It's natural for *us* to be sensitive to how we effect parents of kids whoare still alive. I do it, too, to the point of having delegated the facilitating of all my organization's parent meetings for kids in treatment to parents whose kids are living. I know that these parents need to hear hope, not their greatest fear. If and when their child becomes terminal, they'll know how to find me, I figure. I just feel like I'm bad news, or maybe what I represent is bad news. I do know in my heart I have a perspective to offer all parents, no matter where they are in their journey.

About the second year -- I won't tell you anything but the truth of my experience -- it was a LOT tougher the first few months after the one-year mark than it had been during the first year. The reality sank in deeper and deeper after that landmark of time had passed, as if me being a good person/good mom, etc., crusading for childhood cancer awareness, being president of our Candlelighters chapter, keeping Kelsey's memory alive, would somehow change things. Of course I didn't think this stuff out loud or consciously, but it was in my head and heart somewhere, and emerged like a nasty monster and shocked the hell out of me. It was agonizing, to put it bluntly. It took over my emotions at times, and a couple of times it even took over my thoughts and my actions, as I was driving and had these words shoot through me like arrows and the only thing I could do was find paper and write them down, or else it felt like they would hurt me physically. Oh it was bizarre.

I had these two episodes published, even. I'll share them with you, below. I can't remember if I've shared them here before.

I will say this, too: the agony you are now up (or coming up) against will not stay with this intensity. It will slowly begin to even out, just like the roller coaster of the first few months did. After about 17-18 months is when it began to be more ok for me, for example, and of course everyone's a bit different in that regard.

Here're my words, each stanza written a few days apart:

 

Painful Musings

I drive and I see you dying.

I cringe and shut my eyes tight.

My stomach turns,

my eyes tear,

my mouth waters with pain.

Are you standing beside me

when my memories haunt me?

Can I live with this pain,

this missing you,

this gaping hole you left?

I can touch your absence

and the touch

sears my soul into

a vapor.

I drive and I see you dying.

You whispered your last sounds to me;

How can I feel so honored

yet so pitted with sadness?

The scab on my heart has

cracked open again

and the acid pain

poisons me.

Gigi
Mommy to Kiersten :) and Kelsey ^i^ (4/27/89-7/28/96)
and Baby Girl, due 7/98
*Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.*

 


REMEMBERING
by Elizabeth Dent

Go ahead and mention my child.

The one that died, you know.

Don't worry about hurting me further.

The depth of my pain doesn't show.

Don't worry about making me cry.

I'm already crying inside.

Help me to heal by releasing

The tears that I try to hide.

I'm hurt when you just keep silent,

Pretending he didn't exist.

I'd rather you mention my child,

Knowing that he has been missed.

You asked me how I was doing.

I say "pretty good" or "fine".

But healing is something ongoing.

I feel it will take a lifetime.

 

 

Is my pain worse than yours...

My grief is the worst. My loss is like no one else's in the entire world. No one hurts exactly like me. My story is horrible, it devastates everyone who hears it. My child's death has destroyed my life, my sense of well-being, and altered my future. My child was the best thing to hit this planet, he would have been a great asset to our world.

Couldn't we all say this?

If given ANY choice in the matter, would we have chosen another way for our children to die? Haven't we all considered it?

Someone asked me just today, how I cope with hearing other parent's stories. Didn't it depress me? I told her that 'Mine, is the worst grief'. While I have compassion for others, I cannot take-on their grief.

When I attended my very first support group, I was at first shocked by the other parents' attitude. I was used to getting sympathy from my friends and family - from these parents I received compassion, but also a feeling of 'Welcome to the club, now get to work!'. (And believe me, this is the hardest work I've ever done!)

Haven't we all said, "Gee, I hope I die quietly in my sleep..."? Yes, it's very hard on the survivors, but I have to wonder if it's not easier on the child. Haven't we all said, "Gee, I would gladly trade places with my child-" but I have to wonder how my child would have coped with my death. Haven't we asked, "Don't let me die alone..." but I know of children who would NOT die, until their parents left the room.

Someone told me that grieving is like eating an elephant. You can take as long as you like, serve it up any way you want, but you must eat it ALL. Maybe some days, other elephants look a little more appetizing than my own...

Peg Rousar-Thompson
In Memory of Ross 1995

 

 

It doesn't seem to get any better...

But it doesn't seem to get any worse either.

For that, I am thankful.

There are no more pictures to be taken...

But there are memories to be cherished.

For that, I am thankful.

There is a missing chair at the table...

But the circle of family gathers close.

For that, I am thankful.

The turkey is smaller...

But there is still stuffing.

For that, I am thankful.

The days are shorter...

But the nights are softer.

For that I am thankful.

The pain is still there...

But it lasts only moments.

For that, I am thankful.

The calendar still turns,

the holidays still appear,

And they still cost too much...

but I am still here.

For that, I am thankful.

The room is still empty,

the soul still aches...

But the heart remembers.

For that, I am thankful.

The guests still come, the dishes pile up...

But the dishwasher works.

For that, I am thankful.

The name is still missing, the words still unspoken...

But the silence is shared.

For that, I am thankful.

he snow still falls, the sled still waits,

and the spirit still wants to...

For that, I am thankful.

The stillness remains...

But the sadness is smaller.

For that, I am thankful.

The moment is gone...

But the love is forever.

For that, I am blessed: for that, I am grateful...

Love was once (and still is)

A part of my being...

for that, I am living.

I am living...

and for that, I am thankful.

May your holidays be filled with reasons

to be thankful. Having loved and having

been loved is perhaps the most wondrous

reason of all.

Darcie Sims - 1992


 

Life is a Simple Walk in the Woods-

I was always told that the 'first year' would be the hardest. I set my sights on surviving through the first anniversary of Ross' death, telling myself that it would all be downhill from there. If I could just keep going long enough to scale that summit!

Everyone talked about that 'path of grief' being full of ups-and-downs, hills-and-valleys. "You can't go around it, you HAVE to go through it!" I was surprised to find that my path was occasionally littered with small remains of Ross' life - a Power Ranger, The Lion King, a box of Raisin Bran. It hurt when I stumbled upon them but I picked them up and cherished them, carrying them on my way.

I was also told that my husband and I would not walk the same path. We started out fine, trudging through the woods, holding hands, telling ourselves that we've been through sixteen years together, we'd be just fine. His path slowly led away from me, but seemed to run parallel for a time - I'd catch a glimpse of him in the woods every once-in-a-while. All of a sudden, his path would cross mine. I'd reach the top of a steep hill and he'd be standing there in my way! More than once, I've had to shove him into the weeds so that I could continue on my journey.

Well, then came that fateful First Anniversary. I scaled that mountain! I sat on the very top of that enormous peak, congratulating myself on a job well-done. My husband was nowhere to be seen, I sat there all alone with my pile of Mickey Mouse clothes, little metal cars, well-meaning friends. I had done it! It was incredibly hard work, insurmountable at times, but here I was - still alive, without my child!

Without my child! I felt my heart grow cold as I surveyed the path ahead - the rest of my life. The terrain was just as treacherous as the past twelve months! I guess I expected it to be sun-lit fields of flowers from then-on, after all, everyone said "just get through that first year"! I didn't know that I had to do this forever!

I sat on that peak for quite sometime. I yelled at God for awhile, as I was fairly close to Heaven at that point. I hugged all my son's treasures that I carried with me, his precious memory warmed my cold, cold heart, and I searched for any other movement in the valley below. In the distance, I could see other peaks along my path, some maybe as tall as where I sat. I also began to see tiny clearings where the sun was shining. As my tears slowed, I became aware of other paths winding through the landscape - hundreds of them - each belonging to a different parent. I carefully packed my treasures in my heart, neatly so that none would break, and started running down the hill, headlong into the second year of forever.

Peg Rousar-Thompson
In memory of
Ross...
 

 

Seasons

Springtime, Summer, Fall and Winter

each new beginning means an ending

The

cold, death of winter is over

and new life springs up from the ground.

Her

life was stopped before it had it's chance

to blossom

in the

summer.

Swingsets, bike rides, picnics and sandboxes

all but reminders of

what was missed

the year

she would of been two.

Children chattering with

the new school year,

pumpkins ripening orange,

leaves changing color before

our eyes

as life continues to go by.

No regard to the parents broken

soul,

as we are told everyone must go on.

The holidays approaching,

what a

repulsive thought--

to think of peace, love and good cheer.

Good cheer I

ask, Yes they say

You must go on and

live again.

I may welcome winter with

it's

cold, dark, nights.

The days shortened without the light.

No picnics,

pumpkins or presents to face

only darkness feels my embrace.

It is but a

season, that you can't escape.

The only one that enwraps the bitter

pain.

Springtime looms around the next corner

Life continues it's circle

with

new babies and blossoms

for everyone to welcome.

Springtime will never

be the same.

The end of the school year brings not

joyous shouts

but

remembrances of a life

that was taken

before it could blossom

in the sun

of

summer.

For every time there is a season,

for laughter and for sorrow.

I

know this-

just give me a season or two

to grieve.

Debra

Smith-Jones

September 26, 1997

 

I want to leave you something.

Something much better than words or

sounds. Look for me in the people

I've known and loved or helped

in some special way.

 

Let me live in your heart as well as

your mmind. You can love me most

by letting your love reach out to our

loved ones. By embracing them

and living in their love.

 

Love does not die, people do.

So, when all that's left of me is love,

give me away as best you can.

- Unknown

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