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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Four Months...

Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”

     Four months is a long time. Long enough for people to forget. Long enough for life to get busy. Long enough to move on. But that is so far from true. No matter how many days have past, no matter how the seasons have changed, the pain is still just as real as it was that warm summer day when I had to say good bye.
     There is no magic number with grief. I cannot simply mark a date on my calendar, and plan on everything being better once that day finally arrives. Because the truth is that there is no end to grief. I have been forever changed. I know I will always grieve the loss of hopes, dreams, a future, and my daughter.
      Today I stopped to just look at my life. In some ways I can see the progress that I have made. It has not been easy, and it has certainly not been on my own. I have had the incredible love and support from my husband, family, and my grief counselor. I know that without this strong support system, I would be a complete mess right now. They have been there through the tears, through the anger, through the silence, through the happy moments and the sad. They have seen me at my best, and they have seen me at my worst. I cannot help but stand amazed at the fact that they still want to see me! I am so thankful that God has placed such amazing people in my life, who continue to encourage me, and who also make a special point to remember and speak Caroline's name. There is no words to explain the joy that I feel when others talk about her, and help me remember her. I am so blessed to have people in my life who love me, who love Josh, and who love Caroline. I am so thankful to not be alone.
     At one time, I admit, there was only darkness in my life. I could not see or feel anything except grief, pain, and sadness. It filled every part of my entire body. Slowly, over time, I have gotten used to the pain in my chest. The ache that never leaves my heart. It has not gotten any less painful, but I now know exactly what it feels like. No longer is it a new feeling, instead, it has become my new normal. I know that when I open my eyes in the morning, I am going to feel it. I know that when I go to work each day, I am going to feel it. I know that with every beat of my heart, I am going to feel it. I know that as I lay awake in the darkness, I am going to feel it. There is not one moment in the day where I do not feel that deep aching pain in my heart.
     However, I can now honestly say that I see small glimmers of light. They are very small, nearly invisible on certain days, but they are there. Those tiny glimmers of light appear at the most random times throughout the day. Usually they hit me without warning, but leave a very sweet taste in my mouth. I eagerly await those moments of hope, because they remind me of God's goodness. They remind me that I can still feel happy, and that there is still light in the world. I am so thankful for those tiny glimmers of hope. I am so happy for those brief moments of light. Right now they are few and far between, but they are there. I pray each day that the light continues to shine through the darkness of my grief and pain.
     I am so thankful for the joy filled moments that God places in my life each day. These moments are not huge, and to most people they would come and go without even a second thought. Yet I need these moments. I still rejoice in the beauty of the world surrounding me. I find such joy in the little things, the warmth of a blanket on a cold night, the comforting shadows of a flickering candle, the beauty of the sunshine, the gently falling leaves, and the generosity of so many people. Once I opened my eyes to the little blessings, I have found that they are all around. All I have to do is stop, take the time to breathe, and look for them. I am so thankful that God has surrounded my life with the little blessings. I pray that he will continue to help me remember to take the time each day to look for them!
     My life has changed in so many ways. I cannot even begin to list them all here for you. The truth is that I feel like a new person. It is hard to admit this, but I am no longer that happy, innocent, life loving girl that I was before. Some days I would love to go back to who I used to be. I would love to have one day, just one day, where I could remember what it was like to just be me. To be free from the grief, pain, and all of the intense thoughts and feelings. But that is not my reality. The truth is that this is the new me.
    I am now the girl who struggles to accomplish even the smallest tasks. Everything just seems too big and too overwhelming. I am now the girl who suffers from anxiety. I constantly fight stomach aches, headaches, and a racing heart. I am now the girl who is very uncomfortable in social situations. It is a struggle for me when talking to people, interacting with people, and just being around people. I feel like I am outside of my own body, watching myself talk, listen, and respond. I am now the girl who is scared to even look at a baby, for fear that I might loose control. I am now the girl who fights the constant fear that something bad might happen to the people that I love. I am now the girl who feels more comfortable being alone than with other people. I am now the girl who cries everyday. I am now the girl who struggles to get out of bed. I am now the girls who is very insecure. I am now the girl who cannot turn off the racing thoughts inside of my head. I am now a new person, and some days it is a very scary reality.
     One of the biggest changes in my life is my ability to pretend. I am able to smile, even when I am crying on the inside. I am able to hold back the tears, until I am able to release them when I am alone. I have learned how to push aside all of my thoughts and feelings, so that I can carry on with my everyday life. Because the reality is that time does not stop for grief. I still have to go about all of my day to day responsibilities. As much as I would love to just lay in bed and cry and feel sad, it is not possible. There just isn't time during the day to really feel. It is hard some days, to pretend to be okay. I feel like I am not always being true to myself. But at the same time, it is necessary. I do not think people could handle a sad and grieving Amalia all the time. I know I could loose my job if I wasn't able to hold it together. I know that I could loose friends if I wasn't able to hold it together. I know that I would loose myself if I wasn't able to hold it together. It isn't easy, but I have gotten extremely good at it. I just wonder sometimes how long I will have to pretend. Will I always have to hide my true thoughts and feelings? Or will I one day feel so much less, and not have to pretend anymore?
     I always worry about those moments when grief hits so suddenly. It may be a commercial on tv, a song on the radio, a pregnant mother in the grocery store, a comment that someone makes, a specific place or memory, or a date on the calendar. Usually these moments come without warning, and I never know quite how I am going to respond. I wish so badly that I had a warning, so that I could prepare myself. But over time, I have learned something so valuable. When I am hit with one of those sudden moments, I need to let myself feel. If I need to cry, I let myself cry. If I need to scream, I let myself scream. If I need to pray, I let myself pray. If I feel angry, it is okay to be angry. For so long I tried to cover up those feelings. I felt guilty for feeling angry, or upset. But now I have learned that it is perfectly healthy and perfectly normal to feel these things. It does me no good to push them away and pretend they do not exist. They will only come out in a different way. Instead, I need to allow myself to feel, to hurt, to cry, and to feel angry. It is okay to feel emotions and to express them in a healthy way.
     I write this tonight and share it with complete honesty. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me. This is just my reality, it is the path that I must walk. I have come so far since this summer. Just as the leaves have changed color, and the air has become cooler, I have also changed. In so many ways I have grown, and learned how to cope with so many of the thoughts and feelings that come along with grief. But yet I still have so far to go. I try to not look to far into the future, because there is just so much that is unknown. Although I want to believe that God has good things in store for us, I still tend to focus on the very real reality that bad things can and do happen. I just pray that over time I will be able to feel more hope about the future. But for now, I just focus on one day at a time. I find joy in the little blessings, and embrace the moments filled with  sorrow and pain. I try my best to step out of my comfort zone, and put myself in social situations when I feel that I can handle them. I trust in God for the strength to get through each day. My God has been faithful in the darkest of days. I know that just as he walked beside me in the worst moments, he will continue to walk beside me into the future.

I found this quote the other day and just had to share it. In every moment that I miss Caroline, I wonder why God would choose to take her away so soon. I am sad for everything that we will never be able to share together. But this quote is absolutely true. Right from the moment that we found out Caroline existed, I knew that her life was important. Every life matters. Caroline lived 35 weeks in my belly, and 19 short minutes on this earth, but I truly believe that her life and her story has impacted so many people. I am so thankful that God chose to give her life, and I pray that her story continues to touch lives in the years to come. It is such a beautiful thing to know that we serve a God who has a plan that is so much bigger than our own. I am so grateful that my sweet baby was such a fighter, and that her life truly matters. I am so extremely proud of my precious Caroline Joy.

The amount of time on earth matters very little: a man can live in greed and pride 90 years and never find God, know Him or accomplish His Plan. A stillborn baby on the other hand, teaches people to love, brings people to the Lord, teaches us the tenuous nature of life and teaches us a faith that those who have not suffered loss can never know. A child not even breathing for an hour, can have an impact greater than a famous preacher. The purpose of a life is not ours to decide nor in our hands: it is brought about by God.”
                                                                                     -Author Unknown

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