Friday, October 31, 2014

The balm of gratitude

It's been about 5.5 years since she left this world. And the years before that saw a slow decline of mind and body into a state that was unsustainable. 

Death is difficult, no matter what the circumstances. And no 2 circumstances are exactly the same. Be it the diagnosis, the suddenness (or length) of it's reach, the relationships surrounding the soul. 

For those around the dead or dying person there is a mix of conflicting emotions. Sometimes in the same moments, sometimes fluctuating from moment to moment, or year to year. 

Somehow, in my recent reflections of my mothers death, reflections I too often try to avoid due to the extent of the pain involved, I have begun to find peace 

I don't know how. Or why. Or where this happens. But it's happening. 

Grief is so complex, it is difficult to put into words. Though we try. There are countless books and experts on the subject. Support groups, etc. and no right answers. 

All of this to say that My words here will be a simplification of my heart. 

Why does a good, loving, peaceful and hardworking woman have to suffer and go. A time seemingly cut short. While less decent people live on, continuing to put their 2 cents into the world. 

My anger at the injustice of it had been suffocating at times. My guilt and shame for not having done more to ease that suffering was equally damaging. Sadness at opportunities and blessings that she would never see or realize made me sick. 

I would swollow these feelings like bad food.  And use running to burn them off. And avoidance when I couldn't. 

Little by little I have been working on a thing called gratitude. And I am wondering if this plays a part in my healing. 

During runs, reading, prayer, quietness, my own brokenness of late, I have been able to reflect on what I do have. While it doesn't take away that which is broken, it refocuses my perspective. 

What  am I talking about, right?

Though injured and unable run for a while, I can walk. I am thankful for that. For a healthy child. While on leave and receiving new clients I must refer out, I can refer them to people I trust and have a beautiful reason to be on leave. Though the weather is turning cold, the trees are ablaze with color. 

Can I see the beauty?

Is there beauty in death?

And yes. 

Which do I choose to focus on. 

My mom's death was unjust. 

It was also beautiful. 

I can't tell you the number of times she spoke of her own longing to see her mother again. Some 50 years passed away. I close my eyes to picture what their reunion might have looked like. 

How many people can you name that accomplished most of their life dreams? And by the age of 60. Or long before. She did. Her simple dreams of having horses, raising kids, pursuing art. 

She held no bitterness. Had no relationships that she did not try to repair. No worldly regrets. 

Her faith was strong. She wasn't afraid of what was next. She had peace about it. She didn't fight death. Only the limitations of not being able to be productive. 

I am filled with happy childhood memories while in her charge. 

Aren't these things beautiful. It has a thread running through them of peace. And I feel like that is what we are all longing for. 

If she had peace about it, why shouldn't I one day? 

And I speak of it as "one day". I am not there yet. I don't know if I ever will. And I think it will be a daily commitment to try. But is that not also what she would desire for me? 
I am making steps. And it feels a bit lighter. 

Anger can be a heavy load to bear. 

Can gratitude be one of the things we can use to ease that burden? I am beginning to believe so. 

Precious moments

Confession time:
I can't remember a whole lot from when Ben was a newborn. 
It was only 2.5 years ago!

I wish I would have taken more time to document/write down what every day was like. What we did. What my favorite little moments were. 

Together Bill and I can remember a few things, and provoke each other's memory. 
We remember freaking out the first few days when we thought he wasn't getting enough to eat. 
We remember how completely flawless his skin and complexion were immediately after birth. 

We remember how when he fussed, he only wanted to be walked around. He would not tolerate Sitting or rocking in a chair (which was awesome at 1am)<-add sarcastic font. 
I remember trying to take thousands of pictures to hold memories. 
But I wish I would have written more feelings and moments that film will never capture. 

I was thinking about all of this today after I put Ben down for his nap. This usually starts my quiet baby one on one time with Jillian. My favorite time with her these days includes one of two positions. Each we are sitting in the beloved recliner chair. 
The first she is laying on my chest. We are belly to belly and she is lifting her head and just staring at me or looking another two feet up at the collection of shiny running medals. 

The other she is sitting against my knees( my knees are up) and we again are just looking at each other. This eye contact. Where I feel like we are studying each other's faces and getting to know each other. 

I want to remember these moments in 2.5 years, As currently they are my favorite. 

I want to remember other such little moments as we go along. 

Moments and feelings like:
My pride as Ben says "hi baby" and strokes her head. Or how he makes grocery shopping easier than it should be for a mom with a newborn and 2.5 year old. Or the pleading look he gives me as he asks for permission to eat the cookie he is reaching for. Or the simultaneous adoration and frustration I feel at his "1 more book" request for the 10th time before bed as he holds 6 of his Little People who he is taking to bed with him and I just laugh cause it's so insanely cute. 

I want to learn to embrace the joy in these small moments now, in the middle of the chaos and Legos under my feet. 

I don't want to look back and not remember. It feels like I am missing out. Even though I was there. 

I am considering documenting some of that here. In this blog space. As a place to come back to and read. To remember. To refer to on rough days. And smile. (Which is one reason why I document rougher times as well). 

However I am aware of what happens to some of my best laid plans. 

Passing like memories. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

I miss being pregnant

I sit in my recliner chair In awe that in addition to my sweet Ben, We now also have a beautiful healthy 6 week old daughter. 

She lays now on the same stomach that carried and grew her for 9 months. We spent so much time waiting and in anticipation, labor came and went, quickly, and now she is here to stay, on the outside. 

There is much to do and keep up with now with 2 babies. I'm trying so hard to be mindful of the moment and the present gift of these 2 children sitting before me each day. Much of the time I feel I am awed by them. 

But I also have this weird feeling, I didn't have it after Ben...
But I miss being pregnant. 

Perhaps that sounds odd, I am so very glad that she arrived. Or counterintuitive. Or maybe it's my raging hormones. Or the idea that it's possible that this is my last (this discussion one way or the other has not happened yet)

And Keep in mind I have relatively easy pregnancies (don't hate). 

Specifically, here is what I miss:

- I miss the anticipation. That feeling that every moment you know that you are working towards something monumental. Eyes focused on due date. And that person you are going to meet. It helps tremendously that I have each time chosen to wait until their birth to find out the gender. There is so much to look forward to that day (except the pain)

- I miss the easy conversation that would ensue later in pregnancy, when obviously showing. It was something to talk about. And one of the few times I found myself less awkward talking to strangers (this time). People are genuinely interested and happy for you. Again, not knowing the gender changes the conversation. No wishing for the opposite gender or completing the family with one of each talk. Just "I don't know" which has different follow up questions like "what do you want?" ( to which I either tell the truth or reply "human" jokingly).  All speculative talk or a "good for you"

- I miss the doctors appointments. Weird, I know. But maybe it's because everything was healthy (I can't imagine the dread if it wasn't) and I loved the praise of being healthy and having a healthy baby and excitement of hearing the heartbeat. It helps that I have a phenomenal doctor and I love the friendly staff. 

-pregnancy has helped me with my body image. During pregnancy I feel pretty and glowing and have learned to accept my body (more) and all it's flaws through this miracle. (Thanks Angela for the reminder of this!!)

- I miss the excuses. Like " oh Jenna is crabby today, well, she's pregnant, it's ok". Late? Forgetful? Or feeling too tired to do something (even if I'm not)- it's a great excuse people buy into for poor social behavior. Granted, having a newborn affords you some of those same rights. But after a few months, I'm actually accountable for myself. 

- I'm just going to say it, no lady business to worry about for 9 months. And in addition, since I'm nursing, it may not return for a while. With Ben it was another full glorious year. 

- naps. I've never been much of a napper. It feels inefficient when I have a million things I want to do. Though I enjoy naps. Pregnancy is the perfect excuse and no one questions it. I have only napped once since she was born. 

Now, there are many details I certainly do not miss. The heartburn, weird cravings, the failing bladder, the compromised blood oxygen levels, etcetera. But for me they pale to the joys. 

Has anyone else ever felt this way?