In Her Presence

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the presence of my daughter around me. Tonight, I think, my soul was peaceful enough to allow her essence to reach mine. And, I felt complete.

The first year after Becca’s death I had dreams, which I now know were visits, from my recently deceased child. One of them, in particular, made my heart hurt even more than it always did. My daughter showed me how much energy it takes for their spirits to visit ours, especially when they are newly crossed to the other side.

In the beginning of the dream, she seemed full of light, her joyful self. As it progressed, though, she dimmed. Her colors became washed out. Curled up, she was exhausted, and very weakly, she explained that the energy she had to concentrate just to reach me shut her soul down for a while. I felt horrible at the thought of causing her more pain, more sadness, because I selfishly wanted her to visit me every night. I remember I kept telling her how sorry I was. Before she evaporated, she told me that even though I couldn’t see her . . . she would always be just on the other side.

Even, she explained, when she learned how to travel through the universe, she’d still be next to me.

Tonight, I know she was here. She’s still here, but for a moment, I could smell her. I could feel her.

When her scent enveloped me, I simply said, “Hello, my Becca”. And I smiled. I placed my hand, palm up, on the couch next to me and I felt a warmth solidness brush my skin. My daughter touched me. I touched her.

The moments before her appearance, I was sitting on the couch, with Cecily next to me. For those of you who don’t know . . . Cecily is my black lab shepherd mix. Near my feet was my other dog, Pepi. Under the huge window, Walter the cat, was on his back, his feet up in the air, relaxing. I was watching the moths fly around the light at the edge of my covered patio. I thought, they seem to be dancing. Light tinkling came from the half dozen wind chimes hanging just beyond my door. Past the edge of the patio, across a narrow dirt path, lay the dark woods. I was taking stock of how grateful I am at this moment. I thought, “I’m happy”. My animals surrounding me, nature everywhere I could see, I felt content. Almost everything was right with my world. Almost.

That’s the caveat grieving mothers often feel they must express when acknowledging joy in their lives. Yesterday, I even said to my sons, “I’m as happy as I can be without Becca.”. That meant a lot to them. It means just as much to me. But, that’s an different blog, back to this part of my story.

Immediately, after I thought how content I was, my mind snapped to, “I wish Becca was here, then it would be perfect.” And then, she was. I thought, I think I feel her presence. At the same time, her smell washed over me. Not the Victoria Secret perfume she loved, but the smell that clung to her when she came rushing through the door as a child after a summer’s day of play. Sunshine and innocence. The scent of her laughter warmed my skin. She was tangible. Touchable. So, I lay my hand down and felt her pudgy little girl fingers touch my own. The moment was perfect. For a minute, my world was completely as it should be. Then she was gone.

The past six months have been full for me. Both, with wonderful things, as well as difficult ones. All the “noise” has kept my soul from being still. Like static on a radio station. I believe the chaos, that had been in my life, prevented me from being able to receive the gift of her presence. Whether it’s good or bad, continual activity seems to interfere with souls coming together. The signs of their presence can be so very small . . . if we are distracted by the minutiae of every day life, we might miss them.

When my soul is at ease . . . it’s more open, and able, to connect on levels that have little to do with ugliness of life. Pain, it seems, is a part of every soul’s journey. Yet, it brings gifts with it’s arrival. Not everyone loses a child, but none of us get through life without pain disrupting it’s flow. It is the human condition. Joy and pain.

Tonight, I was blessed to feel utter joy. Blessed to feel my daughter, again. Has she learned how to visit me without it depleting her entirely? Have I been too busy, too distracted, to feel her presence? Did the planets, in my world, have to align in order to open the path? I don’t know. Maybe the right amount, in my life, is calm enough to allow the meeting. My peace was her beacon.

So, as I write this, I’m happy. Tears are streaming down my face. All of the animals are within touching distance from me. The moths are still dancing. The leaves, caught at the edge of the light, sway back and forth.

And, the wind chimes sound like my little girl’s laugh.

I love you, my Becca.

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What I Do

A few days ago, a friend reached out to me for advice about grief. One of her friends lost her child, suddenly, earlier this month. My friend’s friend is lost and hurting. I was asked if I could talk to her. Of course, I said without hesitation. I never hesitate.

One of the bereaved moms I am close to said something when we were talking a few months ago. There is a “bat signal” that seems to always be in the dark sky. A signal we can’t see until our eyes are covered with the haze of grief. Or maybe uncovered when we lose trust in the life. I’m not sure.

Somehow, though, we seem to find each other more easily. Is it because before our own loss we didn’t spend much time thinking about the grieving mom? To immerse ourselves, willingly, into the reality of it would make us realize it can happen to anyone. We see how easily death could visit us one day. So, we don’t stay in that “space” for very long. If we give it too much thought, will our energy make it come true? Prayer is energy. Could acknowledging these types of thoughts give them life, too? Why risk it. Fortunately, if you haven’t lost a child, it’s easy to leave that “space”.

The longer I walk this path . . . the more I realize how many others are traveling on a parallel course. Every week or two, it seems, I learn of another newly bereaved mom who has just set a foot on her own path of loss. When we are standing there, at the beginning, we are at a crossroads. One we didn’t choose to stand in willingly. But here we find ourselves.

Two paths “Y” off before us. We desperately want to take the one on which we live our lives with our child. But that path is no longer available to us. It lays in ruin. Blown apart. Lost in the rubble that was our life, before. Life forces us to move. So we do. Hesitating as we turn toward the other arm of the “Y” which leads to a life we never considered.

Never have I seen a more broken being than a newly bereaved mother. Confused, numb, half alive. Her heart in her hands. Eyes full of anguish. And anger. Fleeting moments of hope that it isn’t true. Moments of clarity in which the blinding truth stops her from breathing. Physical collapse because any ability to hold herself up has drained from her body.

When I meet a grieving mom, especially one who’s loss is recent, I am completely humbled by the invitation (of sorts) I’ve been given to enter the very intimate place she is. The fog, which settles upon us the second we find out our child is dead, parts slightly and I am allowed in. This is a sacred place. A holy place. All of the minutiae of everyday life is gone. None of it matters. We are two injured souls finding comfort in each other. Maybe strength. Most certainly, understanding. When words fail . . . which they sometimes do, tears fill in the space between.

I often wonder if anything I say helps another grieving mom. I so desperately want to say something, anything, that will help ease the pain. Though my early months (years) on this path are hazy, I don’t remember anything anyone said to me making a big difference. I didn’t have another grieving mom to talk to, though. Maybe that would have made a difference?

When I meet a mom, after the loss of her child, I feel a responsibility to her. And to her child. I’ve mentioned before that I believe when we moms meet here on earth, our children meet in heaven. I always ask Becca to go find this new child, explaining the child may be sad or perplexed, and hug them and help them. My daughter has been there for ten years. Her goal in life was to help and educate children. I hope she is doing this up there, comforting the newcomers.

In truth, sometimes the weight of this aspect of life is very heavy to carry. I think of the pain these moms will be experiencing and it breaks my heart. Because I’ve been there. It’s a very solemn and holy task to be a touchstone for someone. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. Though it can be tiring, and I can become overwhelmed, I know I have to use my own experiences to make the way easier for someone else. That is what we are supposed to do . . . I truly believe this. What choice do we have but to do the best we can with what we have been given?

My daughter was amazing. Becca was always the first to jump up and in to whatever she could do to help another. If she saw someone with a need . . . she did what she could to fill it. Without question. And without asking for anything in return. In a lot of ways, my daughter was much wiser than I am. She was a very old soul. I miss her to the depths of everything I am.

Though my hearts grows a bit heavier every time I am asked to help a newly bereaved mom, I will continue to do so. Using my life to make the path easier to travel, for others, also makes my injured soul heal.

Please. We are not very different from each other. One single moment in time could put you right where we are. I truly hope this doesn’t happen to any of you. But it will.

Help who you can, where you can, any way you can. When we get down to the very basics of life . . . being there for each other is what matters most.

We are all one.