“…and human hands can’t serve his needs–for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need” – Acts 17:25
Just a few weeks after Audrey had died I was out at our local fair with the girls. Not only had it taken me a long time just to psychically get everyone ready and out the door, but mentally I was absent. I had planned on coming to the fair, only I had planned on having three of my children with me, not two.
On our drive in to town I began to panic that people would see me there. After all, it had only been about two weeks since the funeral and most of that time I had spent in hiding. I didn’t feel ready for the whispers and stares that were to come with being seen. I wasn’t prepared for the how are you doing questions. I didn’t feel capable of the fake smiles and extra effort it was going to take to allow my children to think I was having a good time.
Realizing I could not keep the girls locked away in my home with me forever, we made our way in through the grounds. I remember the girls being so excited to see a baby crocodile that was on display, so that was the first stop we had made. In that moment of watching them run excitedly towards the little green animal I felt envious of their ability to enjoy the small things. I felt sad that Audrey would never experience a county fair or the feel of a lizards slippery skin. My heart began to break only five minutes in.
As we were making our way towards the rides, the one thing I was scared of the most happened. I saw a co-worker walking towards me. I never imagined I would be fearful of one of my most closest co-workers who has never showed me anything less but complete love. As we stopped to talk I remember her telling me she was glad to see me out and about with my family. I knew in my heart she truly meant just that, but my only answer was to begin to blurt out that I did not want to be here and that I wasn’t having fun, but that I came for the girls.
We did make it through the fair, and I can admit that although my heart was in a million pieces and my thoughts were everywhere…I did have some smiles. My envy quickly turned to thankfulness as I continued to watch my children squeal in delight on a ride, or laugh as a baby cow licked their hand. They needed to feel like normal children again. As exhausting and hard as it had been for me they needed this time, and maybe just maybe I had needed it too.
The next day I received a message on Facebook. It was from my co worker who I had seen the night before. Her message to me read:
“Was thinking about bumping into you at the Ex. Hope you didn’t think you had to explain why you were out. You deserve to get out and have some smiles with your other kids, I really hope you had a good laugh with them. That doesn’t mean you are over Audrey or anything , a part of her is always with you, she’s probably laughing at her silly sisters too. Love ya”
I immediately began to cry. She was right., I had done exactly that. Not only was I afraid of how I would feel to see people, I was also scared of what people would feel to see me. I myself felt guilty for continuing to live after my daughters recent death and I felt like everyone else would feel that I should be too.
In grief you become exhausted from trying to put on a fake front. Sometimes you feel like people need certain things from you. Maybe family members grieve differently and you feel like you need to act that way too, or someone may not feel you seem sad enough…or that you are not feeling better quick enough, which leaves you feeling that you need to prove something once again.
I don’t think she will ever know the effect that little note had on me. It has truly been one of the defining moments in my grief. A moment that made me realize that I myself was not giving me the space I needed to breathe. A moment that taught me that my family and I did not need to sit at home alone, strangling in our grief just to prove that we were heartbroken. A note that I have gone back to in the many times I have been feeling that exact way.
I truly felt God sent her that day to remind me that with his strength, I can continue to live. To let me know that I do not have to feel guilty for doing something that I want, or to do something I do not because of what I feel others need from me. Truth is I am still heartbroken every second of everyday. I still cannot look at baby clothes, or hear a crying baby and not think of Audrey and what she would be like today….but I am slowly learning to live again.
One thing that has been comforting for me is the realization that there is one person that doesn’t need anything from me. Someone who knows every silent laugh or tear. Someone who knows my heart on days I am unable to physically speak.
So this morning as I am deeply missing the feeling of sipping on tea with a baby in my arms. As I sit amongst the chaos, feeling extremely exhausted and overwhelmed with my messy home, familys needs, and guilty feelings….. It is extremely comforting to know that I am sitting here drinking tea with someone who already knows my heart, and who is willing to comfort me in this moment, while needing nothing in return.