What I've Learned...

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned over the last two year since Evan’s death. The 2nd year has been one of the hardest as I’ve come out of the fog of the first year to find that time and people keep moving. Leaving me far behind and at times unable or wanting to catch up. I’ve learned that grief has no timeline for those who are grieving, but it does for those who aren’t. I’ve learned that everyone grieves differently and as much as you might want to be understood there will only be a few that can walk along the path with you. It takes a lot of work, patience, and love. It’s not for everyone, and most of it is yours to own. I’ve learned about myself through group and individual counseling that grief has a way of shaking up our lives and through the help of others taking the brokenness of our past gives us hope for the future. I’ve learned the incredible void that has been left in my life now that Evan is not physically here. I see that void in others as well, but that’s not my story to tell. I’ve learned that the 2nd year is by far harder than the first and the further away I get from my real/earthly time with Evan the space between the then and now becomes quieter. What’s not quiet are my thoughts…pictures and memories are never silent. They are the things that keep you in the present, and I desire to keep you present. I'm your mom, and you’re important to me so I will ALWAYS want to keep you present and I’m giving myself permission to do so. I’ve learned that the Lord in the midst of our yearning and longing gives us Hope and comfort. That He allows that space between Heaven and Earth to come together so that we can be comforted by not only those around us but also by those who we have released to His loving care. I’ve learned that who I was before Evan’s death has changed and that I will never be her again. Grief and loss don’t define me but they’ve changed me. That who I am now is different…and who I was will not return. That person I was is missed at times, but she no longer fits in the space that I now currently occupy.

Tonight we will come together to remember and to use the spoken word to do that. You now become a part of the great cloud of witnesses who contiues to cheer us on and remind us that you are not that far away.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Where have you been?!?!?!

It has been a while since I last blogged. I’m not sure why only that life has been a bit glum, and the words have disappeared. Perhaps the words came earlier in this journey because the desperateness I was feeling from the initial shock of Evan dying or maybe they just continued so that the Lord could guide me towards a path of healing. Perhaps I have no idea, and in my way, I want to find the answers. All I know is that my words had gone silent. 

So much can be said about this season. As a person trying to promote a business and also reaching out to those who are hurting I sometimes find myself in the unfortunate space of having envy. Now that can look like a lot of things when you break it down, but I mostly envy all that will not or all that is yet to be. Guess that’s why it’s called envy. There is no end to it and society is enslaved by it. We live in an age of being in people’s front room by merely scrolling through IG or FB and drenched in people’s opinion just by responding to a post or thread. The noise and chatter are overwhelming, and it leaves little room for pondering or true evaluation.

I think that what I need is understanding as the places that I land on and the threads I scroll through leave me empty, shattered and unloved. I want a connection with people, and I am connected, but many times it feels as though something is missing. Most of the time I feel the emptiness of Evan not being here. Not that he would be with me at every event or outing. It's just that I miss him. It probably doesn't help that my husband and son are on a backpacking adventure and are on week two of a 4-week journey.  

I sometimes think with all that is going on I've forgotten the sound of my voice. 

Recently I spent time in the mountains and found little time for reflections as the busyness kept me from thinking or pondering too deeply. It wasn't until I traveled back home and the hollow feeling of loss came over me and left me feeling overwhelmed and anxious…nauseous really. When I finally got home and uploaded the photos from my nature walk in Yosemite that I thought that somehow in the busyness the Lord brought comfort as is His way when it comes to my photography. Photography gives me space to feel the full impact of what is going on within my heart and mind for grief is a constant thing.  It doesn’t rest or take a break. Sometimes it's a quiet whisper other times a raging sea...It can go from a sweet memory to a full-on belly cry. But alas it is constant. 

Grief is hard. And as much as we try to avoid it, we can't. We are all grieving something or someone. So when I'm feeling consumed by it. Shunned by it. Avoided by it. I have to remember who I am and to whom I belong. That the Lord is near to the broken-hearted. That He holds my tears in a jar. That those that I love He sees and that He sees me. He comes close to me. He values me. He sees my worth, and my heart ache. It doesn't scare Him or frighten Him. He comes CLOSER! So much comfort.  

Glimpses of Me

For me, it seems that most days are not without some degree of sadness. I try hard to be who I was before Evan died and at times I think that person is still there. Grief has a way of changing who we once were. Oh, I see glimpses of her….some of those glimpses are good some of them not so much. All of the same hurts, insecurities, simple pleasures and wonders are present but all of them are now sifted through grief. I have watched people and places that have always been solid places for me begin to disappear before me. As I learn more about this journey none of this is unusual. It is actually very common. People scatter….places that held happy memories become a wound that is often times too large to bandage. The very things that you thought you knew are now vague memories or are completely forgotten. 

Not too long ago I was explaining to a dear friend through tears that there is something in me….it almost feels like I’m expectant…edgy…watching but with this restlessness in me I want to see progress…I want to push. She said that it sounded similar to that of a mother birthing a child. There you have it. That is exactly how I’m feeling. It’s hard for me to rest..to practice pausing…waiting…to lean in. I’ve been listening to a lot of worship music since Evan’s death. Some of my favorites are Elevation Worship. The words are so powerful. I read an article about their song “There is a Cloud” and the meaning of the song. Such a great article I've included the link here. http://www.newreleasetoday.com/article.php?article_id=2112

One of the many verses they talk about is Hebrews 11:1. "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." I’ve included one of the verses of the song in this post. This is from Elevation Worship “There is a Cloud”.

On this Day....One year ago

Today November 9th, 2017 is the 365th day of not having you on the planet.  As I look back over the days leading up to this I'm amazed at how the Lord prepared me. Our community would spend days petitioning God for a miracle...to give you life but instead the miracle was that you would give life to others. That selfless act is so much a part of who you are and of the people that you associate with. I remember the hours and moments as they ticked away and we waited for them to come and take you to the operating room. They came to your room at 2:14am and I see so vividly all of us walking you to the door of the operating room and of us standing in a huddled clump, Dad, Alex and I.... with all of our friends watching us watching you. What I remember the most is the silence. Almost as if at that moment the world had forgotten it's voice. A silent cry. Not a sound was made. All I could hear were our tears. We asked Dr. Gaborko if he would go with you...as a prayer covering and a witness that you would be watched over. I can honestly say that knowing he was going in with you gave us peace.  Jeff's kindness to us was a selfless act and one we can never repay. The other thing I remember is looking back at all of the people who stayed till the end and seeing their faces. Such brokenness. So many tears. I shall not forget those moments...never ever. Letting you go was so, so hard. Even to write this brings great big tears.

Oh, how we miss you. The thing that is hardest is your voice. I can't hear it. Your ridiculous laughter is silent. Your words live on only to be read in a voice that is not yours. Most days we do what we have always done. We wake up, drink coffee, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. Time has marched on and the seasons have changed and the world has not stopped. We have not stopped. I'm one year older, we still wonder about the holidays and what we will do, we still talk about life and truly most days I still feel your presence. Maybe it's the familiar things that make you seem close...my daily journeys to Peet's where I keep expecting you in the afternoon to come up behind me and say "Hey! Mom!"...maybe it's driving by Best Buy and thinking of all the time you spent there and the holidays you missed because of the craziness of the seasons...maybe it's the train at the Nut Tree that for years we spent EVERY WEEKEND during your train faze as a young child...maybe it's the sound of your friends at our house to commemorate a birthday or to just play a card game...or maybe it's what I see through my lens that brings me into close proximity to your presence...the more familiar the location the closer you are to me....I'm learning to look for the things that the Lord is showing me because that's where you are....with that said you're missed...every day by us. 

I know you would be proud of us for putting one foot in front of the other....for pressing forward. Looking back only to remember with fondness and a little bit of angst. Today we will celebrate you with the thing you loved most....A Poetry Slam! to honor you and to keep a bit of who you are alive in our hearts. To celebrate a life lived and loved well and one that gave the gift of life to others. 

 

Giving Comfort

The month of June has zipped by and I am finally able to stop and catch my breath. In the process of me catching my breath I have also found that the busyness has kept me from the full extent of my sadness. I've learned to navigate this part of my life as the spaces that I inhabit don't always allow me the opportunity to go there. I will hear a song, see a photo or just be reminiscing of moments I've experienced that bring me to the brick wall that is my grief. It stops me and as I'm shaking off the fact that I've run full force into it...it looks at me unshaken and with not a blemish that I have hit it and all the while I'm left beaten and battered trying desperately to get my balance and footing. Some times it is much more subtle...not as much of an assault but more sly...in the midst of great laughter and fun it sneaks in and crumbles me to a sentence I use often..."a bucket of tears". 

This month I've felt like I was being taking on a ride that I thought would be fun. It had all the makings of good times and loads of happy moments but for me, in this season I can't help but think of the missed moments I will not have. I know...bummer but this is my journey and it is at times very much a bummer. I miss seeing my son with a group of his friends as they celebrate a great accomplishment of one of their own. I reminisce about what his response would be....and think about just how happy he would be for this dear friend. I think often of those who miss him but are really not sure what to do or what to say and I wonder...What does a 20-something do with their grief? I think of some of the dearest people I know that as they look at me from across a room and wonder about this journey they are on with me as they can't fathom the depth of my sorrow but are walking with me. I think of the many near and far who reach out almost daily with texts, Facebook messages, hugs and love. 

As I sat in church today and listened to our pastor lead worship and preach from the psalms. The message from Psalm 142 as David is hiding out from those who would want to capture and destroy him. I was brought to tears thinking of not only my own heartache but that of my husband and son too. As I am weeping in church as his message and worship are striking a cord I receive this text from a dear friend of Evan's~"Hi my sweet Dawn. I am thinking of you now and missing Evan so much. Crying out to God (while literally crying haha) and I just take this moment to honor him and wanted to tell you he is on my heart so much and so are you. I know God is showing us something so big right now, I hope to grasp it soon so I won't be so sad. Love you so much". As I watched as my own pastor can't proceed with his message as he too thinks of the things that his sheep are going through and like any shepherd his heart is turned towards them. As I get a hug from a friend who knows me and knows my story her hug is so close I can hear the beat of her heart...to a sweet new friend who only knows me on social media but comes over and holds me...no word are necessary...as I weep. Then I think of the beautiful sunset last night among my sunflower fields that I believe are God's gift to me...cause those faces are just the best thing in all the world. I know that all of this and more are part of my journey. Part of the steps I walk in my healing. That the tears that I cry don't go unseen. That God because of His great love for us sends these, that are giving comfort, as only the God of the universe can do. 

Mother's Day for those who are bereaved.....

Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-importance-of-international-bereaved-mothers-day-bbab/ 

As I think about Evan and the loss of him I can't help but think of all the other parents but especially Mom's who have lost a child. It is never easy..it continues to hurt...but we keep moving inch by inch..moment by moment. The immense love that we felt is only made harder but the immeasurable sadness we feel with our loss. 

Yesterday when I got home from work we had received a letter from the Donor Network. The folks who connect donor families to the people who have received their loved one's organs. In God's great mercy and because of His great love for us...this letter arrived this week. The great excitement that this recipient has experienced from receiving Evan's heart....that it has brought him back from the brink of death has made it is so very bittersweet for me. I'm so glad that he felt safe enough to contact us. That he has shared how his life has been immediately changed. How he is doing all that he can to live a health life and use the gift that he received to tell other to give the same gift. I can't help but be so overwhelmingly mournful of our great loss. 

With that said...We would not change the course that has taken place with Evan doing what was in his heart....and that was to be an organ donor. I'm proud of him and his very clear and direct decision to donate his organs. We continue to see God's hand in all of it and never once have thought this was not what Evan would have wanted. So as I close out this blog on this day that many are struggling to understand why and what can this all mean...let me encourage you. Hold your head up as well as you can...I know from experience it is not always easy...be present in the everyday...and if you can, think about giving the gift of life through being an organ donor. You could change the course of someones life. I know that it did for Lee.  https://www.donornetworkwest.org