Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring again. Goodbye again.

As warmer air creeps in past the curtains of my open windows, it's Keely's time of year again.

On the day she died, I was wearing summer clothes - a pink headwrap, a black tank top and flip flop sandals.

On the day she was born, a cold wind whipped through the air, a dark sky cried freezing rain we barely felt.

Cold nights and warmer days, these are the days that remind of that time.  Those early, dark days spent in shock, planning her funeral, planning her birth.  We stayed up, unable to consider sleeping.  We watched videos in otherwise silence.  I can name each one.  Our food left uneaten, so many words left unsaid.

We've come a long way from those days when we didn't know how to face a life where our child's life ended.  It still feels so surreal.  Our child's life ended.  Those words, or something similar, have crossed my lips countless times in the past 8 years and each time has it's own sadness that it's true and  a welcomeness that I can speak of her.

Her brothers and sister speak her name often, always including her in our family moments.  She is very much with us and very much alive in that sense.  We are lucky.  We are grateful.

But she is still gone.  Gone from our arms, gone from these moments in the way she should be present.

Only a fabrication in my own mind of what life would be like if she'd lived survives.

The first butterflies of the year and an occasional rainbow will have to be enough; reminders that she lives in other ways.

I know how you feel..

I debated in my mind whether or not to post this here.  I try to keep Keely's place a very positive, hopeful reflection of her contribution to this world.  But it is also a place of grief. 

7.5 years into my bereavement, I have some small things to offer the bereavement community, the newly bereaved, and also those looking for ways to support the bereaved.  Some of those ways are beautiful, supportive acts of kindness, and some ways are simply knowing what not to say, knowing when not to speak, knowing when to stop what you're doing and acknowledge nothing can be done.

I read something a few weeks ago that has bothered me since.  An acquaintance of mine has a child battling cancer.  Cruel, awful, heartless, frightening cancer. Her child.  They've been at the battle for 3 years with her 6 year old- half her life.  As they gear up for their 3rd round, she alerted our group to the news.  One response grabbed my attention.

"I know how you feel"....

She went on to say that she had spent several weeks waiting on news regarding her friend's husband and his cancer.  Let's just overlook that this was not her child or even a member of her family.  Just look at those powerful words alone.

Grief is a personal, very individual journey and those words simplify something with an indefinable complexity into a common thread. 

Choose your words carefully and understand that, often, less words are more powerful than a thousand.  There are no words that can ease the burden of loss, but there are words that are always sweet; like hearing my child's name and to know she's remembered.  To hear 'I'm sorry'.  To hear (and see) "I'm here to support you in whatever way you need'. 

Grief cannot be compared.  Comparisons are in vain.  Every person has a different perspective, different memories, a different outlook than the next, even when grieving the same person or a similar loss. 

Words can't change our grief but they are powerful still.  Words can aid in healing or cut like a knife.

Choose them carefully.

~Originally written in July 2014