So yesterday didn't turn out at all the way I wanted it to and was likely, in many ways, the worst 'angel day' we've had in 5 years. We got up super early to drive to Toronto to meet with Dr. Ryan and present him with the $6275 we raised this year. It didn't seem like it was going to fall together earlier in the week but I had convinced Geoff to come with us if I drove so he could rest before he went in to work last evening. And so off we went to Toronto. And less then an hour in we were in a very minor accident...no one was hurt or was there ever really any danger to any of us... but the car was not driveable and the trip had to be cancelled. I was a mess. I was so sad, so angry, so disappointed. It took me hours for this feeling to lift at all. But it did and I can appreciate now that there will be reasons why my prayers weren't answered the way I wanted them to be and that I just have to open my eyes and my heart to them. I did have a big cry last night out in Cole's garden as I light candles and talked to him...
And felt so connected to him. Sad, maybe a bit lonely, wishful...but so connected. And it was a nice end to a really crummy day.
So now on to the last post for this week....
On the first day of this week of peace posts I talked about what peace is for parents who have lost a child and how it's sort of a search for acceptance. Acceptance is likely the hardest thing to do in the journey of a grieving parent. Some days it feels like you just can't.... you can't 'accept' that your child is gone and there is nothing you could have done to stop it. You can't 'accept' that this to be your life. You can't accept that life can go on in some form of normal. And sometimes it's even just as 'simple' as you can't accept that your child is dead. For me that was hard enough to swallow in the first few days and weeks after that awful ultrasound. But that is part of the stages of grieving...where you deny that it's even happened.
But the acceptance that is the hardest to adjust to, hardest to understand, the hardest place to get to is the acceptance that this is the life that you have been given and it's for a greater reason then you could ever imagine. It's such a hard place to come to...the realization that your life is changed for the better. I mean really, how can that be? How can living without your child be better. How on earth can you get to a point where you say it's not just ok, it's good...it's beyond, good...it's the most amazing life in spite of the fact that your child is not living on earth with you and maybe even that it's the most amazing life BECAUSE of the fact that your child is not not living on earth with you.
That one is hard to swallow at times.... my life is better BECAUSE Cole is not living in our house. And I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am not always in that place of acceptance because, damn it, it's not what I want and it's not fair!!!
But looking at my life, I do know it's true...even if it hurts and even if I wish that I didn't have to go through all that I did in order to be the person I am today.
Losing Cole changed me forever. Initially some changes very well seemed for the worst. The sadness, the depressions, the fixation on loss, on stories of loss, on connecting with others who have lost and in feeling, no actually being, so unconnected to those in my 'real life'... all of those things sure don't feel like changes for the better.
But as time goes on I can see where the loss of Cole, where Cole himself, has lead me to become such a better person. Initially it was changes in the area of empathy, compassion and kindness to others. Not to say I wasn't these things on some level before but after you lose someone you see the world and others loss, struggles and needs differently. I also became much braver about speaking out and speaking up about loss and how to treat others who are going through. Everyone seems to be sure of how you should move on, how you should cope, what you should and should't say. Now I realize there is no right and wrong way to cope and move ahead but there sure is wrong ways to support someone. I realize now that talking about it is the best thing you can do and no one should ever encourage someone who is struggling to cope with a loss to 'not post that', 'not say that' or 'not live in the past'. The process is so individual.
I would never have dreamed that losing Cole would bring me to such a place of advocacy, support and empathy for others going through TTTS. I could never have dreamed that I would meet so many families going through TTTS but more then that I could never have dreamed I would have the impact I have had on these families. When I read what others write to or about me, when I am told of the difference I've made I find it hard to respond, hard to process. It has just come so naturally to me. And that is part of the change for the better that I know would never have happened if I had not experienced the loss of Cole. Sometimes you just have to have been there, experienced it, in order to help.
But the biggest thing that makes my life better because my child is not living on earth with me is that through the process of grief, the process of healing, the process of coping I learned to lean on the Lord. I learned to put my trust in Him. I learned see trials as a way to draw closer to God, to trust him more, to persevere in order to grow closer to Him. I came to understand God more and more. To understand somewhat why bad things happen...well maybe more why the don't happen (not because you are being punished, not because you did anything wrong, weren't good enough, needed to be stronger, because you are only given what you can handle, because God needed another angel in heaven, because, because, because...). I learned to accept that there really isn't a reason that we'll ever find but that only God can get us through it. Only through a relationship with Jesus will we be able to find our way back to the 'land of the living'. From the start of my loss journey I had a relationship with Jesus...I just didn't see it for what it was. I look back at the things I wrote before I truly came to the Lord and realize that I was so much the same in how I processed what had happened, how I coped and found hope. But being truly born again made me realize that I could handle what life brought me because in each and every step Jesus was there and through a growing relationship with him I would come out on the other side. I began to understand that accepting that I am a sinner, will never be perfect but have forgiveness is essential to living again. I began to understand that loving Jesus and trusting him would make my life so much easier. I began to understand that living my life the way I was, selfishly at times, negatively at times, without trust at times (I could go on and on and on here) was not honouring to a God who had done so much for me. And the most important thing I realized...I could get to heaven to see my son again if I would accept all these things and live my life the way God wanted me to...not the way I wanted to.
Do I wish it didn't have to be this way, do I wish the journey hadn't been so painful, do I wish I could have this life and still have Cole here on earth with me? of course I do. But all of it has brought me to a place that I love being in and for that I can embrace and accept that this life is better BECAUSE my son doesn't live on earth with me.