Life after Death.

Last Monday my youngest who has dyslexia came home from school and as usual sat down to begin her homework.
“Mum, don’t forget to sign my tests”, she says.
“No problem darling”, I say, “how did you get on?”.
“Well Mom, I think it was an all time low”, she replies, in a tone which clearly shows she is not too bothered.
“Two out of ten, in Irish spelling, all wrong in grammar, and 1 out of ten in English spellings” she says.
“Yikes, not great sweetheart”, I reply. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/prettyuglydesign/4673681658/">Pretty/Ugly Design</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

My middle daughter, aged sixteen, was listening.
“Mom, standards are slipping here, is that all you have to say?”.

To those who do not follow my blog, I have been missing in action over the past few weeks. I was looking after my young warrior friend aged thirteen years. He was very sick and sadly moved on to new adventures less than two weeks ago.
As a result I am not exactly functioning as the greatest mother in the world.

What could I say to my older daughter?
Could I tell her that in fact I didn’t give a damn.
Could I tell her that a few spellings being wrong, written by a child who will never know her spellings, was something which did not matter.
Could I tell her “I don’t care”.

In fact since the funeral this is my constant thought about almost everything.

“What’s for dinner?”
I have no idea, leave me alone, I couldn’t care less, I think to myself.
“Have you all your shopping done for Christmas?”
No, I’ve barely started, and I don’t care if I never shop again.
“Do I have to wear my coat to school?”.
What are you asking me for? I couldn’t care less.

Life goes on as it always has. Everyday needs have to be attended to.
However the busyness of this time of year is in stark contrast to how I feel.

I am at a standstill, lost in the memories of the last few weeks.

The roller coaster of his last weeks in hospital. Every day waiting for an update. Was he okay? Would he live? Was there any chance of his recovery?

Running in tandem with these memories I remember this time last year, when we had just heard the news of his leukemia. When we were in shock and sick with worry. When our worry was all about him losing his hair and feeling sick. When we dared not, even for a moment, believe he would die.

As I sit and correct my daughters homework and sign her tests,
my mind wanders once more.
I relive his journey home and those two last wonderful, but painfully short, days he got to spend there. After five months away he had got his final wish.

As I look at my two happy daughters I imagine my friends pain.
I still have four children, she has four minus one. Her beautiful young son is gone forever.
We can no longer imagine or hope for his recovery. This is her ever after.

I blink and return to the moment. My youngest daughter is standing beside me supervising my signing of her tests. I hear my older daughter speak once more of my lack of parenting.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/subinev/2486574722/">Bryan Bruchman</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

I turn to her and say “What does it matter?”.
She looks at me and says, “Well it certainly mattered when I was her age”.
As she stomps away I whisper to myself, “That was before”.

What does homework, shopping or anything else matter?
My world has shrunk. It is now just my husband, children, and myself.

As long as four remains four, I really don’t care about anything else.

photo credit: Pretty/Ugly Design via photopin cc
photo credit: Bryan Bruchman via photopin cc

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33 thoughts on “Life after Death.

  1. I certainly understand how you feel and you have every right to feel this way, but that isn’t what Daniel would want you to do. We must keep on living to honor those who have moved on and live fuller lives because of them. I hope this makes sense…

    1. You make perfect sense. As the hours go by mood can change. Earlier today when I wrote this it very much echoed how I felt. However now hours later, and perhaps because I wrote it, I feel so much better.
      Thanks for your kind comment.

  2. 1 out of 10 is better than 0 out of 10
    and grammar is vastly over-rated anyhow

    who (apart from a few folk like Nobbly) writes proper grammatically correct sentences anyway?

    and getting grammar correct is harder for bilingual speakers when gaelic and english can’t agree on basics such as whether the adjective should come before or after the noun, e.g., black dog vs cù dubh (dog black)

    and did you notice how often I start a sentence with a conjunction?

    and I don’t capitalise the first letter of the first word if my sentences?

    me bad ? 😆

    1. You two would make a great pair.:)
      I am so glad poor Nobbly didn’t have the misfortune to have a child with dyslexia. What fun we would have watching his meltdown. He definitely has writer OCD.

  3. One thing I’ve learned is that death is personal. No one fully understands your pain and no shares the same memories. It takes time, but one day the ‘you’ that you and your family knows, will return. Live for you, but honor Daniel with your life. Let him see you living.

  4. Thank you for this – you have put words to my experience so well (with different details of home life of course), and for so many parents who have lost their beloved child. Losing a child, and apparently even a good friend’s child, changes one’s entire perspective. The things we once thought so important – grades and returning phone calls and , we realize are such minor aspects of life. Being alive, truly appreciating, loving, and being present with our families and our friends is all that matters.
    As I approach my 50th birthday, just over a year after my older daughter died, I’ve been asked what I want for my birthday. I can’t think of a single “thing” I want. This is partly because I’m very blessed and have a home, clothing, food, etc. But it’s also because things are not important. I want to spend my birthday with my family, which is what we are doing, and I’m grateful for that. At the same time, the one desire I have, I can’t have, and that is for Elizabeth to be joining us. While I believe she is always with me, and I feel her, I still miss her voice, her laugh, her touch, and probably always will…

    1. Thank you Lucia. I do think that regardless of how Dans Mum and Dad move on in years to come, missing his physical presence will always sicken and sadden them.
      I did a post a few weeks ago when it looked like they would lose him and never again hug him, be hugged or hear him speak again.
      They did.
      It wasn’t much but they did get one more chance and then the ultimate, to bring him home.
      They got to be physically present with him but sadly had to pack a lifetime of hugs into two days.
      Life can be so difficult. I get hope for my friend when I read and converse with you. She like you is strong and I know she will get there eventually.

  5. Death has a magical way of putting everything in order. It is funny, though, how insignificant ‘things’ become when death touches near and nothing is ever the same afterward.

  6. Grief takes time to process and maybe never fully departs, only lessens in severity of pain. Give yourself time to process. The stages must be gone through. Maybe think of sharing how you feel with older daughter. Not to depress her but to let her see that life does have different perspective when loss is incurred. She may surprise you in understanding and the insight could benefit her perspective on life and those things that matter most.
    My heart is with you and the family who have lost their son. Time is all I can say. And prayers for healing eventually. Take care. It will come good. In time. x

    1. Thank you. I have no doubt that we will all get through this, especially my friend. It is just so odd to go through the everyday as usual when everything has changed.
      Thanks for your prayers I will pass them on to my friend.

  7. Oh Tric you’ve made something so foreign to me become so vivid and real through words. I’m so upset for you and your friends. I’ve only lost grandparents so I have no experience of the feelings and emotions you have.
    I don’t have any advice, except be kind to yourself. You’re doing a great job. I hope some day I’ll be as good a mummy as you are xx

    1. Thanks Olivia. Day by day. It is so different for my friend as this for me will lessen so much sooner than it will for her. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child even though I have stood by and watched it happen. We can only hug our little ones close and be grateful we can.

  8. Hi Tric, hope you are feeling a little better having verbalised how you felt. Life does go on and someday you will be glad of that. However it does take time. Life will never be the same again, it may even be better at times because of what you have experienced- already you are putting things into their proper perspective. You will plan ahead again in time to come. you may never get over it but you will learn to live with it. You already know that from other unbearable experiences you have had. Meanwhile here is a big hug to get you through this difficult time. Thinking of you and Daniel’s family daily.

    1. Thanks May. I’ll pass on your thoughts to my buddy. I do think you are so right when you say “life may even be better”. Since Dad died 20 years ago I really appreciate life, now I will be happy my children are with me regardless of their carrying on!

  9. My heart is broken for you, my Irish friend. I feel like I can’t breathe when I think of what its like to lose a child. No one should ever have to feel that. Ever.
    But, have faith. There is an ever after that takes all of our pain and regrets away. We just have to get there.
    In the meantime, honour your warrior by loving your children as hard as you can, and by healing through them.
    Big hugs across the sea.

  10. You are experiencing the same feelings most parents feel when we have lost a child. You are a dear friend and a blessing to the parents of Daniel because when all is said and done….there are no words…just your presence and the ability to cry with them. It is a true friend who knows how to help carry the burden of such a great loss. I pray you will be comforted and also, Daniel’s family. xo…dale..Brandon’s mom.

  11. Ah Tric. This just tore at my heart. With our joys we have to deal with our sorrows. My daughter’s baby was born and joy is in our hearts. Just hours later her son is rushed by squad to a hospital because of a seizure. It is seconds between our joys and our sorrows. All is “well” now. But the fear, and how quickly our worlds change is always right there.

    I do believe that your Little Warrior Daniel would understand your feelings. Love you for them. But encourage you to do what you do. Write it out. Share it. Live it through it’s purpose in your life, and go on.

  12. Changing our perspectives and priorities is something that definitely can happen when we lose someone from this earth. I think there is truth in what you are feeling because when it comes down to it, LIFE is what matters….LOVE is what matters. When we suffer a tragic loss, I think our minds see this even more clearly. It will all balance out. I think this is healthy reflection on your part. Let those feelings flow…..

  13. We have only this moment.

    It might be okay to express your sadness and that you are hurting with your children. You don’t have to get into details, but explain to them that this is what grieving is like for you. We don’t have to pretend a strength we don’t have at the moment. There are moments when we will be present, in the moment; and other times when we are a million miles away. You can attend to the feelings of sorrow WHILE being present to your children.

    If we handle our moments of grieving openly and compassionately with our children, it models for our children how they might touch their own grief with compassion. We don’t have to stuff our feelings for anyone, and shouldn’t stuff them in front of our children.

    “Nothing is more natural than grief, no emotion more common to our daily experience. It’s an innate response to loss in a world where everything is impermanent. We don’t know what to do with our pain, and we never have. We have been told to bury our feelings, to keep a stiff upper lip to ‘get over it and get on with our lives’ as though loss were not an inevitable part of life. As a result, our sorrow goes unattended and manifests itself in many unexpected ways.”

    ~ Stephen Levine, Unattended Sorrow.

    When we don’t bury our feelings, we open ourselves up to letting those feelings flow through us. The energy moves through, and out, instead of getting trapped inside.

    I wanted to share an experience of grieving with my child, who lost her prior year’s teacher to cancer while my daughter was in second grade – my daughter was 7. It was nothing like I ever expected to have to handle with my daughter, but I am so glad I had navigated our grieving in a way where we both could process the pain, together:

    http://thesprightlywriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/the-great-mrs-parker/

    I just know it’s not easy to know how to carry on, particularly if we are highly sensitive souls.

    Much peace to you and your friend,

    Casey

  14. I understand how you feel, Tric. But you’ve got to be the same mum your kids have always known, because that’s you, and they need you that way. They understand your pain – although the physical umbilical cord is gone, our children understand us better than we do ourselves sometimes…They know you’ll need time to adjust to the pain. But they are providing the reminder that we have to be there for the living even when in mourning for those who are no longer with us. Your older daughter had the right reaction – she’s pushing you in the right direction, however hard it is. Big hugs, be strong xxx

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