The following blog is from a friend who suffered a loss that no parent ever wants to experience -- the loss of her child. She talks about the journey she took to find peace again in the face of tragedy. Dana, you are a hero to us all as you continue to "reshape" your life and spirit to find happiness and peace again. We love you and send prayers your way now and always! Thank you for sharing your story.
by Dana Evans Carey, 2014
"They say that time heals all wounds. I do not believe that applies to parents who’ve lost a child. It may soften the rough spots. Time may allow you to smile more. But the wound is still there. Some days that wound is as raw as the day it first occurred. We are 1yr and 2.5 months into this journey and the wound is still raw some days. This is a wound that will never be 100% healed.
The summer after losing Jake I took a photography course geared towards bereaved parents, healing through photography. It was quite interesting. It actually taught me a lot about myself and how I can use my camera to help the healing process. One assignment was to take 100 steps and then take a picture of where you are. It was more the newly bereaved, I was 3 months in at this point, still very raw but I was back in the real world of life and responsibilities that never stop.
I thought about my 100 steps. I thought about how I never really got the time to just hide away from the world. I never really got to just shut everyone out and wallow in my grief. I did do plenty of that internally. I kept my self hate to myself, I kept the blaming of myself, quiet - only I could hear it. For the first 6 weeks I walked around in a blur. I was performing my everyday tasks from muscle memory. Floating through the day like a fishing bobber....going every which way and wondering when I was going to sink.
We have two other sons, 7rs old and 4yrs old. They were very much aware of the fact that they were getting a little brother or sister. They were really excited for this new addition. My older one was a little worried about having another little sibling that was going to want to tear through his room. But otherwise they were very happy about our new addition. So breaking the news to them was one of the hardest things I have had to do. We did it separately because they are at different levels of understanding. We kept it very age appropriate and simple. Our baby was sick and couldn't come home with us. But we love him. We can carry him in our hearts with us forever. He is with Jesus.
So for these two boys, I had to keep our lives moving forward. If they had questions or wanted to talk, then we did. I informed their teachers of our sad news so hopefully no body would be caught off guard. We continued with their baseball practices and games. Birthday parties and functions, life doesn't stop and so neither could I.
Looking back on those first few months, I did still have my own 100 steps. It never really occurred to me to look at it that way. There were parts of my life that I was so afraid to face but yet knew that I had to. There were steps that brought on anxiety and panic. Steps that I faced and conquered (that day) but knew they were steps that I was going to have to conquer again. Which brought on even more anxiety.
Here are my steps....
1 week post delivery check up. Going back to that office where I had so many happy visits was now gray. But with Shawn's strength, I did it, we did it.
6 week post delivery check up. This one was particularly difficult. It was a conflict of emotions...I didn't want to sit in a waiting room of expecting moms, so happy and relaxed. Although through this experience I have learned what you see on the outside isn't always true to what’s on the inside. I realized that I do not know these women, maybe these are their rainbows and they are feeling anxious as well. My other emotion was nervousness because we were also going to find out Jakes blood work and tissue sample results. We were hopefully going to gain a little bit of closure. Closure on my playing the blame game. I was torturing myself. We did learn that there were problems, problems that we had no control over. Knowing this brought a smidgen of peace. The self blame turned into "why would God do this to us..." This has been a constant struggle for us, trying to make heads or tails of our faith.
Within those first 6 weeks there where countless other 100 steps I had to make. The Monday after delivering Jake (May 6th, 2013), I had to take my 4yr old back to preschool. I had to face all these moms that were expecting or had delivered. There were 3 of them just in his class! So for three days a week I would take him to class and pick him up. All the while I wore a baseball cap low over my eyes so I wouldn't have to look at anyone. So no one would question the tears getting ready to fall. I rushed past people who I normally would have chatted with all the while hoping they didn't think I was being rude. One day they would know why I had to be that way, just not that day. I worried about my 7yr old, who was way more aware of the finality of the situation, I worried how was his first day back to class going go. Three days a week I would drop him off for school, my heart breaking seeing his sweet face no longer unscathed by death. My boys have been through a lot in their short lives and they have been marvelous. They have been my strength when I thought I had none. They keep me whole. They keep me grounded. I love them more than life itself.
Another 100 steps for me was going back to work. I only took a week off after losing Jake. I would have taken more but I didn't want to burn leave. You just can't when you have youngin's at home. But I also knew that I needed to get back to a routine. I knew that I needed to do it sooner rather than later. The longer I put it off, the harder it would be. So Tuesday, May 14th 2013 I headed back into the office where I was assigned to work because of my pregnancy. It was so hard to do because I was only there for my pregnancy. Now I had to go there and I wasn't pregnant anymore. I was going there for just me. I needed to do it for me now.
Summer hit and the kids were home. It was nice having them home. We had our first OBX vacation planned with family and friends. This vacation was planned knowing that I would be hitting my 8th month that week. I was looking forward to just floating my big butt in the pool. Gearing up to leave for that vacation was stressful because how I thought things would be had changed. My new normal was sinking in. But in the end it was still a beautiful vacation, family and friends were sensitive to my needs. There wasn't a dark cloud hanging over everything. In fact, sitting by the pool one afternoon a huge beautiful Monarch Butterfly came floating in. It hung out with us for a bit as if to say, "see mom, I made it to the beach!" It was the only one we saw all week but it was wonderful. My forever Butterfly Baby.
The summer came and went. The new school year was fast approaching. My oldest was starting 2nd grade and my younger one was entering his last year of preschool. What an exciting time for them, new school supplies - I still love the smell of crayons and glue! But I was also secretly hiding the fact that I was so anxious and fearful of the fall starting. Jakes due date was August 21st, 2013. I should be juggling a newborn and school aged boys. Figuring it all out and being proud that even one ate breakfast and made it to school on time. I was worried about how I would feel seeing the other moms at preschool with their babies and I didn't get to keep mine. So much fear bottled. But those days were tackled and I just let myself feel what I had to feel. Sometimes it was easy and other times not so, but I made it and I continue to make it.
These were my 100 steps. They were steps that I had to take, there really wasn't an option. Steps I learned from, steps that I conquered, steps that continue moving me forward on this journey. We have many more steps ahead us, as individuals and as a family. I hope to one day share those steps as well."