About 3 ½ years ago my daughter, Madeline, passed away from a rare and inoperable brainstem tumor. Madeline was diagnosed on February 3, 2012 and left us on February 8, 2012. In only five days my life as a momma to three got mumbled and jumbled and messy and hard and sad; in only five days I was left here with only two girls who needed me to feed them, support them and help them live and heal. I went from the normal crazy life with three little ones, to a world filled with grief.
Grief is heavy. It can be bearable and almost not on the surface sometimes. Even in the beginning I could laugh some and feel surrounded in a group. Other times I stood in my window watching the bus drive by and not leave a Kindergartener for me, and I felt empty, like a shell.
Grief, at times, can be so physical. There were (and still are days) that I sat down and it felt like 500 pound person was sitting on me. I could not move my hands or stand even if there was a fire to escape from. Driving has always been a place that my brain and heart feel safe and comfortable thinking and feeling. It wouldn't be weird to be driving along and remember a moment, look back at my car seats and see only two and break.
Grief is exhausting. Some days standing up and going downstairs to get a show on for my girls was enough to need a nap. Anything that took more than two hours of focusing was not possible for me, trips would need a nap scheduled in. Things I knew I could do before, my body could not complete for a time.
I knew all along that grief was part of this, part of life. Imagine a world where Madeline was not worth grieving and feeling her loss, every.single.ounce of it.
Grief is a gift -- a painful and beautiful gift. I have seen many quotes that emphasize grief as being a measure of love. I agree. To grieve a person is to have loved them, to have given a piece of you to them and to carry them with you. There is a part of me missing for every child and person I have lost... and as painful as it is to lose that piece -- what they left is so much bigger. Grief is a gift because it is not only part of life, but it is a reminder that our lovely people were here, are here.
Our amazing people existed and took a piece of our hearts, they helped build us; we are who we are because of what they built and what we lost with them. Grief is a gift most of all because it reminds us that they were here.
Madeline is not forgotten. I remember when she passed away my biggest fear was that the world would forget her. It took a while for my heart not to hurt knowing that the world could move and function and go on without her. I used to look around and wonder how it was possible that people could still live without her -- that I was still here. In time, I know that the world must move and live and grow, that Madeline is with them. Many people carry piece of her -- built right into them.
It helps me move, breathe, get up, live and enjoy knowing that she is not forgotten. She is honored, carried and celebrated; she is anything but forgotten. A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone when I pulled into my driveway, talking to the grandmother of an amazing teen who was prepping for heaven. She called and told me it was time to come see her granddaughter. I pulled into my driveway and there was a package for me by the door. I opened it up and there was an unsigned note and many kind words, along with a canvas of my girls and a sunset. What a moment to see and feel that she is not forgotten. There have been many moments in this journey that I am reminded that she is not forgotten. For that I am forever blessed and grateful.
Parents and families of "The One's that are Gone" need very much to know that their lovely was here, is here and is remembered. We all need to know our lovely was not forgotten. I love to hear about people who gave a bit of their heart to Madeline and gained a fortune in their heart and faith and growth from her. That is what life and loss and grief are about, this big circle of love and living and carrying, all to become and build you alongside "The one's that are gone."