Once upon a time, another grieving mother told me that someday I would find that I would need to grieve on purpose. I would find there would be days when I would want to open the memories up so the floodgates would pour over me. The underlying thought was that someday I would not grieve so readily, so openly, so often.
I could not imagine such a day.
Yet, it has come. A few months ago I did just that. I opened up the memories. On purpose.
I opened up Emily’s cedar chest filled with her things. I took them out one by one and cried puddles into them. I cried until I thought I might hyperventilate. I began reading the notes I had taken in the hospital. Page after page until I could take it no more and put them down. I stared at pictures, like the one above, remembering as much as I could of her life, piece by piece by piece.
I allowed the memories to flood over me. I did not beg God to rein the memories in as I had so often before when I just couldn’t take the pain. I let the pain consume me. And then I slept.
The raw grief of losing Emily doesn’t come nearly as often as it once did. Yes, there are still days when one little thing sets me off, but the tears are brief and the pain less intense. Your mind finally wraps itself around your child’s death and your world slowly becomes less about all you’ve lost and more about continuing to live. Yet there are days when you feel the need to crawl back into that skin, if just for a moment, and remember…no matter how bad it hurts.
I’m still not through all the hospital notes. They are painful. I only managed to watch one home video of Emmy (her first bath at home) before our VCR broke. I need to get the home videos transferred to DVD, but I am afraid of someone accidentally losing them in the process. I just can’t deal with that…so I don’t.
In fact, I’m not even sure I’m totally ready to watch those videos. To see her alive will hurt so very bad and I will have to be in a certain mood to be able to handle that sort of pain.
In fact, I will need to be in the mood to grieve on purpose.
It’s been 2 years since Emily left my arms. I can hardly believe it has been that long. It doesn’t seem possible.
You can look at me, my family, my home and see a joyful existence. If you didn’t know our story, you would probably never know we had lost a child. You might wonder at the fish on our van or the picture of a little girl on our buffet you can’t quite place as you look around at the rest of my children. You might wonder why my count is off when I tell you I’m pregnant with number 7 or why my husband always blows a kiss to Heaven before he leaves the house. But you won’t readily see the grief.
God truly has healed our hurting hearts. He continues to bless us and others through Emily’s little life. And although, I do still grieve, it looks a bit different than it used to. It’s more a quiet grief, a private grief, the worst of which comes when I allow it to…when I grieve on purpose.