I think of my life then and now. I can’t say much has changed in the grief area. Well, a lot has changed, but the feelings are still similar. Not very many days go by that don’t come with at least a few tears, anger, frustration, or anxiety. Not a moment goes by that we don’t wish we could have another chance with her…even if it’s brief. Not a moment goes by that we don’t miss her. People always say that ‘time is the healer’…. I disagree, somewhat. The more time that passes, the more we miss her, the more we wonder what she would be doing, how she would look, what her personality would be like. Over time, we watch our other kids grow and change in the pictures on the wall, but our Journee will remain at 88 days. I don’t really believe time is a ‘healer’, I think we just learn to live with the life we are given--in time.
I ‘can’ say we are surviving, and even learning to ‘live ‘again. Almost a 10 years ago, I had no idea how I would manage to accomplish ‘survival’. I was surviving breath by breath, and at times, that was a struggle. Looking five minutes ahead overwhelmed every part of my body. The pain from losing my child felt like someone literally reached in, grabbed my heart, and soul, and left me to die. I felt like an empty vessel. I felt lost…unfamiliar with my own body, as it physically ached to love and nurture this baby that I brought into the world. My breasts ached to nurse, my arms ached to hold and comfort her, my ears ached to hear her, my eyes just wanted to see her-alive. Every sense of ‘familiarity’ was ripped out from underneath us. My mind could not comprehend that the lifetime of hopes and dreams we had for her were suddenly no more, and we had no answers as to why. I still don’t understand it. I will never understand how healthy babies can go to sleep in our arms and wake up in Heaven. It will never make sense to me. Some people look at this mark as a changing point, I guess. Some think 10 years is too long to still struggle with these things. They think we should be ‘over’ it by now, and if we’re not, they don’t want to hear or know about it. Understandable for them, but unrealistic to us. I realize now, that it’s not so much the grief that I’m struggling with as we reach our 10th year…but the trauma, which now at this point, I realize are two very different things. I guess I’ve come to acceptance that the grief will always come and go, and that it’s okay to feel the things that come with it…. although, it’s draining. We feel the grief because we loved her so much, and for that, I am thankful. I am thankful for the time we were blessed with her…even though it was too short. I am thankful for the many, many lessons she taught us in her short 88 days…most importantly the lesson of how fragile our lives really are.
I no longer take any of my children’s lives for granted. I know I am not promised a tomorrow, so I better appreciate the days that I am blessed with them and make the very best of each one. I know how precious and special each of my children are. I always did…but now it’s so evident and clear to me. I know now to never go to bed without saying I love you, and/or I’m sorry or I forgive you, if needed. I’ve learned that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes, we just can’t get an answer. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try and ‘control’ my life, I ultimately am NOT the one in control. I’ve learned what true love feels like, and what it feels like to lose part of it. I’ve learned that some friends and family are there for the good times, but not the bad, while those true, once in a life-time friends are there through it all, and I’ve learned just how important they are in my life, and how grateful I am for them. I can’t imagine my life without them-they are a true blessing. I’ve learned how strong we as humans can be, when being strong is the only option. I’ve learned that it’s okay to smile and laugh again, and in doing so, it doesn’t mean we’re forgetting or disrespecting Journee, and in fact, it’s how she wants it. I’ve learned that some days breathing is the only thing that feels possible, and it’s okay to have them days sometimes…as long as they don’t stick around for long. I’ve learned how sweet and understanding my mate can be, and how truly in love with him I am. I’ve learned that we can make it through anything together, as long as we stay focused on what ‘s important. He is my rock, my best friend, the love of my life. He’s my number one fan and supporter, and one of the best things that have ever happened to me. I’ve learned that my kids are more receptive than I ever gave them credit for, and that they can read me like a book, no matter what kind of ‘mask’ I put on. I’ve learned that being honest with them in how we’re feeling instead of sugar-coating it, even if we’re feeling horrible, is better than telling them we’re fine, if we’re not.
Unfortunately, I’ve also learned some hard lessons. The trauma is what has me in its grips these days, and the closer we get to her angel date, the tighter it squeezes. The more that morning replays in my mind…like a video on continuous repeat. The closer we get, the more nightmares I’m having again, the deep feeling of fear, and vulnerability, the realization of how little control I must keep my mate with me feels suffocating at times. I’ve learned that life around us continues as normal, while we are still here, trying to find a completely new normal. I’ve learned that we humans have the capability of feeling so many seemingly conflicting things at the same time. Happy, sad, excited, scared, angry, calm, lonely, overwhelmed, blessed, cheated, are all feelings that can go hand in hand, and even be considered ‘normal’. I’ve learned that a simple hug can go a long way, and an ear to listen can go just as far. I’ve learned that even though Journee was my fourth baby, I still had and have a lot to learn about parenting, and will never have it ‘all ‘and will never know ‘all‘the answers, but I can love them, lead them and be there for and with them. And More important prayer is the only tool that can get you through as a parent. I’ve learned that FAITH over FEAR is something to strive for, but I still struggle with letting go of the fear part, especially when it regards my other children. I’ve learned that sometimes, when there are no answers, it’s easier to blame something--anything at all, which usually ends up being ourselves-than it is to accept the unknown or unanswerable. Even though, we know in our hearts that if there was anything in our power that we could have done to prevent her death, she’d still be here.
It’s amazing to me how 10 years can feel like ’forever’, and at the same time feel it was just yesterday that we started this journey. And as we approach her10th angel day. I can’t help but struggle to try and not relive the events. I'm having to rejoice her life without enjoying her and mourning her death. I sometimes wish people could truly know how that feels without feeling the same lost. I'm still learning life lessons, and I'm still growing, one thing is for sure I will never be the same. Can’t say for sure whether or not it will be better or worse, but thanks to all of you who push through and deal with it. To the one life that changed my life forever the angel god gave me on this earth Journee Jai Hawkins as we approach her 10th angel date bare with me as I subconsciously let history repeat itself.