Parenting with PTSD: Surviving the Intense Waves of Grief ~ A PMB Post

Today over at Portland Moms Blog I shared a few minutes of one of my days ~ just one of many I have to live without my girls. This post was very difficult to write but I felt it was important.  With each new day and life experience comes a new wave of grief and at the same time a tremendous amount of gratitude for the ability God has given me to survive the heartache. I miss my girls more and more as each new day passes.

You can find my post here.

My girl in her favorite pink boots!

Anna and her boots

Finish Line

Every year about this time I get an email asking if I want to purchase my Hippie Chick Run photos from previous years. The Hippie Chick was a run that Anna and I did together. I would run the 10k and she would meet me just before the finish line ~ it was our thing. The photos taken at the run are usually really expensive so I never wanted to purchase them.

This year when the email came it said that this was the last chance to purchase photos from 2013 so I decided to look at them once again, just in case. As I was flipping through the five that were taken of me this one appeared. I swear it’s the first time I had seen it. I cried remembering what it felt like to cross the finish line with my girls on each side. Every other year it was just Anna crossing the finish line but this year, our last Hippie Chick together, Abigail joined us.

holding hands finish line

I ordered some prints. This is my new favorite photo of the three of us. It speaks to my heart and when it arrived yesterday it was so clear to me why I love it so much. This is how I get through each day. Abigail holding my right hand and Anna holding my left, both gripping tight till I get to the finish line. The gold tons in the photo (that is how it came) represent Christ, He’s all around us wrapping us in His love and kindness ~ we are surrounded by His Grace.

The last couple of months have been tough. Fall lasted so long, there are still leaves piled up on our streets, and my PTSD has become something that is just with me instead of the usual waves that come every so often. Watching Alice grow, discover, learn and become a toddler has been wonderful and very emotional. There is so much I can say about mothering this beautiful little one in the midst of grief, but I will leave that for another time.

I have signed up for the Hippie Chick one time since the girls have been in Heaven but my heart wouldn’t allow me to go. After seeing this photo I think it is time to get in shape and prepare once again for “our thing” this Mother’s Day weekend. I know Anna would be super excited to have Alice run across the finish line with us.

This photo is what my heart needed the week before Christmas and our double birthday celebration on 27th ~ Abigail will be 16 (I can’t believe it) and Alice will be turning 2.

Anna and Abigail are holding my hands always and I am ALWAYS surrounded by His Love and Grace!

Happiness Journal

Last night I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I miss my girls.

I decided, after an hour of prayer, what I needed was something to hold on to. I reached under my pillow and pulled out Honey, Anna’s favorite blanket. I wrapped my arms around it tightly and held it to my face.

I fell back to sleep.

This morning Alice was playing as I was getting ready for our day. I could hear her talking with her sister’s babies. She is such a good little Aunt. I walked quietly into her room not to disturb her world and found her wrapping Baby Mary in Honey, just like Anna used to do.

She looked up and smiled.

Alice holding her big sister’s blanket ~ that is what makes my heart happy today!

alice honey

They Will Fall

The leaves on Anna and Abby’s Tree are still pretty green. In the next couple of weeks, maybe even days, they will turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.

Then they will fall.

They will all fall and another year will start.

Fall is a mix of emotions because there are so many reminders of the exact moment my heart was broken and it is filled with so many beautiful memories of our favorite season together. Each morning when I open the curtains, and I see the leaves changing, I can either focus on that one moment or I can choose to focus on the millions of other moments that fill my heart with love and joy.

Some days, it’s hard not to be consumed by the brokenness I feel and fight everyday.

Most days, I choose the path that brings light to my memories and my girls.

Today, we decided to celebrate so we went out hunting for special leaves to add to our collection.

love-drenched-life.com

I think these leaves were sent from Heaven and Alice agrees.

 

Lifeline

In the weeks following Anna and Abby going to Heaven hundreds of cards and letters flooded our mailbox. I remember sitting with them, unopened, wondering how I was ever going to get through them all. I would sit each night opening just a few, because that was all my heart could bare.

We were the family receiving the dreaded sympathy card. I remember sitting amongst them in total disbelief that we were on the receiving end and these written words were intended for us.

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” People shared their memories, thoughts and condolences.

These cards were from friends, family, old classmates, parents, children and complete strangers – all wanting to take just an ounce of our pain away. I remember feeling so loved and cared for as I read each one, still in complete shock of my reality.

One letter that we received has come to my thoughts many times over the past 4 years. I remember standing in the kitchen the first time I read it and remember exactly how it made my heart feel.

The sender, someone that we did not know, shared of her own loss. Two children, first her son (9) then her daugther (16), many years ago. It was the next line in the letter that I remember most.

“My son would be 54 and my daughter 53.”

I remember my heart sinking ~ 45 years. I remember thinking that there was no way I could survive all those years without my girls. No way!

She included a poem that was given to her by her son’s teacher and also her phone number in case I needed someone to talk to. I never called but have thought of her many times as each day without passes.

Today, while chatting with a girlfriend at the grocery store, a woman approached us and asked if she could give me a hug. She said that I didn’t know her but she knew who I was. She told me that after my girls went to Heaven she sent me a letter with a poem.

Immediately I knew it was her, still surviving.

She told me she included her phone number because she had no one to talk to when her children went to Heaven. She wanted to make sure that I knew I wasn’t alone. Her number was a lifeline for me if I needed it. Immediately my heart was full of gratitude and connection.

I needed her lifeline today.

Tonight I found her letter and there it was, the poem and the number that I know I will call soon.

I’ll Lend You a Child

By Edgar A. Guest

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine,”  He said.
For you to love – while she lives
And mourn for when she’s dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?

She’ll bring her smiles to gladden you,
And should this stay be brief
You’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked this world over
In search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd
Life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give her all your love,
Nor count the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to
Take her back again?”

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter her with tenderness,
We’ll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for her
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that come
And try to understand.”

 

I’m not going to lie…

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling. My heart hurts so bad. I hold on and find joy in my days for Alice and Tom but in the quiet moments, like nap time and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, I sit paralyzed with my reality.

I miss Anna and Abigail so much.

No sugar-coating or telling you that time heals ~ my heart hurts the same today as it did on Oct. 21, 2013 when the sun came up and my girls were gone. Actually, I think my heart hurts worse today ~ it’s been so long since I’ve held them.

This is a very long road.

I’m working through it all, taking care of myself and trying to balance my life so that Alice and Tom get the best of me. I won’t lie though, it’s hard, very hard.

I sat down to share that I wrote another post for Portland Moms Blog today. This is what came out instead.

I miss my girls.

summer 2013