Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Soul Weeps

I will always wonder who you would have been. 
What would you look like now? 
What would your favorite food be? 
What kind of music would you listen to? 
Would you be married? With kids? 
Would our family be closer because you stayed? 

Grief is a rollercoaster ride that you cannot get off.  Sometimes it slams into you without any warning. Other times the ride is slow enough that you can slightly open your eyes and look around.

My soul weeps because of grief. Strengthen me according to Your word. ~Psalm 119:28

Some years go by and I am able to make it through the anniversary week with only love and lots of comfort. 

Other years go by and that week is full of nightmares, flashbacks, and unanswered questions. 

This year I was not prepared for the grief that surrounded my heart. 

All I wanted to do was jump in the car and drive back to the last place I saw you. 

July 26, a day etched in my memory forever.

My memory plays the same scenes over and over and I do my best to overcome them. 

Watching you walk out the door, Knowing you wouldn't be back. Feeling paralyzed and scared, yet knowing without a doubt that God was there in that moment with all of us.
Seeing the cyclist riding by our house and realizing that his life was normal, but my life had just changed forever. 

My grief is not just for a brother I lost, but for a family, for a future that we didn't have, for parents who lost a son, for the realization that my innocent thoughts about life were taken way too soon. 

Maybe it's because I now realize that I could've lost my own son, too, just last year on January 26 (I'm not a fan of the #26). 

The thing about death and grief is that even after almost 30 years, I'm still consumed by grief some days. It's not as it was in the beginning. The pain has dulled over the years, but it's still present and hits me out of the blue. 

As this week went by and my subconscious knew what week it was, I decided to not be consumed by it. I gave myself a day. Then, I picked myself up and started making plans. 

I got my hair professionally colored for the first time. 
I made 2 dinner dates with friends. 
I spent more time laughing. 
I wrote down all of the good from the week. 
I surrounded myself with those who love me. 
I started some new projects. 
I reminded myself - I AM STRONG. 

Because even though this week (read brief story here) marked how long I've lived without you, I know that you would want me to LIVE LOUD and keep going. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lessons from a Leukemia Mom

1. People are genuinely good and want to help. Let them. 

This was the biggest lesson I've come away with and it's been the most difficult one so far. It's HARD to let go and admit that you cannot do something alone. It's not easy to ask for and receive help or believe that people just want to help without anything in return. The world programs us to believe that we must do all things ALONE and be adults and take on all responsibility onto our own shoulders. It's a lie. We need to band together and help each other do life. We need to be able to give whatever we can to a need in someone's life. Sometimes that means donating money or making a meal or just being a friend. 

2. Like all traumatic events, this revealed everyone's true character, including mine.

All abrupt events, typically, will reveal your true character. I've watched this happen before, but was not prepared for the extent of the reveal this time. When your world is shaken you are either standing on a firm foundation or you are not. You cannot fake that. I watched as not only my son was getting treated for a life-threatening illness, but as close relationships were being tested because cancer was now a factor. I was not prepared for the actions and words of others nor was I prepared to know how to handle those situations. Now, I'm stronger in my boundaries and more confident in how to deal with those obstacles. I'm also learning more about who I am and how strong I really am. 

3. Re-examining your life and priorities cannot be avoided. 

Better to do it now than to wait for that life changing event. If you're putting anything before your relationships, your health, or your well-being, don't. All it takes is a few words to jolt you into realizing what's really important. That work deadline/meeting is meaningless. Eating junk to cover up emotional struggle doesn't make the struggle disappear and means you're giving up your health too soon. Are you telling your kids "not now" and "maybe later?" Are you not taking in the gratitude of  the simple moments of a snuggle, a lazy, boring day, or your healthy child? No worries. Something will jolt you into realizing what's REAL and what's not. 

4. Life Goes On. 

I know this lesson way too well. On the one hand we love that life goes on. It means that the struggle won't last and "this too shall pass." But on the other hand, it means that life does go on and sometimes, when you're in a grieving state or life has stopped for you, it feels like everyone is moving on and leaving you to sit in that pain. Bottom line: that feeling sucks. But it's also a motivating factor that your life will see better days. Maybe not the exact days you had planned, but you're still living and breathing and so living is your purpose! We still have a lot of days (about 500) left on this leukemia journey and we still have some struggles to overcome, but we've seen worse days. And that's the key. We've all had worse days but they always pass. Always. 

5. Negativity will always try to win. 

You ARE stronger. You ARE. Ok, so that is a little self-talk that I've been working on myself. Voices from the past will always try to tell you that you're not good enough, you're not worthy, or you deserve whatever uphill struggle you're walking. What's key here is to surround yourself with people who will LIFT you up and remind you of all the things you believe and believe in: hope, love, healing, rest, miracles....When you find people to be your circle of trust you are entrusting them to do all of these things and continue to be on call for you whenever you need them. See #1. We aren't meant to do life alone, but we aren't meant to do life with all the negative people, either. :)  

6. You are more than your role. 

"Super Jace's Mom!" I get that a lot. I'm ok with it. I'm proud of it even. I'm so lucky to get to be his mom. But I'm still more than just that and as the months have gone by it's been easy to feel that most everyone just cares about him and what he's doing or how his treatment is going. Some days I feel like yelling, "I'm HERE TOO!" This is something I have had to work hard at overcoming. I am a caregiver and I'll be the first to tell you that his treatment and progress is top of my priority list, but I do other things, too, and enjoy being other things. 

7. Re-defining yourself is ok.

 I'm now in the stages of finding the new Tisha. The Tisha who has walked through this cancer storm and is coming out on the other side. I'm not the same. I don't do family, friendships, work, love, or passion the same way that I did before. I don't like all the same things I did before and am finding joy in new things that give me peace. Instead of trying to be everywhere and share everything, I'm picking the things I enjoy the most and only sharing what I feel in the moment with no obligation. Being the old Tisha in a new season just won't work. 

8. There will always be another "Goliath." 

Pray for strength and wisdom. Don't pray for an easy life. Strength and wisdom will come because you're open to it in expectation. An easy life doesn't exist. I refer to life's struggles as Goliaths. They all seem giant when we are in the midst of them, but as long as we are faithful we already know how they end! Each struggle is only there to teach you something and prepare you for the next. There are always valleys and mountains! I'm so thankful I'm just not continuously walking around in the desert!