Year THREE: Surrounded and Free.

3yrs 3yrs2 3yr3

Three freakin’ years already have passed. Like I always say it feels like hundreds of years or only days. Time doesn’t work the same anymore. Time definitely doesn’t work the same in my brain, I forget many things and my brain is overall different than it was before Madeline’s death.

Grief is a really complicated journey. I can look back at these three years and I feel different. The feelings are changed. In the beginning I would often sit in my chair, when Matthew got home from work, I wouldn’t be able to stand up. It was such a physical heavy that it changed my breathing patterns and felt like my heart was being squashed. I had a lot of anxiety in situations I was normally comfortable with. I forgot important things, like packing food for the girls or bringing clothes to sleepover. My brain jumbled bits of life together. I had few memories for a long time, beyond the night Madeline passed away at Albany Med. I could only recall her skin after she was gone… my ears couldn’t remember her heartbeat before the end. I could only hear the slower heartbeat, that felt like her body was stopping… the heartbeat that felt like her heart wasn’t sending blood everywhere. I would be moving and walking and folding laundry- not really thinking about Madeline not being here – and then it would be 3pm and the bus would drive by. Afternoons were and still are the hardest time for me. Fast forward to now… I am very often ok. I am sad, I am heavy… but it is changed. I don’t get the wind knocked out of me so often. I don’t stand paralyzed when the bus comes in the afternoon… I don’t sit, often, in the chair and not be able to stand because it feels like a big man sat on me and will not let me stand. The grief is less of that type of physical. When I am sad though, I am sick. My stomach is off, my head hurts… I feel drained. I guess the grief is still very physical and probably will be forever. I feel like I have a stomach bug, sometimes I convince myself I do. When I feel this my hands are heavy and they don’t move like I think they should… but this is usually a small fraction of life now.

Knowing that I have felt these feelings and knowing that I can share them is freeing. Writing them down help me know the changes and differences in this journey. This grief work is hard work… it is right up there with parenting. I think it is freeing too, to talk to other moms and dads about this. Today I was driving home and realized that I had about eight conversations this week with people who are entering this journey- one whos son is dying, other families who have recently lost their child or even parent. This grief work is important to share, it is freeing. To know that in this journey, that can feel so solitary, we are not alone. We all here for each other, either in one conversation or prayer – or in many years of friendship. We are supposed to surround ourselves with ‘carriers’ in grief. We are not supposed to travel this grief journey alone, this I know. I know because every time I share, talk or support another mother, daughter, father or child… I feel lighter and they do too. Every time I talk to my amazing soul friend who has lost her bubba… we connect even more and just get lighter. Don’t misunderstand- we.still.feel.all.of.the.feelings… but we feel them and connect and let go together. Grief is not a solitary sport.

Surrounded. God has kept my girls and I carried and supported. We are surrounded, even when we chose to be just us and go on adventures. We are surrounded. We are carried. When life throws curveball, He sends in a soldier or the whole dang troop to help… whether it is in prayer, distractions, love, hugs or needs. We are surrounded by amazing people who care for us and love us anyway. They love our crazy hectic schedules, my fear of commitment, my forgetful brain and lack of ability to cook a meal anymore. This weekend, Madeline’s Three Year Angelversary, was a snapshot of that. Sometime in the middle of the week I remembered/committed to send an email to do our traditional balloons at Madeline’s Spot… and it all came together perfectly. Those amazing people have been with us through thick and thin (life and my waistline)… they donned their snow pants and warm boots, put their cars in 4WD and headed up to meet at her spot and send love. Madeline knows they love her. This, though, is for all of us to see that she is still so loved. Piles of kiddos eat donuts and drink hot cocoa and play… then we send Madeline balloons and go our separate ways. Yesterday we even got a playdate and dinner with friends to keep us very busy. Imagine if your lovely angel were celebrated in two places… Madeline loved home. She LOVED the lake and her grandparent’s houses. So while we were loving her up down in Albany, they were sending her balloons and connecting back home, which is an ultra-special blessing in my heart. Then today, on her three year angelversary, we got to celebrate a set of twins who Madeline definitely kissed before they got to come here. We got to celebrate a year of life and growing and changing… in the cutest and happiest of ways. While everyone was together for that we met for balloons (at a VERY cold park) and then went out for a big crazy family dinner. It was exactly how today was supposed to happen. Come to think of it, most days are exactly how they are supposed to happen.

Today. I talked to and met mothers who are entering this journey. I got to hug one and meet her lovely. It was hard, it brought back pieces of the hospital and Madeline. I can take hard… and we each needed to connect. He is fighter, a strong and solid fighter. I needed to meet him and let his mama know I am here for the next part… for the grief journey… to carry and surround.

I know that sharing this and connecting will make each of feel more free, someday. I know that they will, most likely, experience some of the same feelings and hurt as I have. I know that they will sit in a chair one day soon and not be able to stand… I also know that one day they will stand quicker, one day the guy who sits on them and the weight on their heart won’t press so hard. I know that one day it will look different-ish, and feel different-ish. For that we are connected, we are surrounded and hopefully that will help us be more free… I know I feel lighter, I feel more free and I feel surrounded by love and strength and really awesome energy.

So three years down… I can’t believe we are here in this spot. I spend a lot of time thinking that I can not believe we are in this VERY spot though, a reminder that it’s a good thing I am not in charge of things. He got us to this VERY spot and He will get us to the next spot… and the million’s of spot beyond. Three years of life sans a physical Madeline… and we are here, always here, always getting somewhere… so on to the next spot. Thank you for the blessings and building of each of us… thank you for the love and guidance and sending in the troops… we always know You are behind it all. Take care of my Musto-butt… let her feel my kiss and nibble. Thank you always Big Guy.


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