Another angelversary is drawing to a close. As I sit here gazing at the candle softly glowing next to me, I am filled with mixed emotions. And fatigue. So. Very. Tired. Grief is exhausting.
There is relief that this day is almost done. Another horrible anniversary day has come and I have survived.
For the record. I am exhausted. Not from lack of sleep but from abundance of emotion.
There is abundant gratitude. For those who lent their support both then and today. For those who listened to Meggie and have shared her story and made their homes safer both today and before today. For those who did share my post today and encourage their friends to do the same today. Gratitude to all those who reached out to us, helped us, listened to me, held me, cried with me, brought me food and chocolate and endured the storm with me over the years and who I still call friends.
I am also filled with gratitude for the complete strangers, who through their comments and messages to me offer love and support, who say Meggie's name and comment on her pretty face or her amazing gift of saving their child's life because she compelled them to secure their furniture and TV's. Who thank me for sharing so their kids can sleep safer tonight. YOU are why I do what I do. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
There is also sadness. It goes beyond the obvious. I'm sad another year has passed without my beautiful girl. I'm sad I still have to endure the memories of the day we waked her and buried her. I'm even a bit angry over the fact we still have to celebrate another Christmas without her. I am sad she's now been dead 3 times as long as she lived.
There is sadness when I think of the other losses that have happened over the years since her death. Sadness for the changes and struggles and collateral losses that her brothers, and indeed all of our family, have had to endure. Sadness because so many of my relationships changed. With family. With friends. With colleagues. For me. For my boys. Sadness because my life, as I knew it, ceased to exist 9 years ago today and I had to struggle to find some sort of new 'normal' on my own. I had no map or guide. I had no mentor. I had no leader. I had no experience with the loss of a child. I had a broken heart and a broken spirit. I had to stumble through, finding my own way. It forced me to find my inner compass. To listen to and trust my intuition. It was, in fact, a gift in disguise.
There is also disappointment tonight. Disappointment that some of my former friends can't understand how broken and depressed I was that first year and completely misinterpreted or misunderstood my words or actions. How poor some of my choices were in life because I was depressed, broken and lost. How so many of us were just unable to bridge the gap of or understand our differences in our experiences, beliefs, our pain, and our coping strategies such that simply growing apart or severing relationships was easier than sitting with each other and working it out to find our the real reason for the breakdowns of our relationship and trying to fix them. Some could not have been saved, but some could have been. Even now. Reading about the turmoil, strife and relationship breakdowns reminded me of just how broken, confused, and lost I was. I lost some really good friends because of it. I wish some were willing to come back to the table now to discuss it, but it would seem they are not. Maybe someday...
I feel tremendous disappointment that so few of my 200+ 'friends' actually did share her story on their Facebook or G+ pages (but those of you who did, rock, and I love you for it), and that even fewer of the Meghan's Hope Facebook fans shared it. I wish I knew how many of those who did share it, actually read it (the "Be with me..." post). Not that it matters as much, I just want the information to reach as many people as it can because that's what saves lives and keeps kids safer. However that happens works for me. Still, I can see how many shares there were directly from her, my, or your page (if you are my friend), and sure, there are other ways to share I may not see, and not everyone is on Facebook or G+ or Twitter regularly, but it's a good gauge. Especially when there are 13,000 people following her Facebook page! 156 shares makes me both happy (it's 156 more than yesterday) and sad, when it could have been thousands.
There is also an edge of anger. People share stupid shit all the time. There are more shares of a postcard about wine O'clock or shares and comments on a poll about which way toilet paper should hang than there are serious posts and shares about protecting kids and saving lives. What the hell kind of world do we live in? Right, one where that bad stuff won't happen to us if we don't acknowledge it. Social media can be amazingly powerful and useful or just entertaining. There is a place and time for both.
Forgive me. I'm a grieving mother. Grief makes you irritable. It gives you a perspective you don't want, trust me. I speak my truth. Sometimes, that involves a little ranting. :-)
One thing I've learned is it's OK to feel what you feel. It's even healthy to share with YOU how I feel, because, well, then you know. I used to stew about insensitive comments and blatant ignorance of my requests and pleas to share Meghan's story. Now, it might anger or disappoint me, but all I can do is ask, acknowledge how I feel (and even say it 'out loud'), and ask the Universe to get the message to the right people. It's out of my hands once I've asked, once I've written, and once I've shared. The ball, as they say, is now in your court or that of the person on the receiving end of the information. I just pray you or they are not one of the ones who messages me at some later point and says, like so many have, "I wish I knew this (or listened to you) before it happened to MY child."
Aside from my usual rituals of this day of remembrance, I took some time today to delve a little deeper. I looked not only at those first few painful weeks, but the process of getting through that first year. As I re-read the letter I began to Meghan almost 9 years ago, I read beyond that first year to the second year. I was reminded by my own words of what a roller coaster that first year and into the second year after her death was. It's amazing what you don't remember or have difficulty placing on a time line. I'm so grateful I wrote it down.
It was apparent how my anger and depression really ebbed and flowed. For the entire first year. The second year was more about changes but I was still pretty emotionally a wreck. It was interesting how repetitive I was in what I wrote and how I processed my feelings, especially the first few months. How almost cyclical my moods were. How the anniversary days each month were so difficult. How alone I was and felt. One day it was all about my love for her and a spiritual understanding and quest and then, missing her deeply and profoundly. Then I was angry and asking why again. Then thinking I was coming out of the sadness only to feel profoundly depressed again. It was fascinating to see how motivated I was to further the mission of Meghan's Hope and yet how exhausted I was doing virtually nothing else and through it all, how frustrated I was with how hard it was to raise awareness.
I was reminded by my own words how my boys processed and coped and how I tried to help them. How many messages and signs from Meggie we received, particularly through her twin. How so many relationships in my life changed in that first year after she died. How I struggled to make sense of the entire experience and indeed, of life itself. It provided insight into my spiritual evolution. It was like literally watching myself inch my way along, aimless and lost, then cocooning myself in contemplation and introspection and nurturing my spiritual growth and then,slowly and tentatively, emerging with wings full of purpose, confidence in what I wanted, needed and deserved in life and slowly brightening with color and moving toward change for the greater good. The path was not an easy one nor was it sunny and warm. I sure got lost and battered by rain often.
Change never comes easy. That is an entirely different story. Suffice it to say, the changes in my life the past 9 years have been many. They have not come easy or without tremendous pain, heartache, and difficult emotional work. I've had to dance with my demons, find, speak and live my truth. Stand up for me, my boys and the greater good. All of these changes, all of these difficult and downright painful experiences have led me down an amazing path and to an amazing life. One I'd not have likely had if it had not been for the amazing gift of one Miss Meggie.
The next week is the most difficult one of the entire year. My re-living of the rituals associated with death like her calling hours and funeral and of course, Christmas, are painful and difficult. Not as significantly as today, but I am acutely aware of them and what I was doing 9 years ago on each of the next 7 days.
I guess my point is that grieving is an evolutionary process. It doesn't end, it changes. It, like emotion, ebbs and flows. Everyone does it differently, I just happen to be a bit more vocal than most about my own experiences. It is as helpful for me as I hope it is for someone else who happens upon it. So today, I am filled with love, gratitude, sadness, anger, disappointment but mostly, hope. Hope that something I say, do, or write will save a life or help someone cope with the loss of one.
Hug your kids a little tighter tonight, tell them you love them and for the love of all that is holy, secure your furniture and TV's.