Saturday, March 2, 2013

What I've Learned From My Daughter's Death

Today, March 2, is the 19th anniversary of my daughter’s death. That is why I'm writing this blog today, Saturday, instead of tomorrow on my usual day to write. She would have been 47- years-old this year in July, and it seems like it just happened yesterday. Just yesterday she was swinging in that swing in the backyard, screams of joy coming from her. Just yesterday she was graduating high school, wearing that white robe and so excited to go to college. And just yesterday, she was married, looking so lovely in her satin dress and walking down the aisle with her father and me each holding one arm. Where have all the years gone? They go so quickly. What have I learned in all these years since her death?

First and foremost, I’ve learned the love I have for my daughter will never change. She was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I would tell anyone that. She was kind, generous (to a fault sometimes), and beautiful, both inside and out. People surrounded her, and if they had a problem, she was there to help them. As one friend said to me after her death, “She was the string that held us all together; she was there to pick us up when we fell; and she always had a kind word and solution for everything. I will always miss her.”

I’ve learned that time doesn’t make the hole in my heart heal; time just softens it a little. My heart sometimes aches when I think of what a waste her death was. She had so much she wanted to accomplish: a career, a family, and so much more. And in one split second, it was all gone.

I’ve learned that talking and meeting others who have also lost a child is not only a big comfort, but they understand, like no one else can. They, too, have been through the worse thing that could ever happen to a parent. Our children were not supposed to die before us; they were to outlive us.

I’ve learned I am not afraid to talk about my daughter. I will bring up her name whenever appropriate in a conversation, particularly when it is someone who knew her and is talking about an era, a place, a situation that perhaps she was involved in. The most satisfying is when I am asked about her, allowing me the freedom to reminisce, smile, laugh and be happy in the moment.

I’ve learned to help others by talking to them individually or in front of a thousand people. I remember a teacher saying to me that if he could help just one person, his goal has been reached. I have received many emails and letters thanking me for my talks, my advice and just being there when they needed a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen to them pouring their heart out.

I’ve learned what is important in life. It is the little things: a beautiful sunset, a flower that has just bloomed, a butterfly landing on your shoulder, a rainbow after a hard rain. I miss my daughter the most and my eyes get misty knowing she will never be able to appreciate any of that anymore. Who won a football game, the price of gas, and the newest TV show…all so trivial, so unimportant, compared to what has happened to so many of our children and us.

I’ve learned to live every moment to the fullest because I now know how short life can be for so many. Take that trip you always wanted to take but could never find time for; eat that extra dessert you crave; call that friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with; and love. Love your family no matter what. Enjoy them; always hug then; do things together. Time will not stand still for anyone or anything, so make the most of it.

Most of all I’ve learned I am a survivor. I have moved on with my life, accomplished many goals, and my daughter’s death inspired me to write two books to help others. I believe everyone can be a survivor. It may take a long time, it may be a very difficult struggle, but when you get through your personal grief journey you will find, as I have, there is a life on the other side of grief.

Marcy, I will be at the cemetery on this day to visit you as I do a few times each year. It is our special time together. I will tell you all the things I think you would want to know. I will sit and chat with you as we so often did. We were very close and told each other everything. I miss you terribly and all those wonderful times we had together. But my love for you will never change. I love you now and will forever.

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