Today was quite an emotional day for me on so many levels. I don't know why these past weeks have been insanely emotional but they have just been such a roller coaster. This morning I sat with my Aunt Joan spending time with her before she moves to Florida. I didn't see her all that often but we always saw her several times throught the year and always spent Christmas Eve at her house. It will be so hard to not have her down the street anymore when I need her. Yes I know she is only a phone call away but I always found some sort of comfort knowing that I could stop in if I just needed a listening ear or a hug from her when life was just in shambles.
When George died she was there in ways I will never be able to thank her for. She did it without being asked and with no strings attached. She did not make promises that she did not follow through on and without words just knew what to say or do. It was no effort or added stress to talk to her or be with her and when I could not find comfort or understanding in others, she was always there. Still weeks later she still calls me to check on me and she is one of the few people I can be honest with.
She listens without trying to turn the conversation around to be about her. Never does she demean the pain that I feel or tell me I need counseling or say hurtful things. Even if she doesn't get it or doesn't necessarily agree, she always listens and without passing judgment can have a conversation about the true feelings I have. She doesn't talk behind my back to others in a hurtful way and in general respects me as a person.
She understnads that loosing Goerge made me a different person and that I will never again be the Nikki she knew before. THe recognition that counseling won't fix my situration or bring the old me back is such a relief because for many people that is what they want from me. They want things back to the way they were before. I want that too but it just isn't possible. Part of my heart will always be missing and I will always be sad and that is OK. It is normal and she recognizes that and I don't have to put on a happy face.
We sat here today just talking and enjoying one anothers company. The kids were running around being their crazy little selves. Together we laughed and we cried. We talked about life before George and after George and how very different they are. I told her how many of our relationsihps with people have changed for many reasons. We talked about dissapointment Hugh and I have both felt with family and friends of ours who we always thought would truly understand but now we realize that we were completely wrong. She of course told us that not everyone understand and for them it ends with the funeral but for us it is lifelong. Some people are upset or don't want to upset us and both Hugh and I recognize that but she also understood our feelings of loss and distance from those who want it all to just go away.
Ironically, the support group that I belong to, today posted the very question "Do you put on your happy face for those around you? Why?How?" Almost every parent said yes they do because the way we are all treated by the majority of people. Each of us acknowledged the few friends or family we had that did understnad and that we tend to find shelter in their understanding when the rest of the time we feel as if we are in the eye of the storm trying to hold on and keep that "everything is fine" face and mentality on for those around us. This comes from people who's children have been gone for years to just months. I just find it a shame that this is how parents who have suffered such a great loss have to live the rest of their lives along with the pain that is brought on the moment your life changed and you said goodbye to your child.
It is as if the rest of the world thinks we are crazy or need to see a counselor if we are upset. We are going to be sad for the rest of our lives. No amount of counseling will bring our children back or make the pain go away. It isn't like we are crazy and seriously have a mental issue. Many are logical people who know that life goes on but where this is concerned there is no rhyme or reason or time frame and no going back to the way life was before. I think this is why so many parents only find comfort in other parents who have lost a child or those few peopel who truly can empathize and not pass judgement or tell you how you should do something when they themselves have never been through it.
Many times couples who loose a child tend to find their marriages fall appart. For Hugh and I that is the absolute opposite. We have found ourselves feeling so alone and a stranger to those we have known our whole lives that we can only find comfort in one another at times. There are days we cannot paint on that face for others and just keep to oursleves because we just don't have the energy it takes to make it ok for everyone elses sake. Hugh was having a hard day on Father's Day and it was apparent in his presence. It was ok for him to feel that way but when he got asked what was wrong with him(like there should be no reason for him to feel that way), it took everything he had to not just scream what do you think is wrong with me. Instead, being who he is he just said he wasn't feeling good and that was an acceptable answer.
Even just saying you are having a bad day isn't alwayas accepted as an answer sometimes and people get short with you and make you feel guilty for the way that you feel. Either way we have both found it easier at times to just stay home and keep to ourselves. We have found this is also the case for the boys when they have to handle others. It amazes me how when you loose a core member of your family tragically that people get it for the first few weeks but after that all bets are off. This doesn't even just come from those who you have been close with but also with strangers. If you mention that your child/brother died at such a young age people either want to run or wish they never asked the question. You find yourself having to comfort them and explain that it is ok that they asked or that you mentioned them. It can truly be exhausting and many times just not worth adding to the pain you carry with you every day.
So many times I have been asked how many children I have. My God that is the worlds worst question. I even find that going to the doctors now is dreaded because they always ask those questions and you then have to explain it. With strangers, the answer will varry depending if I feel like going into it. When I don't feel like going into it or dealing with what I know will more then likely come and I just say 3, I feel guilty. After talking to many other parents they have said they do the same thing. The nurse from the hospital that I was working with told me still to this day 24 years later that she feels the same way and does the same things. She told me that I am not abnormal,it is just that only other people who lost children truly understand and that although others mean well that they will say and do things hurtful without relalizing it because they have never been in the situation.
No matter what others say or do or what they think you should or shouldn't be doing, the one thing that is constant is that God understands. He knows for he too walked htis path. That is why in the moments of pain when you feel as if you are alone, there is that peace somewhere in you pushing you forward and saying you are not alone, I am with you. That is truly what gets us from day to day. I cannot immagine walking this path in our lives without God in it. As lonely and painful as this is, it would be a million times worse if we did not have our faith. That is waht gives us the strenght to still live and make a life for our other children and be able to be there for other parents on the path with us. Somehow each of us pick up the others we find stumbling along the way, and I believe that is God's gift to us since he knows not many people understand the way he does nor to they understand the great sacrifice he made like we do.
Truly think about it. If you lost your child how would you feel and multiply it a million times and realize that you would have to live the rest of your life like that. I know I could not fathom it even though I tried to prepare myself for such a long time. God willingly gave his son, and I don't know how many of us could truly do that if asked to just for the greater good of others. We are also talking about people who aren't always good and make poor choices and do bad things. I know had God asked me I don't know if I could have just said here is my son...I have never been angry with God though and know there was a purpose; that I just don't see yet. If asked though, I could honestly say I don't think I could ever willingly give my child away to be beaten, harrased, abused, and crucified knowing that was his fate.
After loosing my child I truly know what a great sacrifice that it was. It wasn't that I didn't know it or think about it before but I know now first hand how it feels to loose a child and the pain that it brings. That very sacrifice God made was so great and it wouldn't have meant as much had it been his grandmother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, or other loss. It was his only child. That is why his sacrifice is so amazing and has stood the test of time.
George's Guardian's of Grace Projects
Stocking project is now in full force collecting donations. We have a list of the items we can use. You can also choose to sponsor a stocking in memory or honor of someone else. We will include a paragraph or two in the cards we place in the stockings to let the recipient know about the person that means so much to you. Our paypal account is posted on this page and ready to take donations. Email us for a list of items needed or with any questions or information you would like included on a sponsored stocking/donation.
Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage
Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!
We Finally have footage from the service up and running:
It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!