4 whole years.

So it is different. Life is different- all of it. It is strange to me though that I don’t feel like this life is all ugly and sad and bad… but instead it is beautiful even when it hurts. There is something beautiful in the light as you walk through and work through the dark. Any tiny bit of light is bright in the darkness and the hard times.

Madeline has been gone for 4 years now. It has been 4 years since that night that we walked out of our door for the last time as a family of 5. I knew when I heard her breathing that this was the last time she would be in our house. I did not know how long, but I knew. We rushed to the hospital, the words “Have you signed a DNR?” were spoken and I remember sliding down a wall in the hallway. In only a few hours our lovely was gone, peacefully and together- but gone forever. These 4 years have passed like a race and molasses. Times that rushed by, moments that felt like years, minutes that must not have happened because they are either not remembered or too fast… then other days that felt like you were stuck in sludge working every single muscle all day long just to get to the other side only feet away.

4 years and it feels like yesterday and 100 years ago… time is different. I have a hard time remembering times… or maybe I have a hard time allowing a plan to happen at a particular time. Appointments and games and commitments all require a day and time on a calendar. In my brain things can happen that change that schedule too fast. In only moments, it felt like seconds, my life was forever broken, though some patches and scabs have formed, I am still forever a different person- a broken soul. I am a mom with a hole in her soul, a big deep hole that is unfillable. It isn’t like a void that people fill with addiction or relationships, hobbies… that is different. This is a deep gauge out of my person, out of the part of me that was whole as a mom. Sometimes I can’t get out of that deep hole and the tiniest bit of light reminds me to buck up and feel my hope, the hope I reserved or need to recognize on those days. Time can feel like it stands still or it moves so fast… 60 seconds doesn’t always feel like the standard measure of time. It’s kind of like how Mondays come fast but Fridays take forever to get to. In this way, that is my life and new understanding of time. I have a really hard time remembering times. I could have reminders on my phone and still miss things. It is very challenging for me to set dates up and times for things. Time is a weird idea for my brain now… I think it is a part that grief has altered in me.

When I think about the fact that it has been 4 whole years since I laid my head on Madeline’s chest and heard her heart as it worked harder and moved slower… 4 years since I last touched her skin and held her… it feels like forever and yet I know I have so many more 4 years to continue to do this reflecting. I imagine I will be here for quite a while counting the years since and looking forward to the years moving me closer to her. This is the normal for life as I know it, until life as I know it no longer resides in this body of mine.

What will that first hug be like? I wish Madeline could zip over here and hug me for only like 10 seconds (with my messy time brain it may feel like a millisecond or 15 minutes) it would be the best 10 seconds of my life as I know it. Imagine if every year we got a little visit and a SUPER hug, even if only for 10 seconds. My skin misses her so. My eyes sometimes see her in Meme or Lucy, in a smile or a look. I know it is HER, in them… maybe my hug is that she comes out in them. Who knows… Every morning Lucy wakes up and I sniff her morning breath. She has the gift of Madeline’s exact morning breath. It isn’t every day, but it is a brief little smell of Madeline. Maybe that is her hug…

So four years are done… there have been more tears, more growth, more adventures, more challenges, more loss… it has been a long year, or maybe just 365 normal days for you all. I am still standing and living and growing and breaking and wondering if I am doing it all ok… mostly though we are still chuggin’ and lovin’ and livin’ and rememberin’. We are entering new areas of parenting and growing that are downright terrifying. I admit that I am scared now to have girls as we enter the next stage… but I love those stinkin’ ladies. I never imagined being a mom would make me be this me… but I love it. I miss Madeline but I love the beauty she brings. I love nature more, I see her in the sky or a sunset (not every sunset, some are for others). I LOVE rainbows and know when she sent ME one. I still hate snakes, but am trying every other new thing I can. I am going to head out of this world knowing that I lived it up for Madeline. She will have many adventures in me and with many before we head to heaven. I love trying new things… I even like shrimp (not fried or chewy). Life is about this… I try new things and hear her little giggle and see her dimple. I know she would have loved this weekend with us.

My family went to Lake Placid together, a city most of us had only visited while Madeline was sick. We went in honor of her to enjoy time and see the Ice Castle that we saw when Madeline was with us. We saw it light up and watched the most spectacular fireworks. I watched my nephew who is 1, stare in awe at the fireworks. I thought about the book Sargeant’s Heaven, that we read often after Madeline passed. It’s an awesome book about brother’s who drew their brother Sargeant’s heaven, after he died. I remember the book, that we could recite, talked about how heaven has the best view of fireworks (along with not needing a Halloween costume because they are ghost… and other great things). That fireworks display felt like she could see it. She was glad we got there, to that spot, and watched and were together. You know how hard it is to travel with a buncha family… someone always has to pee, or a kid needs to nurse… or someone is hungry. It is amazing and hard work. It was perfect. I missed a few people (well a sister and brother and a buncha kids). It was exactly how this year should look… I am glad for that time.

Tomorrow marks 4 years… it has been 4 years since Madeline’s sisters sat with Matthew and I, sang to their sisters. We sat on a bed with a beautiful 5 year old as she transitioned… and sang what they knew… ABC’s, You are my sunshine and others. It has been 4 years since I walked out of the emergency room doors and got into my Jeep and felt like a terrible mother for leaving my daughter… I had never left her. We drove away as a team and within moments of life, or maybe years… that team dissolved into what it is now. Parents of 2 girls who are here to love and help grow and 1 that is all good and we share, mostly separate. It is strange how different parts are lost and different choices are made… some of us travel in circles and others move forward and grow and try to stay in their own lane… try to carry and live and grow. 4 freakin’ years…

Do something tomorrow… February 8, 2016 to share Madeline and her energy and spirit. Share her, how she changed your life… do something kind for someone, talk about childhood cancer, tell the world to enjoy their family and time… spend time with your kids or family… make time for adventures. Say yes to something new tomorrow… shrimp, bungee jumping, a new book or a date… who knows. Live for the ones who aren’t here…

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5 thoughts on “4 whole years.

  1. Beautifully written. Tomorrow we will honor Madeline. Thank uounfor your articles that help other grieving mamas who are stumbling through life and learning how to take each day as it comes. Kristina ~ Maks’ mommy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written. Tomorrow we will honor Madeline. Thank you for your articles that help other grieving mamas who are stumbling through life and learning how to take each day as it comes. Kristina ~ Maks’ mommy

    Like

  3. Another beautiful tribute to your first born daughter. You keep her sweet spirit so alive…and that I am certain will never change.

    Kathleen
    Admirer of your strength and love of your lovelies. 💞

    Like

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