4

The Loss of a Child

IMAG0806My blog will be emotionally heavy today because my heart is heavy. If you prefer to walk away and read another day, I understand..

This morning I logged onto Facebook to complain about the last few days. We had a tremendous storm Friday night. Our house was struck by lightning. The transformer for our landscape lights was literally blown to pieces. Our answering machine was fried as was our router. The network card in our computer and the battery in my husband’s laptop was zapped. We were both upbeat when we discovered a way to salvage the messages left by my grandson over the last few years and a single message from my sister Rosie who lost her battle with cancer. The messages mean so much – we were elated. We took a break to go to dinner with our children and came home only to realize the lightning also struck the water line from the city to our house. We are now without water until Monday or Tuesday – very long story which really isn’t important.

Angel-199x300So, feeling very sorry for myself, I logged onto Facebook only to see the status of my dear friend who lost her beloved granddaughter to a very tragic auto accident this weekend. Suddenly, nothing going on here mattered. I thought of my dear friend, her children and her precious granddaughter.  (Our grandchildren share the same name which hit me hard.) I have been overwhelmed with sadness for her, understanding all too well what that relationship is like and what a difficult road this beloved family has ahead of them. There were other children in the accident as well, so the grief is far-reaching.

How do you come to terms with the loss of a child? We always associate death with illness or age. A young beautiful child with a bright future losing their life leaves me at a loss for understanding. I just know I will pray for this young girl who was taken too soon and her family left to try to make sense of such a tragic accident.  Why, why, why?

Tonight as I write this I do so knowing my children and my grandchildren are safe. This knowledge is bigger than any annoyances I could possibly have in my life. Life is so precious and so fleeting.

My thoughts go to my sister Rosie and how hard it was to lose her – how difficult it was for our whole family. I understand all too well what tremendous grief feels like. Next week I will think about my sis when her birthday rolls around and maybe I will listen to her 30 second message we managed to save. The presence of a beautiful spirit is long-lasting.

Bless you Pat and your beloved granddaughter. My heart breaks into a million pieces, but I know I feel nothing compared to what you and your family are going through. My prayers are with you all.

I love you, my friend. You are in my constant prayers.

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1

Grief Anniversaries

I knew this day was coming.  Every day I looked at the calendar and watched the date grow closer.  It would soon be two years since I lost my sister, Rosie.  The morning started out okay.  As each minute ticked off, I felt little pieces of me crumbling away.  When my daughter called, I could finally let go.

I say I’m sad, but that is such a small word for the intense grief I feel.  I feel pain for my loss, but even more, I feel pain for my niece and nephew and their beautiful children who are growing up without their  mom and their ‘Teedle’.

My beautiful daughter and her beautiful fiance gave me a locket for Christmas that has pictures of Rosie in it.  The front is engraved with a rose and the words ‘forever in my heart’.  Those four words tell the story.  For the last couple of weeks I have remembered childhood memories, thought about our ‘sister’ time we shared in the mountains of Georgia, and looked at old photos.  I want to remember every little thing about my sister.  I want her with me.  I still have a message on my answering machine but today I wasn’t brave enough to listen to it.  Maybe in a few days.

Family is a funny thing.  The people who know how to push your buttons.  The people who drive you crazy.  The people who come to your defense and stand by your side.  The people you will protect with all the strength you have.  I am blessed to come from an insanely passionate group of people.  I’m one of the ones that lives ‘away’ and that is so hard sometimes.  So hard.

Today I have gently remembered the little ripples that make up the waves in our lives.  The gentle moment.  The kind word and the passionate disagreement.  The look in the eye.  The honest revelation that brings you to your knees.  Without these things I would be just a shell of a person and I am so thankful that is not who we are.  I am so thankful we LOVE SO HARD!

Rosie, being without you was especially difficult today.  I know you are here, but I want ‘more’.  I read my friend Erica’s blog and it hit home.  She talked about her own grief and how the one thing we all wish for when we lose someone we love is ‘more’ of something.  Today I love my sister even more.  I miss her more than ever.

I love you Rosie.  And I miss you so much it hurts my heart.

6

Things I Cannot Tell You

Seventeen or eighteen.  That’s about how many times I have started this entry.  And also the number of times I deleted it.  Somehow, the words and the emotion do not match.  The reality and the impossibility are in constant conflict.  I cannot pick up the phone and call you, but I find myself talking to you all day long.

It’s been almost a week since I lost you, my sister.  This week has been one of the longest of my life.  I cannot imagine what a month or a year will feel like.  I cannot imagine never hearing your voice again, or your laughter, or your direct criticism or your unearned praise.  You were definitely a bouquet of so many different qualities.  I feel like I’m standing in the middle of New York City and all the lights have gone out and the city has gone silent.  How will I make it with the thunderous quiet your passing left me with?

So many funny little things have happened and I know they are signs from you.  I know some will scoff at the notion of such a thing, but it doesn’t matter.  I know it to be true and that’s really all I need.   The night you passed away the sky opened up and cried for you.  I was in Colorado, lost knowing I would never see you again.  Then the biggest rainbow I’ve ever seen stretched across a dark and dampened sky.  Rosie’s rainbow.

There were signs before.  The whisper in my ear two weeks before.  I knew you were in someone else’s care that night.  I think I quit listening because I did not want to face what I knew was coming.  I was steadfast in my denial.  I will never forget when you told me you were tired of being tired.  I knew then, too.  But I still did not want to listen.

After your funeral, I don’t think I felt much.  Until we walked into the bookstore.  There on the table was a book of Appalachian History.  Of course I picked it up and thumbed through it.

When we lived in Ohio, you had that white and whiskey colored cat.  T-Solly (or so I thought.  To be honest, I never really gave it much thought).  As I picked up the book, it opened to a page that talked about ‘The Trail of Tears’.  Knowing how much Native American History and Native American Rights meant to you, I started to read.  There it was – the story of Tsali and his family.  That was the cat’s name and all these years I never knew where the name came from.  It was so obvious.  Then I read on to see that General Winfield Scott had ordered that Tsali and his family be shot.  The twist?  Of course, General Winfield Scott is part of our family tree.  No wonder you felt so conflicted.  And the translation of Tsali?  Charlie, of course.  Your best friend’s name all these years in Cherokee was Charlie.

As our plane took off out of Knoxville, I was overcome with sadness.  I felt I was leaving you behind.  I felt like I was somehow abandoning you and I just wept.  I could not help but remember that you are now at rest beside Mom and Dad, Mam-Maw and Grandpa and Great Grandma as well.  So much of my family gone and I was simply overwhelmed.

Grief is such a strange creature.  I move around in my life like everything is going to be okay.  Then a fleeting thought whirls me around and I fall into a puddle.  I am overwhelmed with sadness and I know that for months and years to come, I will be pulled in and out of this sadness.  I won’t get to come home and hear your familiar message on my answering machine, ‘Hey MagCindy, it’s Rosie.  You don’t need to call me back.  I just wanted to say hi.’  I find myself wanting to scream, “CALL ME BACK!”

A friend called me today to see how I was doing.  As I talked to her I felt myself spiraling in disbelief.  I think it hit me when I realized that you have been in my life longer than either of our parents.  56 years is a long time to love someone, but it still isn’t long enough when that person is you.

On the plane home, this song came on.  It brought me to tears again, because I always thought of you as this friend:

Let It Be Me
There may come a time, a time in everyones life
where nothin seems to go your way
where nothing seems to turn out right
there may come a time, you just can’t seem to find your way
for every door you walk on to, seems like they get slammed in your face
thats when you need someone, someone that you can call.
and when all your faith is gone
feels like you cant go on
let it be me
let it be me
if it’s a friend that you need
let it be me
let it be me
feels like your always commin on home
pockets full of nothin and you got no cash
no matter where you turn you ain’t got no place to stand
reach out for something and they slap your hand
now i remember all to well
just how it feels to be all alone
you feel like you’d give anything
for just a little place you can call your own
that’s when you need someone, someone that you can call
and when all your faith is gone
feels like you can’t go on
let it be me
let it be me
if it’s a friend you need
let it be me
let it be me

Rosie, I know you knew I loved you.  I knew the last time I saw you it would be the last.  I didn’t stop hoping and praying, but sometimes you just know.  I hope tonight you have a pillow filled with stars.  I’m on my way outside to see the Perseid meteor shower.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happens tonight.  I want to look up into the heavens for I know you are up there.  I’m still down here, a little girl, missing her big sister in a very big way.

9

Being Strong While Shedding Tears

My sister, Rosie, is battling cancer.  She had some tremendous setbacks this week – I think it may have been one of her toughest yet.  Last night she told me something that broke my heart.  She said she tries to stay strong, but in the night, when no one is looking she cries.

We sit on the sidelines and watch the battle.  We are helpless.  We want to take away the pain but it is not within our power.  It hurts so bad to see someone you love hurting, but last night I think I understood for the first time what pressure she was feeling.

I know sometimes I cry alone.  Sometimes I don’t want others to see me.  I can only imagine how hard it must be to battle the biggest battle of your life and not be able to express how you are feeling.  I felt ashamed.

I understand all too well the value of laughter in this fight.  The value of positive thinking.  But if I can have a bad day and feel like I need a good cry, then my beloved sister deserves no less.

Rosie, I love you with all my heart.  I ask you to forgive me for always wanting you to be strong in this fight.  I will be here for you no matter what your mood, no matter what you need to say or how you need to say it.  Do not misunderstand.  I want to keep my sister with the sharp wit.  I want to hear you laugh.  This fight is not over.  You and I are NOT giving up.  But let’s be fair from now on.  Cry when you need to cry.  Laugh when you need to laugh.  Fight when you need to fight.  And know that above all things, you mean the world to me.

I love you with all my heart.