Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What if.

My head is full of thoughts and wondering again, so here I am blogging 'outloud' and trying to make sense of those things. I think these thoughts are coming out of the recent funk I blogged about and spent some time wallowing in, as well as a new month {Hello, September and pumpkin-flavored stuff!} and the verge of yet another changing of the seasons.

Those top two photos are pictures of Teagan (and Wyndham) and are a couple of the ways I will remember her in my mind forever. It's been heavy on my heart and mind that next week- Tuesday- if she were still here, she would be starting 7th grade. I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that she would be in junior high. I have a hard time picturing Teagan as anything other than my little 4-year old girl. Most the time when I think of her I recall her dancing and twirling and jumping and giggling and just having fun. Which, I suppose, is a lot of the same things 7th grade girls do too. =) I share this so that those of you who live with grief can 'see' how I process and live with grief too. I share it for those of you who have not walked this path of grief so you can 'see' a little bit of my world and maybe let it change the way you appreciate your own life. I share this for my own kids, family and self so that we can grow and learn and remember and change and find that grief isn't something that holds us back, but makes us who we are on so many different levels.

The questions are there from the beginning of the grief journey and they never seem to end. The what if's and why's and how come's can consume thoughts and conversations. They can draw people closer and tear whole families apart. I've lived them and continue to do so, as this post testifies. Right now they sound like this in my head: "What if Teagan were still here... would she be excited about school to start? Would she be a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, or still prefer dresses and something sparkly on her lips or in her hair?"

"What if we had never gone to lunch at the Old Depot that day? What if Wyndham were able to run and jump and talk like all her friends? What if she cdidn't have to wear diapers and go to therapy hours at a would our lives be different? What would we do with the 'extra time' we'd have? Would we appreciate Cheerios scattered on the floor the way we do now? Would we find that even at the end of an exhausting day that tucking kids into their beds is a gift and blessing to thank God for?"

You see, with grief and loss the questions are always there. The dreams that you once carried in your heart and mind are never satisfied. They will never be. Therein lies the hurt. But in the same token, therein lies the choice. I have found (and blogged about it somewhere in the archives here) that you can ask the questions, cry and shout at them and let them grip your heart and life, and you can "stay there". You can let the hurt and pain hold you back, OR you can accept the reality and let the questions come as they do, but not let them get in the way of your living. It's a hard choice and one that demands much of you. I do not always respond to my grief the same way each time it comes at me. Sometimes I am better about the wondering, and other times it brings me back and the wounds feel fresh and sting just as they did years ago. What I do know after years of riding these waves is that the quickest way into the darkness/funk is to feel sorry for yourself and to think only of you and your loss. It should come as no surprise then, that the quickest way out of the darkness and wallowing is by looking beyond yourself and outside of you. It's not easy to take your eyes off your hurt, but both Chip and I have found that it has been instrumental for us in order to move beyond it. We both loved Teagan with all our hearts, but to try to 'hold onto her' would have held us in a cycle of pain, bitterness and misery. We learned early on in our journey of sorrowing that wishing things were different couldn't make them so. It was only when we moved ourselves to action that we have been able to break out of the dark.

We still ask questions as you can see. I tend to ask them and wonder a whole lot more than Chip does- and that's a whole other topic I could blog about too. My point to this thinking outloud is to note that we ALL have questions and mine flow most often out of my life/grief experiences. But those times in life when we have pause to consider, seem to be opportunities to define where life will take us. I'm glad that for so many reasons, Chip and I have fought to find Joy out of sorrow and to ask more out of life than what came to us one fateful day. I'm glad that there are many of you willing to support and encourage us on the days we find the darkness and circumstances overwhelming and you still want to be our friends when things aren't always pretty. I'm glad that when all seems lost- in the bleakest moments when our direction in life is most uncertain- those are often the times when life gives us choices or chances to shine. I hope that as I continue to grow and change and seek to become who I was created to be that along this path I will find it easier and easier to take my eyes off me and look for ways to touch others, or be changed by God.

There are a couple of opportunities I want to highlight as I wrap up my nitty.gritty. thoughts in this post and those are the two guys pictured above. The guy next to the F-16 is Chip's boss/golf club owner, Dan Rooney. Although Chip works for him and his family, Dan has become a good friend of our whole family the past several years. He has also lived through a defining moment in his life out of which was born the Folds of Honor Foundation and Patriot Day. I invite you to check out the website and see how you might be able to get involved with this great cause this Labor Day weekend. This weekend marks the 3rd Annual Patriot Golf Day. If you golf, it will be easy for you to do a little something, and if you don't golf, you can still be a part of this growing cause. I'm proud of Dan for not just thinking about the families touched by profound injuries/death as they've served our country, but for being moved to action. It's already made the difference to so many deserving families!

Finally, the last picture is of the president of charity: water, Scott Harrison. His vision and desire to help others is raising awarness across the globe and is bringing clean water to people who are in desperate need to it. On Sept. 10th, he will be the guest on The Well Radio and you can listen to how his wondering and wishing things were different for billions of needy people is inspiring many and making a world of difference. I hope that for each of us, myself included, when life pours out questions and longings that we will seek to answer them and fill them up with something bigger than us.


Michele said...

Oh, Jodi,

This hit my right where I needed it. I am the mother of four, and my second child is severely disabled. We have worked hard to treasure her for the beautiful gift that she is, knowing full well that her time with us here is limited. I can relate to what you say about the grief and the 'what ifs' creeping in. My husband and I have tried to sum up our outlook in one simple sentence - "We were in the 'it's not fair' line, and it wasn't moving." It's so true that grief and anger can multiply itself if you keep thinking about the things that don't go the way you expect them to go. And, the bitter outweighs the sweet. My friend once told me that everyone has sorrow, but mine might be more visible than others. I have kept her words close since it's good to remember I'm not the only one with stress and sorrow to manage. As soon as I look at the gifts I've been given rather than the difficulties, it really eases the load.

Oh my, I didn't know I had so much to say.

I'm happy to see you've come out of your funk...

Thanks for all of the inspiration!

Beckypdj said...

I have been having hard days here lately. It is the change of the seasons and the start of school. Another change we will go through without him. I just blogged about how I must learn to strike a balance between remembering Peyton and living in the present and looking toward the future. He would have started his Sr. Yr of high school. We are very much a part of his friends lives and we are celebrating with them, their last year of high school. Some days it is an hourly choice to focus on the positive, other days it is not as hard. I too used the word "wallow" because that is what it is. Will I wallow in the grief or embrace the life around me?

It has been almost 20 months since Peyotn moved to Heaven. I know that I will always miss my son, but it frightens me a little to know that you still ask yourself the "what if" questions. I too am the same, most of the time I deal with them well, but I was hoping that in time these would be elimiated from my thought process, because there are times it takes SO much energy to overcome them.

There is so much to say, but I don't want to take up any more space. Thank you for your words, I don't know why it helps to read about someone else, someone I have never met, but it does. Thank you again and hugs to your family.

It is unseasonably cool in Arkansas this month and it feels like fall is already here. I too am ready for all things pumpkin!!

Erika said...


You always know just what to say, and just what my heart needs to hear. Thank you for your honesty- and for keeping it real on your blog.

I also seek to find joy out of sorrow...some days it's harder than others, but I guess the point is that we must keep making the conscious effort to find the good that is still left in life. I pray for your family often, and pray for your whole family as you face Wyndham's upcoming surgery.

I am sorry Teagan isn't here to start 7th grade- I know you want her here, and that even though she is in Heaven, it is still such a struggle to go on in life missing her each day. She was such a beautiful little girl. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

Jan C. said...

Jodi, reading about how you are handling your grief and finding joy despite it DOES change the way I think about my own 5 kids. They aren't angels. On many occasions I feel so frustrated by their behavior. I worry about all kinds of issues, little and big. I worry about how we are going to pay for all of the things they need and we want them to have (like college!). And then I think to myself: you are blessed! Stop concentrating on the negatives, because they aren't really that bad. Realize how lucky you are to have 5 healthy kids.

Those little mental pep talks make a world of difference in the way I finish out my day sometimes, and they often lead me to give my kids another hug or an attaboy that I might not have thought to give them otherwise. I go to bed contented instead of aggravated. And really, that has a lot to do with what you write on your blog.

Thanks. And {{{hugs}}}.

Lauren Kelly said...

Beautifully written and this is one of the many reasons why I love your blog!!!!

Tonya B said...

your words are so open and honest, all i can do is to sit and cry.
your family is wonderful the way they are.
i don't miss a day to read your blog, it is so uplifting.
makes me stop and think that i should really have nothing to complain about.
God bless you and your family
enjoy your pumpkin foods

Magnoliawhispers said...

yep, I agree it is the change of seasons and the beginnng of school, big events that remind you how long they've been gone and wondering what they would be like now. Keep going in the forward lane, but if you need to pull over and put it in neutral in the wondering and reminising lane, don't feel bad, it's perfectly acceptable in this long process

Knoxville Senior Portraits said...

you my friend are a blessing to all.
i love your words and you.
thank you

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Jodi...I have visited off and on. And, everytime I do, I am blessed by the beautiful, honest way you share your heart. Thank you...

Continuing to pray God's comfort and sufficient grace as he carries your precious family...

Kelly Gerken
Sufficient Grace Ministries

Anonymous said...

Jody - Jody here. I am working on my own journey out of "myself" and looking outward to others, and upwards to God. It is NOT always easy. I could have a pity party 24/7. I'm sure you have "BEEN THERE". I am sleepless, as you can probably see from the time....Maybe we can e mail each other sometime. Your friend, and the one who saw you are Meiers gardens. Ha, lol. True! I live many miles away so how cool was that? Still regret not saying hello. Keep praying....I'm told it really does help!!!! Love, the other Jody

marie1110 said...

To talk about Teagan is to honor her. It is so wonderful to read your blog because you are a strong honest person. One who inspires others. I had a stillborn in '92 after a very difficult pregnancy. We have one adopted child. I had several miscarriages. I've always wondered the "why" and "what ifs". Time has helped me through the wonds. And there are times when it hits "raw" like it was yesterday. The good thing is knowing that through my experience I have helped others. God planned a different path for me. It wasn't one that I wanted at the time. I wanted more children, but it wasn't to be. And, of course, I am blessed with our son who is now 21 yrs. He's very creative and generous...a blessing. At times, I have to remind myself it's what God wants. He knows best. It's difficult to understand at times. And I thank Him for giving me my friends and blessings. Sorry I went on and on here. God Bless and yours...take care...hugssssss

Becca said...

It's interesting how you say that you can't imagine Teagan at 7th you can't comprehend her aging at all. That's exactly how I feel. Even though I KNOW that Eric's now three and Harper is two, I can't imagine it--even when I try to picture Eric a little taller and Harper with longer hair, it's just not possible for me.

I wish you lived next door so we could grieve and LIVE our lives together.

I send you hugs and love, my friend. Big Hugs.