It was the first summer after my son passed away. Reluctantly, I was talked in to attending my first real outing at a lake. I remember feeling so much pain and sadness inside and just unworthy of enjoying a smile. I wasn’t ready to paint on a smile and intermingle with folks. Yet there I stood struggling to find a reason to stay there. A beautiful Swallowtail butterfly flew around my head and then down to the water. As my eyes followed his lead he took them right down to the lake where this young man was tossing around a little boy in play. He looked nothing like my Joey but acted everything like him. Although he had none of his own, Joey loved kids and he always took time to throw them on his shoulders, tease them, play ball with them at every opportunity. I know he would have been an amazing father. I got lost in the moment watching this young man and thinking about my boy. I loved this stranger for simply “acting” like my son. I fought back the urge to run down and hug him. Imagine my surprise when he turned his back to me and on the backside of his head he had the name J O E Y shaved into his hair. It brought such tears to my eyes. It is these small things……like the butterfly that lead my eyes….that is truly silver linings when we act on something that scares us. I felt like this was a “visit” and I was so grateful for it.
Another time while my sweet hubby was pumping gas I sat in my car and watched a young man get out of his and start to pump his own. I was astonished when I glimpsed up from my phone and saw him. He reminded me so much of my son. I know I gazed too long. I know that he thought I was a nut. I know it might have been freaking him out. However I couldn’t help myself from staring. When he was finished at the pump and started back to his driver’s seat he shared a glance with me, smiled and nodded his head just as my Joey would. I felt like that this too, was a visit.
Then there was the time when I cried myself to sleep on my sofa late one night. I was empty, emotionally devoid, drained from the grief. I never even got up off the couch to go to bed. It must have been the wee hours of the morning when I finally dozed off. I could hear my husband walk softly across the floor, feel him cover me up but I just couldn’t wake up to open my mouth and thank him. I can recall thinking that I will need to do so first thing in the morning. Come sunrise as I brewed our first pot of coffee I apologized. I hated that I couldn’t even find strength to thank him when I felt him cover me but I wanted him to know how much I appreciated it. It is then that he replied “Honey I appreciate your sentiments but I haven’t left our bed all night”. That my dear friends was a visit from my Joey.
To the parents who’ve never experienced the loss of a child this might seem totally absurd…….but to those of us who have, it’s crystal clear and acceptable. I think our senses become extremely sharp when our children pass before us. We’re left with a sense of longing, then searching for any clue that they are still with us, In spirit, the only way they can. When we open our minds to the possibility that they still communicate with us and look for our signs we can begin to feel the visits. Would they ever come back to this ole earth to be with us again……never. However I do believe that their sweet spirit lingers here among us forever more. I thank God for my amazing years as Joey’s mama. I thank God for His promise that I will see him again and I thank God for the precious visits. Do you have visits? Please feel free to share them here. Love and peace to you my friends.
You know, grief can completely undo us. It can change us, makes us someone that our family doesn’t recognize. When my Joey died I went through the entire gamut of emotions. I had anger (for many years), sadness, depressed mood, hopelessness and perhaps the biggest emotion of all was denial. All of these are parts of grief. I think each are normal and I personally believe allowing ourselves to feel these emotions are such a huge part of healing.
Did you know that up until the time I opened this blog I never said “Joey died?” My words were “I lost my son”. I couldn’t accept that he wouldn’t walk back into my door whenever he got tired of Heaven and if I didn’t accept it, it wouldn’t be true. Now the rational side of me knows that this could never happen and even if it could Joey would never come back here to this earth…….not for love nor money.
About a year ago I was accidentally introduced to power of essential oils. Much to my surprise they have helped me a great deal with my emotional state. I have also had such a huge success in using them for my blog writing. As earlier stated I am no professional writer but instead, a hurting mama struggling for some sense of resolution in my mind. At the beginning of each blogpost I typically decide what oil I need most to support me with that post. Most times it is Release and Forgiveness. I find that these really help me with releasing pent up emotion. I feel that they really encourage the waterworks and I am thankful for those. It seems that I heal a little more when I allow myself to cry. Other emotional oils that I use are Peace & Calming, Valor, Inner Child, Present Time, Stress Away and anything from the Emotions Collection. (Please feel free to visit my page of Essential Oils here on my blog for more details).
This morning as I began this post I chose Believe and Joy. After rubbing Believe in my palms and inhaling I also chose to diffuse it along with Joy. The aromatics are incredible but even more than that are the emotions that they support. I wanted to share these two in particular with you today because it so depicts how I feel about grief, sadness, loneliness and depression. They are all terrible emotions to go through but you know what? I Believe in Joy. I choose Joy.
God makes many promises in the Bible and one of those are Joy. My sweet friends, there is Joy left to be had in our lives. The loss we feel will never completely go away but it’s not forever. No, the promise remains that we will meet our loved ones on that beautiful shore. I do hope you Believe in Joy and choose it for your life. I know that it takes time but I pray you walk through it and not around it. It is my belief that walking through it helps us heal and reach an acceptance and that in turn, will allow to get to a place of experiencing Joy in our life again. God speed, hugs and love.
Allow me to stay for a moment in my last post, Lifeboats. I reflected on how it seemed that God always sent a lifeboat at pivotal points in my life. He still does today. In addition I believe that “Thy rod and thy staff” also comes to us by means of people. Life is hard and no one ever said it would be easy. I can look back at the worse day of my life, the loss of my son and thank God for the lifeboat(s) that He sent me. I feel like that lifeboat was in the form a man, my Paul. He knew that I would need someone who is patient, understanding and kind.
In that same spirit I believe as we navigate through the waters of sometimes rough waves there are those who’ve been placed in our lives for specific reasons. Buoys to guide us and anchors to ground us in this world of uncertainty. Don’t misread this, there is but one True North in my life and only one Lighthouse but I couldn’t imagine my life without helpers.
My Sisters-to-me, Michelle, Vanessa, Sandra, Janie – they each bring something different in my life. My blood sister, Cindy she does too. They bring what is needed to my world to offer comfort, support, companion, honesty. I cannot imagine getting through my life without each of them. They’re the buoys that listen, cry with me, laugh with me, hurt with me, champion with me, diet with me, complain with me, nudge me. They keep me sane and alive. They are my heartbeat and I love them so dear – I pray we all live forever together 🙂 (It takes a village, people). These ladies have seen me through my worse and they still love me. I’m so very fortunate to have many friends and lots of precious family that I absolutely adore. I consider even my Cooper and Jake (my lab dogs) to be Buoys. They give me purpose in child-like figures to love.
Linda & Tammy, more buoys! God put them in my life at the exact time I needed them. They’re such beautiful Godly women and to watch how they serve is such an inspiration to me. I can only hope to be the women they are in this sense.
I also have plenty of anchors and maybe they all serve as one in the same. Perhaps my biggest though is the one I spoke about in the beginning of this post. That is my husband, my Paul. When it is all said and done, at the end of the day, when I’m drained, when I’m all cried out, when I just need someone to have an arm around me, tissue in hand, without judgment, it’s Paul. He holds me down, reels me in when I stray too far in my thoughts. He reminds me of my goodness, then restores my faith in myself. I am a very blessed woman and I do not take it lightly.
Can you count the buoys and anchors in your life? I am so sure you can.
Back home. It’s where I am right now. It is a 9 hour drive directly to my roots. It’s where I chose to leave my son’s remains. He is laid to rest right beside my parents. It was a tremendously hard decision on rather or not to keep his remains with me or lay them safely by my parents. No matter where my life takes me he will remain safe, right there.
As I traveled down to Florida I had lots of time to think. It’s when I do my best thinking actually. In my last post I talked about some life-changing heartaches. I recounted how I lost my mother when I was 15, my dad several years later and then my son who was my identity and my heart. These are all sad things and things we would hope that we never have to experience. Truth is we will all experience our fair share of heartache in this life. To live, is to die. It’s one thing we know for sure. Of course we always pray for later rather than sooner.
(Side note: Is this what we do when we’re on the other side of 50? Do we reflect a lot? Is this where we learn the most, when we’re able to look back at lessons learned and a life, lived?) As I continued to drive and recount pivotal moments in my life it gave me the opportunity to also be grateful.
It was very difficult to see when I was going through these hard times but in retrospect I realize that God sent me lifeboat every single time. When I was clawing my way out of grief…..struggling to get off the floor…..begging for the unchangeable….when I thought my life could not go on one more minute. Someone or something showed up. It was blessings abound and I couldn’t see them then. I just wasn’t looking.
When I start looking at life through lifeboat glasses it takes me to a whole new appreciation of it. Of course I will never delight in heartache but perhaps I can learn to be grateful for the Peaks that come from the Valleys. The low places are the places which strengthen us, it’s where we build the faith that carries us through to the next inevitable low. We just have to remember to look for the lifeboat.
Tonight I thought about how my life has played out so far. My mind wondered back to where it often does to my sweet momma. The phone had rang on an dreary and early Tuesday morning and when I answered it was for her. I took the phone in to her bedroom where she was sleeping……at least I thought. No response, again, no response. I can recall very vividly how it seemed that every last drop of blood drained from my body right then and there. Still, no answer…….I began to beg her to get up, shrieking now. Nothing. Why did she have to leave us – five children and a husband who adored her? I’d never know the answer to that in this earthly life but that day marked my first heartache. She was still a youngster at 34 years old. Being a Saved Christian since 10, even in my young mind I knew that she’d done her job here and God called her Home. So that’s the way it had to be.
Oh how I miss my momma. Not many years later my Dad joined her in Heaven. Life seems like a rather sad tale for me. I believe these are the things that lead me to marry so young. A mere child myself I would soon give birth to my Joey. He stayed in the hospital for two weeks in ICU due to birth complications and I sat day and night, helpless. Surely God wouldn’t take my boy after what I’d been through? We did make it through that difficult time at birth but those thoughts tormented me for two solid weeks.
27 years later the day came that I had to bury him…..my one and only son. All the loss, hurt and pain now paled in comparison to what I was going through. Why? Why? I cried out Lord, haven’t I had my fair share? What have I ever done to deserve this? Where are you, you’re supposed to love me? Did you just turn your back on me? It’s not supposed to end like this! If I hear one more time “He’s in a better place” I will lose it! There is no better place for him than with me! I want him back and I want him back right now!
Did I say those kinds of things about my momma? No. I can’t recall ever saying a cross word to God about calling my mom Home. It was super hard to lose her but I never blamed God. As my thoughts wondered today I couldn’t help but see this as an indication of how far I’ve drifted from Him. I will spend the rest of my life trying to get back to that version of me.
I have the most amazing and warm memories of how my momma loved us. My Joey is now the recipient of that incredible affection. She’s met him for the first time. They’re catching up on all of the goings-on of the earth. He’s safe, he’s with his maker, his master and his grandparents. I know there are far worse places he could be. He would never in a million years come back here, never. Nor would I.