Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Grieving Mother's Club

I have found there is an exclusive club for mothers. It's certainly not a club anyone would ever wish to join because it changes you totally and forever as it breaks and widens your heart. The "club" to which I am referring, is the "Mother's who have Lost a Child" club. Apparently, once you have membership, it never lapses. In addition, living life afterward is an awful lot like cutting in a new road in a place that looked just fine before.
Before Daniel died, I did not personally know anyone who had lost a child. I did know patient families who had, but this was within the course of my work and somehow understood that there would be a few of these. After Daniel's passing, lots of people with whom I am acquainted, told me they had lost a child. There was a woman at the grocery store whose child was murdered. Our builder and his wife lost a daughter to leukemia. One woman lost a toddler to an infection following a shunt insertion for new hydrocephalus. Another new acquaintance lost a healthy child to the flu. An old friend recently lost a grandchild to a freak ATV accident. It seems now that wherever we look, there are people finishing their lives, raising their children, who have one foot in Heaven, with one of their children. From my perspective just now, it seems a virtual epidemic. Certainly it isn't. it's just that my world has been compressed and distorted as I try to redefine, and move forward. Part of me wants to take my remaining kids and tie them with silk ribbons into protective cotton boxes. Another part of me knows that live or die, we must all live a life, because this is what we are here to do.
You might think that there is comfort in numbers, but there isn't. It actually hurts me to think that other people have endured the massive loss our family has, and may not always have had the support we have known.
Daniel, if you keep up with this blog, I miss you deeper and wider than the seas, and I love you more than I thought possible.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Daniel does Laundry !

Last night I fell into a deep sleep. Even though I love my present home very much, I often dream about living in the home I grew up in. I dream that my husband and children and I live there now. Even though this is completely impractical because it's another state and far from here, in some sense I still live there. Last night I dreamt that we were living in my childhood home and that we had a washer-dryer in the downstairs laundry room there. In the dream, we had decided to put an additional washer-dryer in a large closet in the upstairs hallway in addition. This way, we could save steps and all the kids could keep up with their wash. I dreamt that Daniel and I were washing laundry and folding sheets, towels and pillowcases as they came out of the dryer. We were enjoying ourselves as we folded. There was bright sunlight and a warm breeze coming in from open windows. I remember his bright smile. When I woke up, I thought, well that's odd. Daniel hated to do laundry. He did it, but he didn't like it. I wonder if this was simply the keeping of a small promise to me to do his laundry which sat in his full hamper. It took me weeks to deal with his laundry after he passed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Message

On the early morning of April 9, 2009 during a deep sleep, I heard from Daniel. He is concerned that I am blaming myself for not noticing things that may have led to his having brain surgery and saving his life. (If in fact, it was a brain issue at all !) He tells me that he had many headaches, but accepted that these were caused by his allergies and that since he did not like to take anything more than claritin, he didn't report these to me. He asks that I forgive him for this. I told him that certainly I do. He is a kid, and isn't responsible for everything ! I told him I should have done a better job monitoring and that I did not know this. He said there was something else I could do for him. He needs me to forgive myself and accept that this (his passing) was not something we could have changed together. I told him I would try to put this to rest. I expressed concern that his speaking with us and being concerned might be keeping him on a lower plane than he should be, and out of Heaven. I expressed that he deserves to be in Heaven and to be enjoying all that it has to offer. He said that he is there and can communicate from there and that the process of passing and ascending is pretty well automated. (His word) I asked whether he could be in any trouble speaking to us, and he replied that his communication is tolerated.
He said that we had had this conversation before (in a dream) and asked me if I remembered it. I said I did not. He said that he knows what is going on with all of us (our family) here and that he would be here if ever we need him. Then he said he would let me sleep.
When this is happening, I am asleep and I am not hearing words, I am aware that I am asleep and that he is with me and speaking idiomatically to me. Last evening I took no medications whatsoever, and had forgotten my aspirin. I have been having difficulty sleeping. I am not particularly joyous following the interaction. I simply accept that Daniel sent a message and is attempting to comfort and direct me.
You may choose to believe that a grieving mother is looking for a psychologically palatable way of forgiving herself sufficiently to move on. You may believe that I was spoken to by Daniel. I believe that Daniel sent me a message. I am reporting this in the hope that it helps others and validates their similar experiences when they have them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Salvaged Egg Hunt

Before Daniel passed, other than in the course of having been a nurse, I think I only ever had met two other families who'd lost a child. One was a former head nurse who lost her only daughter in a car accident, and another lost her children in a fire. The second family went on to have more children.
We have a family tradition that Daniel very much enjoyed. Around Easter, we fill plastic Easter eggs with wrapped candy and I hide them all over the large front yard. Then each kid gets a basket and works to find as many as they can. This was a major countdown even for Daniel from the time he was very small, and he was included in the tradition in one way or another from the time he was less than one. When our daughter Stephanie developed diabetes, we were determined not to alter the tradition, so we continued, and for Stephanie, we allowed her to trade each piece of candy in the egg for either a piece of sugarless candy (which still needs to be regulated) or dimes. Most times she selected to trade candy for the dimes and so the tradition continued. Of course our two eldest kids are in college and probably really don't enjoy this manner of celebration at all anymore. In fact, I think last year only Stephanie, Matt and Dan participated.
This year we chose to continue. Daniel would have wanted the Easter egg hunt to occur and he may even be watching it. We did decide to make a change though. Since everyone is in college, and desperately needs money, we decided to make it interesting. I loaded tons of eggs with quarters, ranging from one to four in each egg. Adam, Stephanie, and Matthew all happily participated. It took them longer than usual to find all the eggs and Daniel and his enthusiasm were palpably missing, but we still did it. He would have been proud.
Shortly after the hunt ended, our barn builder arrived to look at the job site. They are a nice couple and have a family owned business that does nice work. Daniel would be excited about the "new house" being built for all his animals. It turned out that their 12 year old daughter died a few years ago as a result of leukemia. It seems as if since our loss, we are learning of so many acquaintances who have lost children, but we didn't know, and most don't mention it. It seems that as time goes on, we are building new friendships with those who have experienced something similar to our experience, but we also have distance between many of our friends who have children and have not experienced such a loss.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Every Day Is Notable and Golden

In broad daylight when I have things to do, I am functional. Yesterday, I had to drive to the feed store about 30 miles from here, and stop by the bank. Even with music playing in the car, I was functional. (The contemporary christian station often makes me cry. It seems to play a lot of music with which I have some mental association.) It was a gloriously beautiful day and I couldn't help thinking about the last day I had brought Daniel to this town, also a glorious day though it was in the Fall. I finished my errands pretty quickly and on the 30 mile return trip realized that it was one of those Spring days when everyone has a garage sale. I passed by a number of sales stopping at one church sale which was pretty well finishing when I arrived. The people were pleasant and I bought some lovely framed pictures for very little money. The bright sun was shining and a warm brisk wind was blustering. On the way home passing the tons of daffodils in bloom and fruit trees in flower, I stopped at one more sale. A woman and her husband were selling a variety of things, mostly things I didn't care about. They had collectible cars, collectible swords, knives, tons of vcr tapes and dvds. They also had boxes and boxes of unusual books. Some of them were woodworking, some were about trains, others were about spirituality and some about history. There were also some on the history of American Indians. Since the books were very inexpensive and in excellent condition, I took this opportunity to load up. I was the only one at the sale and the woman began to talk with me. She looked frail and sad. Somehow she began to tell me of certain things in her life, and somehow I began to tell her of Daniel. I don't actually remember how this happened. Before I knew it, I was telling her of the dream Matthew had in which Daniel conveyed his cause of death, and showing her Daniel's picture. I felt awful when it caused the woman to cry big wet tears. On the one hand I felt absolutely compelled to tell her that to my way of thinking, we don't cease to be, and that love never ends. On the other I felt guilty for conveying something which caused the woman to cry. I have no idea what her medical issues are, although I am sure there are some, and I feel some responsibility for stressing her. I hugged her and loaded my books into the car to come home. It's funny that since Daniel passed, every day is notable, special, golden, and in some way relates to him and his time here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Few Odd Happenings

Well I have either lost my mind or grief has taken over. Odd things are happening here and I want to write them down before I forget. I had an odd dream last night. I dreamt vividly that Daniel was here in the bedroom with us in daylight and that he needed resuscitation. I began CPR and at the same time, I was talking on speaker phone to 911. After a short time I detected a heartbeat and then after continuing mouth to mouth, eventually he was breathing, though in a shallow way. I remember telling EMS to hurry and send the helicopter. I also said to them, "Last time he didn't make it, but this time,it's different, he did !" This was strange because it makes no sense. When you can't successfully resuscitate your child in October, you don't get a second chance to be successful in April.
The other thing that happened was yesterday. I was working in the dining room and I heard someone moving around the kitchen, near the stove. It was as if they were making sure the burners were turned completely off. As I walked passed the kitchen I vaguely saw an arm near the stove. Thinking it was Matthew, I walked by. Then I asked Matthew something about lunch and no one answered. I said, "Matt", and looked to see that no one was in the kitchen. I couldn't believe Matt could leave the room that fast, so I called out for him. He answered from the basement. "Were you just in the kitchen?" I asked. "No", he answered. "I've been working on the computer down here."
The last thing is that in the past week I dreamt that someone told me that Stephanie would get a parking ticket, so I told her about this and to be careful about where she parked. This morning she told me that yesterday she received a parking ticket in error. She did have the parking placard which would allow her to park at that location, but she was ticketed anyway.
I am not sure what any of it means or if it is simply how bereaved families process a terrible loss. Could Daniel, knowing how sad my last memory of not being able to resuscitate him successfully is for me, have simply been seeking to give me a successful memory of resuscitation also ? I still know the reality, but have a memory of success also. Is there a message I just don't yet understand ?