Scrolling through social media apps, what do you see? Pictures, always pictures. Pictures of the family, dog, scenery, parents, siblings, work, co-workers, the list goes on. All those pictures show the best of the best, but things aren’t always as they appear. If you look closely at the above picture, you see what appears to be a mother and daughter. A happy and healthy family is what you see. Let me explain what I see. I see an aunt who took it upon herself to protect her niece when her mother couldn’t. I see a niece that loves her aunt as a mother. I see a grieving sister. I see a growing child who was robbed of the opportunity to know her mom due to the selfishness of others. I see my daughter displaying the ultimate love for her sister by raising her child.
My girls fought. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was bad. They were each other’s biggest cheerleader but worst enemies. I’m grateful that they resolved their differences two days before the accident. I’m grateful that they had one another and I’m grateful that my granddaughter has her aunt.
Families are not always blood and they don’t have to be. Families fight for each other, love unapologetically and stand up for one another. Every family has a weird person. If you don’t know who that is, it’s probably you. But….it’s ok. You’re ok. Maybe you have an aunt that is now your mom. Maybe grandma is your mom. And maybe, like me, your cousin is your mom. We must love people where they are and no matter what the situation is.
My oldest daughter was pushed. She was pushed by her sister-in-law. Pushed into driving fast. Pushed into losing control of her car. Pushed into an accident. Those same people made a mockery of her death and funeral. Her sister and I were subjected to many episodes of bullying behavior. We were told that we should have died. We didn’t love her. She died hating you. We had no right being at the funeral. Every tear that you cried was fake, I was told. You are evil, I was told. You will never see your granddaughter again, I was told. BUT GOD…(vengeance does belong to God). He knew exactly what He was doing. In 424 days, I have realized His purpose and His plan to take my daughter. I’ve never been mad at God even though I have every right to be. His plan was for my granddaughter to be rescued and He used her aunt to make it happen. I miss my daughter incredibly. 424 days later, I still see Him working and I will see my daughter again.
If you had ever met Megan, you would have immediately loved her. She had very high highs and very low lows but anytime she met someone, she made an impression on you. She was kind and compassionate soul that would give you the last of what she had and do without herself. She had a tough life, partly because of her choices, but she tried.
I cannot tell you how many times I prayed for this child. At 18, I was pregnant, unmarried and scared. I had no idea what God was up to. She was a child that I didn’t know I wanted until I got her. I remember sitting at the hospital holding a newborn baby thinking, now what do I do? I had never been around children. I have never even changed a diaper. She moved quickly through the growing up. She never could sit still. She crawled for one day. One day. She was walking the next. I joked with her as she grew up, you are my experiment. We would laugh together when I told her that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. She reassured me that I was doing fine and then she would tell me what to change. It was usually something that was in her favor. Sneaky kid. We laughed more than we cried. We grew up together. And at the end of the day, we muddled along and both turned out okay. I wanted to teach her things about life that I had learned from the school of hard knocks. I never wanted her to deal with the things that I did. I never wanted her to hurt, be in pain or miss any good opportunities. I was her mom, her cheerleader, her friend, her encourager, and sometimes her conscience aka Jiminy Cricket. She was full of questions. Most of them I didn’t have an answer for but I tried. That is all I can say, this momma tried. Mommying is hard. Very hard. I had to do it alone for most of her life. I do feel that the greatest thing that I ever done for her is to pray for her. I didn’t have anything else. It was my greatest source of defense. I don’t think she ever knew how much I prayed for her. And I do not regret one second of it. I literally wore out my knees on that child. She was a challenge. I tried to teach her but honestly, she taught me more than I ever taught her. She taught me unconditional love, honesty, patience, heartache, consistency and compassion. Did I mention patience? This kid was so stubborn. She wanted to find her own way. She was determined to do what she wanted. I prayed wisdom, peace and joy over her. Constantly. It was needed. Time and time again, she would call me. She didn’t have to tell me anything, I could tell in the tone of her voice that she needed to hear 4 words from me. You are worth more. I have no idea why but I began telling her that when she was young. Megan, you are worth more. Low self-esteem plagued her life. No matter how hard she tried to move past it, it remained a hardship. She just wanted to fit, belong and be content. She befriended everyone and never knew a stranger. I would come home from work to find strange people in my house. It was kind of nerve wracking but that was Megan. She would do anything for her friends. Feed them, gave them clothes and shoes, talked to them, cried with them and loved them where they were. She was the example of a person who felt true and honest compassion for people and it didn’t matter their background, color or religion.
Deep sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, despair, mourning, bereavement, lamentation.
Although this is the official definition of grief, personally, I can define grief in one word…ugly. There is no perfect transition between denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There is no straight line between point a to point e. I believe that if you truly grief losing someone, you bounce from a to c, c to b etc. It’s just ugly. Life never goes back to normal. All we can do is adjust to a new normal. Whatever that looks like. None of us like change but it is going to happen. You cannot lose someone you love and continue life just like it never happened. I do believe that for some people, when they have been sick for some time, when a death is expected, somehow it is almost comforting. When they finally take their last breath is it an end to pain and suffering. We do not want the ones that we love to suffer. I remember sitting by my dad’s bedside. It was so difficult to watch the biggest, strongest man that I ever loved, reduce to pain. I was prepared but not prepared. The aftermath of his passing has been a challenge. I have a mother to care for now. Her care has increased over the years and the responsibility falls to me. It’s extra time that I must give her. My life on hold. No doing what I want to do on days off from work. I do what she needs and take care of things. I have learned and adjusted to doing what needs to be done. Things that dad would have done or taken care of around the house. Help her make decisions etc. Do I want this job? Is this normal? No, but it is a responsibility that I have and I do it with joy.
What about the death that we don’t see coming? Those unexpected ones. We think we have more time. Valuable time. If I give you my time, I care about you and your life. We are only allowed so many times to circle the sun. Just like your checkbook, where you write the most checks equals what you value as the most important thing in your life. Where you spend the most of your time equals what you value the most in life. How on earth do you deal with those unexpected deaths? The ones that you think you have a lifetime with. The ones who give you joy. The ones who you depend on. The ones that you think will bury you instead of the other way around.
(This is the first part in a twelve part series. More to come.)