One year ago this week, I lost my daughter. Sometime around June 2 and 3…. I lost her. It was all a blur.
Some would say, “well she wasn’t your daughter yet”….
We had not completed her adoption.
Yet I had mothered her for 10 weeks and took on responsibility in my heart for her safety and well-being. I had loved her as a mother loves her own. And I was fully invested in making her ours forever.
So while legally I was not her mom, I will always consider her my child. (If you want the whole story and haven’t read it yet, start HERE.)
This year has been a bipolar year for me. I have had so much joy and so much sadness all swirling together. I have often questioned God and felt so totally abandoned by Him. These are things I have not felt very much in my life and so it has been so new for me to have those emotions. I have hated them; absolutely hated them.
I am embarking on this new phase in life where I am telling my story and showing how God has used my pain for good. I must admit, I am not done healing. I may never be. And of all the things I have learned this year, one of the biggest lessons has been that it is ok to heal over a lifetime. It is ok to not be ok all the time.
Here are a few highlights of my lessons from the trenches with God. I am so muddy and so stinky from this journey, but I am holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers God has given me one by one, so hopefully soon these flowers will perfume me.
- If I need to cry into my hands and wail in the fetal position; I can.
I was hiding this. I was finding corners in the house to cry and sob so that my husband wouldn’t hear me. What did this result in? A full on ugly cry after church one day in the car where I just completely lost it on my husband. That sweet man who loves me so well had eyes like a deer in headlights. He was clueless that I was still so pained and broken. He knew I was sad, but I had been hiding the extent of it from him. The bomb that went off in the car that day proved that the damage that had been done emotionally to me was just festering, not healing. He then gave me permission, because for some reason I needed it, to openly mourn and to mourn when and where I needed to. I needed that. I needed to know that I could mourn when I wanted to. I am not sure if you have noticed, but sadness doesn’t care if it’s 10 am and you should be working; it will come when it wants to.
- The corner table at the coffee shop with your favorite coffee drink is ok to visit whenever you need it.
My house has too many reminders. We had prepared a room just for a child who would never again inhabit it. I walked past it every day and saw nothing but loss. I felt guilty leaving my house; I have no clue why. But in fact, leaving my house for a corner I also find solace in was exactly what I needed. That favorite coffee spot (If you are ever in Nashville, visit one of The Perch locations. To die for!) was enough of a familiar and simple place to begin feeling human again.
- Even when it hurts to, let people in. Let them see the wounds.
If anyone has ever spent a little bit of time with me, they know I am not a woman of few words. I have so many words. I want to say them all. However, when I am badly hurt, I really have a hard time wanting people around. I don’t know why, but it’s the one time I just can’t stand to talk about every little detail of pain. I decided I was going to write the whole story down. It will be a book one day, but for now it is therapy. And I have learned that there is no need to rush. Sometimes I want to write so fast so I don’t forget anything. But then I remind myself, you won’t. Tragedy sticks longer. I will remember it and when I do, I have about 45 minutes in me of recall before I lose my emotions again. And you know what? That’s ok.
Once I started showing my wounds, other people’s balms have helped turn them to nice scars. I still have some open wounds, but I have gained a nice collection of pretty scars. I couldn’t have done that unless I let other people help me heal. Others have tools I couldn’t access in my grief.
- It is always ok to move on. Moving on doesn’t mean abandoning a past you aren’t ready to see in a rearview mirror.
A little over four months after washing back up on US soil from losing our daughter, we got a phone call about a little 4 year old boy who needed us. I thought, “To Soon. Too Too soon. Nope.” But then I felt God just whack me on the back of my head while He smiled so contently. Was I going to let my loss compound the loss of another child? This little boy was already experiencing loss and would continue to until someone came for him. For reasons which I really do not know, God, this little boy’s country, and everyone involved thought we were the perfect parents for him. Exactly one year after our loss, we found out we were approved to come back and get him. What the what????
While moving on in the beginning I felt that I was abandoning our little girl. I wasn’t ready to put her behind me. But I realized I didn’t have to put her behind me until I was ready….and honestly I never had to if that is what was right for me. But moving on and loving this little boy has healed me in ways I could have never foreseen.
May 26 last year was when we had our appointment in country to accept our referral for our little girl. May 26 of this year, we found out the exact date we would become parents to a little boy. God had redeemed our broken day EXACTLY one year later. He never ceases to amaze me. Even when I was so angry at him and I was so mad at myself for doubting him, He was never angry back at me. He rubbed my back as I cried and understood my human disappointment.
What can you learn from a year of swirling pain and happiness? That having a bipolar year is sometimes what makes you sane again; and not only sane again, better than you were before.
With God’s Grace & Paulette’s Prayers,