Friday, December 30, 2016

32nd birthday and 1st birthday

Yesterday (the 29th) was Tony's 32nd birthday and Amelia's 1st birthday. Christmas was a few days ago and tomorrow is New Year's Eve. Today also marks four weeks since Tony has passed away.

When Amelia was born at 1am on Tony's birthday last year, I knew it was because Tony wasn't going to be here on Earth physically for all the birthdays they would share in the future. This was for Amelia's sake so that as she grows she will have a special connection with her dad even if she can't remember anything about him. It also was a blessing for my family that they share a birthday; it made a day that could be difficult turned into a day where we learn to lay aside our sorrows and celebrate our sweet baby girl and her daddy!

Several people have been wanting to know how we have been doing this last month, especially recently as we have celebrated a few major holidays. As for my kids, they are doing as well as can be expected. One child has a breakdown each day, and each in their own ways, about missing their Daddy. It's interesting to see how their coping is as different as their personalities. I have one child who is trying to be a mirror-image of his father, who constantly talks about Tony and asks questions about him, while I have another who just flat out breaks down in tears completely unexpectedly. And there is a whole spectrum of coping in between that. Sweet little Sophie (4) hasn't said much about Tony passing but the day after Christmas she really struggled. As I was putting her to bed that night, she shyly ran up to me with her new toy, very upset and cried, "Daddy doesn't know that I got this for Christmas!" and then began to cry for the first time since his passing. It's like her little heart couldn't hold it in any longer.

The tender mercy of being around grieving children is that they are so loving and resilient. Yes, they're learning to cope and we have challenges that arise because of that, but it gives us (me with each child one-on-one) more opportunities to sit and hug and learn and share together. I'm glad I have them and it's more than they will ever know because they are what keep me moving forward and bring so much life to each day. They are the reason that we had a nice Christmas; their excited faces and wonder-filled eyes kept me pushing on, giving me something to look forward to as a mother.

When I'm asked how I am really doing, I'm not sure how to put into words my emotions. It's as if I am still in denial about Tony's death, even though I know it happened. During the day one of my kids will say something cute, or I look at a picture from years ago, and I think to myself "I can't wait for Tony to be home today so I can show/ tell him about this story!" And then I have to remind myself that I can't physically talk with him about that... Or about little frustrations I have... Or about upcoming plans to make... Or to just cuddle on the couch at night. I know it can't happen yet my mind still thinks he is coming home. Once in awhile (mainly at night when it's quiet and the kids are all sleeping) it will hit me that Tony is gone and the feeling only stays for a few minutes. I'm told this is a normal part of the grieving process and to enjoy staying here until the punch-in-the-stomach comes. So I will be grateful that the Lord is helping me through this process, and that He will help me through he next stages when He knows I am ready. All I can do is just keep trusting in Him and I know it will all work out.

A real difficulty I have been experiencing lately is not feeling Tony with me. I've always thought that when someone you love passes away that you will feel them close at many times, maybe not constantly but at times you need it. Now I do feel a calm rush of peace flow over my body when the waves of grief hit me and I am grateful for the Spirit's constant reassurance and companionship. But I don't feel Tony near and I keep blaming myself that I am distracting myself too much (work can do wonders for a grieving heart, so I've been doing a few projects here and there to pass the time at night). A few nights ago I was laying in bed, crying because I couldn't feel him and it has felt like so long ago that Tony died, so much that I ached to know he was close. I prayed and prayed for help to feel him near but I felt nothing. I went to sleep hoping for an answer soon.

Tonight I had a stranger teach me just what I needed to know and it really was an answer to my prayer. Her husband had passed away from brain cancer and had paralysis on one side of his body, just like Tony. When he was alive this woman used to hold her husband's paralyzed hand to which he would reply in a small frustration, "I can't feel you holding my hand and I desparetly wish I could." Her response was simple, "I know you can't feel me but I promise I am here and will stay here." After her husband passed away, she experienced the same frustrations of not feeling him near. She then remembered the hand holding story and how her husband needed to trust that she was there for him. Now it was her turn to trust that he was there for her, even if that meant she couldn't feel him near. What a beautiful example of faith and trust!

I may not feel Tony close to us right now but I know he is. Trust and faith is a constant learning process and we can't take even one day off from trying. I need to do the same with my own emotions and worries and desires: to lay my burdens at His feet and allow Him to carry me when He knows I need it. That's a beautiful and powerful part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and when we apply this love to our life, it can heal us so much.

Lily (5) jumped in my arms tonight before bed and gave me a huge hug with one arm around my neck and her other arm clenching onto "Daddy's blanket." She kissed my cheek with her warm wet lips and (almost shouting!) exclaimed to me, "Now I can have a hug from Mommy and Daddy at the same time! Daddy is always with me!"

Yet another answer. Keep believing and keep trusting and God will take care of us.