Love, Loss and Living and Grieving on the first Angel Day
One year ago, today, the unthinkable happened. My precious granddaughter, Sarah, passed away after a brave battle with myocarditis. Not only did her death send a ripple of shock and grief through our family, that ripple reached beyond what anyone could imagine. She touched the hearts and lives of so many people in our community, and the world at large.
One of the benefits of a warmer-than-normal fall in the Midwest is the opportunity to get out for a walk without bundling up from head-to-toe. It’s especially helpful for me, as walking is one of my go-to, self-care modalities as I process grief.
One of the pitfalls is, though, while the warmth and sunshine are appreciated, the storms that are trying to settle us into winter weather have definitely created havoc.
While many people look forward to their first cup of coffee in the morning, I truly savor my second cuppa Joe. It’s like a reward for getting up, showering, exercising and adulting. Anything to motivate me to get the day rolling.
My second cup is great because I love to sit outside and journal. Now, this all works great when the weather is nice. However, I start to panic in the fall, knowing that outside journaling is going to come to a cold and snowy end.
Last December, I wrote about the promise I made to Sarah when I took her to the labyrinth towards the end of November. We had planned to go many more times, but her untimely, unexpected passing changed my life – my entire family’s lives. This is what I wrote:
“But I will make good on the promises I have made to her. So, Sarah Boo, this blog is for you. I know you can read it from the other side. I promise you, I’ll keep writing and doing my art. And, I’ll be taking you back to the labyrinth – all four seasons, with pictures. You’ll travel in my heart instead of in my car. You’ll be in the center of my heart instead of the center of the labyrinth. And I’ll whisper “I love you,” knowing that you can hear me – whether in the labyrinth or in my heart.”
And now, a difficult promise is fulfilled…
Well, I did it. Just like I promised you, I returned to the labyrinth and took photos so we could see how it looked in the winter, spring, summer and fall.
There were so many days I wanted to go to the labyrinth – but I was missing you so much – I just didn’t have the emotional strength to head out there. Yet, on other days, I’d feel you nudge me. I’d see heart shapes. I’d feel a pull to the labyrinth. This message you sent to nudge me, well, all I can say is, “wow!” When I found your perfectly-formed “S” after my morning exercise routine, I knew I had to go. So, the fall photos happened later that day. (See, I do listen! LOL 😊)
I love that you leave me messages – in the shape of an “S,” or a cloud or a heart or an animal. My camera is filled with images that I know you’ve sent.
While I know you are around me all the time, I miss that physical connection we had. I miss seeing you and hearing your voice. I want you to know, almost every photo I take, it’s because I see you in it – or feel you in it.
This fall, the colors have been so amazing and vibrant. I know it was one of your favorite seasons. The red has been so very vibrant – you’d absolutely love it.
It may be my imagination, but I swear, since you’ve transitioned, I have seen more amazing sunsets, cloud formations, hearts, vibrant colors – more than I ever remember. I feel that God is just giving you the most amazing art supplies so that you can keep reminding me – reminding all of us – you are still with us every day. Especially when you paint the skies in the evenings.
Enjoy the four seasons of photos from the labyrinth, Boo. I know that you helped me take all of these, because you caught my eye with the beauty of nature. A beauty that you are so excited to share as a reminder that you are always there.
Love you so very much, Boo Bear. Thanks for the continued inspiration and signs of love. It means so much to me.
The three-year adoption anniversary of my little buddy, Remington, has come and gone. Unfortunately, in complete compliance with the surreal of crap that is the year 2020, our three-year-old pup passed away over the summer.
Sometimes, I just sit back and scratch my head. The question “Why?” pelts me at all hours – day or night.
I was completely shocked and devastated when Remi died. He got me out on walks on my darkest days. He made me laugh on my darkest days. He brought me pure joy on my darkest days.
How was I going to manage the grief and trauma I was already working through, when I now had to add the grief and trauma of losing him, too?
I’ve added this post to my “Love, Loss and …” series, because so far, the year 2020 has been a “big T” trauma. Our entire world is learning to live with grief and trauma on so many levels. And as I know, trauma healing begins with someone who will listen. Trauma healing also needs one to listen to one’s self and to self-reflect.
When this Facebook post hit my feed the other night, I wanted to hit “share,” add a heart emoticon, and send it into the virtual world. (link here)
Something stopped me. I felt I needed to say more, and I took a few days to realize that, yes, I needed to do more than just share. It took me a few days to gather my thoughts about this interview with Blake Hairston.
A little over six months ago, I spent the afternoon with my precious granddaughter, Sarah. A week later, she was fighting for her life. When her body gave out after an amazingly brave battle, she transitioned to heaven, leaving all of those who love her behind, living in our own Hell on earth. Our loss, Heaven’s gain.
When I took her to the labyrinth on a sunny, cool, November day, I promised her we’d come back each season, take photos, and see the changes in nature. We’d have wonderful memories and photos to look back on, and the moment I hugged her in the center of the labyrinth, I knew it was our special place.
In my last post I discussed my “self-care” emergency kit. While I incorporate several modalities, my favorite is the “Daily Challenge.”
Every day, I challenge myself to learn or try something new. Sometimes it is as simple as looking up a word I don’t recognize. Other times it’s reading a new topic, or challenging myself to walk 15 more minutes. Some days, it’s trying something new with art.
As I continue my healing journey, one thing I am constantly reminded of is to “self-care.” I’m sure others are probably tiring of me reminding them to do the same.
Self-care may sound a little “woo-woo,” but it really is not. It’s not all about massages or mani-pedis, though they can be incorporated, too. In times of trauma recovery, self-care is a reminder to be gentle with yourself in all situations, and to not only learn your limits, but to honor them, too.