I John 3:18

All original content copyright Jessica Nicole Schafer, 2007-2016.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Unwanted Story

I get asked a lot of questions about my story with grief, or just told things from many who know how difficult it is.  Some of the recurring words are the following---

 "I do not know what I would do without my Momma......I do not know what would happen if I didn't have my Momma.......How have you done it so long without your Momma, especially while raising your own child without her?  My Mother just passed away...what now?"

I do not know.
I wish I could tell you,  to help prepare you.  I wish someone could tell me, to prepare me for the rest of my life without her.  I often look in the past and think how long and hard so many moments have been without her, without having her here.  My Love and I have raised our sweet boy all these years, and so often I've just wanted her here to be beside me in all that.  (Which,she would have been, just as she was for his first couple years of life.)  But then I think of the road ahead. I think of our next babies we have, I think of this sweet boy entering college, I think of him starting his own life, I think of all the rest of the birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, etc.....and it makes me realize I still have the rest of my life to live without my Momma.  I still have the rest of our family's lives and events to live through---and that road ahead will also be full of her absence.  That is not how it should have been.

How have I done it? By waking up everyday.  By loads of coffee. By understanding a God who hurts with me, though I wish this hurt never had to be. I have gone through these years without my Momma by grieving, even when it hasn't been easy. I've done it by leaning on a husband with broad shoulders, and a love for me that never stops being love.  I've done it by venting to a dear friend who lets me share that darkness with her.  I've done it by seeing God in a much different light than the popular image(s) so often given.  I've done it by being stubborn.  I've done it by giving in.  I've done it by being strong.   I've done it by being weak.  I've done it by laughing.  I've done it by crying.   I've done it by being independent.  I've done it by being dependent.  I've done it by doing nothing.   I've done it by being too busy.  I've done it with a Daddy and Stepmom and sister...and they, too, live with this thing.

I've done it because it had to be done.  I'll keep doing it, because it has to be done.  I've done it because I still have this breath, and if you are reading this, so do you.  We will keep doing this life, even as we carry this grief...our Mommas want that.
But I will not pretend there are not days that I just sit back and let the tears fall because my Momma is dead.  There are still moments when I get angry and sad and frustrated, or lonely for her.  And there are still days I just want my Momma to come help me out for a weekend.  There are still days I want to call her and ask her opinion about so many things. There are days I am sick, and wish she could come take care of our boy while my husband is gone working and taking care of us. There are still days I want to call her and brag on our son, to hear her exclaim how proud of him she is.  There are days I miss the matriarch in our family, and all that went with that.  There are still days I wonder how she has been gone for so long.  And those moments will always ebb and flow. 

Because grief won't listen to our calendars and timetables and positive thinking. It's like love, we can't contain it. We just live with it.  And the rub with grief is that it does get heavier during hard times, yet even during all the great and wonderful times...we still wish our loved ones were here for those, as well.  We can't turn that off, nor should we try. Because love never stops being love...and if that is true, and I think it is,  then our grief that fell upon us is something that will always be present in their absence.

Our grief is part of us now, we just go on with it.  The best way we can. 

In this story of life there are so many things we get to write for ourselves.  We get to be in control of more than we realize, and we get to name all the chapters.
***But unexpectedly losing a loved one is not one we wrote.
Our Momma dying at an early age and leaving us all to go on without her...no, we did not choose that. That story of grief chose us.   

The only advice I ever give regarding grief, and I hardly do unless I am asked....is this:

Grieve freely, and do not do it alone. 

***Love has no end, nor the grief that holds its hand.***

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sharing Our Grief.

I had recently turned twenty-seven when I lived through what would forever alter my life. 
My Momma, unexpectedly, out of nowhere, having just beat cancer, died from other causes.
She was fifty-five years old. 
What a loss to this universe. 

An emptiness now looms over our family as we continue on without her, one we cannot ignore. 

Grief is such a weird thing. I think it is a lot like love...we can't explain it, but we know it's there.  We can't define it.

It hit me the other day that our dog had been in our sweet son's life longer than my Momma had the chance to be.  That angers me so much. That is not fair, and I'll never be okay with that.  

Our son is eleven years old now, and I love that he remembers bits and pieces of her.  But oh, what spoiled rotten-ness he's missed out on from her!
The other day we sat down for family movie night,  and he was so excited for me to watch a movie that he absolutely loves. He kept telling me how he knew I'd love it. He knew I'd love one of the main characters in it, he just knew it! 
A little bit into the movie, I noticed the girl he was speaking of...she had lost her Momma at a young age.  Halfway through the movie, it hit me...our son is absolutely conscious of the fact that I do not have my Momma in my life anymore.  He is sensitive to it, and he gets it. 

It is a horrible thing to live with, it is something I am all too familiar with.  So often I want to hear her voice, ask her a question about being a Momma, ask her about her history or my history, hang out with her, have her babysit for us, or all the things that would be happening if she were here, etc., etc.
It was weird and beautiful to understand that in his little eleven-year-old way, he is aware and sensitive of my reality. Understanding that he understands deeply moved me.
It breaks my heart. 
Yet it strangely warms me to know he was trying to speak to my grief, in a way only he knows how.
As much as I write about living with the absence of my Momma, I don't necessarily talk about it that much here at home. It's a hard thing to do, isn't it?  Speaking about our grief is not easy. To just start talking about this woman, this Mother, this amazing human that I miss so much...It's hard to do without bursting into tears. But that doesn't mean I don't need to do it.  My husband needs me to do that, and our son needs me to do that.  I need me to do that.
It is a disservice to our family if I do not speak candidly about the grief I carry day in and day out.
*It is not lost on me that one day our sweet boy may very well be leaning on my writings to cope with my loss.*
May we remember that just as we cannot live this life alone, we cannot grieve alone. May we remember that our grief, as hard as it is to live with and talk about, is not to be ignored.
There's not a platitude, or positive thought, or positive verse, that can take the place of the grief you live with...if so, that would make love and grief pretty cheap. And they are not...they are priceless.  May we speak of our grief, may we share our grief with our loved ones.
*May we remember that sharing our tears over the grief of losing someone so very dear to us is one of the holiest things we can ever do.*
Because life and love and grief affect us all...even an eleven year old little boy.