5 Months Later

Five months.  Five months ago we lost Heather.  It seems like yesterday yet a life-time ago.  I miss her - we all do.  When we lost Heather, we all lost a part of ourselves.   When I wake - which is another story in itself.  I sleep very little.  The bags and dark circles under my eyes will verify that.  When I wake, the first thing that comes to my mind is that it's another day without Heather.  I vividly remember her struggles the last months of her life.  I vividly remember her strength, her hope, her determination.  I vividly remember her last days and nights - again, her strength, her hope, her determination.  That kid NEVER gave up.     So, as I struggle, I know that I, too, must never give up.  It's only been 5 months. . . prayerfully, time will allow me to find strength, hope, and determination.  I have read so many quotes about child loss - all are correct.  Child loss is a different loss.  It's a loss that cannot be put into words.  And unless someone has suffered this loss, it remains foreign.   I joined an online support group; I had to do something.  But I only wanted a group in which all members have suffered this specific loss.  Why?  Again, because this loss is so different.  Sharper.  Crueler. More intense.  And, certainly more difficult to accept.   I've been open about our journey, and sadly our journey has not ended.  The "after" finds us searching for yet another "normal."  I've thought a lot about that.  For 8 1/2 years we found a new normal on a regular basis.  As difficult as that was, we still had Heather.  She always made our life easier.  Without her, the new normal is unwanted.  The new normal is so painful.  The new normal does not include Heather  - only memories.     What do you do with memories?  Yes, they are nice to have.  But they also bring heart ache.  I'm so happy we were able to travel, to experience so many fun times.  But now I do not look forward to traveling.  I think about what Heather is missing.  She loved our travel memories.  She loved the sun.  She loved family time. She loved life.     Last week we traveled to Park City to see our daughter.  It was the first time I had been on an airplane since last July - July 13 to be exact.  That's the date we heard "two months." I could barely get on the plane.  I tried so hard not to cry - I gulped a lot, but I did not cry.  Heather and I traveled so often together and we made each trip memorable.  Even that horrible last one on July 13, 2016.  I never thought about a simple plane ride being so difficult.  Every time we experienced something in Park City that Heather enjoyed, I cried.  Memories.     It's where I am today.  Who knows what tomorrow - or next hour - will bring.     Sue

Twelve Weeks of Heartache

Twelve short, yet long weeks.  I miss Heather so much that the pain sometimes overpowers my heart.  I wonder if I will catch my breath to breathe again, and then sometimes I don’t care if I do.  Of course, I do not want to feel this way.  Of course, I love my family and want to live for them, for myself, and most importantly for Heather.  But it is difficult.  I learned so much in the past 8 ½ years.  I learned that “it” does not always happen to “other” people.  We are those “other” people.  I learned to be an advocate no matter how painful, how expensive, how many mistakes I might make.  I learned how strong love can bind a family together.  I learned how important a positive attitude is to those who want to live.  I learned how to hide my fears, anguish, and anger.  I learned how difficult it is to fight a losing battle.  I learned how hellish it is to say good-bye to a child.  I learned that people cannot understand a loss so deep unless they, too, have suffered it – and I don’t want anyone to suffer this loss!  I learned that some losses stay with you forever.  Yes, I have learned much and I’m still learning. Will my pain always be so raw, so sharp?  Everyone tells me no.  So, I wait.  I wait for the day I do not shed a tear – but I’m afraid if that day comes, I might cry because I did not.  I wait for the day a memory brings the smile before a tear – still waiting.  I wait for the day I can be in a large group.  I wait for the day I answer the door or phone without thinking if I am ready to face what is on the other end.  I wait for the day I can say “Heather” without a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.  I wait. While I was not certain I could move forward with Leap-For-A-Cure, I have decided I need to for others. It is not about me.  I need to focus on awareness to fight brain cancer.  Gray Matters and people need to know that!  I have lost two special people in my life to this dreadful cancer:  my father at age 42 (I was 12) and my daughter at age 37.  Unacceptable!  So today, 12 weeks to the day that I said for the last time “I love you Heather” and “Good-Bye,” I am meeting with LFAC’s core group of volunteers.  We will continue our fight – with one less warrior – but with more energy than ever to spread the word.  Please join our fight with a LFAC donation or with your offer to volunteer at one of our events.  Forever love to Heather – my companion forever - , and a life lost too soon.   

Firsts

We often think of "firsts" as an exciting time of life: 1st tooth, 1st step, 1st day of school, 1st date.  You get the picture.  I've learned other "firsts" are not so exciting. We are experiencing 365 "firsts," and I hate every one of them! I hated my "first" day without Heather at my side.  I hate our first football season without Heather giving us the up-to-date scoop. I hated the "first" Thanksgiving. I hated our "first" Christmas.  And I'm not looking forward to our "first" new year.  Yes, I enjoy and love my family who is also suffering "firsts," but the days do not escape our sadness and grief.  Although we are trying to think of memories with smiles, it is too fresh.  Too soon.  Painfully, too sharp. I've read so much about grief - specifically grief from losing an adult child.  After all, that is my grief.  My bubble.  I have lost both parents, both in-law parents, all grandparents, most aunts and uncles, some cousins, and a few good friends.  This grief is different.  The emptiness is deafening.  The hole is deep.  What I have learned is that I not only lost a child, but I also lost a friend.  Adult children grow to be our friends even as they remain our children.  Confidant. Partner in crime. Heather was that for me.  We shared secrets.  We shared shenanigans. We shared funny stories - both in action and in telling.  We cried together.  We laughed together.  One time someone told Heather, "I think it's a bit weird how close you all are."  But that's how we rolled.  Heather was always a "mommy's girl," and I guess it never stopped.  I miss her daily "hello."  I miss her. But her relationships did not stop with me.  She shared a bond with Jon like no other.  What came from her mouth to his ears - only Heather! Beyond those moments though, she was his TV guide for football.  Who is playing.  Who is out.  Who is playing injured.  Win / loss records. We never had to google for information; Heather already knew it.  Whenever he was in a bad mood, I depended on Heather to move him from that to something positive.  After all, that is how Heather lived.  Positivity - even through sarcasm.   Her sisters have also lost.  They lost their baby sister with whom they laughed and loved.  As siblings do, they fought - even as adults.  But they loved each other deeply.  Michele and Heather even lived together for a few years while Heather finished college on her 6 year plan.  From road trips to quiet times together, Michele and Heather bonded.  And Amy and Heather shared the love of animals and the constant humor of life.  Amy is a writer.  Heather was a storyteller.  Between the two, the truth was always in the middle somewhere.  Firsts.  We need 365 "firsts" before we know how we will "make it."  We are not "moving forward."  We are living - well, trying to.  We are not going to "get over it" - ever.  We are going to learn to live with our heartache, our emptiness, our memories.  I'm waiting for the "first" day that I don't shed tears.  I'm waiting for the "first" memory that makes me laugh before I cry.  I know others have walked my journey and they have come out on the "other" side.  So, I believe we will too.  However, my bubble is now and I'm not there yet.  I don't know how to get to the other side except with time.  And with time comes all those painful "firsts" that must be experienced.