Friday, February 03, 2006

Playdough revisited.

The other day when I posted about body image and referred to kids making something and being so proud of their creation reminded me of another playdough incident. This one will probably end up in the book I will write someday, but for now you get the story for "free". No royalties for me yet.
The year was 2001. The day was probably another one in which I was overwhelmed with the fact that my life was spinning around me and grief and pain still consumed my thoughts and activities. After the death of Teagan, as a mother, the daily routines that I had always done without a thought could bring me to my knees- sobbing and struggling to catch my breath. With each rush of tears I would beg God to give me joy in life again. I would ask Him for strenth to see beauty and to help me accept my grief and use it as a means to grow better- not bitter.
This is where I was when the following story took place. I was in between crying and moving beyond my tears- I wanted to feel "normal" again. My son Brock, age 2, had serious issues with eating, attention span, and trying to cope as a result of living through the accident and losing his older sister and playmate. Teagan had been his best friend- telling him what to do and how to do it all day long. He was lost without her and so was I. So this day I made a decision to "forget about my pain and grief" for a time and do something with Brock that would make life feel like it used to. I told him to come and join me in the kitchen and we would do playdough together. He even struggled with coming to the table- as sitting at a table caused him panic attacks. [We had been eating brunch when our accident happened, so in his mind, if you were sitting at a table something terrible could happen to you.] I finally coaxed him into coming over- he didn't sit down but at least he was standing by the table and ready to play. Just when I was thinking how great I was for doing something normal and routine again, I lifted the lids off the playdough cups and then I had to catch my breath. Inside those colored containers were Teagan's tiny fingerprints. She had pressed the playdough down into the cups the last time we had played it together. I was totally unprepared and unaware that trying to do something so innocent- such as playing playdough with my son- could overwhelm me with sorrow once again.
As I sat there staring at Teagan's fingerprints I was tempted to grab the covers and put the playdough away so I could pull it out time and time again to see Teagan's poke marks. But I saw Brock's eyes lighting up and he was reaching for the playdough and I realized that I was facing a reality of grief. I could keep tucking it away to save for later and use it to feed my sorrow, or I could accept it, cry for the moment, feel my pain, realize my tremendous loss and then live again. That is how grief has worked for me. I have learned that it will always be there. That it is a permanent part of my life and is etched in the deepest part of my heart.
I have chosen to allow sorrow and sadness to be a part of my life- but it doesn't consume my life. I am glad that I chose to play with the playdough with Brock that day. I thank God that He has given me strength to move beyond my grief and has helped me to channel some of my pain into living again. Who knew something as simple as playing playdough would be a defining point in how I might live out my life overall. I'm happy to say that I've chosen the path in life that is allowing me to "see" beauty and to feel joy and to live fully. Even with a load of grief.


Michelle said...

Wow Jody, what a beautiful story. I have had a rough week with 2 toddlers and was lucky enough to catch Susan St.James on Oprah yesterday. She lost her son in a plane crash and like you has found a way to work through the grief and learn some lessons along the way. Now to start my morning with your entry today..puts it all in perspective. Thank you again for sharing your life and so many great lessons. I for one can't wait for your book!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jody

I do not read your blog everyday but do try to stop by every now & then. I think that you are amazing in asking God to help you to grow better, not bitter. I do not know how after losing a child you go on let alone go on at some point with joy. May God continue to bless you in growth & may you continue to bless those of us who read this blog with your thoughts & wisdom so we may grow along with you.


Elizabeth said...

That is a beautiful, beautiful story, Jody. I hope you are saving these vignettes for a book, because they are awfully powerful.

Katrina said...

Beautiful writing, beautiful story...beautiful YOU.

thanks for sharing w/us, Jody!

(now stop making me cry at work...people will talk)