12 months of mama grief and undying love

May 5, 2016, Michaela Evanow, 9 Comments

As the one year anniversary approaches, I am starting to see that I have laid expectations on myself.

I also feel that others may expect me to act differently. Somehow a year feels like a great marker in the grief journey, because it is a whole 12 months, but the truth is, I feel like she died a handful of months ago.

A year is not a long time. I am still wild with grief, but the mysterious companions of stability and healing are coming around more often. It is confusing.

I still cry often, miss her, yearn for her, and ache for her on a daily basis. Multiple times throughout the day. I am shocked by my yearning. I gently assumed my heart would understand that she had died and she wasn’t coming back by now. I assumed that I would somehow be prepared for the years after her death because she had a terminal disease.

But no. Not at all. I was prepared for death, but not for grief.

Somedays the gap between earth and heaven feels like an impossible leap.

Other days it feels like I’m a breath away.

But one thing remains: I will miss her until my dying day.

This missing will not go away. It can feel debilitating and exhausting. There are wonderful days and distractions and there is great joy in our lives, but it always, always comes back. The Ache.

I scramble to save her still. I search for answers and reprieve. I look for a way out, for her and for me.

I glance at her pictures, but don’t stare into her sweet, soft eyes unless I feel like having a good, wet cry.

I don’t always want a good cry. I push it away sometimes. I am busy or having a quiet, good day. I can push the big cry away, but the little cries come often. They lead me to the big cry. I stumble along, missing her, smiling and laughing and keeping distracted. And when I can’t go on anymore, when I need to cry, I simply fall into it.

This kind of crying is a holy release. It leaves me raw and tender and less afraid of what everyone else outside of a grief bubble seem to be afraid of. This is the gift at the end of a good, cleansing cry: freedom and fearlessness and a throbbing, cracked open spirit.

I am humbled by my grief, by my aching. This is freeing.

Sometimes the intensity frightens me. I can’t catch my breath. My very ribs feels like a cage, and yet light as a feather. Every intake of shaky breath and every salty exhalation brings me right back to her, as though I am transcending the place between heaven and earth. Her body is warm, her cheeks are flushed with fever. And then, the veil drops and she is cold and the stillness trembles under the weight of our grief.

This plays out in my head whenever I have a hard cry. I remember her and I ache.

I will always miss her.

Death does sting, unfortunately. We tend to wallpaper over pain with a promise of hope. I am seriously opposed to whitewashing pain with platitudes. I believe that faith and hope come alive in the midst of weakness and suffering, not on the other side of them.

In our faith, I have hope for heaven. I really do. Somedays, the tears fall on upturned lips and I smile knowing she is free and secure and waiting for us.

But. This does not diminish the pain. The gaping loss in our lives.

More often than not, I have pain and feel the sear of loss, instead of hope.

One year and I can still feel her cool weight in my arms. I can see the hands on the clock ticking: she has been in heaven for 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours. I can taste the tart tannins from the red wine I had sipped from a mug with shaking hands to keep my nerves and shock simmering at a manageable level. It tasted too sour. Even water lost appeal. I could not bear to swallow a morsel of food.

This is impossible.

Impossible.

There is also a gift here at the one year mark.

I realize that time has no power and I have no fear of death. I have faced hell and horror and I have stared down the Great Fear: something happened to my child. I have felt the lick of hot flames and the crushing blow of trauma after trauma. I have watched my child die in my very arms, and when it was finished, I found myself looking into my husband’s eyes with hushed horror.

How can one go on after this? How can we survive this?

I have someone waiting for me.

Because of this Hope, I will live out my days with ferocious gratitude. I have bled and will bleed but I now know that my wounds will be staunched.

In the light of Love, one does not bleed forever.

My scars will remain and they will throb. I will gently finger them every day and every moment and remind myself that I get to love her for the rest of my life.

IMG_7633No one can take that away. No disease, no trauma. Nothing can take away Love. Love is eternal. I will always miss her, and I cannot fix that. But I can love her. I can send my affection out through my tears and into the garden bed and through my words. I can pour out my love to her as I sway on my knees and kiss her tear stained photo on the wall. These sacred tears, as Washington Irving says,“…speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

And this is the gift of Love: it never leaves us.

I love you, Florence.

Evanow_89

9 Comments

  • Reply Diana Trautwein May 6, 2016 at 4:55 PM

    “Ferocious gratitude” – YES, I love that. Let the tears come whenever – they (and the joys of everyday life) are your reminders of the depths and gift of love. Your grief is a beautiful and sacred thing, Michaela. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Reply Maria May 5, 2016 at 10:43 PM

    I have not buried a child but I have buried a husband. I too am opposed to whitewashing pain with platitudes I had to embrace this journey of grief to let God show me the joy in the midst of it. The terrible heart wrenching ache of his loss was more a place of Comfort for me than the mundane activities of daily life I walked straight into that grief every day for a long time. But I lived life too. I laughed at memories of him and drank tea with friends and cuddled newborn grandchildren. I marvelled at sunsets, the colours of spring, the warmth of the sun on my face. I lived but I let my missing him be a part of every day. I never want to stop missing him. I never want to go through a day and not think of him. Michaela thank you for being so real and so wise as you grieve. Thank you for sharing your heart, for letting others into the place in your heart that holds that precious little girl That broken, bleeding yet hope filled place. I too have someone waiting for me

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 6, 2016 at 12:13 PM

      Thank you so much Maria. So glad to hear parts of your story and heart.

  • Reply Victoria May 5, 2016 at 10:38 PM

    “I believe that faith and hope come alive in the midst of weakness and suffering, not on the other side of them.” Thank you for sharing your heart, for your honesty, for your perspective, for your beautiful words that weave me through your deep suffering alongside your undying love.

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 6, 2016 at 12:13 PM

      Thank you, dear friend. xoxo

  • Reply Lindsey Hunter May 5, 2016 at 6:51 PM

    Michaela, these are perhaps the most beautiful words I’ve ever read. Your process of grief and healing and Hope is just awe-inspiring. I would never pretend that I know anything of your grief. But, I did go through a traumatic miscarriage this year, and your words have been so special to read. Sometimes I feel like it is hard to find words to put to emotions. You are so gifted with words. I feel like Florence is woven through each letter, each sentence. Thank you for sharing. You are such a brave, strong, inspirational mama. I think of you and Florence often and pray for you frequently. Sending you love.

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      Thanks for sharing with me, sweet Lindsey. I appreciate it. xo

  • Reply Casey May 5, 2016 at 5:37 PM

    I do not know your grief but I do know mine. My friend died in my arms. It’s been 10 yrs. I’m not sure easier describes the path. I still find myself thinking she’ll just show up in the moments that I’m convinced she belongs in. She does not. It is hard. I’m excited to see her again but it does not erase the ache. I cannot imagine the loss you feel. I will pray for you. Much love…

    • Reply Michaela Evanow May 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      “I still find myself thinking she’ll just show up in the moments that I’m convinced she belongs in.”
      So profound. Wow. Love that. And it’s true…thanks for sharing Casey.

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