It’s funny how things change. From top to bottom. For so long I could hardly recognize the girl staring back at me in the mirror.
I wasn’t familiar with this new girl’s passions, with the way grief felt unbelievably comfortable, or even with her new circle of friends (and online friends).
I had to relearn who I was becoming. I had to accept her.
Before losing our first born, I had every intention of going back to school to study Art History, travel the world and read tons of books about ancient artifacts.
And before losing her, my biggest disappointment was not being accepted into grad school right after college.
Today I could care less if I stepped another foot in college. I might, someday, but the wind has changed. My desire isn’t to study ancient tombstones, or visit the Sistine Chapel and revel in it’s awesomeness.
My passion is here. Walking, talking, breathing grief… and healing.
My passion changed the moment I watched my helpless one pound little girl – who was so full of life inside me for 29 weeks – struggle to take her last breath. Horrific and life-changing all at once. I remember thinking not too long after walking away from her hospital – that I couldn’t believe women had actually survived this kind of sadness. This kind of tremendous grief. This kind of nightmare.
As much as the thought of returning to her hospital hurt to even think about, I knew, for me, it was something I had to do. I just wanted to wrap my arms around another mama saying goodbye to her newborn child and let her know she was not alone. Grief feels incredibly isolating, even with a rockstar support system.
It wasn’t long before I was trying to do something in her memory there. I tried many, many times to get involved in different, creative ways, but since it is such a large hospital there were so many channels to go through and the process was painful and discouraging to say the least. (And I only share this to encourage you if this is your experience! Hang in there, sometimes these things take time!)
I waited impatiently for the right door to open, and one day almost a year ago I got an invitation to join a group of parent advisors to the NICU at her hospital. I almost died of happiness.
Inside I knew I was different. The moments I lived for, the moments that I felt so proud of, were so incredibly different than the ones I ever imagined. But a thousand times more rewarding.
A few days ago another ‘moment’ occurred. A chance to share our Jenna to improve end-of-life care that the hospital delivers to the children and their families. Talk about an honor. That her life, and our whole experience there, will somehow impact families sadly walking the same road.
And then there was the lantern release a few weekends ago. There just aren’t words for that experience – to be surrounded by 100 or so people missing the children in their life, honoring their lives together under one sunset (or in our case, a looming thunderstorm) with glow lanterns populating the sky above us.
Today I hardly recognize the girl in the pictures from 3+ years ago. Her dreams were different. Her muse lacked something potent to real creativity. Her ambitions were shallow, even.
Today I can look in the mirror, and the person looking back isn’t such a stranger anymore. She is driven by the day that changed everything and the kind of pain that leaves an impermeable scar. She is fueled by a mother’s love to share just how precious life is because it has proven to be so extremely fragile.
I don’t know where you might be in your journey, but even if you still cannot recognize the person in the mirror after your loss, I hope you know you are not alone. Grief has a way of affecting every aspect of your life.
Have you noticed that your goals or passions have changed at all since your loss?