Mar 25, 2013

Heavy Heart and My Story


This morning I woke up to sad news.  Another amazing mother has left this earth.  It happens all the time.  We hear stories on the news.  We all know somebody who knows "somebody" that is dealing with a loss.  But the commonness of death, well, just because we know it happens, doesn't help soften the blow.  It still hurts.

This mom is the one we helped last fall.  I made jewelry.  You bought it.  And combined we were able to help lend some much needed financial support for her and her sweet family.  My heart is heavy to think about her children who will be without her.

They will spend the remaining days of their lives thinking about her.  The older girls will remember her, the younger ones will remember the stories that other people tell them about their mom.  I know this because I was a "younger girl" when I lost my own mom and my memories, other than the sad ones, are all from stories I'd hear other people tell me about her.

Dawn's passing brings back so many thoughts and emotions.  I've often hinted at my own loss but have never really shared my story.  This is personal and not at all crafty, but I feel like it is time.  My own daughters will read my blog one day and I hope in some way, putting this out there, will help them as they navigate their own life and trials that may come.


Here's my story:

On a normal Friday morning in February, 30 years ago, I was up and getting ready for school.  I had, like so many days before, gotten myself ready.  I packed my school stuff up and went into my mom's room to kiss her good-bye for the day and let her know I was on my way.  We said good-bye and I headed down the hall to the kitchen door where I'd make my normal exit and head to school.

Before I reached the end of the hall, I heard a noise that I could not identify.  It was scary, it sounded desperate and dark and I remember clearly the fear that hit my bones when I heard it.  Something was not right and being only 9, I did what all 9 year olds would do, I ran to tell my mom and seek her comfort.  The problem was that as I headed towards her room, the noise only got louder and when I reached the doorway  I saw that the noise was coming from her.

My mom, who was only 42, was hanging half on and half off of her bed.  Her eyes were rolled back, her body was shaking uncontrollably and she was in full blown cardiac arrest.

This image will never, ever leave me. It was last time I saw her alive and her body was violently revolting against her.

After that it just seems like things went into movie mode.  You know in the movies when they try and put prominence on a stressful or emotional scene by putting it in slow motion?  That's how it felt.  Nothing went fast, even though I wanted it to, nothing moved.  I wasn't in slow motion but everything around me was and it was confusing.  I did not understand.

The paramedics were called.  They carried her out the door on a stretcher and we followed the ambulance to the hospital.  She was pronounced dead shortly after.

For years I never really understood why she died.  Just that she was gone.  Gone!

In life we don't remember things in chronological order, instead we remember moments.  Be they good or bad, it's the moments in our life that shape and define us.   This moment was the beginning of how my life would be defined.

My mother's death was my connecting point to others.  It's was a pivotal moment in my childhood much like going to Disneyland.  Obviously the joy wasn't the same but the magnitude of the event was the equal.  It was just something I knew and it was part of me.  Once in fourth grade, not long after her death, we were studying Presidents of the United States and I raised my hand to make a comment.  I announced to the whole class that I was just like Abraham Lincoln because he lost his mom when he was 9 too.  I said it in a happy way, like, hey look at me, I'm cool and have this weird connection.  Needless to say there was an awkward silence.  It was another slow motion moment as the whole class stopped.  The kids didn't know what to say and the teacher just starred at me.  It was the first time I realized that just because it was an important part of my life, not everyone wanted to focus on my loss like I did.  I started talking about it less after that.

I also quickly realized that other people didn't really know what was going on either.  There was lots of kindness, some sincere, some out of obligation.  Lots of people expressed concern but in the end, their pain from my mother's passing was not deep. It would eventually go away.  It wasn't the same as the sorrow that I was experiencing.

People often have good intentions and would say what they thought was comforting like "It's part of God's plan and this is all happening for a reason".  I have a hard time believing that.  If you think it happened for a spiritual  reason than you believe that there was a strategy planned out and her death was on purpose.  The God I whole heartily believe in isn't a schemer.  Why would He scheme a plan to take my mom from me?  What would his reason be for that?  Why would he intentionally cause pain?

I don't believe he does.

Instead, I believe some times things just happen.  Our bodies are not meant to live forever, this is a fact. The infection that surrounded her heart was too much for her physical body to handle.  The reason she died was because her body was not healthy.

For me, I believe God's plan has more to do with our spirits than our physical bodies.  Her body died but her spirit did not.  I miss her physical presence and I wonder about her on a daily basis but her spirit lives on.  She's everywhere.  She's in my Bug who spends time with a flash light writing poems when she should be sleeping.  She's in my Miss M who has a strong sense of herself and a desire for things that are true and right.  She's in my Jet who is compassionate and likes to perform.  She is in daffodils and springtime.  She's in rain and candle light.  She is in a beautifully colored sunset.  And, you know what?  She is in me.

She is in me!

It took me years to realize that I had some choices concerning my loss.  I could dwell on it.  Wallow in it.  Feel bad for myself or I could use it for good.  Becoming a mom myself helped confirm that I needed to do the latter.

I wrote a post once about being a motherless mother.  I received so many emails from women who shared similar experiences. Sharing my honest thoughts helped others connect, process their own feelings, and remove the helpless feeling of being alone in their tragedy.  I think my words helped for the good.

I've been able to use the experience for good as I share my faith and my belief in being able to be with my mom again.  This life is not the end, we are an eternal family - I know this.

And, I'm able to use this loss for good because I truly believe it has made me be more aware and lovingly as a mother. I cherish my role as a mom more than any other that I have.  I'm not a pro at parenting but I have a good relationship with my kids and it stems from having to learn at a young age what is truly important.

My relationship with them means more to me than anything.  Which means I will fight for them.  I will cry with them.  I will give them advice and unconditional love.   I will speak up for them.  I will dance in the kitchen with them (even if my husband thinks I've lost my mind).  I will worry about them.  I will comfort them.  I will share my faith and testimony with them.  But most of all I will love them with all I've got.  That way, if the day comes that my body is no longer strong and I can't physically be with them anymore, at least they will know that more than anything I loved being their mom.  That I love who they are now and who they will become and that they are mine and always will be.


13 comments:

Amy Lawson said...

I've always known you lost your mom when you were 9, but I didn't know anything about the story. Now that James is almost 8, I just can't even begin to imagine what that's like for a little kid.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing, Amy...I've got a big lump in my throat, now, but what a wonderful story for your girls. You are a wonderful mother and I'm sure your mom is smiling at your happiness and hijinks with your girls. (((Hugs))) ~Shannon

Jacquelyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liliana W said...

Thanks for sharing your story. You're very inspiring!
You're right, your mom is in you!

Molly said...

So sorry for your loss even these many years later. I'm so glad you shared your story and your feelings. My sister was killed in a car accident years ago and left my two nieces motherless. I see my sister in my nieces and I'm sure your mother and her love does live on in you.

Elizabeth said...

No words just tears and prayers - Hugs from PA

Eileen said...

Such a poignant story! I lost my mom when i was in my fifties and it was hard...can't imagine losing her when i was a child! I do remember my mom being sick when i was maybe four and it scared me, but i have happy memories od it, too as she taught me to embroider! Thanks for sharing your story. Have a great day

Judy said...

Again! You have done it again..told your story n a most beautiful and inspiring way. I have been so privileged to watch you "grow up" and I know your mom is in awe of her loving, and living daughter. You know how I feel about you..that little love light shines.
I am so sorry to hear of Dawn's passing.

Unknown said...

I was just talking about this with my mom, who lost her mom when she was a teenager too. She is having a hard time knowing how to be a grandma to my soon to be born daughter since she was a motherless mother too. It's difficult having an expectation of her as a grandma when her mother wasn't there to show her how to be a grandma... I know she misses her mom every day and I'm thankful that I have a mom still and can watch her watch me becoming a mother like her mother never got the chance to.. at least in a physical presence. Thanks for posting. Love you.

Anonymous said...

That last message was from Kellie Burtenshaw

Karmen said...

Thank you for sharing! Your willingness to be open is a blessing to me and many others. God is so good!

Sarah Ogden said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Your girls are lucky to have a mom like you.

ellen said...

I appreciate you sharing your story. My brother died 14 years ago when his kids were 3, 8, and 11. I'm going to share this link with my sister-in-law. Thank you.