Wednesday, March 17, 2010

one year ago...

It was one year ago this month that Calvin moved in with us. I have been trying to start this blog for a few months, but each time I start to work on it, I stop. I cant bring myself to share my deepest feelings, because frankly, most of the time, they are dark. They are sad. As much as I think it may be healing for me, Im afraid that if I start pouring my heart out, the tears may start and may not stop.

Today I spent the day with some friends from the pediatric emergency room that I used to work in. I used to be one of those nurses. I used to work there. I used to be able to take care of those children who had suffered horrific, tragic accidents, pains, losses...etc...., and just go home. Im not that person anymore. The loss of your own forever changes who you are, who you become. A part of you is left behind, and is forever gone.

I have a couple of friends who lost their daughter to cancer last year. They sent me a link to their blog today and I started reading and could not stop. Losing a child is something that no one should ever have to experience, but when it happens, it gives you a bond with those who have experienced some form of the same kind of loss. Whether that loss occurred due to a cancer, illness, accident, or something else, the death of a child is something that can only be fully understood by those who have likewise experienced it. Even though the circumstances and the grieving process may be different, there is a mutual understanding there of the true meaning of loss.

As I get started, and well, comfortable sharing myself and my thoughts here, I will leave you with an essay that they posted from yet another family who lost their child. I want you to know something...from the bottom of my heart and all that I am, this letter is true.

An beautifully written essay by a father who lost his daughter.

The Gap
by Michael Crelinsten

The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge. No one, whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed, what they bear. Our daughter now comes to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal, every kid on a scooter. We seek contact with her atoms-her hairbrush, her toothbrush, her clothing. We reach for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded. What we had wanted, when she so suddenly took ill, was for her to be treated. We wanted her to be annoyed that her head had been shaved for surgery. We would have shaved ours and then watch her smile as we recovered together, whatever the nature of that recovery. "Recover" is no longer a part of our vocabulary. Now we simply walk through the noise and debris of our personal ground zero. A black hole has been blown through our souls and indeed, it often does not allow the light to escape. It is a difficult place. For us to enter there is to be cut deeply, and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss. Yet we return again and again, for that is where she now resides.

This will be so for years to come and it will change us, profoundly. At some point in the distant future, the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened but the empty space will remain-a life sentence. It is not unlike a dog who, suddenly hit by a car, survives. The impact is devastating and leaves the animal in shock, confusion, and despair. In time the animal recovers adequately to spend the remainder of its life on three legs. It is not that he is unable, eventually, to function or even to laugh and play. The reality, however, is that on three legs from here on, every step he takes, every action, virtually every breath reminds him of what he has lost. We are that animal.

Our community of friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it. We grieve for our daughter, in part, through talking about her and our feelings for having lost her. Some go there with us, others cannot and, through their denial add a further measure, however unwittingly, to an already heavy burden. This was not a sprained ankle or major surgery that we suffered. Assuming that we may be feeling "better" six months later is simply "to not get it." The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience. Thus it is a trap-those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity. And, yet, somehow, there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our immeasurable comfort. They have understood, again each in their own way, that Alexis remains our daughter through our memory of her. Her memory is sustained through speaking about her and our feelings about her death. Deny this and you deny her life. Deny her life and you have no place in ours. That's the equation. How different people have responded to our loss, or not, transcends a range of attitudes and personal histories. It is teaching us much about human capacity and experience, albeit at a searing price. Parents' memories of a lost child sustain that life. It should be the other way around.

We recognize that we have removed to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us. Our attempts to be normal are painful and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment. Were we to give it its own voice we fear we would become truly unreachable
, and so we remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will. Were we to act out our true feelings we would be impossible to be with. We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise. People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard. Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience-and extreme experience changes one extremely. We know we will have recovered when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We do not know who we will be at that point or who will still be with us.

There will come a time, quite some number of years down the road, when the balance between the desperate awareness of what we have lost when our daughter died will be somewhat balanced by the warm and joyful memories of what we had with her when she lived. I neither long for nor cringe from that time. It will simply come. We will recognize it-though now it is beyond us.

So, yes, our beloved daughter is gone-a light in our lives gone out leaving blackness for us, left behind, to stumble through. And, while we understand and deeply feel the meaning of our phrase "Now we are lit by her only from within," we hope, desperately, that she is wherever the light is. We are trying to understand what this means, as we seek our own way, for the remainder of our lives, to some kind of light. We love our son and are trying to breathe.

We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk losing them. This is our attempt. For those untarnished by such events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not know, read this. It may provide a window that is helpful for both sides of the gap.

never the same

by Phyllis and Moe Beres

The Compassionate Friends Society

In the beginning we are survivors groping and clawing merely to rise and face each day without our children


Intellectually we know the reality we have gone through funerals wakes/shivas memorials


but emotionally we cannot (nor should we) come to terms with this reality

one cannot make this emotional commitment called parenting then abruptly shut it off after a funeral

whether our child was six months or sixty our love our sacrifice our future cannot be measured by a chronological clock

thus we cling to the hope that this is a bad dream a mistake that soon there will be a knock at the door

the phone will ring we’ll hear their footsteps upstairs

and they will be back where they belong


In the beginning we face each day with disbelief we plod on but we want our children back

not their pictures not their clothes not their memories


As months turn into years years into years our lives start to “normalize”

(although we will never be the same again)

emotions begin to catch up with intellect

we gradually grudgingly come to realize that they are never coming back to the way they were

(we seek out psychics to connect with them where they are now)

As parents we have the need to nurture

(I will ALWAYS be your parent you will ALWAYS be my child)

we are compelled to make an emotional compromise and

keep them alive in different ways

like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly our children take on new lives

to be sure it is not the way we want it to be but now

in our hearts and in our heads we say

“this is the way it is this is the way it is going to be”


we are parents again and they are our children

we have paid the ultimate price for wisdom strength and courage

and though we will never be the same again

We will BE

Tuesday, February 16, 2010