Holiday Grief

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It has been over five years since we began walking through Alex’s death with her. At the time, we still had hope that she would make it. We were naive, how could we know what all the nurses and doctors already knew was the likely outcome. With her kind of brain injuries, it was not possible for her to come back to us, but we did not know this! We fought for her, researched,  asked questions, demanded that they try everything they could to help her. I asked that they ask for second and third opinions from bigger hospitals and doctors. Alex’s father and stepmother and I worked together to do what was best for Alex.

I did not want to give up, I did not want to withdraw life support. I wasn’t ready! I agreed to it because I was convinced it was the best for Alex. It has been Hell to live with this..I knew that if I let her go, I would have to forgive myself, but had no idea how deep this would infiltrate my soul. It goes against a mother’s instinct to let her own child die. To sit with her for five days and watch her slowly slip away. I changed my mind on the second day, but the doctor said it was too late. Her frontal cortex was probably also gone by then. I was reminded by one of her nurses that the only way Alex could communicate was through her body and facial expressions. She had a horrible scowl on her face the entire 8 weeks, until the night we took her off life support. She was at peace, she no longer fought or scowled and the storming stopped. There was no medical explanation for this. So I had to believe what the nurse was telling me..that Alex was telling us it was okay,  the only way she could.

We hung out in her room with her for five days. People came to say goodbye to her, we ate, watched TV, laid in bed with her. It was so strange to just hang out with her like that. I felt like I was in denial that she was actually going to die. I think denial can be a gift. At times, I have felt guilty that I didn’t run screaming through the hospital at all times everyday. Just last night,  I told my younger daughter, Hope that I wished I would have pleaded with Alex more to come back.

I have said some of the most bizarre things since Alex died. I wish I could have kept her body and kept her here. I have her ashes, but I wish I had all of her intact. The night she died, I got the call from the organ donor people. It was horrifying. I didn’t think about what that would be like. Answering around 100 questions about her social history was so upsetting. Then, I worried about Alex being taken to some strange place and dismembered. It was all so God Awful. Why God? Why couldn’t you heal her brain when all these other people who are so less deserving than sweet Alex, get another chance.

Well, the other day, I finally decided that perhaps, it was Alex’s time to go. Maybe it isn’t about fairness or good and bad. Maybe, it is about timing. I hated this theory until now. It made me so furious when people would say that it was either her time, or that she was so good that she learned all she needed to here. I have walked through many other people getting another chance since Alex died. It breaks my heart every time..not because I wanted them to die, but because Alex did.

We just had a Christmas party today. It was a lot of fun. It was jolly and we had many good friends and good foods. The house is warm and looks really Christmasy. Now, here I sit writing about my dear Alex, who isn’t here and won’t be here for another Christmas ever again. It is hard to live in the land of grief and mourning and the land of the living. I do my best to live in both. That is the only way I know how to be a Grieving Mother.

Fifth Anniversary of the Accident

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imageFive years ago was our last day with Alex before the accident. It was also a Sunday, which was a quiet lazy day. Alex played on the computer, while I took a nap, which is one of many regrets I carry with me. She came upstairs and laid her head in my lap, and asked me to pluck her eyebrows. I will always remember how she would make me stop after each hair,  and rub her eye as she said “ouch!” That day she was supposed to go to her Dads’ for school, but decided to stay the night and drive to school in the morning. We did not check the weather report that night or the next morning. We didn’t know how icy it was. If only they would taken my car; if only I would have driven; if only the school district would delayed school; if only her dad would have called to warn us about the ice; if only she would gone to her Dads’ when she originally planned; if only Landria would have driven slower; if only the lady in front of them would have put her flashers on so they would have seen her; if only I would have made different choices that led to her going to school in a different town. The list could gone on forever.
None of the what if’s and blame assignments I have given out will bring her back or change anything. The person I blame the most is myself, next would be her Dad. We were her parents, and we failed her in so many ways. He should have called her that morning, as he was up and out of the house before she ever left for school. This bit of blame is new for me. I came up this one a few months ago. He and I are not on good terms. We came together during her 8 weeks in the hospital, but it has been a struggle the last 4 years.

My daughter who was driving the car and I are estranged. She and I struggle with so many issues. I have my own limitations from before this happened. I have tried very hard to do better and be better since I became a mother. I have made many mistakes, but have never given up, even when I wanted to, which came only too often. I never thought I would survive the death of one of my children. I have often felt like I lost two children since the accident.

Forgiveness is so important, yet I am not sure I am ready. I really have this desire, as I know unforgiveness impairs the ability to heal. Perhaps, I feel it would be a betrayal to Alex, which I am sure is the case. I believe this is a thinking error that I cannot change at this point. Whether it is a choice or incapability, I’m not ready, not now.

This has been the most painful five years of my life, including the death of my mother at the age of 12.
Five years without Alexandra Makenzie, my Grace child, my binky girl, my love child, who loved and forgave, who tried to make peace, who took the backseat, even when should have been upfront and center, I will continue to trudge forward and be better and do better. I will do my best to carry her legacy forward, which is to love and do my best.

Bittersweet

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I Have always considered myself a skeptic about the after life. Looking back on my childhood, I wonder if that is true. I believed in ghosts and spirits, which caused me to spend a great deal of time being afraid as a child. Since my daughter, Alex died, I have been desperate to believe she isn’t really gone. My intellect constantly battles with my spirit. There have been many incidents and signs that she is near by.

Two days in a row, there was a white feather on both shirts that were freshly laundered at different times. I know the feathers weren’t there before. I always say hi to her when this happens. I picture her by my side. Today, I am still in my robe, as I feel such deep sorrow and pain. I miss her so very much. It feels like all the chapters of her 17 years got ripped out.

The only thing I know, is that the intensity of these feelings will pass. I want to continue to receive signs, even if they are just random coincidences. Often, memories and signs are painful, as well as a gift. I will never have the desire or ability to forget her. My love as her mother, will always be a part of my soul. I love you Alexandra. 💕

Four Year Angelversary

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imageJanuary 31st is my daughter, Alex’s four year Angelversary. As some know, Alex was 17, a Senior in high school, had just taken her SAT’s, then bam, in a coma for 8 weeks before she died. This year is no different from the first three. I feel flooded with memories and disbelief of all she went through. It continues to feel so surreal that she is really dead. She was my Grace child, my child who was so incredibly beautiful spiritually and physically. How could this happen? She was so vivacious, loving, intelligent, excited to turn 18, to live on her own, to get married, be a mom; the list could go on ad infinitum.

Her best friend just got engaged, which is such an example of how confusing being a grieving mother is at times. I want to feel happy for Alex’s friends and classmates as they experience happiness and success. I have to say it takes my breath away when I see photos of her friends, making new memories that Alex hasn’t been a part of for four years.

Right now, the pain due to her absence is unbearable. For many people who do not get child bereavement, after four years, I should be good to go now. My own father cannot stand that I continue to grieve. I really do not have patience or tolerance for judgemental bystanders. Its cruel and abusive to judge a person who is grieving. Grief, depression and sadness make many people very uncomfortable. I have made great strides with staying away from judgmental people,  and who have made it clear they cannot handle being around me anymore. I have been angry and hurt by these things. Now, it really just disgusts me. One day, maybe I will be able to pray for them without my own judgements. For now, I try to focus on the people who have been supportive and shown such love and empathy toward me.
There is an element of tunnel vision in child bereavement. I am sure this will broaden as time passes. I have read that it is natural to seem obsessed with the child who died. I live in what almost seems like a different world. A world of regret, sadness, yearning and desperation..desperate to make sense of the afterlife. That is the reality of what its like to continue living without my child, the life of a grieving mother after almost four years.
I have tried my best to consider how Alex’s death affects my family, but fail miserably most of the time. I know life will never be the same without Alex, it will never be okay that she died. I dont know if the accident and death anniversary will always be like reliving it all. I will continue to write about my journey as it comes, which has been so necessary for my sanity.

Approaching Four Year Accident Anniversary

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imageIt has been so long since I have written a post on Mother of an Angel. I think writing has been crucial to my survival since this happened, however, I have found that I rarely go as deep as often when I do write. I think it has been self preservation. What helps to grieve changes, so I try various activities that distract me from the reality where Alex is not here. Some examples are Facebook pages I run. One is Mother of an Angel and the other one is A Dash of life, a page for Funnies. Playing with my grandkids and spending time with my husband, working in Alex’s Memorial Garden are my favorite things to do. They bring a lot of joy to my broken heart. I didn’t realize there was room for such sadness and joy at the same time.

My other children have had their difficulties since Alex died. One of my children who has been the rock, has started to fall apart. I really wish I could help, but I am powerless. I have tried, but I believe things will have to take their course. It’s frightening, as I do not want to lose another child. My oldest daughter, who was driving during the accident is going back for more medical procedures, as she is having difficulties due to some of the hardware in various places in her body. My youngest graduated from high school and turned 18. I know it’s been a struggle for him, as Alex didn’t get to do those things.
My husband has been very supportive, but I know it wears on him. At times, I am very unavailable, especially during the Winter months. I believe he has helped me in ways I’m very fortunate to have. I was doing this without a partner, and at times, I felt very, very alone. I wasn’t expecting to meet someone, especially someone I was acquainted with for years. I have questioned whether it is fair to him that we married in the midst of such grief. I do know I didn’t believe I was capable of the love and respect I have for him. He is a true blessing who I’m not sure I am worthy of. I know one thing, Alex would love him, and she would approve! I hope she knows, I think she does!

My friends have been so very important since the accident. I am so blessed by the women in my life, who walked the hospitalization, day after day. One friend took the first four days off from work to stay with me. One of them came and stayed with me for a month to take care of me. Another friend took my oldest daughter to her post rehab doctor appointments. Three weeks after Alex died, two of my friends were in the room when my youngest daughter had her baby, I have one friend who has been steadfast since Alex died. She would acknowledge how difficult Tuesday’s were for the first six months, then the 31st of the month; Anniversaries, Angelversaries, birthdays and holidays. Some of my friendships have changed dramatically. Two of my very best friends in the world died after Alex’s death. Another very close friend disappeared. I have been reacquainted with old friends, so friendships have been an interesting and painful experience as well. I am much better at not taking it personally that people disappeared.

As the Fourth Anniversary looms ahead of us, I can say that the intensity of the sneaker waves that hit aren’t as debilitating today as they were in the first three years. I am still struck with those gut wrenching, unbelievable moments that I cannot fathom that Alex isn’t here, that she went through such a horrible two months in a coma. I don’t have the need today to write about the details of those two months. It might be time to write about Landria’s horrific journey of recovery. She is still recovering and has a lifetime of healing in a way that is unique to the rest of us. Somehow, God continues to give me the strength and courage to face each day. I believe He does this through Alex.

Difficult Time of Year

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babygirl2This time of year has been very difficult since my daughter died, almost three years ago. Three years ago, we were fighting to save her life. We had so much Hope that she would wake up, and come back to us. When they first told us she would never be the same, I didn’t get it. I thought it meant the experience would transform her emotionally and mentally. It didn’t take long for me to understand they meant physically. I accepted that, as long as she could wake up. They told us that because she was young, her chances were better of surviving. If she still hadn’t woken up at 6 weeks, then her chances were slim of coming out of it. At that point, they hadn’t done an MRI, so we didn’t really know the extent of her brain injuries. I will never forget the meeting where the doctor told us her midbrain was gone. I didn’t get it, I asked him, “you mean, not coming back?” He confirmed this, which meant, no hope for her to come back to us. If she were to recover at all, it would be in veg. state. My baby, 17 years old, a senior in high school was going to either die or lay there for the rest of her life hooked up to feeding tubes and IV’s to give her the massive amounts of various meds to keep her alive. They had to feed her 20,000 calories a day for her to maintain. The storming and posturing was like running a marathon 24/7. She weighed 96 pounds when she died. We made the decision to let her go be with God. I continue to struggle with my Faith, as it was completely torn apart when she died. I wanted to die, I needed to die.
The last three years have been a fight to heal my Faith, and try to live in a way that would honor my daughter, and not disrespect her in any way. I have tried grief counseling, I have gone to twelve step meetings for 23 years, which have saved my life. I recently attended a couple Compassionate Friends meetings.
This last Summer, I got married to a wonderful guy. I never thought I would even want to do that, let alone be capable of letting someone close enough to me to get married. He has had to watch me suffer, and has been very caring and supportive. I know it has been difficult for him, and my other kids. I could write a whole segment on my other kids’ journey, and how they have given me a reason to keep going.
My son is a Senior now, which has been scary. He is right where Alex was when she died. Two days ago, a girl in his class committed suicide. Another tragedy in this small community. This is the second student who took her life since Alex died from his school. I feel utterly powerless with how to help anyone, including my son. So much death and tragedy. Two of my best friends died tragically since Alex died as well. My mother took her life when I was 11. So here I am, not going to work, in my pj’s, writing this blog, which I’m sure is utterly depressing. I have to say that writing has been a huge coping skill since the accident. I haven’t been writing as much, as I get tired of own rants. It is important to release this though. I fear I will have a break down if I don’t. My husband has encouraged me to take care of myself, and told me with everything that happened, it is okay to not be strong and march on. I have always tried my best since a little girl to be tough, and not let circumstances defeat me. Thank you to my husband and kids who give me a reason to pick up the pieces of my shattered soul and continue on.

Third Anniversary of ‘The Accident’

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Landria and Alex

Landria and Alex

Tomorrow will be three years since my two daughters and grandson were in a horrible car accident. This accident left my two daughters severely injured and my grandson with minor injuries. My youngest daughter died two months later and my older daughter had a total of 8 surgeries, with life long injuries, both physical and psychological. Denial has been our friend at times. If it weren’t for that, we never would have survived this long. At times, I have wanted to penetrate those around me who have appeared to not be as affected. Then I have to realize, usually with the help of a friend, that what appears to be not caring is really just people coping the best way they can. As Alex’s mother, of course I am going to grieve and mourn more intensely than most, except her father. I know he suffers as I do. We are not able to walk through this together at this point. I have felt angry and upset that her friends have just moved on without remembering her. They don’t see us, read or post on  her Facebook or her page I made to remember her. I forget that this doesn’t mean they don’t remember or grieve for her. What I fail to recognize at times, is that I am just so very mad, sad at sickened that my beautiful Alex is gone, no babies, no marriage, no college..the list goes on and on. I can really fall into being an angry, bitter person. I do not want to stay there though, and it usually don’t. I want to get better, I want to heal enough to pass on her legacy, which is love and forgiveness. She was much better at this, so I will try to remember to ask for direction. My Spiritual health has still not recovered from losing Alex. I have committed to going to Compassionate Friends on a regular basis. My journey isn’t over yet, and there are days when this is very difficult to say the least.