Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween with Lindsey

The holidays are approaching. . . We carved pumpkins last night as a family and put the assorted glowing jack o lanterns on the front porch. We had so much fun, yet still an awareness as we are laughing and talking, when I realize that family is not as many as there used to be . . . counting plates and silverware and noticing the numbers don’t match . . . I count and recount . . . everything is off by two . . . because Lindsey and Josh aren’t here . . . I am reminded of the quiet, sad place in my heart as I have to catch my breath just a little.
Lindsey loved to celebrate everything. She loved parties, birthdays, Christmas, Sunday dinners, baby and bridal showers, receptions and Halloween. She never wanted to miss anything and she counted everything as the social event of the year. And she always wanted to help with the preparations, decorations, planning and . . . not so much the clean-up.
I guess when you face the possibility of not being able to be with family or celebrate holidays they become extra special. With each of the four brain tumors over the last eleven years and every treatment we faced, we had to consider the possibility of an empty seat at the dinner table, or an empty place around the Christmas tree, or having her birthday come and go and not be able to see the joy on her face as she blows out her candles on her birthday cake.
Now that fear is our reality. Lily our first granddaughter who is three saw a picture last night of Lindsey and asked where she was. “Where’s Linzzy” “Where’s Linzzy?” Again, my heart jumps and I am aware of the tightness in my chest. I just say “She’s not here.”
Lindsey had faced death so many times that what grew out of that deep fear, despair and misery was a love for life and passion for the simple things, the smell of the autumn air or the sun coming through the window, or looking forward to the next holiday.
So, when it came to Halloween, Lindsey loved to celebrate . . . she loved Halloween almost as much as her birthday. She loved the harvest, the beginning of school, pumpkins, fall colors, warm fall days, and the opportunity to dress up in crazy costumes. In the last five years of her life she spent a lot of time during the year talking and brainstorming about ideas for costumes to wear at Halloween.
In 2008 she was a muscleman.

In 2009 Lindsey was Budda, and her husband Josh was Moses.

Last year Lindsey was "Jabba The Hutt" and Josh was "Yoda" with their dog as "Darth Vader"

We were so happy to make it to Halloween because it symbolized the completion of Lindsey’s 9 week radiation treatments of her spine and brain. There were days when she would throw up 7 -8 times a day. She had been so sick in the summer because of the cranial fluid pressure that by the time she was done with radiation Lindsey had lost 30 pounds. I have never seen anyone so sick.
Yet, true to Lindsey’s nature she wanted to come downstairs and be a part of the Halloween party. She sat in her place in the recliner and watched her nieces and nephews on both sides of the family play in their costumes. She got to hear the doorbell and the many requests for “Trick or Treat.” I remember her with just barely enough energy to hold her head up and yet smiling because she got to be a part of the family party.
We were all so hopeful that the treatments would stop the progression of the tumors in her spine. Last year our fall party was truly a celebration of gratitude for family, josh’s family, Lindsey’s presence and our trust in God that he was hearing our prayers and would grant Lindsey more time with us . . . even until the next holiday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting Caught Up

So, the last couple of blog posts included ideas about helping children with their feelings and dealing with feelings as a parent. As many of you know I just had my second daughter pass away on August 24, 2011 from a brain tumor. I wanted to share my feelings as a mother, about what it was like to care for her for almost 11 years and then watch her quietly go to sleep and slip away from us.

It has only been a few weeks since all this transpired and in all honesty I haven’t even been able to talk about it let alone write about it. But, I feel like I need to write it down for my own healing and that I need to share Lindsey’s story.

Some of what needs to be expressed is so tender and sacred I hope in my sharing it with you it does not diminish the experience. It is my humble desire that by sharing her story, it will bless your life and the life of others. Writing about her somehow keeps her memory alive and helps me feel close to her.

This child that came into my world brought with her own individual issues, as each child does. And she brought with her, a unique set of gifts and blessings, the same as every child. All of my children have added to my life in miraculous ways.

So in telling Lindsey’s story this is not to glorify her suffering, or propose that I loved her more because I am writing about her, I am telling our family’s story and how her illness affected all her siblings and our family as a whole. All of us were impacted by Lindsey’s Illness and her death. Some of the pain I carry is the pain of my other children who lost their friend and sister.

I am also writing her story knowing that there are other families who have lost a son/daughter or sibling in some way or another. I know that reaching out in this way could help us all find comfort together.

As family members who have survived tragedy, we are the ones with the broken hearts, unfilled dreams and goals, and grieving the loss of what might have been.

Whether the loss is due to tragedy, illness, addictions, giving up a baby for adoption, or infertility and not being able to conceive a child. This kind of suffering needs comfort that can only come by finding peace for our individual loss.

How do we get to peace?

How can we find a lasting sense of comfort in our grieving.

I am not sure, except that this is what we will be exploring together for the next little while on the blog. It would be so helpful if those that are following this blog share your own ideas about finding peace in spite of the loss of a loved one. Your ideas may bring a source of comfort that could help me personally and my family however, it could help others a well.. My role as a mother, caretaker, friend and confidant to Lindsey has come to an end in this world. She has progressed into another sphere without me.

For me I am left empty, wanting, and searching for something to fill that void where she lived, played, laughed and danced. A new life is emerging, a life without Lindsey. It feels strange and uncomfortable. I feel like I am clumsily walking in the dark and searching for something familiar so I can get my bearings.

Come with me as we take this journey together. Some of you are further down this path than I am and some will join us as we move along. At least we will have each other while we face separation and the pain of death and seek to find comfort in tragedy.

I have heard from those that have been down this road before me, that the first year is the hardest. I am nervous to face the upcoming holidays. If you have any suggestions or ideas please feel free to post them. Not only am I trying to navigate for myself through this time of grieving, but also to help my children.