I spend a lot of time writing about the hardships of losing a child, of losing Lilee.
I think it’s because I feel like I have a small responsibility to articulate what others can’t and to help the people around those grieving to understand a little more in-depth as to what we are going through. Its something that is so hard to comprehend and so hard to relate to if you haven’t gone through it, so in writing my experience I hope that I can help one more person understand, or one more person know they aren’t alone in feeling what they feel.
I write about it because it is all-consuming. Its my life. I am a bereaved parent and every day that I wake up to my empty little home I am reminded of it.
However, I believe in the power of positive thinking, which is basically just lying to yourself until it becomes the truth, and on a daily basis I try to remind myself of all the things that are awesome in my life, even on my shitty days. Especially on my shitty days. These are some of the things that bring me back from the dark places that I go.
Each Moment Will Pass: good, bad or ugly, every moment we experience is fleeting. It doesn’t mean that the moment that follows will be better or worse, it just means the moment that we are in isn’t everlasting. It is extremely beneficial to realize this on both sides of the coin; on one side, if your going through something awful you will survive through it. Just as the sun sets then rises in a new day, the moment will pass. And on the flip side, if you’re having an amazing experience, knowing that it is temporary will help you appreciate and be present to it. Its something everyone struggles with in this day and age; living inside of our heads. We constantly think of the next move, the next vacation, the next day instead of just living in the present. Getting out of my head is my biggest challenge, I mean, it’s where Lilee is. It’s where my memories are, and frankly, most days my past is better than my present. That doesn’t mean I should live reminiscing the past. it is so easy to stay in the world I knew, the one with Lilee; it will always be better. So my challenge is to live in the moment and CHOOSE to go into the past when I need to so that when I choose to relive the memories we made, I have the ability to force myself to come back.
My Family: My family has been a constant source of support throughout my entire life, but especially through the last couple of years and even more now. I owe them everything. Financially, emotionally and physically my family have dropped their lives to be there at my time of need. They have comfort food when I need it, and wine when I need that too. If I want to get out of town I always have a place to stay and if I don’t want to be alone they are just 5 minutes up the street. My family created a protective circle around me and Lilee, and it still exists to this day. As much as I loved my family before, I think I took them for granted. I think we all take the ones we love for granted a little, especially family, because we think they will always be there. My family WAS always there, and I’ll never take them for granted, not even a little, again.
My Friends: They keep me occupied and attempt to keep me present on days I don’t want to be. My friends are the family I’ve chosen. They take me on weekend getaways, bring over pizza and take me to trendy little bistros for my birthday. They bring me coffee and frozen yogurt and leave dinner at my doorstep. They are there to have one too many with, or just have tea and fall asleep. They come from far away, above my house and just down the street. I cook them dinner, they do my dishes and we always laugh. They play rude card games with me, some judge my answers and some give worse ones than mine. They don’t judge me for the make-up I was too lazy to take off, or my greasy hair because I spent all day on the couch. And most importantly, they love me for exactly who I am, regardless of how crazy, messed up, or broken I am.
Wine: no, I’m not dependant. I just really love the culture of wine from growing the grapes to the art of tastings. Yes, I like to drink it too, but it’s so much more than that. Finding a good wine (especially at a decent price) is like going on a really good first date. Its exciting, its unknown, but its satisfying and sometimes a little euphoric. It’s the start of something you know will last. You might get over it eventually, move on to another new and refreshing vineyard, but you’ll always keep a bottle of the one you once loved on your shelf.
KNOWING Life’s Limitless Potential: after going through something traumatic most people tend to get a true grip on life. I believe its more of an understanding of the life they weren’t living before, and of the possibilities of the life that could lay ahead. For me, realizing my life’s potential is easier some days than it is others. Some days it’s too difficult to see a life of success and happiness without Lilee. But some days, its much easier to imagine, dream and plot my success FOR her, BECAUSE of her and in HONOUR of her. I get so amped up knowing I can and will make a difference, and no matter how big or how small, Lilee’s legacy will live on. Realizing my LIMITLESS future, my ability to keep her alive in as many hearts as I can manage, and maybe help some people along the way, is totally friggen awesome.
Finding Forgotten Pictures And Videos: after de fragmenting my sub par laptop, I went through some pictures and videos that were unlabelled or miss filed. I found some pictures from just before Christmas and Halloween (in august) and some videos of some things I never thought I recorded. Like how Lil use to say “I love you mommy, more than life. you mean everything to me,” as if it was one sentence. Usually the last part would be in a sweet, soft voice with her perfect and tiny hand on my cheek. Or how I use to say “I love you, diaper baby” and she would reply with “I love you too, stink brain.” (Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph reference. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now. So great.) I thought those things were left only for my memory, something I would never hear her say again. But guess what? I found them. And guess what? It was almost like she was sitting there with me. I was chatting with my best friend, Arianna- Lilee-Jean’s Aunty Nan-, the other day about how when we go through pictures of LJ and get to the last one we took its SO frustrating to think that is it, that’s all we took. Knowing we will never have another picture of her makes us so angry and sad. Finding those pictures and videos was the closest I’ll ever get to taking a new picture or video. I know it wont last, I’m sure I’ve gone through them all.. but maybe one day, someone will send me one, or I’ll find another secret folder and there she will be, smiling at me through the screen of my computer and my heart will burst from an unexpected surge of love and pride.
The Vow To Find My Lust For Life: after experiencing death in such a close and intimate way, now that the dust has settled a bit, all I want to do is feel alive. I never gave up on Lilee’s life but I did give up on feeling mine. A closed door and a dark space were okay with me; daydreaming of a life I should have had. But the harder it is to wake up in the morning, the more those moments of “life” mean. They become that much sweeter, that much more desirable and addictive, and some days, a dark room and a closed door look a hell of a lot less appealing. Going to the gym has been my first step. When I’m in a session with Jody, my trainer, I feel every muscle and every joint. I feel pain, and weakness, but I also feel strength and power. I’m starting to see what my body is capable of again and I want to keep challenging that. I want to sky dive, bungee jump, zip line and more. I want to find things that are out of my comfort zone, that make me afraid and intrigued, being alive in every way humanly possible. I want to find the lust for life that Lilee-Jean taught all of us.
Who I Have Become: I’m still not 100% sure who I am. I think everyone is constantly on the search for who they are or who they want to be, and I think that as we age we grow and we change. But who I am today is exactly who I need to be. Through loving Lilee, I learned what not to take for granted, what to let go of, what to embrace, and what to fight for. I learned how to love unconditionally, how important the little things are and to make them big and how unimportant some little things are and to keep them little. I learned that I will sacrifice everything for someone I love, and I will make your life hell if you threaten them. I forgive easily, but rarely forget and I am much stronger both physically and emotionally than I give myself credit for. I am worth it, whatever it is, and I’m done apologizing for it. I learned that although I’ve been put through the ringer, I still believe in love. In fact, I love love. I learned that the things I thought I could never do, I can. And the things I thought id do, I didn’t. I learned that I’m stubborn, that my intuition is incredibly strong, and that I’m beautiful inside and out. I learned that my heart is bigger than my mind believes it is, and that in a fight between the two my heart almost always wins and I learned that I like it that way. I’ve learned that my goal of writing as a career isn’t just a pipedream, its something that is within my grasp. And most importantly, I’ve learned what the most soul shattering pain feels like, and with it I felt the most uncomplicated, instinctual, and maternal love. I’ll cherish that love forever and always because it was a gift that made my life worth living.
Things that are awesome, don’t have to be things at all. They are people, places, feelings and experiences. It’s the understanding of something greater than the stress at work or school. It’s recognizing and embracing your faults and short comings, and constantly pushing yourself to be better. Its putting your cell phone down at dinner, or when you have company, or in bed. It’s truly being in a moment, and then remembering the past. It’s hoping for a better future then going out and getting it. The things that are awesome are rarely things at all. I challenge each and every one of you to make a list of the things that are awesome in your life then keep adding to that list. I gave someone advice a few weeks ago after they had told me about a sick relative. They didn’t know how to balance time spent with their relative, and time spent taking care of their own needs and wants. I only had one extremely cliché answer: no matter what it is that you do, if you looked back in 6 months would you regret it? Strive to live a life with no regrets, especially when it comes to life and death. It was a piece of advice I lived without knowing, and that I’m trying to accomplish now in my new normal. I always feel like its less profound when its something so over used.. but then you start to think, it must be over used for a reason…
With no regrets,