Acceptance & Hope.
I don't know when....probably about 1997....I finally accepted the whole situation in my life. I had "aged" immensely and realized I would never experience what other mom's had....life with healthy kids. By now I had convinced myself that rather than there being something "wrong" with me, God had decided I was such an amazing woman I could handle TWO sick kids! (OK, sometimes it's good to lie to yourself!) I couldn't go back to "before asthma", "before seizures". I could only move forward. And that we did.
And there were many new memories. Single parent camping with the boy scout troop - you sure get a lot of volunteers from the dads to help you and your son set up your tent! LOL!!! But I learned I could do the things I had always thought a "dad" should do for my son.
I set up a network of friends, neighbors and co-workers who knew what to do if my son had an asthma attack. I remember watching him at a grade school track meet one afternoon. He was all the way across the field from me and I saw him bend over and grab his chest. My knee-jerk reaction was to fly out of my seat and bound across the infield. But I didn't. I forced myself to sit tight. And in a split second, the sideline coach was on his walkie-talkie and I saw the nurse running towards my son and in less than 20 seconds, he had an inhaler and was straightening back up.
That was a specific moment that I remember thinking, "he will be ok....they really can take care of him." And after that....I didn't worry about his life at school. I accepted that they were responsible for him. I had reconstructed that part of my life by training the school staff in how to handle his asthma attacks. An amazing experience to get to see it in action!
They say that you know you have reached this stage when you want to help others go through their grief. But they don't tell you what happens after that with your own grief!
I invited my friend Susan over for a playday and then asked her if she'd like to make tags for my journal. Sharing is a normal part of this phase of the healing process. I love to share when it comes to what I know about art!
And very few therapists tell you that each and every time something comes up to remind you of what happened (each asthma attach my son had), you will start this entire process over at the beginning. And you will do this over and over and over. The good thing is that after about 10 times through this process you can start to understand exactly where you are and what you need to do! You learn that you just need a 24 hour time out for depression, a 3 hour time out for crying….it just gets easier.
and while Susan's style is different from mine, there are so many times when I like what she does so much more than I like my own work! And yes, that's our cousin Laura and probably her brother dancing. Just too cute!
And just when you think it is easier, an event happens that takes your breath away and you think you will never survive. But you really are just back in step 1 and you will recover!
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a recipe for this? Instructions that said, “go ½ mile and turn right, go 8 miles and turn left…..” But life itself isn’t that simple, so why should the healing process be any different? In this phase I think you might start to see the road map. You start to plan for the future. You can begin to think of the event without quite so much pain and sadness. The gut wrenching pain is gone. You can look forward to some good times…and even find joy in living again.
Susan made this tagged pocket as well. I love how she used the word "soul". You gotta have some soul to get through the healing process!
If you have faith, you will most likely reach this phase quicker than others. Faith provides people with hope, encouragement, peace, comfort and a purpose to continue with life.
The first time I went through this process…..I did so without the knowledge that I have today. I didn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was. But throughout the entire journey, I never once lost sight of my belief in God, my knowledge that Jesus is my Savior, and my faith that He would get me through this, no matter how far I sank. I always knew that His hand was there for me to grab hold of and one day, I made that choice.
But even without that faith, that belief, you can make it through the process…it may just take a bit longer.
Two of a kind - that's what all of are as we go through this process.
When you can tell a friend about your loss of a stillborn child, or you can share the story of the death of your spouse….when you can help someone else through their grief, when you can be there to comfort them and listen to them…then you are healing.
And the way we get there is assisted by allowing those who have been through this process before us to share with us their story, their journey.
I made this one while playing with Susan. I love the photos of my grandma and her siblings. They didn't have an easy life. Her dad died, their mom died, the surviving parents remarried and had 6 more kids. But Grandma never told us that story. Everyone was her sibling. No halves, no wholes She somehow made it all so simple.
I read an article once called “The Death of a Hard Drive”. Made me laugh. I’m sure I can’t recall the entire thing, but it went like this:
1. Shock & denial – “My hard drive crashed! no! No! NOOOOOO!!!!
2. Pain & Guilt – I should have backed up, I SHOULD have backed up, I should have BACKED UP!!!
3. Anger & Bargaining. “Oh, just let the computer geeks find something, anything. I could just shoot myself for not backing up. If you find anything, I promise I’ll back up every single day!!”
4. Depression, reflection, loneliness – “I will never get everything back. I’ve lost 8 years of family photos. There’s no reason to start over. Why me? I’m just going to go to sleep and dream about what it was like when I could look at my photos any time I wanted.”
5. The upward turn. “Hmmm…I have to have photos, hard copies, somewhere. Maybe Aunt Sue has some, she was at Jonie’s wedding…..”
6. Reconstruction & Working through. “Aunt Sue had 12 photos that I scanned, cousin Howie had 2 dozen photos I scanned….and after I talked to my entire family, I got back at least 25 % of what I lost!”
7. Acceptance & Hope. “The other 75% will never be recovered. I bought a backup drive and automated a weekly backup. I also burnt what I recovered to DVDs and put them in a fire proof safe.
Now, while I did not write the original story, I have lost hard drives and can relate that my experience was much the same! The humor is that I’ve stupidly done it more than once. Some people just never learn!!!
Flowers tucked inside a pocket that's on top of a pocket. leaves tucked under flowers over snowflakes. The complexity of healing. The chaos of life. Chaotic healing. Art helps get us through it all.
I think today's pocket is one of celebration. Finally getting through the process. A time for some real art, some real joy....maybe this is the moment to turn to art to express how you feel.
oh, but wait! There's no journal!!! I haven't put it all together yet. Yes, there's still more to the process. Think about it for a moment. Next up is scar tissue. Every wound has it! What do you do with it? Stay tuned!