Day 1: Sunrise-- I haven't been able to take a photo of this yet. I'm setting my alarm tonight and praying the rain will stop long enough for me to snap a picture in the morning.
Day 2: Heart-- This is the heart picture I drew. Not my best, but I'm just learning to express myself through sketching.
Who were you before your children died? I was a young, carefree mom. I tried to find a balance between protecting my daughter and letting her spread her wings. I felt anything was possible. What did you love about that person? I loved her zest for life and passion for God. She wouldn't let anyone or anything stand in her way of praising Him. Did you dislike anything? Who doesn't dislike things about themselves? Do you see your life as before and after or do you see yourself as always been changing? I see my life as pre-Jason and post-Jason. Jason's death (on my eighteenth birthday) was the end of my childhood. I was ushered into adulthood through grief, and though he was only a friend, I feel it prepared me for the grief to come. I'm still learning to grieve for all the friends and family who've gone before me.
Day 4: Now-- I try very hard to stay behind the camera. This is a rare selfie after a fresh haircut and a little weight loss. Who are you now in this present moment? I'm a mom trying to figure out how to grieve my babies while raising the gift I have. I'm learning what it means to be a Biblical wife, and how to serve God in many ways. What are you feeling? Excitement for what lies ahead. I don't know what it is, but I'm confident positive changes are coming. Have you been irrevocably changed by the death of your children? Absolutely! I'm more aware that every second with our children is significant, in the womb and out. How are you different now? I notice family sizes. I notice age gaps in children. I'm trying not to be judgemental of families who have chosen a number of children to have. I'm learning who I am in Christ, and how to embrace being a child of the King. Do you love anything about the new you? I love my awareness of the world around me. People, places, animals, everything! What do you want to become? I want to be confident as a mom and wife. I want to be a good sister, daughter, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law.
Day 5: Journal-- I'm working on a poem. I'll post it when I'm done.
Day 6: Books-- Here are the links to the books that impacted me the most. Click on the title to see the Amazon listing. Not affiliate links.
Day 7: Do you have a special place that you visit to “be” with your children? A place that you feel connected to? Maybe it is their grave, or a beautiful garden, beach or forest. What does this place mean to you? Why that place? I don't have a special place, other than William's grave. I've considered setting up a nook in a spare room in our house, but I haven't been able to make it work yet. Whenever I'm on a trip (a rare occassion!) I try to find a quiet place to retreat in the morning. I wish I could find someplace local. I don't like going to his grave very much; it makes me feel guilty for not having a marker there.
Day 8: Resource-- I had a sweet friend who drove the hour from our hometown to be with me in the hospital. Her husband talked and prayed with Shaun while she talked and prayed with me. She was there for me in the first eighteen months after like no one else. I will forever be thankful for her prayers and presence. There are many women who continue to lift me up in prayer and listen whenever I need an ear, and I'm thankful for them as well. We've reached out to March of Dimes and try to walk every year. I've also found great solace in the MEND publications.
Day 9: A New Memory-- Hobby, activity, organization, something in memory of your child. While I've dabbled in a few things, I haven't found 'the one' thing yet to keep my memory of my children alive and keep me focused on the positive. I'm strongly considering journaling (if I can commit to it and find the inspiration. Ugh...) or coloring mandalas (if I could get the supplies). I haven't been able to stick with anything yet. I'm open to suggestions. I think I might do better if I had a partner, so if you'd like to start something together, let me know!
Day 10: Support-- I feel like I've touched on this so many times. One surprising source of support (to me) was my husband's family. Getting married is hard, and living far away from relatives makes building relationships more difficult. Shaun's family has been a great source of strength and comfort, and for that I'll be forever grateful. My family has also been supportive of all my endeavors. They've put up with my bad attitude more frequently than I would care to admit. One of my sisters even accompanied me to a support group. It doesn't get much more supportive than that!
Day 11: Altar-- The closest thing I have to an altar is my teddy bear (William) sitting on top of my makeshift dresser. He's sandwiched between two old American Girl dolls, so I don't really consider it an altar to him. I don't like the idea of an 'altar' per say, but I wouldn't mind a memorial garden or something in my backyard. I talked for a while about painting snus containers with words that have helped me since losing William, but I couldn't get the wrapping off them easily and I gave up. I would like to paint rocks or something similar to place in my yard. Maybe someday.
Day 12: Music-- There were amazing songs that helped me through losing William. In the hospital we listened to "Blessings", "Long Way Home", and a Ginny Owens song that I can't place now. That's frustrating. In church we've sung so many songs about going deeper and wandering farther, trusting God to lead the way. The songs that mean the most to me are the ones that talk about God carrying us through the crisis, or helping us to endure the storms. There are so many I really can't name them all. Music has been a great solace. I love it so much. One non-Christian song that has helped is "Firework" by Katy Perry. Sometimes you just need to hear that you're amazing. Another random song is "Reflection" from the Disney movie Mulan. I love Disney movies anyway, and I've always found that song encouraging.
Day 13: SEASON. What season to you associate with your children? Summer. Is it the season that they died in? Yes. Or maybe another reason like a beautiful time you spent together. What emotions arise in you when that season comes around? I get fearful as we approach William's birthday. It's also Shaun's grandma's birthday and Hope's is two days after, so I feel pressured to do everything right. This year I tried to have a normal day, and I don't think I'll ever do that again. You can't have a normal day on the day your child died, no matter how hard you try. What is it in that season that triggers memories and feelings for you? The holidays trigger most of my emotions. We found out we were pregnant around Easter, so as happy as the holiday is, for me there's a deep sadness as well. I spent the Fourth of July with friends knowing I would give birth to a dead baby in the next day or two. Surprisingly that holiday went well this year, but I think that's because Shaun was there and we celebrated it differently than we ever have before. We served with our church. Maybe I need to find a way to serve on William's birthday. It's a thought. Do you look forward to this season because you feel more connected to your children or do you dread it? I absolutely dread every single holiday, associated with William or not. It's a reminder how small my family is, how insignificant I am, and how everything could be better. I hate holidays (Note: Yes, I know these thoughts and opinions are irrational. I work very hard each day at not succumbing to my fears. Some days I'm better than others.). Have you ever wondered what you could do to ease the fear of what that season brings up for you? Sort of. Shaun and I have talked about it a bit. I think changing things up and not always seeing the same people on the same day helps.
Wow. That caught me up completely. I'm a little afraid to put all this out there, but that's also why I started this blog. I want moms to know they're not alone. Grief is messy, and it's a long process. If I offended anyone in writing this, I'm truly sorry. Thanks for reading.
Oh my goodness, I almost forgot! I've been praying to see a real rainbow after every thunderstorm since William died. I've seen a few, but it's been well over a year since I saw the last one. On the way home tonight, we saw a full DOUBLE RAINBOW!!! What an amazing reminder that God keeps his promises!