where I am now

Two years ago, deep in the misery of loss, I wished for some kind of how-to. I wanted to know how long, how hard, what to do. I felt so      lost.     The task of recovering, or regaining my balance seemed entirely out of reach. Sometimes even just breathing was simply, very hard. Life hurt. I didn't know how to manage myself let alone how to help my husband, my children, my friends. 

For the last few months I have debated this post. I write it not in a bid for attention or sympathy but because of that wish for guidance. Perhaps someone, somewhere, sometime, will need to know. A little bit. And find some hope.

Summer is full of Merin for me. Perhaps that is because the last precious memories of her are summertime - a July bride, a first home, a sweet baby, family time at the lake, learning to be a mom. And then of course, the accident. And a funeral.

Merin was our youngest child. My last offering. Not more loved than any of the other four but the last and so we spent a different kind of time together. She was a daughter after two sons - the distance between Merin and her sibs seemed greater than the 2 1/2 years that separated her from her next older brother because Mark and Thomas were always a pair. She was simply always with me. We liked being together - a good thing as she homeschooled for grades 8 - 12 to accommodate her ballet training. We worked well together - most of the time. I knew her. She knew me. When she died we were having so much fun. The same fun that I had learned to love with Eden. Relating in a different kind of mother/daughter stage - as adults, friends, mothers together. The three of us (Eden, Merin, and I) were having such a good time. Hannah (Thomas's wife) made the mix even sweeter. 

I miss the particular mix. I miss Merin's voice each morning on the phone when she would call. I miss her. When I drive by the street they lived on I feel a tug of sadness. One day not long ago I realized, as I drove by that street and felt that tug, that I was missing the fulfillment of so many plans that Merin and I had made together. Some of those plans were explicit (finishing their kitchen renovation for example) and others were simply expected - summer afternoons watching kids play in the sprinkler, shopping trips, Christmas baking afternoons - all that and more. I wasn't finished having fun.

Even though two years have now passed I find it hard to believe that although I know she is gone I still have a hard time really believing it. It remains surreal. I dreamed of her again a few weeks ago. It was kind of fun - she was just playing with me, laughing and teasing in her sweet, gentle way that made me feel loved. I miss her. I wasn't ready to stop playing with her. And like a two year old that is called to bed when in the middle of fun play, I could dissolve into frustrated tears over it.

So where am I now? And how could this help anyone? Realizing that every journey through grief is intensely personal and that there really is no timetable, no plan, and therefore no how-to I would like to offer that it does get better. As I write this with tears on my cheeks and a lump in my throat, I know that it is so much better than it was. There is still sorrow but no longer the raw, tearing pain that took my breath away. It is more an ache. No longer a constant presence, it is like an injury that manifests when probed - I feel it when something reminds me. At other times just because. Memories are sweeter and so welcome. I can honestly say that I have been blessed with peace and I have hope for even greater peace as more years pass.

I am intensely grateful for my loving and strong husband, for my incredible children, for the concern we have for one another and the fun we have together. The prayers that have been offered on our behalf have taught me much about faith and the real, tangible effect it has - I want never to forget. The comfort of the blessings of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The grace of my Father in Heaven. Friends. Service. Work. All of these things have helped me. But what helps and has helped me is for another day, separate from where I am.

The joys in life are now a little sweeter in contrast.


Anonymous said...

Cheri, thank you for your gentle words of teaching and commemoration. Your site feels so calming, so safe, so simple in a welcoming and beautiful way. I stumbled upon it two years ago in the beginning moments of my own journey of grief. A different cause of loss - losing a little one to miscarriage, two years of infertility, then learning of our inability to bear children - but that swirling loss of grief you have described feels so much the same. The sudden loss of breath, the disorientation of feeling unmoored…without anchor. I just wanted you to know I have felt respite in your care, even from afar, throughout this journey…in the care of your words, the care of your photography, your faith, your gracious view of our world. I am grateful you have shared your story, your family, your home and I trust that it is in the knowing we are not alone that the threads of faith really do bind us here on earth before we are called to our Heavenly home. Blessings to you and your family…

Cheri said...

Anonymous - your comment touched me. I am so sorry for your sorrow. I could ask for nothing more than to know that you have found 'respite' from that here. Thank you.

nathaliedelakim said...

Cheri, what a beautiful tribute to your journey. You are an incredibly talented writer; I feel what you write. Thank you for sharing, wish I could give you a big hug and cry with you. Merin is so lucky to have you as her mother. Much love, Natalie

Anonymous said...

You are living and growing in faith through every mother's worst fear. I have had my losses, but not an adult child. I have several friends whose young adult children have died both slowly and quickly. It has been over ten years at this point for their losses. We still speak of these lovely adult "children". We remember the funny moments and the tender moments. There is a softness to the pain for them and for those of us who felt like family to them. The singular beauty of my dear "mother friends" is their ability to continue to love, laugh, and carry a quiet sorrow is always testament of faith and love that helps me to grow too. I never know what the new day will bring, but your faith and my friends' faith gives me strength and a smile. Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings. I really do look to Mary as the mother of Jesus for much of my comfort. I always figure if is she could parent Jesus and keep her faith, well I can do it too. He was a human handful to be sure. Your writings, recipes, family moments are rich. Thank you for sharing
Joanie (in Chicago)

Wendie said...

Thank you Cheri for sharing your hard sought wisdom. Your tender feelings paired with such lovely writing touch my heart. I am reminded of the grief I felt many years ago when I lost a daughter and am strengthened and shored up for the journey ahead. Thank you for the invitation to share your blog. Your recipes inspire me. Your candor and sweetness move me.