Sunday, September 1, 2013

On healing after child loss...

Well August has come & gone. The birthday month for both my girls, whom we lost in their first years of life. Usually, at this time of year, I post stuff about them & what it's like living with the pain. I try to be positive, I do all the things that seem to work, etc... but not this time. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just tired of doing all the same things AGAIN, maybe I'm just tired of giving it my energy, or maybe I'm just tired.

But the pain has reared its ugly head more this year. Cheyenne was supposed to celebrate turning 18, going off to college, voting for the first time, & all that comes with being a new adult. Emily was going to be 12. Ahhhh adolescence! No comment there. Given the sheer beauty of this child, I'm sure the boys would have been running away from the point of a shotgun about now. Her porcelain skin, jet black hair, & eyelashes that could sweep a floor would be irresistible to any smart young boy.

As for me, I just put my head in fantasy. I spent hours watching marathon runs of Merlin, took David to the pool, ...well, ok, I dragged him to the pool kicking & screaming something about wanting to stay home & play minecraft all day. As usual, the school year began with a week of teachers' inservice. Day three was Cheyenne's birthday, the first of two in one week. I woke to the alarm, sat up & the fountain of tears came rushing in, they came exploding in! I could not stop. All the way to work, sitting in my office, sitting through meetings. I called my department chair, Cindy, to say I would be late to the meeting, not sure if I could be around anyone. She lovingly said come anyway, we will hold you.

Thank God for Cindy.

I got it out of my system, & by the time we had finished the workday, been to the cemetery to do flowers, & gone to eat, I was way better. The next birthday, for Emily was much easier. I had a classroom full of students who politely sat through the first of what will be many moving stories I share with them to teach them that love never dies. It stays with you for ever. I spent that day not teaching theatre, but teaching faith. That's right, I taught about FAITH in a public school. DEAL WITH IT!
Did you know that Shakespeare lost a son? He understands.

The last several years I thought I was healed enough to start talking to the public, ideas of Ted Talks have been floating through my head, starting a support group at the school for the teenagers who have lost their family members, etc... I was HEALING!

I revisited my old support group with a friend who brought her neighbors, newly bereaved, to the meeting. When it was my turn to talk I lost it. After 14 yrs I found myself a total inconsolable mess. I guess I am not healed yet. What was I thinking? I have been self-medicating my grief with hobbies out the ying-yang, staying so busy that I won't have to feel the pain. I chose (smartly) when to let it out... because I was in control ...yeah, right. Whatever.

As a theatre teacher (long hours all year) & a mom of a 7 yr old boy, I have plenty to keep me busy, but now I know it is time to step back, face the music, & deal with the pain. I'm still not sure how I will do this, but I have to. Never once in all these years, not even when it was happening... and it happened TWICE, did I ever question God's plan. Never once have I said "why". One thing I am proud to say is that I have an unusually strong relationship with the creator of the universe, not influenced by religion, but by my own relationship with God. What I say & do each day is between Him & me, no one else, & I know that my God will hold me through it all just as I held my children through it all: with LOVE, COMPASSION, & SUPPORT. ...even when I'm wrong.

I was recently given a great gift from a student & her mom. It is the memoirs of Barbara Bush, signed with a beautiful note... 

She & the former President have also lost a child. Their sweet beauty, Robin, was 3 yrs old, as was Cheyenne. I remember after we lost Cheyenne, our first of the two, as we attended the Astros games, with seats just a couple sections down from the Bush family, I would spend more time watching the First Lady as she kept scores on all the players than I spent watching the game. I would just sit there & think to myself "If she can do all the things she has done, so can I!" God put everyone together on this planet so we could commune, support, and provide as needed for one another. Religion is irrelevant, but FAITH, good, positive, living-in-the-light kind of faith, is essential for success & happiness. My daughters came to this mortal world for their own reasons, their own impact on the universe. And so did I. Just as they would both be leaving the nest at 18, I must let them go, always keeping them in my heart & my soul. In a letter to his mom, President Bush said:
                "But she is still with us. We need her, & yet we have her. We can't touch her, & yet we can feel her. We hope she will stay in our house for a long, long time."

Well said, Mr. President!

My girls live on, celebrating their birthdays, and continuing to teach us how to live in the light.

So I will continue, adjusting each moment to make room for more time to face the music. I will spend more time in meditation, and in faith. Love will get me there.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Beth. I hurt so for you as you mark each anniversary and special occasion. I hope you know we love you and deeply appreciate(d) all you did to support us when Keith died. I will continue to pray, as I often do, for healing for those of us who are asked to navigate these treacherous waters.
We are a special sisterhood and worthy of extended prayers!

Beth Crocker said...

Thank you Donna! Yes, we are in a special sisterhood. Reading Mrs. Bush's book reminded me of that. The Compassionate Friends motto is "You are not alone", & sometimes I forget that. We shall hold up each other.

J Maino said...

Beth - You are always in my prayers. You have been so strong and such an amazing role model for those of us who have not experienced a heart wrenching loss such as yours ourselves. This is a beautiful post which brought tears to my eyes. I can only imagine how you feel and know it's not even 1/10th of the real pain.

I imagine Cheyenne and Madi hanging out together at college. I'm sure Cheyenne is with her these first few weeks away from home. Although they never really knew each other, they share a special bond that was forged before they were born.

You are loved and lifted by those who know you.

Beth Crocker said...

Thanks Janice! Yes, they were certainly forged together! How can anyone say magic is bad when we were given such beautiful children from it? ...Rhonda & her Gregory included.

Mary Demaret said...

Tears... I've heard they grow up in heaven, but you will know them on sight. I know that will be a joyous day. David has a theory that since time doesn't exist in heaven, all our loved ones will be there with us. What a beautiful thought. It makes so much sense to me, "there will be no tears in heaven."