Lately, I’ve been following the journey of two country singers that have in recent years really risen to the top. I wish I had known about them before but I listen to all genres of music and don’t really focus on one.
What drew me to them was the accounts of their love. A true, simple life that include finding soul mates in each other. The second thing was their daughter – she has Down Syndrome and of course special needs – that’s my soft spot.
Unfortunately, I heard about them due to Rory, the husband sharing of the diagnosis of his sweet wife, Joey with cervical cancer. Her treatments stopped late last year as she went home to be with her family and die with them there.
I. can’t. imagine.
I can’t imagine.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that to my husband or friends since Lydia died. I. can’t. imagine. the pain.
I think we’ve all said it. Sitting there in shock about something tragic. And one time as I said it to someone as I dazed off to reflect about it they snapped me back to reality by replying “yes, you can. You CAN imagine.”
They are right. I can imagine. Every day. Mostly quiet and hidden but I can imagine.
I can’t tell you the numbers of times a day I reflect on my sweet girl. I reflect often. All of it. Something will trigger a memory and I’ll find myself reliving that chapter of my life. Losing her. That day, that phone call. Hearing my husband in a cry I’ve never heard before. Some parts of her funeral I remember like yesterday and some parts are a fog. I relive the songs I chose. I relive her smile. I close my eyes and hope to feel her skin in my thoughts. I watch a video just to hear her sing.
Because grief never ends. What I’ve realized there isn’t a timetable. While the pain maybe less severe as time goes on you live each and every day with the memory. The memory of the child you’ll never hold again. The guilt of reliving what I could have done to save her. That all never goes away.
That couple I mentioned…well, earlier this week – Joey said her last goodbye to her 2 year old daughter. And I bawled. I once again thought “I can’t imagine saying goodbye to your daughter.” How hard to know you’ll never see her again. And I remembered…I said my last goodbye coming up on 2 years.
And some days I wonder how I’m still standing. How does one say goodbye and bury their child and still stand? How do they get out of bed and put on a smile, get ready for work and and deal with the day? It all seems so minor compared to this death I’ve experienced.
And stories like Joey hit me. Seeing her say goodbye to her young, special daughter and her child growing up without a mother. The post about a friend I haven’t seen in 25 years losing his mother to Alzheimer’s hurt my heart. The mom with cancer and 4 kids. I was always sympathetic but even more so now.
And I feel the need to help. Because my pain sits at the surface waiting to boil over, I understand the angst, the fear, the beginning days of shock and I get it. I watch and listen to others as if they are a mirror and I’m watching the reflection of the stages of grief staring back at me.
After some time, I found that helping others, reaching out in whatever way I can is healing. Listening to others as they vent about what is happening, just being there is what I can now do. I try to absorb it all knowing what they are carrying because I understand.
I reach out to check on the loved ones because I know that it isn’t always the holidays, the angeversaries or significant dates that bring on the tears. It is the quiet moments, the unexpected trip to the store or just waking up and feeling a heavy heart.
Every day I wonder how we got here. Is this really the life God wanted me to have? What is my true purpose in life and how can I get there? I feel like since Lydia’s was diagnosed and especially since her death I’m searching for the key to the treasure of life – to understand how I can truly make a difference.
There is a greater plan for me. I truly believe what even what I did for 7 years to advocate and help wasn’t what God intended for me to be my legacy. I believe that was just my eye opener. I believe there is more to do. He gave me these intense, horrible tragedies to do something even better. And not for notoriety or recognition but to do something that REALLY makes a difference.
My good friend and I joke about “feeding the soul” but it has some reality to it – he had me experience all these losses so that I am eventually led to what feeds my soul. So, when I get up in the morning and smile that I know I’m doing what is meant for me. To help me be at peace, with everything. All of it.
I have no idea what THAT is. I pray for it all the time. Being a type A personality it is hard to be patient while you wait or look for whatever THAT is. And suffering from grief doesn’t help because often you are just so tired, weak and worn just getting through each day. But, I’m keeping the faith that someday I’ll find it or it will find me. Although I’d hate for it to be some of my last days on earth I know that I’ll get there.
Until then, I’ll continue to do what my heart guides me to do. If that includes someone grabbing my hand and leading me to their wife’s casket to tell me about her last hours, her last breath and the feelings he’s had since she left his side then so be it. If it is me offering gentle words of comfort and advise of how to navigate the next days, I’ll do it.
My biggest achievements – my kids – have happened but Lydia’s teachings aren’t done. And I’ll wait patiently because I believe I will do something with all I’ve learned. She’s accomplished so much to be done so soon. I just know it.
Ironically, Joey wrote and released this song in 2012 “When I’m Gone” – it is quite beautiful and the words really resonated with me.
You will reach for me in vain.
You’ll be whispering my name
As if sorrow were your friend
and this world so alien
But life will call with daffodils
and morning glorious blue skies.
You’ll think of me–some memory
And softly smile to your surprise.
And even though you love me still, you will know where you belong.
Just give it time. We’ll both be fine when I’m gone.