Monday, July 16, 2007

Sharing pieces of me...

I'm here, just in case some of you start to worry, especially in light of that last post. You know my heart is heavy at any given moment, but it rarely stays that way for long. Part of that is that I realized early on after Teagan died, that it just wasn't 'healthy' or conducive to our lifestyle. That's not to say that Chip and I didn't or don't continue to grieve the loss of our little girl. It's just that for us it was tearing us apart and we looked at Brock and Wyndham and all they were going through and for their sake's we decided we had to find methods of coping. We wanted to give them more than what our hearts were feeling. We wanted them to have the best chance at having a 'happy, normal childhood' and so we chose, early on, to basically accept the pain and hurt. We allowed ourselves {and still do!} to say "Life stinks and it isn't fair sometimes...and I wish things could be different". The tears however, rarely fall, and it's not because they're not there, but because we've chosen to look for joy and happiness and offer our kids the best we have to give. It's an ongoing challenge, but one, if you'd poll our closest friends and family, they'd say we are winning. I don't say that boastfully, but humbly...I hope you understand.
I may have written this before, I don't recall at this moment, but one of my greatest 'fears' after Teagan died, was that I would be remembered as simply "the mom who's little girl died in that Old Depot accident". I was angry for awhile that people would label me as such. I was mad that someone's selfishness and outlook in life had changed who I was in a matter of seconds. I didn't actually have people saying it to me, but they didn't have to. I had been 'one of them' -too many times, and I just knew that it just came as part of the deal.
One of my classmates drowned when I was in 9th grade. His family lived just around the corner and up the street from me at that time. After his death I never drove by their house without thinking, "How sad...that's where Brian's parents live...in a sad, big house." There was a family in our church who's son had died just a year to the day before Teagan died. Everytime I saw them in church I would think, "Oh my goodness...there's Jason's parents. I can't believe they are in church." And then I would make a note of how I thought they 'looked' or were doing at that time. I never asked them. I just looked at them and felt sad for their hurt.
There are other stories like that...friends of mine. Or even John Walsh and his wife who would eat at a small restaurant I waitressed at in Florida. Everytime I'd see these people, the first thing I thought of (sometimes the ONLY thing I thought of) was the death of their loved ones. SO, when it 'happened to me', I was mad and angry and upset that I had no choice in the matter but to be labeled by some in this way. And I totally understand it and I am not preaching at anyone who thinks this way about me.
However, I write all that to offer insight and to think outloud when I reflect back and take a sort of life inventory of 'how well I'm doing with all this'. In the early days and weeks and months, that was the first question everybody would ask Chip and me. "How are you doing? No, really, how are you doing?" I don't think we ever got the answer right, because people kept asking. =) {That's me being a smart alec for just a minute...truly, we have appreciated more than most people will ever know, the countless thoughts and prayers said for our family, our physical and emotionally hurts.} It's actually one of the reasons I felt so drawn to blog...I have lots of family and friends who still want to know how we are doing...and this venue offers them that chance to stay caught up. On more subjects than they care to be caught up on most of the time!
But for me, it has been a really great thing. One of the greatest joys and miracles I am finding because of my grief, is that I no longer feel as though the first thing most people label me as, or that pops into mind is that we are the family from that terrible tragedy. Instead, I've gotten emails and notes and encouragement from many scrapbookers and bloggers who are just finding out the details of our incident. They are saying they had no idea something so horrible had happened, and 'by looking at your pictures' and by reading these posts, they wouldn't even know...that "our life looks happy and fun".
Wow. I can't tell you how that makes me feel. I actually have mixed emotions, because as great as it is that people think we 'look so normal', and as much as I had hoped and dreamed for that to happen in my life again, it actually hurts in a strange way. It makes me realize that a lot of time has passed. A lot of things have changed...and we ARE different people than we were six years ago. I can close my eyes and remember the details so vividly and that pain was so raw and real...and we were told by so many people that time heals all wounds. At the time it made me angry to hear that- as though Teagan's importance and place in my life would diminish because of something uncontrollable as time. But I am finally coming to the point of understanding how it is that people who have loved and lost can say such things.
Time is a healer. For us it has also demanded that we accept, that we forgive, that we remember, that we live in the present, that we move forward, and that we create a 'new normal', and also that we believe there is something for us each day that is worth living for. I am humbled every single day that we are doing as well as we are. I know that without our faith in God and our hope of Heaven, that we wouldn't look or feel the way that we do. As I live this 'new normal' from day to day, it does hurt to not have Teagan here in the midst of it and my heart would give anything to hear her laugh or see her be a part of our physical lives. But I also know that Chip and I have fought and won a lot of battles and overcome some major hurdles just to get to this point. And to live it...the fun, the happiness, the ordinary brings so much joy. And THAT is what I hope people will see reflected and shining in us.
There is hope beyond the pain. There is Life beyond death and grief. And there is much Living to do in spite of hurt and sorrow.
I am in the midst of getting ready to leave for my scrap trip to Chicago this week. I shouldn't even be writing here...I have so much yet to do. But I find all my scrapping and projects give me lots of time to think. Which is why I had to post and share my recent reflections. They seem to come to the surface most often when I am doing something that I love to do. I guess maybe scrapping IS my therapy. Funny. It's taken me five years to figure that out! =)
Thanks so much for all your kind comments and emails and mail the past few days. It moves me deeply to know that Teagan has and continues to touch the hearts of so many. I hope you are better for hearing our story. I know that I am better for sharing it.

15 comments:

julie said...

You are such a bright, bright shining star.

Anonymous said...

In our weakness, He is strong. He shines brightest when we're not trying to "out-shine" Him. That's pretty much it. Thanks for being a vessel!!

~Camille

jewell said...

I say it again, you are an inspiration to me!! Have a fun trip to Chicago.

~Lea~ said...

I am almost positive that you are the strongest woman I know. HUGS, and have a great time in Chicago! Wish I was going so I could meet you!

~Lea

lpmkate said...

Scrapping IS therapy -- for everything! It's a creative release for so many things, joy, sadness, regret, passion, memories (old and new). It's also what keeps my sanity -- a break from my crazy day to day life.

You are such a strong woman - I admire you for your strength in dealing with such a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. My husband recently told me he had an affair and is not sure that we have what it takes to continue in our marriage. I am devastated and have experienced my own kind of death (not to downplay anything you have experienced -- I hope you understand). I believe God for the future of our marriage but fiind it hard to live the day to day. The children are affected by my emotional absence, and I can't seem to pull out of my grief. Your words were just what I needed. I pray that I will be able to find ways of coping and find a new normal, as you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

I have a dear friend who has gone through EXACTLY what you are going through, and the Lord has brought them through it. She would be able to truly understand and support you. She had young children at home while enduring this, as well. If you would like me to put you in touch with her, please e-mail me at baronsgirl53@yahoo.com. I'll be happy to connect you two. In the meantime, I will be praying for you!

And Jody, thanks for sharing from your heart once again. Many blessings to you, and have fun scrapping!

Sonja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cris said...

I have a friend who used to go to my church. Her husband, who was our pastor, passed away of cancer in December of 2005. It was a long 2 year battle for him when he was finally called home to be with the Lord. Anyhow, my friend eventually left the church because she was afraid that people would always see her as our pastor's widow. So I can understand where you are coming from.

And my friend's therapy? She kept a blog too, up until her husband passed away and then took all of those blog posts and put them into a book. She is also planning on writing a book on how to cope with the loss of a loved one who has passed away from cancer.

I guess we all have our own ways of coping when we lose someone who's close to us. And I am glad that you are doing well and I hope you continue to do so. (((((HUGS))))))

patterns of ink said...

"We wanted to give them more than what our hearts were feeling."

Panning for gold is so rewarding at this stream.

Holly said...

I am so inspired at the fact that you and Chip CHOOSE joy. You could let this tragedy rip your marriage and your family apart, but instead you lean on God, each other, and your family and friends. Thanks for being so candid and giving those of us who have never experienced anything close to this devestation insight to your daily journey. Blessings to you and your family.

Sherri P said...

Jody, your blog is the first in a long list of bookmarked blogs that I visit. I admire your strength, your wisdom, your humour, your style of writing, your devotion, and of course your fine scrapbooking sense! Your words and pictures make me feel good, feel alive, feel sad, feel thankful, feel love, feel, period. Thank you for sharing yourself. And have a great time in Chicago. I'll experience it through blogs like yours!

Susan said...

I needed to read this more than you ever could know!! Thanks

Susan Simpson

Kathy said...

Although I am ashamed to admit that I was drawn to your blog after reading about your tragedy, I want to tell you that I come back time after time for some other reason. I do not think of you anymore as "the mother of the little girl that was killed so tragically". I think of you as a person who has seen horrible sadness and yet sees so much more joy and love in the world *every single day*. I come back to your blog to be reminded of the small things that are the true happiness in life. You have such wisdom and hope that you bring to my life completely unknowingly. I wish were my sister.

Guinever said...

Jody, it's been awhile since I've visited your blog. I always page down to your "missing Teagan" tag because I want to read about how you're coping with your loss. It always encourages me when I'm sad and thinking about my own daughter who died. Jody, you are a living testimony and I love your joy in the midst of sorrow. The day my daughter died, I made a conscious effort to keep on living, to keep on mothering my children. That is so hard sometimes! But I keep on plugging away and hopefully, it well get better and easier as time marches on.