Friday, July 13, 2012

Still unexpected.

This post. This is the reason I come running back to my blog, even when I have other 'important' life things going on around my home. This is the place that I come to to put it all out there. This is the way I take what spills out of my heart, mind and soul and put it into pictures and words as though that will somehow help to make sense out of the still senseless sometimes. People have often told me or written me emails saying, "I don't know how you do it". They are talking about this kind of post. The ones that come from the depths of grief and sorrow that still wash over me at times. People wonder how one can put words to feelings and emotions that have such powerful ties to memories that are fading more and more, yet can come out of nowhere and make my wounds from years ago feel raw and fresh and 'real' all over. I don't how to answer the question of how I do it, but I can tell you that after years of living with grief I feel like I am still learning 'how' to do it and it is ever-changing. Much like time. You can't explain it or see it, but it is very real and sometimes goes way too quickly, and at other times it seems to drag on forever. Yet the length of a moment never changes. It simply is.
What I can tell you is that for me to run to a pen and paper, or a keyboard and blog in this case, is part of the way I deal. It has become part of the way I heal. I have found that for me to hold my stories inside of me is too much to bear, but to put my stories and feelings out there and then let them be, it just feels "right". It feels right for me to know that maybe my burdens can be shared by another. It feels right knowing that my grief and stories might connect with another, and both our souls can be touched in a tiny way when our hearts connect in this way. Even if I don't know you. Even if I'll never meet you. Even if it is only the universe that takes in what I attempt to put into words I choose to do this. I simply write and share because I know I can't bear this kind of thing alone. Maybe that is the biggest lesson I have learned in all these years of carrying the weight of loss in my life and that is carry it alone is to walk in darkness and be consumed with sorrow. I knew I couldn't live that way. But to share your grief with another is to lighten your load or at least toy with the light because there is something so beautiful about bearing one's soul knowing that someone else is willing to let your burden touch their heart and that their ears are willing to listen to your cries as you seek to put them into words. This is why and where I choose to share.
What I can tell you about the journey of grief I have been on for almost 11 years now, is that the biggest wonder of it all is when it washes over me at unexpected and surprising times and places. I am most surprised that the moments when I am hit with the "reality" of the death of my little girl so often have nothing to do with the very things I loved most about her. It isn't seeing Barbie dolls lined up in packages on store shelves or hearing her favorite songs or pulling out photo albums and looking back at pictures of her smiling face. Those have strong emotions tied to them to be sure.
But it was yesterday and then last night. It is actually the month of July, I have come to learn after all these years, that simply makes the feelings I feel resurface or show up so unexpectedly. I sat in a chair holding Teague and as I rocked him and sang to him his goodnight songs last night I suddenly had tears well up inside of me and I heard my voice begin to tremble and the next thing I know there was so much pain and sorrow in my heart and throat that for a brief moment I couldn't even breathe. I went from singing softly, to tears flowing and my shoulders shaking from the sorrow I haven't recalled or felt in a long, long time.
To be sure, I think of Teagan all the time. Our family even recently celebrated Coke Float Day as we do every year and it was a wonderful, memorial day and one of happy new memories too. It is an unusual thing for me to even cry at all anymore. There ws a time I thought I would live my life crying everyday. There was a time I learned to weep silently because I didn't want to wake Chip or upset my little Wyndham or Brock too many days in a row. Those times I thought were gone. I have healed, I told myself. And I believe I have. We have. Our hurt is something that most people cannot "see". It is something we choose to share or not share at this point in life. It is something that is always there...but not always present.
And if that does or doesn't make sense I don't know. I am simply trying to express what it is that I have inside. I am simply writing today to get this out. It was such  profound moment last night in that chair that I am simply writing it out, lest I hold it in and let it take up a tiny piece of me.
Earlier in the day I had washed, dried and folded clothes. Like I do a hundred times a week. That is nothing new. But yesterday as I turned one of Crew's summer tee's right side out the size 4 on his tag jumped out of me. I held his little shirt out at my arm's length and made a mental note as I studied it. Next to Brock's shirt in the clothes pile it looked so small. Crew has other size four shirts that he is starting to wear and the latest clearance shirt I got at Target for him was a size 4/5. The label says, "extra small".
As I sat singing and rocking my Teague man last night, my mind suddenly couldn't contain what I had seen and tucked away earlier that day. In the midst of a pile of laundry, there it was. It was in my hands as I held up Crew's tiny shirt. She was that small. Teagan was that small the last time I held her. She was "extra small".
As the chair moved back and forth and with the weight of Teague in my arms all fresh, clean and snuggly and close to me, I could contain it no more. The wave of that hurt and the acceptance of my loss of Teagan all over again flooded my soul and turned into tears and weeping that I haven't experienced in a long time. I cried for a moment or two. And I thought that was it. I continued my singing and wiped my tears on my shoulder and Teague seemed unphased by it all as his eyes grew heavier and the rocking chair swayed. But as I looked down at him and prepared to tuck him into his crib for the night, another wave came over me. And I couldn't catch my breath for another short moment. This time because the memory of my last night at home with Teagan filled my mind. It was as clear as could be.
That night we had finished some Chinese take-out. Teagan even gave her fortune cookie to Brock and I made her one of her favorite desserts instead- tapioca pudding. She didn't eat hers all up, so I covered her little bowl up and put it in the fridge for later. There would be no "later". That night I tidied up the house and got Brock down for the night first. Wyndham was tiny and still nursing at bedtime. When she went down for the night I got myself ready for bed. Chip and Teagan were always the night owls at our place and that night Chip told me to "go relax for the rest of the night" while he would look after Teagan and tuck her in. I grabbed a parenting magazine to flip through and climbed into bed. The final article in the magazine was called "Losing Isabella" and it was the story of one mom's loss of her little 18-month old daughter to an unexpected illness. I ached for this mother and remember looking over into Wyndham's crib thinking she looked especially precious to me that night. I couldn't imagine what the pain of standing next to the bedside of your daughter must feel like as she lay there hooked up to life support. I couldn't imagine how anyone could deal with the pain of knowing their child had no hope and would soon take her last breath.
I had no idea that within the window of the next 24 hours I would know firsthand what this mother I was reading about was feeling. I couldn't have imagined that by taking Chip up on his offer to tuck Teagan in that night, that I would never have another chance to do that myelf. I had no way of knowing that as we drifted off to sleep that night we would never sleep cozy in our home together again.
Last night, between the tiny t-shirts in my laundry and the place I let my heart and mind drift to as I rocked Teague to sleep was a combination so potent that it overwhelmed my body and soul. I will never understand how our lives could go from so ordinary and 'comfy' and sure to pain and heartache and questions so big that they linger and show up unexpectedly years and years later. I may never grasp the answer to the question of grief for as long as I live.
But I can tell you it is real. I can tell you I still feel Teagan's spirit with me each day. I can tell you my singing to Teague even through tears last night somehow felt "right". I sat there singing and wishing that I had been the one to tuck Teagan in and lay by her and sing her to sleep that final night at home in her bed. I sat there rocking Teague and wondered what the future held for him. I wondered what is in store for all of us. It hurts in that place- that place of wishing and wondering. But it also makes me look at this day- each day- with different "eyes". Eyes that know this day matters. Eyes that know this day is a gift. Eyes that know as big and independent as my kids seem at times the reality is they are still kids and I need to embrace them as they are that day. Eyes that know I am not alone in my grief. Eyes that know others have hurt even more than me. Eyes that treasure this world yet know and long for and believe in a place called Heaven; where my questions will have answers and I will have no regrets. Eyes that know sharing this stuff that I live through and think and see and feel- might just help give you who read this new "eyes" too.


pakosta said...

My heart could break for you reading this post. And you are right, each day is a gift, we never do know the last time we might see a loved one, hold them, hug them, rock them. so just have to enjoy each day as it is...thank you for that reminder!
hugs friend.

Erika said...

i love it when you post, because you always say what is on my heart. yesterday was my twin daughters' birthday - they were both stillborn due to a rare pregnancy complication - and four years later, it is still so hard. i used to LOVE July- but now I just dread it. I want to love it- I just remember how HAPPY I was on the 4th of July 4 years ago, and how my world will never be quite like that again. Sometimes life is so unfathomably hard.

Here is a link to the post I wrote the day before their birthday:

Wen said...

I relate on so. many. levels. Love you, Jody ♡♥♡

Christal Miles said...

My own heart just broke.....Lots of love, hugs and prayers!

MaRia said...

I had answered your question on why I, a stranger, come.
For this.
For the honest and beautiful way you share your heart.

cat said...

Beautiful post - my heart breaks for you

Melissa said...

Beautiful. Welcome back to the blog world.

jenny said...

Precious Jody. Thanks for sharing your tender heart with us. May God continue to hold you in the palm of His hand and fill you with His peace.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jody,
May God heal the wounds in your heart and soul each day and give you and your family comfort. I have read your blog for years, but have never commented but have thought of it so many times. I share your little Teagan's birthday (though I much older than she would be today), and every year when you post on our birthday, it is a special reminder to me to be thankful to God for each day and all my blessings from Him. I am always inspired by your honesty and strength you express in your posts, but today I was moved to sobs as you so deeply expressed your mother's grief and joy in all of your children at the same time. What I read through your incredible raw pain was great strength and dignity that I haven't read before. What a tremendous gift you are sharing with many.
Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Truth rings from your post. Thank you for sharing your heart. It truly does open one's eyes to the awesome blessing of every moment.

GretaB said...

My heart hurts for you and the pain you have to endure. Knowing you has been a blessing in my life, especially this past year. I appreciate that you share your stories and feelings so openly. You've helped me countless times and for that I thank you.

Anonymous said...

Jody-my virtual friend-I come begging for prayers. I visit "unexpected" child #5 tomorrow and am nervous about what to expect. Reading about Teagan and all that you have gone through since was so healing for me when we lost kid #4. I don't know if I have the heart to lose this one...or the energy to raise it either. my faith is faltering. I come here for perspective and hope.

Jody said...

Dear friend, my prayers are with you today. When my faith waivers I simply reflect on who holds everything in His hands. In giving it all to God there is great comfort and peace. No matter how things go, we can trust Him and He is with us every single step of the way. I try not to look that many 'steps' into my future. May you find such joy in knowing God already knows how this will all turn out. My best to you as you journey through it all.

Jody said...

I am blessed by our friendship and so grateful to know that some of my hardships have helped (or still are helping) you in your life too. That amazes me and at the same time helps me believe more fully in God and how He works in our world. It makes me see "challenges" as gifts to us sometimes. Thanks for your friendship and sharing your heart too, Greta.

Jody said...

Thank you for your kind words; your insights have blessed me today. I love hearing about the impact that little Teagan has made in people that she would likely have never met. She was special. God is good. One day it will all be made clear why. I look forward to that. Thanks for sharing how our lives have touched yours.

Jody said...

My love to you, Erica. It IS hard, but God is faithful. Thank you for sharing, reading and hoping for joy too. It is there for those who seek. I am glad you are seeking Him. One day you will dance with two little girls that you carry forever in your heart.

Valarie said...

So touching and real. Thank you for your honesty. God bless.