What’s the etiquette for reading and replying to messages of condolences and love after your child dies? Is 3 and a half years later too long? I feel like it’s too long…
The memories of our 10 days in hospice are as vivid as the sun rise I saw this morning. The look of her perfect skin, her blonde hair and the movement of her chest, up and down. The smell of the lotion I used only on her and freshly baked cookies that always seemed to fill the room. The sound of the pump releasing more pain medication into her system. the feeling of her sweet little hand in mine and her warm breath on my skin.
It could have happened a moment ago but the weight of her absence has put 100 years on my body.
I don’t revisit it much; her last day. I don’t like to think about the words I wanted to say, the things I should have done. I don’t like to remember waking up that morning, going through the motions, just like the day before, but now in hindsight knowing it was her last to live. I don’t like wishing I was there again on that day. just holding her and wishing I could stay in that moment. Because the worst day of my life is one I would live in because she was there with me. So when I think about it, or if I have to talk about it, I stay on the surface. I stick to the facts. I romanticize her last moments and then I change the subject.
But as I read each message that had been left unread since we entered hospice, I relived that day. Over and over. I relived every moment; every sense.
I saw, I smelled, I tasted, I heard and I felt with such immense intensity because the love from your words caused everything to rush back into me.
I was so lost in the haze of grief and so broken from my heart being ripped from my chest. I was so engulfed in the darkness that I really couldn’t see. And just as I always skim the surface of her last day with me, I don’t think I truly understood what she meant to all of you as she left her body and rained down on the valley.
I knew. I don’t mean to say I didn’t know. Believe me, I knew. It was why we held a public and live-streamed celebration of life. It was why I kept writing. It was why, some days, I got up from my bed. I knew then, but I think, maybe in some ways, I forgot. I think maybe I was so blinded by my own pain that I forgot to find solace in the words of the people who were grieving along side of me. And that was probably O.K then. But today I had the courage to read those messages. The ones I wouldn’t open. The one’s that I couldn’t bear to read because I couldn’t take any more pain.
I read them.
and it hurt like hell.
It reminded me that even though we went through the cancer journey as “normally” as we could, it was not normal.
It was extraordinary.
It reminded me that my baby girl, my flesh and blood, inspired love. not the kind of love you have for your favourite pair of shoes, but real love.
Heart breaking, soul lifting, heart pounding love. The kind that changes people, the kind that heals people.
It reminded me as to why I started to blog in the first place, why I decided to share her, our journey, and why I wanted to start writing the big book. It wasn’t the donations, it wasn’t the fundraisers, it was what inspired people to donate, to fundraise, to message, to share, to like. It wasn’t because I felt obligated or because I felt like I owed everyone something for supporting us. There was only one reason our fight turned public:
And even though love didn’t save her life ( if it could have, I know there would have been enough, 10 times over), I think that the Love for Lilee-Jean, knowing it existed (and still exists) in this world, and that strangers can love as fiercely as family, may have just saved mine.
So thank you, as menial as those words feel, because those messages that I was terrified to read, the ones I thought I was neglecting out of fear or anxiety, the ones I’ve held guilt over not reading or not responding to, were waiting for me to reach this moment. A moment where I have been lost in pain for so long that I couldn’t see that love, above all, is the point.
The point to what, you ask?
The point to everything.
2 thoughts on “Thank you, Love for Lilee.”
Lille’s life inspired love. Your powerful words brought her short, beautiful story to the attention of millions. As the numbers multiplied, so did the love and it remains strong and abundant to this day. We remember and love Lille, as we remember and love you and all of her family. So much love was brought to us and then reflected back because YOU had the courage to write. Thank-you.
Chels, This is so beautifully worded and so full of love. And I would like to believe I am with everyone else when I say it is completely understandable and honest and raw to have the feelings you do. Thank you for sharing your journey, not because it’s something i can relate to. But it’s something that gives me better understanding and the willingness to be vulnerable and raw just as you have been through this whole process. Love you! ❤