As I sit here, the song “I’m Alive by Kenny Chesney is on my heart. Songs, I guess seem to be speaking to me lately. You see my husband communicates through music. He is not a man that expresses verbally his feelings often, but if I go through his playlist it really tells his life story – what he feels and his grief. See this song was added to his playlist quite a few years back when the market was going south and work was harder to find (he is a self employed contractor), pay for jobs was at a low (supply and demand) and people that owed us LOTS of $$$$….went under. Stress was almost insurmountable! However, he was still able to be THANKFUL and GRATEFUL for what we had. I on the other hand was a bit bitter, and angry at the people who left us high and dry and scraping by (I now have learned you can’t hang on to anger, it only hurts you and no one else), BUT I have ALWAYS been thankful for the blessings in my life.
Never could we have imagined what we were about to be face……..the death of our sweet, beautiful, funny, joyous Ellery. I can honestly say in the first few weeks I wasn’t thankful to be alive, neither of us were. I will never forget sitting in bed both sobbing in each others arms and saying we have two choices…… a) we kill ourselves (don’t judge for most bereaved parents this thought pops in your mind)….. or b) we survive, we “fake it till we make it”. We both knew option A. wasn’t really an option and we made the decision quickly that we had to survive this with the hope to one day thrive.
Nothing can prepare a bereaved parent for the Holidays….. NOTHING! The first holidays were quite a blur to us. The first Halloween we walked like Zombies (how fitting) in our neighborhood trying not to make eye contact with anyone, but our excited children brought us joy! Thanksgiving we left to visit my cousin. She bought a candle and stickers for the kids to decorate in remembrance of Ellery! We got to light it and acknowledge our daughter and sister. That my friends meant the world to our family. We kept insanely busy….. which was a great distraction for us and the kids, but the cement block was still there compressing our hearts. Christmas was dreadful we kept the same tradition of going where we were “expected” to go but we were different people. So being in circumstances like holidays where “business is as usual” was very difficult for us. Our exposed, broken hearts were so raw and the mention of our sweet girls name …. Ellery… was barely spoken in fear of hurting us more…….. I believe. We thanked God for carrying us through the holidays and were grateful for January.
NEARLY 16 MONTHS LATER
Now…. here i sit….. almost 16 months later…. almost 4 months into year 2 of learning to live without our precious daughter Ellery. I was told year two could be worse than year one and to be honest I kinda scoffed at that. How could that be possible??? But now I can see that is VERY possible! Year one you are blessed with the “grief fog” lots of support and the blessing of looking back at what you did a year ago with your precious child. Year two….. the fog lifts and the raw air hits, the overwhelming support is gone (only a few beautiful souls left to weather the storm with -I am beyond thankful for their comfort) and you are left with the what if’s, what would be’s and the eternal missing and aching. I still can not say that year two is worse for me, it’s different…… meaning, it’s not easier, less painful or hard it’s just different. I cry a little less, the anxiety has subsided a bit and I feel like I am starting to be able to tame this wild stallion of grief a bit and I am beginning to understand it a little more but it is STILL terribly difficult. The loss of Ellery has caused my heart to be broken open and holds so much sorrow, but it has also allowed me to experience overwhelming gratitude and appreciation for what I do have in my life. As the song would say: (I’m Alive: by Kenny Chesney)
“So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars that I’m alive and well…
It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me…I’m alive
And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life and I’m alive
And well…I’m alive and well”
I can honestly say thank you Lord for my life and the blessing that surround me.. big and small! Thank You for our family, friends and new friends that have continue to stand with us. Thank You for opening my eyes to see the grandness in life while holding my fragile heart in the palm of Your hand.
I am still riding toward the very front of this rollercoaster of grief…. where it’s scary, unexpected and takes your breath away but one day….. I too will be sitting in the last seat helping others with their ride. As for now…. “today you know that’s good enough for me. Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see” !