Have you ever set out to drive somewhere only to realize that you have arrived at your destination but have no idea how you got there in the first place?
In fact, there were many times after working a night shift as a nurse that I would get in to my car exhausted and wishing that I had someone to take the wheel for me. Being alone I would shift my car into drive only to find myself waking up hours later in my bed with no recollection of how I had gotten there.
Life after Audreys death was exactly like that. Day in and day out of complete and utter exhausting, gut-wrenching, heart breaking grief. Grief that prohibited me from focusing on what I was doing, or where I was going. Knowing my girls had ate supper but not remembering preparing it. Feeling my hair wet but having no memory of taking a shower. Waking up in the morning with the most nauseated pit in my stomach and severe crushing pain in my heart and going to bed the exact same way as I had awaken, with no recollection of the day passed.
Guilt haunted me and fear surrounded me. I was stressed. My marriage was strained. I became scared of my every breathe being my last……my childrens every breath being their last. My nights were spent continually walking in to rooms and checking for breath sounds or a rising chest……looking for anything that would signify that my childrens precious bodies still contained life and that would provide even the slightest bit of ease to my anxious mind.
Life became a world where a cough wasn’t just a cough, and a bug bite wasn’t just a bug bite. Every living and non living thing for that matter became a possible life changing threat. The ” live every day as your last “mantra consumed me to the point that even my children became exhausted as I tried so desperately to fill my days until over flowing at the brim so to not feel how empty I truly was.
Through that I became as an expurgated book. I held nothing back. I left nothing in. After all there was no way to hide my brokenness anyways. I was broken from the inside out. From the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I could manage to patch the cracks for awhile but my grief…..my frantic longing to have my sweet baby girl back in my arms always ended up busting at the seams. I deeply missed her. I still do…..
I will forever remember the immediate days following Audreys death and the heavy feelings of the unexpected that haunted my thoughts. The thoughts of how bad the pain was going to be when it finally set it that she was never ever coming back or the worry that my life was never going to be anything more than a deep, dark pit of grief.
A year ago, I was scared. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to smile again…..like really smile. Not just the half moon shape I forced my lips to make when people asked me how I was…but one that I truly would feel deep within. I remember feeling like there was no way that I would never feel any better than I did in those early and raw grief stricken moments. It seemed impossible that I would ever get to a place where the good days out weighed the bad and the smiles out numbered the tears.
The first year was a complete blur full of expected emotions, unexpected emotions, tears, screams, first holidays without, and a strong desire for a better life than I had before. A yearning for a fulfillment that I had been missing in the first place.
My life has changed drastically in the past seventeen months……and although I feel at times that I have no idea how I have gotten here……how I have made it this far… every single day is bringing me closer to who I am, and to the truth than the last
So as I sat down tonight in the quietness of my home….feeling drained from an ever persistent toddler, and the second batch of pickles I not so wisely chose to start in the chaos of it all. Missing my Audrey as her precious picture hung in front of me. Wondering if this is really my life and questioning how I even got here in the first place.
I realized that this…..all of this, is exactly how I got here. The good, the bad, and the down right ugly. Every single raw emotion, salty tear, and blood curdling scream is a part of my story, but its not the only part.
I am still here.
I am now living in the time that I never thought was possible to reach.
I have had a faith and hope restored more than I could have ever imagined, and I am being used in ways I never would have known. Although I admit my nights are still filled with breath checks and my marriage still has its moments, I am right where I need to be, stronger and with an appreciation for the fragility of life.
So tonight I am thankful…..not because I have lost my beautiful precious baby girl, but thankful that with him I am weathering this storm. I am thankful that I am at a place I never thought I would be. A place where I can really smile, laugh, and find joy in the midst and truly feel it. Grateful that I am beginning to once again live a life worth living, and that when those bad days come I have someone driving with me. Someone filling a seat that was meant for him all along.
Someone willing to take the wheel…… so that I can begin to appreciate the drive.
That is exactly how I have gotten here.