The Gift In Letting Go

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It has been just over a year since we lost our beautiful daughter. And, I would have thought the one year mark would bring a feeling of relief or success having survived so long without her. But, it has not.

In fact, the time has brought a fresh pain, a new and different type of ache in my heart, in my soul. It has brought the reality, of having to live the rest of my life without her, front and center. That pain is like a piercing stab that hits me frequently, often when least expected.

And, with this time that has passed, my mind wanders and dives deep into rabbit holes, summoning up horrible, ugly visions that burn into my mind. I need to make a continuous and conscious effort to keep my mind from going to these places. And, many days I am successful. Which, I am proud of. But, some days, when my strength is waning, the rabbit hole just sucks me in, refusing to let me go and I am here to tell you, it is no fairy tale.

During one of these moments, where I replay the final days of my daughter’s life, I had a thought, that started as the type of thought that takes me down the rabbit hole. But, this time, the rabbit hole didn’t fully suck me in.

As I was thinking of the night where she was last herself, where I watched her small body go through the most horrifying things, I thought, “what if she had died right there, in that moment”? And, quite honestly, I am floored that I had never truly played that scenario in my mind, until recently.

I said that events and decisions during the four months before her death, unknowingly, made things go the best way a tragic situation could go. I knew it could have been worse, I didn’t exactly know how, but I knew it could have been worse. Somehow, every word, every decision, every struggle, every roadblock and every break we got, during those four months, put us in the place where we were able to receive the gift of Time. Time to say goodbye, time to come to acceptance (for what that was worth in the midst of tragedy) with the fact that we were not leaving that hospital with her.

It was a gift.

But, what I never truly thought about, in harsh detail was, what if we had not received that gift. What if, I watched her die in front of my eyes, alone. What if that was it? What if, while I watched her body, that was violently out of her control, I saw death take every bit of her essence away? What if, while I watched the medical staff swarm around her beside, all working to save her, they failed? What if, the Pope hadn’t shut down the City of Philadelphia, keeping us hospitalized longer than necessary and we were home with her? We would have been ill-equipped, even though we were pretty fully equipped, to fight the horrifying attack on her body that night. We would have done everything, like so many times before, to keep her with us, but, despite our efforts, her body would have given out.

How would I have survived losing her in any of those ways? I know the only reason for my survival is due to the gift of time we received in those final days. But the truth is, the only reason I survived is because I chose to accept the gift I was given.

But, let us be honest, terribly tragedy, like our reality or those “what ifs” I mentioned, happens to people. Every day. And, if we are being honest, we all get different types of gifts in tragedy, no matter how the tragedy comes about or the results when it is over. Of course, not all of us recognize, through our grief and anger, the gifts we are given. My tragedy is not your tragedy, my gift is not your gift. But, we owe it to ourselves, to our loved ones, to those we have lost in tragedy, to find our gift and embrace it tightly and survive.

I know, I see, I truly understand, now, one year later, the importance of the gift we were given, in having the opportunity to let her go. I understand how awful those words sound, believe me, “the opportunity to let her go”, but it was a gift. From the moment she was born, we were fearful that she would be taken from us. We believed in her will and her purpose on this earth and we fought for her life at every sharp turn, but we were scared. Every day, every moment we had life and death thoughts running through our minds and they were real. We understood that if we were not on our A game, if we were not ready to make life saving responses for her, we would lose her, in a literal heartbeat.

Every day, life won over death. Until October 1, 2015. And on that day, we didn’t lose life over death in the way we had always feared.

The day she died, our little family was in control, the gift of time gave us that control. We celebrated her life in the way we never had the chance to celebrate it on the day she was born. The day she was born, we controlled nothing; the celebration for a new life on earth was set aside in order to save that new life, the fear and uncertainty weighing heavy on our blindsided hearts. But, the day she died, well, we made up for the fear and uncertainty that kept us from celebrating on the day she was born. Perhaps that sounds inappropriate. But, for us, it was exactly right. On October 1, 2015, we wept (wailed), we laughed, we created beautiful moments together and we snuggled up to her, breathing in her spirit, her essence, her love, letting it give us strength. We gave her our blessing to continue her journey without us. We loved her every second of every minute of her life and then, we let her go.

And the fact of the matter is, she had already let go, well before we did. A few days before she died, she was not waking up from the tragic event, I laid on the bed with her, held her little hands, and I spoke to her in a way a mother should never have to speak to her child.

I said, “Delainie, Mommy and Daddy understand if you cannot stay here with us–if you need to go be with God, we understand. Well, we don’t exactly understand, but we know that might be the plan and we want you to know that we will be okay, we have each other and we will figure it out. We will be okay for you”. One tear, from each of her beautiful closed eyes, rolled down her cheeks, and at that moment, I knew. Her gift, God’s gift, was to let us catch up, as best we could, to the plan, this time around. And I will forever be grateful.

It is my hope that others can find the gifts that are within their own tragedies and that they hold on tight to those gifts; because, I truly believe, those gifts are our life lines.

 

 

 

I Survived Loss. Now I Need To Function.

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For months I have been surprised by my ease in letting things go. I thought it was maturity that allowed me to turn the other cheek in, almost, every difficult situation.

Then, I realized that was not it at all. The experience of losing my daughter tortured my heart, soul and spirit. It broke me.

I was surviving but not fully functioning. There was no spirited Kelly left in me, no fire, no true passion for what I believed in.

Every functioning part of me succumbed to the torture that I endured having lost the most precious gift this life gave me. Somehow, my brain allowed me to physically survive this torture.

I knew the scars would forever run deep into my heart and my soul. But, it was in discovering my newly faded spirit that I realized how hideous these scars truly were and how important it would be to enable these scars to expand, rather than constrict, every inch of length they ran through the tortured parts of my being.

Physical wounds require continuous, superior tending, from the onset, in order for the scars to heal in a way that does not limit physical abilities. My scars are not physical; but, I believe the same principle applies. I do not want my scars to limit me. I need to tend to the wounds before the scars are set in their ways and put continual stress on every facet of my being.

I need not only to survive, but to function in this life. And, if I am going to function, I choose it to be at the highest level possible. The highest level can only be attained by maximizing my capacity for healing and turning my wounds into pliable scars that will expand my being so that I can be open to all that this life has to offer.

As I go forward in this journey, I am willing Strength to join me and travel at my side, helping me to make decisions about when to let go and when to fight. I also will Courage to join me, helping me to act on the decisions I choose. Lastly, I will Faith to stand with me at every turn, helping me to believe in the decisions I make and the actions I take.

Having Strength, Courage and Faith along in this journey, I know I will succeed in raising my spirit from the ashes. I will find a way back to my authentic self, embrace the future meant for me and, when the day comes, I will be worthy to spend eternity with my beloved child.

I am not alone. My child’s energy is always present. Our love was, is and will always be what keeps me motivated.

 

I took a writing class and stopped writing, totally unpredictable.

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It was in March that I decided to sign up for an online writing class through our local community college. I did it because I have always enjoyed writing.  After the death of my daughter, writing seemed to be something that I could pour my heart into without reservation, it helped me as I grieved.

The more folks who read my blog posts, the more I heard that I should pursue more writing and that what I had to say might be helpful, not only for myself, but, for others as well. I do not consider myself a “writer”. But, I like to write. I write the words that come to my mind, travel down and out through my fingertips and onto the keyboard. I write long, loquacious sentences and short, snippy one word lines; I add commas and semicolons everywhere I want, taking liberties like I am an artist who doesn’t care to follow the rules nor cares what anyone thinks about it! So, pursing “writing” in a more professional way, well, that might have been a lofty aspiration. But, I thought I would take the class anyway. So, I signed up for a class on how to get published.

Mistake. Waste of money. Total killjoy to my desire, enjoyment and the emotional elevation I had always experienced with writing. I had writer’s block. Actually, it was worse than writer’s block. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything to write. I just. Did. Not. Want. To.

So, since March, I have not written anything. It was totally unpredictable that a class, which I had hoped would encourage my desire to practice and pursue a skill I enjoyed, thereby bringing me a new sense of gratification, in what had been just a hobby, would render me uninterested in that skill all together.

I have not been published and after that class, I no longer care if I get published. What I care about is that writing has always been the best way that I have been able to express my feelings. If my writing resonates with another, that is great. If it does not, that is okay too. I am in a place in my life where I am just playing it day by day and letting go of the expectations that I have of myself and those expectations that others may have of me.

So, here’s to another unpredictable event, the class did not snuff out my passion for writing all together after all! Let’s hope that this is a blog post that will pop me back up to the place where I once was, the one where I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted and let anyone who wanted read it. Thanks to the Daily Post One Word Prompt, “Unpredictable” that helped catapult me back onto the playing field.
Unpredictable
 

Only A Piece of My Heart Is Left After Her Death

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It has been five months. Five torturing, long months. Five months that have whipped though my life like a stormy wind, quick and stinging.

How I have managed to survive the last five months, I do not know. Honestly. I have no clue.

Some days I consider myself a monumental success because I got up, showered, dressed, fed myself, laughed and put one foot in front of the other until bed time. Other days, I wander around in a daze, half here, half somewhere else. And, still other days, I am a ball of anger that no one can see, but I feel like I might explode at the smallest transgression.

In the beginning, and let’s face it, it has only been five months, it is kinda, still, the beginning. But, in the beginning, I used anything as a reason to wake up and move forward. Meeting someone for lunch, taking the dog out to pee, catching a view of the fall leaves and sunset in the crisp air. But, now, those things don’t even make me tingle with a need or want to get up and move forward for them. I need more.

I need something that brings purpose back to my life. Because, quite frankly, this life is nothing without my child. I have no purpose. And, I know, living life that way, feeling purposeless, for too long, will get dicey.

When my sweet girl died, my heart broke into an infinite amount of pieces. The weight of the pain was not always seen in my actions or on my face; I was functioning considerably well, but my heart was screaming inside. It still is. In fact, I feel like I hear the screams more now than I did in the very beginning. The shroud of protection given by my brain, my body, my family and friends, saved my broken heart from feeling too much at one time.

Now, the weight has been getting heavier and heavier, my brain is no longer activating the shock mechanism, which is basically a protective bubble that allows participation in life with a hefty dose of ignorance is bliss feeling; my body is no longer functioning out of a fight or flight response; my family and friends are back to life as normal, for them. The force of the weight has come down so crushingly hard on the pieces of my heart that most of the pieces have been smashed to dust and they have blown away with the heavy sighs from the pain of reality.

The reality is that she is gone and I am still here. She is fine, but I am certainly not fine.

There is not one part of my life that is not haunted by her shadow. My husband can return to some semblance of life, albeit hard, that is separate from him being a Dad. He had an outside job, that had nothing, immediately, to do with being a Dad. I however, did not have that, and I do not regret that choice. But, I cannot bury myself in work or continue to hone my skills to further my career aspirations. I left my career when my daughter was born. I actually even denounced my desire, interest and acceptance of ever continuing and succeeding in the career path I had before becoming a Mother! I said that my career was, “NOTHING in comparison to being a Mom”. I said, “The desire I had to be the best at my role, develop my skills to continue to grow in my path and with my organization, gain more responsibilities and receive accolades for a job well done was a vain and shallow definition of success”. Yeah. Wow. Pretty harsh. I really loved being a Mom!

But, now where am I? My ideas of success went from fast paced moving, increases in power, financial security and recognition to savoring the moments, giving of myself with no promise or need for receiving, rolling with the punches and creating a life full of beautiful memories while loving every moment of it.  So, what does a successful and happy life look like, now? I have no idea.

The thing is, it’s hard to move forward after a loss. But, you do. Your body, your brain and your support system are like strings and you are the marionette to which they are attached, they help you to move one foot in front of the other. At some point, those strings fall away just like the petals on a beautiful flower, having served their purpose no more. And, that’s when things get weighty, when you have to start thinking about moving ahead towards a destination on your own instead of being pulled there.

Bridges burned from my past and a freaking huge sea of uncharted waters are what remain. It is my choice on how this story moves forward from this point. I need to take the first step, the first real step towards a destination. Then, the next steps, I freaking hope, will manifest ahead of me. For me to follow, along with curves, forks, and choices between paths. But, none of that will exist without the first step.

I resolve, today, to prepare for that first step. In fact, perhaps it is THE first step towards a destination, it is at least a half a step! I recognize that it is time to engage experience beyond my own, beyond my friends and family. I have started seeing a counselor. I think of myself as a personally open and sharing kind of person. I think of my family and friends as my greatest support system. I thought I did not need therapy.

But, come to find out, I do. It is refreshing to share my struggles with someone and know that I am not exhausting those I love with my pain, pain they want to heal but cannot. It is something I look forward to as a practical plan towards improving my overall well-being. With therapy and outside research, I have been working on learning mindfulness exercises, which have already helped as a coping mechanism. And, in the spirit of working on embracing myself, my future and nurturing my mental health, I have decided to take a writing class.

I have survived for five months. There is no question that I will continue to survive. I made it this far. But, beyond that, what continuing to survive looks like? I have no damn clue.

But, eventually, I know, I will have a clue; because, I will be in the thick of it. At that point I will be living my most current definition of success–surviving, putting one foot in front of the other, by my own sheer will, in spite of only having a piece of my heart left.

 

 

The Ya Yas, True Friends, Sisterhoods, They Are Real!

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I grew up not knowing a long term friendship like some folks. For many reasons. I moved a lot when I was a kid, so friendships ended before they even had a chance to prosper with the evolution of my growth into adolescence. I was also kind of self absorbed as a teenager and admittedly, I realize now, that I did not work hard to keep friendships over distance and time. As I sprouted into adulthood, I found it difficult to make worthwhile friendships because so much seemed to depend on us having similar circumstances to keep friendships active. Perhaps some of it was that I didn’t work hard enough to bridge circumstantial gaps to keep the friendships alive. Continue reading

To My Daughter In Heaven

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Oh sweetest girl in the world! I miss you more than words could ever describe. My heart is broken into a million pieces. And I fear there is no glue that could put it back together again.

From the moment you entered this world you changed my life in ways that I could have never anticipated. You made me, an ordinary woman, into an extraordinary person, you made me a Mother. Not just any mother, but your mother. And I was privileged to have had that role in this crazy life.

Before you were born, I was nothing compared to what I was after you were born. In fact, I barely remember life before you. You redefined my views of success, wealth and life in general.

Because of you I experienced joy in the most pure form. Because of you I experienced love that could move mountains. Because of you I learned to live without reservation, without looking too far ahead or behind. Because of you my other relationships are so much deeper and more meaningful. Because of you my heart grew exponentially. Because of you my world became brighter than the sun. Because of you I learned to set aside lofty dreams and embrace the true beauty of the moments as I lived them. Because of you I became a better version of myself.

Every morning you lit up my world, like a star that I could reach out and touch in all of it’s beauty and glimmer. Every giggle, every smile, every loving gaze from you to me etched a memory in my heart that time will not fade.

When you were just a tiny baby and every moment forward, I held you so tightly, for fear that I might lose you. I soaked up your smell, your sweetness and your warmth constantly. I snuggled you close so the forces of the outside world could never touch us, well aware they desperately wanted to.

Being a Mom is not easy. Being your Mom was even more difficult than most. Often times I spoke to God and told Him that he made a mistake. I told him that I was not strong enough or good enough to have been entrusted to care for such a precious creature. I told him I was highly unqualified for this role. It was never, ever that I didn’t want to be your mom, because I loved being your mom. But, I was worried that you didn’t get what you deserved and needed for a mother because you got me. It did not matter what people said to me, I still felt that I wasn’t good enough. And then, I realized, I was right, I wasn’t good enough before you. But, you made me good enough. You are the reason I became a great mom.

Not only did I love you, but I fell madly and hopelessly in love with you, more and more each day. Four years we spent together. Hardly apart. I cringed when you had to leave my care to go to school. But you lit up like a Christmas tree when we got to school and I learned to let go enough to let you grow and experience the things life had to offer. I rarely ever left you in the care of another, because I missed your sweet face so much, and I also didn’t think anyone could care for you the way I could. How far I had come in the belief of my abilities being your mom!

You were hospitalized often. You were so complex, not often sick, but your little body was complicated and the doctors were so often stumped and surprised by you. Your Daddy and I spent many nights with you at your hospital bedside. You were the most precious part of our world and we were all in. We brought all your pretty clothes, shoes and hair bows to the hospital so you could stay stylish. We brought as many toys and physical therapy tools as your hospital room could fit. Mommy and Daddy diligently worked out with you, hospitalized or not. We would not let you down. When you lived in the hospital, Mommy lived in the hospital too. Daddy lived in the hospital and at work. We did this willingly, we would not have been anywhere else but by your side. We were a little family, a team.

After four precious years, we had to let you go. The hardest thing we ever had to do. It was not planned, it was no expected, at least, not by anyone here on earth. I always said we lived life and death each day. We never knew if we would get to keep you for tomorrow. But, now I realize those were just words. I said them, they were true, but I never truly expected them to happen. We always beat the odds. YOU always beat the odds. We won every battle. Every. Single. One. I guess, by loving you so much and living the fullest life we could with you, we “forgot” about the negative possibilities life could bring.

This life was amazing. I experienced the best parts of being a parent because I experienced the hardest parts of being a parent. You were my world. You were the most beautiful child I had ever seen. You had the ability to look deep into a person’s soul and retrieve her heart and hold it in the palm of your sweet little hands. Hardly a person you met didn’t experience that effect!

You were an angel on this Earth. I knew it from the moment you were born. Your name sign was the ASL sign for “angel” but using ASL “D” hands. You were given that name sign at about 5 months old. Your 1st birthday party was an angel theme. We knew you were an angel. We just forgot angels don’t get to stay on Earth for long, they belong in Heaven. And that is where I speak to you now. I believe that love transcends worlds, planes of existence. So, I send these words on the wings of love so that you receive them and know what is in my heart now.

You were loved beyond measure. You will be loved through eternity. Love is so strong. Love will always connect us, even between Heaven and Earth. I do not know how to live in this world without you here. But, I know I need to try, for you, because you tried to stay as long as God would allow. And I know that may not have been easy. I am grateful for every moment we had with you. I am grateful for the person I am because of you.

Oh, Delainie, my sweet girl, Daddy and I are having a hard time without you. Once you know how amazing life can be, you can’t go back to the way it was. We know the life we lived with you was perfect and we know that we did the very best we could. Sometimes, we feel like we let you down, like we missed something we should have known to keep you with us. We rewind the story of our summer and we replay it in many different ways, wondering if one of the ways would have resulted in you still being here. But, then we remember, you were an Angel on Earth, your time here was not meant to be long. We tried to make it as long as possible, we got four years when others said we would be lucky to get six months.

We know that we have to move forward. But we move forward each day with hopes of living a good life so that at the end of our days we can reunite with you. In the meantime, we will not stop loving you and we will not stop loving each other. A day will not go by where I will not wish you were here, in my arms, holding my hand, giving me kisses, reading books… Just as my world changed when you came into it, so it has with you leaving it. But, you made me a better person for life, not just four years. And that person will navigate this life with pain and joy at the helm. In time, I think the pain will make way for the joy to lead this journey.

Eternally grateful for you,

Your Loving Mother

I Am Grieving During The Holidays

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The Holidays are often fraught with challenges. What to buy, how much to spend, what not to spend, who to spend what on, who to spend time with on what days, travel, traffic, cooking, cleaning, wrapping…It’s known to be a stressful and exasperating time.

And, quite honestly, I never understood why people were so stressed and grumpy around the holidays. I always loved the bustle and gathering with as many family and friends as could fit in one place at one time.

But, this year. This year is different. I am fresh in the grief of losing our daughter. I have no desire to celebrate the holidays without my child. Every light, every decoration, every holiday gathering is a stabbing reminder to my heart that my sweet girl is not here.

And, for the first time, I feel like that “grumpy” holiday person, watching everyone around me enjoy the bustle and looking forward to large gatherings while I cringe at the thought of it. It is a strange feeling, a strange place I am in.

I am struggling between two things. It’s like having the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder. The devil on my shoulder makes me want to be angry. He makes me want to say there is no God and that I have NOTHING to be thankful about.

But, the angel on my shoulder reminds me that I know that there is a God, one I don’t always see eye to eye with, but God exists. He reminds me that I know that I have a plethora of things in this life for which to be thankful.

But these two on my shoulder are in constant conflict, making me a bit of a basket case. It appears, that this holiday season anyway, I will be that stressed out, slightly bah-humbugy person that I never understood from years prior.

Even though it may not be apparent from the outside looking in or even from my own perspective when that devil sits on my shoulder, but, I know, with my whole heart, that I am lucky.

I have had what few get to have in life. I have experienced pure joy, endless love and miracles on earth. I have been surrounded by the most loving, gracious and genuine people the world could offer. Two of which are my parents, and two of which are women who consider me a daughter of their hearts. There is no end to the love here on earth, for my sweet girl, or us, her parents.

So, though this holiday season will bring me pain that cuts to my core, I will be saved by what has kept me going since my sweet girl died. I will be saved by Love. Simply, LOVE. Nothing is stronger than love. Love guides, strengthens, lights, heals and steadfastly leads Hope and Faith along every path. It is the one thing that connects Heaven and Earth.

So, if you see me cry or if you see me quiet and withdrawn this holiday, know that I know the wonders of the holidays and every day of the year for that matter. In fact, I will most likely be reflecting on those wonders when you see me. Know that love is the only thing I need to push though the pain that grips me tightly. It is the only thing that wins out when the angel and devil battle on my shoulders.

This holiday season, I may not act so merry and bright, but I will love with every fiber of my being and I will welcome the love given with every breath I take. The holidays will have ups and downs with my grief, but these things I will not take for granted.

What Am I Supposed To Do Now?

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I have always thought of myself as a pretty together kind of person.

However, since my precious daughter died, I have been a bumbling mess of a person. Some days I don’t even feel like a person at all! Which is totally reasonable considering the situation. However, I don’t have a clue of what I am supposed to do now!

The last four years I spent advocating for my child in every way possible. I was so used to fighting for her needs that I would fight for things that didn’t require a fight! I woke up each day as a Mom and little else. I was happy with that. I loved that. My whole life revolved around my child first and foremost. She needed me. And now, she does not need me. And I don’t know how to live without her needing me.

Our friends and family are getting up each morning, going to work, coming home, shopping, cooking dinner, etc. They are back to life as normal since Delainie’s death. My husband even has a tiny fraction of normal that he has got back to, in that he has returned to his job. The world around us is turning just as it always does. But, I, however, feel like I am standing still watching it all go by, looking back and wondering exactly where things got so off track.

I am not getting back to “normal”.

I have made a point to max out my social calendar as best as possible because the “quiet” times cut me to the core of sadness. I am fumbling around like a lost teenager who has gone out on her own for the first time, except I am not innocent to the pains of the world, to the struggle.

Sometimes I just sit and stare and wonder what I should do next. I am lonely even around people. I am quiet even when I have things to say. I am broken and I haven’t figured out how to move forward with this brokenness.

Because, let’s be honest, I lost my only child, it’s not likely that this break is going to get fixed. This wound cut through many layers, my body, my mind, my heart, my soul. There is no ‘healing” for a wound like this.

What is more likely is that I will learn to live with this wound. Similar to a person with a slightly noticeable limp, indicative of some old injury that never fully healed. Hopefully, I will not let this disability, this brokenness of my heart, body, mind and soul, limit me from enjoying a meaningful, fulfilling and happy life.

Personally, at this moment, I think that is a freaking lofty goal. But, that is the kind of person I am. I have always set lofty goals and excelled in challenging circumstances. So, perhaps, let’s pray, I will achieve this goal. And perhaps, setting a goal like this is one tiny step, for me, of getting back to “normal”.

To be honest, I sort of just want to fast forward through time, to a place where I am successful living with this brokenness. But that is not reality. I can only succeed at this life goal if I work hard. Somehow I don’t think fast forwarding through life counts as working hard!

I am a jumbled up mess of emotions and scattered thoughts these days. I cry a lot. I try to talk myself into understanding that everything happens for a reason. I try to remember to thank God for the moments I had with my sweet girl. I get angry, lonely and faithless. I let go of anger, fill up my social calendar and find faith when I reminisce of my life with Delainie. When I have joyful moments or great days, I feel guilty because I think it’s inappropriate to be happy or have fun at this juncture. I chastise myself for feeling guilty.

I have been thinking of the way I lived my life before Delainie and I don’t think that there is much that would be fulfilling to me now. Life before Delainie seems so shallow, so monotone and so unexceptional. The life I experienced, through motherhood of my special child, was so much more than I ever knew existed. Once you experience something like that, you can’t go back. Kind of like a skier who loves skiing in Vermont, but goes to Utah to ski and is never truly happy skiing in Vermont again.

The life I had with Delainie is no longer an option. So, the life ahead is, well, it is whatever it ends up being. But it won’t be like anything I have ever experienced before. This I know.

Since I have no clue what I am supposed to do now, I am counting on life to lead me, along with faith, hope and love. I am also hoping for some divine intervention to help me find my future calling. I mean, I am the mother of an angel, after all.

A Mother Left Behind

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Four years ago I assumed a new identity. The identity of Kelly happily stepped aside and a new identity slid into place, the identity of Mother.

Not just any mother. Delainie’s Mother.

After a while, the two identities merged a bit. At some point I became, Kelly, Delainie’s Mom.

I considered that to be a monumental success for a journey of self. I felt that I had successfully morphed together the old and new into one fairly satisfying rendition of ME.

I was pleased with my life, with myself, with motherhood. I was infinitely happy and infinitely loved.

It was a busy, tumultuous, hectic, frustrating, rewarding and fantastically amazing four years. Four years I wouldn’t give back for the world. Four years I wish I could replay over and over again every day of my life.

Four years ago not only was an angelic being born into this world, but a devoted and loving mother was born that day as well.

Four years later, an angelic being was lifted up to heaven, and I, her devoted and loving mother, was left behind.

I was left behind, but not without.

The four years along the journey as, Kelly, Delainie’s Mom, life unfolded in such a way that all was set in motion for the day, that day where I would be left behind. And I had no idea until now.

Love was paramount for four years. The most serendipitous friendships were revealed and nurtured during those four years. My marriage strengthened through life challenges never anticipated, because we had pure joy and love in our midst. A perfect nexus of family and friends slowly evolved around our locale. Beautiful memories were made, pictures taken and moments seized. We shared our joy and love with everyone, even strangers.

We lived. While we lived, unbeknownst to us, likely the plan of a divine intervention, every thing was set in motion, every tool readied to be at my disposal for when I was to be left behind.

For four beautiful, amazing and joyful years, we lived life to the fullest, regardless of the path in front of us being rocky or smooth. Neither of them impeded our will nor our desire to live this life to the very best of our ability.

And that is what I am left with, among other things, after being left behind. Which is pretty freaking good. It makes being left behind a bit more manageable.

So, in time, this version of myself will do some more morphing. My wispy version of self in Kelly, changed four years ago when it made way for a much heartier version of self in Kelly, Delainie’s Mom.

I will always be, Kelly, Delainie’s Mom. Nothing will take that away. But what I do expect is to become Kelly, Delainie’s Mom, and much more, as I continue this journey.

What is ahead for me? I do not know for sure. What I do know is that I miss my angel more than words could ever begin to describe. My heart is broken into a million pieces. I need work. I need love. I need sustenance. I need time. But, I will evolve and carry on in this journey.

10 Things You May Not Know About Special Needs Parenting

I wanted to share with folks a few things I have learned about myself since being a special needs mama. A few things I think I have in common with lots of special needs mamas, things that the general population may not know about “us”.

1. Do not assume that a special needs family can’t, won’t or doesn’t want to participate in the same things that traditional families do. Ie: trips to the water park, trips to the zoo, bounce houses. Give them the same invite as any one else and if they decide to decline because it’s not feasible, so be it.

2. If the family takes you up on the offer, be sensitive and introduce them to the folks you know who they do not know. Involve them and their kiddos in the fun. Ie: All the kids are painting ceramics, invite the family and/or child to the table with the other kids.

3. Any Mom is inundated with a million things to do. Which means, if a special needs Mom offers to do something, let her. Don’t assume that she has too much on her plate and tell her so. If she does, then she will hopefully learn not to offer, and you will have been helpful in that discovery.

4. Be honest with a special needs family. Ask, kindly, if they mind explaining a little bit about the needs of their child. What are their pet peeves and the things they appreciate with regard to interactions with their child/family. Ask what things work best in group settings, like, do they want to be introduced to the kids together or would they rather mingle and introduce themselves. Sometimes, special needs families feel left out and in a group setting, it is daunting to be the one to make the first move.

5. Encourage your special needs Mom friend to be honest with you.

6. Sit your own children down and explain that not all children are alike; and, that’s okay. They should always be accepting of differences, and acknowledging that at a young age is often helpful. However, I will say, young kiddos are often most accepting while parents are standoffish. So, perhaps I should change this one and say, take your small child’s lead rather than your own.

7. Know that special needs parents want time out too. They don’t often get it or agree to it, but they need it. So, don’t forget them when you are having a girls or guys night out. It may be just what they need, just like you. Or, they may need to take a rain-check, but the offer is a simple reminder that there is life beyond special needs parenthood.

8. Accept that special needs families have special needs. That’s it. They are not better or worse than any other family, just different.

9. Get involved. If your kids are friends with a special needs kid, get involved. Ask the family to teach you some of the best ways to interact or communicate with their child, so all your kids can work to make the friendship more successful.

10. Offer to help. This one is tough, because a lot of special needs families seem like they have it all together, and it amazes you. Or you don’t know how to help. Just offer. They will accept or decline, but it’s nice to know someone wants to assist them.

That’s it.