoughts?  Were we just shoving our grief so far below everything else that now, because we have nothing else in front of it, it is now standing right in front of our faces wanting us to face it head on?  That is hard to do.  Face that grief.  I’m quickly trying to find things to do to put it back down. Shove it far, far away in hopes that I’m never quiet in my thoughts too long. Far from healthy but I guess they call it coping.

Every time I’m lucky enough to get to church I have some main prayers that get repeated.  First, I always ask for strength – overall, just to get through the day, the next hour, whatever he can give me so it doesn’t hurt so bad.  Next I pray for my family’s health.  My husband, my children, my immediate family, my close friends because I tell God I’m not sure I could see someone else die.  Yes, of anyone I know death is a reality – no one lives for ever –  but I ask him to just let me heal a bit before I am faced with anymore pain.  Next and last, I pray for him to show me my REAL purpose in life.  I want to use the skill set I have gained from being a special mom to have REAL purpose, to help others, to make a REAL difference.  I tell God I’ll be patient but somewhere, somehow I hope my real purpose comes so my skills can be used in a positive way.

I miss you Lydia.  More than I did the day you left.  More than I did yesterday.  I ask God to give me signs you are with me and often I’m welcomed with a slew of gray minivans that looked the one I bought for you.  Or people reaching out to let me know they are thinking of me…randomly.  Or like the other day when I sat at my office window and a bird landed on the column outside my house and stared at me through the window.  And just like like that while looking straight at me pooped and flew away.  I laughed…you were great at pooping anywhere.  I showed the kids and we all thought you came to say hi.  It felt like you graced us with your presence leaving a little package behind.

I’m not sure how year two will go without you but it seems challenging already.  I’m certainly not wishing for it or hoping for it but it is there.  Right in my face.  I’m not sure how much I can over-schedule myself or run myself ragged to keep pushing missing you back far away from my thoughts or my heart but I’m sure I’ll keep trying.  It is easier that way -not face it.  It was much easier to feel numb.  Lydia on her favorite toy

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