If patience is a virtue as they say, then I would truly be virtue-less (if that is, in fact, a word) because I have zero patience whatsoever. So I do appreciate all of yours while I took my sweet time in finishing this story. Thank you!!
It's been said that people deal with grief in many different ways and there are specific stages of the grieving process that people go through:
It's also said that you can go through any of these stages, in any order, several times. I think I've gone through all of them except #7, which is probably the most important. I go through #2 and #4 more often than most, especially #2. I remember when I finally reached #6, the moment that Colin, our son that we had after our daughter passed away, was released from a 3 week stay in the NICU after he was born.
Something that I often struggled with was the how. How do you move past something that causes so much pain, even months or years after it's occurrence? When is an acceptable time for you to say, yes, I've learned and grown and have decided to move on? What can you say when your well meaning family and friends give you that look (you know the one) that's filled with concern because you haven't moved on yet? Or simply, WHEN WILL IT STOP HURTING SO MUCH?? I wondered this often (still do), especially during those fall months when the air is crisp and autumn is setting in and Thanksgiving is approaching and all of the memories of those long weeks in the hospital come flooding swiftly back. During those few months it feels so real again and I find myself longing for the comfort of the hospital walls, the smell of sterile instruments, bleached sheets and blankets, and the sounds of rolling beds going up and down the hallways. For some reason I have always found comfort in these things, in the hospital where I stayed. Like it allows me to remember without apology, and it helps me to hold onto the knowledge that it really did happen, it wasn't just a horrific dream.
Fast forward to New Years Eve, 2008. My husband, John and I took a much needed night away to Branson for a two night stay at The Chateau on the Lake. We were enjoying an evening down in the common room bar, sipping on some wine and talking to interesting people. An elderly couple came to sit next to us and as they ordered their vodka tonics we got to chatting about life and their relationship. It made me smile to hear their story, they had been married to other people throughout their life and the 4 of them were lifelong friends. The gentleman's wife had recently passed away from alzheimer's and the lady's husband was in hospice dying from late stage alzheimer's. Together they dealt with their stress and pain by meeting together, having some laughs and, well, sex (we're all adults, right??).
I have no idea how it happened, but the lady and I got on the topic of children and the story came out about my daughter (Hannah). As she listened empathetically and patiently I could tell she also had something to share and when I was finished she took my hand and told me that she also had lost her infant daughter when she was a few days old, due to premature birth. And with tears in her eyes she told me she still thought of her daughter every day, still missed her every day, and still had days where she cried.
She had just turned 90 years old.....
This sweet, precious woman lost her daughter over 60 years ago and she still grieved for her!!!! I know it's so simple, but this was a big revelation for me, it gave me permission to grieve, to miss and to cry, without any sort of time limitations. I could have bad days and didn't have to feel guilty or the need to apologize because I needed to be angry, or in pain, or cry, it was okay to feel that way!
So that is my angel, an adorable, tiny woman, who just turned 90, wearing a bright red winter coat, who unknowingly gave me and my husband permission to mourn our sweet girl who has touched our lives in more ways than I could have ever imagined.