Sending Flowers To Heaven

Among the first thoughts I had as the flowers began to arrive at the door was, “I’m going to have to watch them die.”  It saddened me.  As the days and weeks have passed, I’ve watched as each bouquet and arrangement has slowly wilted, shriveled, the life seeping from them as it did from my little Angel’s body.  I held her hand, willing the heat from my body to warm her again, to stop the process, to reverse it.

I looked around the room wondering if she was looking down from one of the corners the way I’ve read about in stories of near death experiences.  I wondered if she understood what happened.  I wondered if she was confused the way I’ve seen “earthbound spirits” become on television when they don’t know their bodies have died.  I wondered if she was crying with us because we couldn’t hear her or see her right there next to us.  I wondered if she knew and understood everything because she had loving guides of light explaining it to her and comforting her where I couldn’t any more.  Or, did she simply remember everything as it was before she came to be my little girl on earth?

Over the course of the first week, I felt a gradual shift in the way of things.  I felt a movement in the nature of our relationship as mother and daughter.  I felt I was being discharged from my duties as her mother.  It was an honorable discharge… of the highest possible honor, but I could feel that our roles were no longer what they had been.  The love has intensified and now it’s no longer my responsibility to make sure she’s okay.  There is a sense that she is watching over me, us… all who love and miss her.  Not a reversal of roles, more of a balancing of them or an equalizing.  Neither of those words encompass the concept, but I felt this…sense… quite profoundly at her memorial celebration; a comforting, sense of some minute and fleeting understanding of a bigger picture in a grander scheme of things.

When my grandmother passed away, I was nine years old.  It was the worst possible thing I could have imagined at that time and it was the first time the light went out of my world.  The sun shone differently.  It had dimmed.  I remember my grandfather telling me that he had seen her in a dream and that she was very happy.  She was excited to tell him about the flowers.  He said she’d told him that she could *hear* the flowers!  Ever since then, I have tried to listen to them.  I’ve gotten so close to them that I can see they actually sparkle, even in this realm.  My human ears can’t hear them but as beautiful as they are and as much as humans love them, I believe it’s true.  I also like to believe that as they die their essence also returns to the purity of their source.

Yesterday, I gently placed the last bouquet of passing flowers with the others in my garden.  I imagine them slowly moving from this realm into the realm where my Dannica is.  I see her surrounded by all the beautiful flowers popping up around her, gifts from her loved ones on earth; gifts that will live forever and sparkle brightly, and sing to her.  My heart looks forward to spring when I can continue this communication with her in my garden.  Maybe she’ll send me messages there, as I plant flowers to send to her in heaven when the weather again turns cold and the days again turn dark here on earth.

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First Firsts

She came into the world at 8:54AM on June 16th, 1994 and I held my breath until she took her first.  Then came that little cry.  It was tiny, and fragile and so sweet.

Dannica passed away on the evening of the 14th of November, 2012.  At 7:53PM I took my first breath without her.  This was immediately followed by the first minute, the first hour, the first time I’d walk back into my house, her room.  More followed right behind.  The first time I’d sleep.  The first time I’d awaken having forgotten.  The first time I’d wonder for only a split second if I’d dreamt it.  The day that followed the first realization that it wasn’t a dream was my first Thursday on earth without her, the first garbage pick up day.  It was the longest day of my life despite the shortage of daylight hours indicating the approach of the year’s shortest day.

The first birthday to come around was my own; the day we chose to hold Dannica’s memorial celebration of life service and the day before Thanksgiving.  A while back, Dannica had asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I thought about it and I told her I wanted pictures.  I wanted photos of my my kids; of her and her brother.  It’s been years since any professional portraits have been done, but I prefer the ones that aren’t professionally done.  I’d imagined the two of them going out with their cameras and taking photos of each other and getting some shots of the two of them together smiling, laughing, being silly, having fun.

The week between Dannica’s passing and the memorial service I spent sorting through a lifetime, a short lifetime, of photos.  It felt good to immerse myself in the memories that had made her smile so much.  I copied and scanned, printed and cut and filled a giant frame with photos to be displayed at the service.  When my family arrived from out of town, I set them to work cutting and pasting photos into several journals that I’d purchased for people at the memorial to write in.  Happy birthday…thank you for the photos.  Now, I wish I’d have answered her question differently.  What I want for my next birthday is what I really wanted for my last one, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, New Years & every day for the rest of my life… her…back.

That evening…

November 15, 2012…

My dear family & friends… my heart is broken and my spirit weak… my baby, my angel, Dannica, was killed in a car accident last night.  Please pray for us.

~*~*~*~

The previous evening, the nightmare began and last evening came full circle in a way; my dreams have returned.  The first one I’ve had since November 14, 2012 was a lucid, vivid, colorful, motion picture nightmare.  The events imitated the real events loosely but this time involved my husband.  As I approached the stretcher where the EMTs were working on him I thought to myself, “This time, I won’t let them know I’m here.”  I snuck around behind them and took his hand in mine and then awoke feeling socked in the stomach and unable to get back to sleep.  I whispered to God, “You wouldn’t *dare*.”  Knowing full well, God would dare.

~*~*~*~

The evening of Dannica’s accident, she had pulled herself up, dusted herself off, and though her own heart had been broken by the end of a year plus long relationship, she was going to see him one last time to return an item of clothing that, once comfortable, now hurt to have around.  I didn’t want her to go.  I asked her if she thought that was really a good idea and she responded with, “I’ll be fine, mom, I’ll go in, come out and come right back.  I offered to drive her and she gave me her “look;” the one that says, “Ya *gotta* start letting me go…I am 18!”  I felt a little knot in my stomach just like every other time I had to let her go.

An hour went by and she wasn’t back so I sent her a text message asking her to check in with me.  No response.  I called her; straight to voicemail.  I texted and let her know that if I didn’t hear from her soon, I’d be sending her brother and a friend to see if everything was okay.  Nothing.  Then she called me back.  She was crying and I asked if she needed me.  She cried, “No,” and I told her I was going to come and get her anyway.  “Okay.”  I told her to stay where she was, in her truck, in front of her boyfriend’s house, I was on my way.

My husband and I got into the minivan and headed in her direction.  It was so dark, cloud covered but only threatening rain.  I turned into the subdivision and then turned again and soon realized I had turned onto the wrong street.  I gave her boyfriend a call and asked the street name, feeling stupid for having forgotten it.  Why didn’t I call Dannica?  I should have called Dannica.  I reoriented myself and turned onto the right street as a text message flashed across my screen, “Just left.”  It was her boyfriend telling me she’d just driven away from his house.  Why did she leave?  She knew I was on my way!?  I got to the end of the street and tried to figure out which direction she’d gone.  I noticed a water pattern on the road.  An arc of water drops turning to the left so I followed them.  No more water drops, which way now?  Left.  To the end of another street.  Right.  To bottom of the subdivision where I’d entered it.

In that moment, something came over me.  A silence.  A palpable silence.  I turned off the heater, turned down the radio and just listened.  I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and then I heard it.  A siren.  Flashing lights flew by a block to the north.  I turned and followed.  I got to the stop sign and turned off the car and headed up the sidewalk to see what it was praying, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…” with each step until I saw the heaps of metal.  “That is a truck.” I told myself.  “Is it red?”  I don’t know.  I walk into the street to look at the license plate…. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…. ”  It is her license plate.  There are EMTs kneeling at the driver’s door.  “Is she in there?!”  I scream and they begin screaming, “GET HER OUT OF HERE!  GET HER OUT OF HERE!” and I am dragged, gasping for breath from the street by a police officer who can’t figure out why I’m here right now or how.

I see my baby lying on a stretcher.  I see the shattered windshield.  I see her left arm fall limply off the edge of the stretcher.  I can’t breathe.  “No, no, no, no, no, no……”  We are in the van again, heading to the hospital.  I call Dannica’s dad and get his message.  “Dannica’s been in a head on collision… come now!”  I text my sister, “Pray as hard as you can!”

We reach the hospital to be told she’s been rerouted to the hospital in a neighboring town.  A friend who is a doctor tells me this is because that hospital has heart doctors and neurosurgeons.  “No, no, no, no, nonononononooNO!”  At the hospital we are greeted by a chaplain.  I still don’t see it coming.  We are escorted to a small room where we are soon joined by a doctor.  He’s upbeat and chatty… takes a deep breath and prepares, I assume, to update us on Dannica’s condition.  With his demeanor my mind knows it’s serious but she’s okay.  He fidgets a bit, bouncing his foot, clapping his hands quietly together, looking around the room, I almost expect him to tell a joke.  He says irreverently,

“Well, there’sjustnoeasywaytodothissoI’lljustsayitshe’sdead.”

I’m mentally slammed against the wall before my emotions can even begin to register the reason for my 21-year-old son suddenly curling up in my lap and crying, “No! No, no, no, no, no…”  I clench my teeth, incredulous at the heartless, callous, insensitive excuse for a human being before me.  I say, “Take me to her.”  He asks, “Now?”  Time to lose it.  I yell, “Yes!  RIGHT NOW!”  His presence is insufferable.  He says, “Let me tell ya whatchyer gonna see.”  He says something.  I’ve stopped listening.  I am raging inside.

The last thing I remember him saying, following a go-team clap of his hands is, “Okay!  I’ll go see where she’s hangin’ out.”  He bounces out the door.  I look at the chaplain, my husband, my son, his best friend and with wide eyes all I can say is, “Well *he* was a CHEERFUL FUCK!!!”

The next four hours were spent trying to absorb the shock that continued to simply shatter, with blunt force impact, every fiber of my mental, emotional, and physical being.  All I could do was sit there numbly, shaking my head, “No, no, no, no…. no,” as I watched her beautiful, intubated, cervical collared body grow cold.  The silence of her heart and her breathing was absolutely deafening.  It resounded and echoed around inside my head.   This is the sound of forever.  I’ll hear it again and again and again for the rest of my life.  Gone.  Forever.  “No.”

Faith… aaaannnnd Action!

I do have very strong spiritual beliefs and for that I am grateful.  It is the history of my entire life that has slowly prepared me for the events of the last many days.  I can see it as if from above; agreements made, potentials discussed, lessons considered… and Wednesday, the 14th of November, it was as the hustle and bustle backstage before the curtain goes up. “Places, everyone!” …and now the janitor quietly sweeps between the isles, the lights dimmed, roses thrown all over the stage.  I have spoken with many people who felt a ripple move through their lives during that 24 hours before Dannica left this place.  Many people felt it coming, didn’t know why, weren’t sure what, but knew for sure *her*… somehow, something… they felt it coming.

 Some have asked me, “How can you stand here?  How can you be so strong? How are you doing this?”  Well, I have moved as steadily as I know how from one breath to the next.  “Breathe, Breathe again, good… once more…. just one time more…”  Soon, I was able to stand.  The tears crumbled me, the energy drained through my feet and pulled me to the ground again.  Only Mother Earth could hold me up.  So I stayed there, and the only power I knew was gravity.  Eventually, I stood again, took a step.  Took another step… this is where I live now…. taking a step; maybe another step.  Maybe.  Someday, I will run again, dance again, sing again, smile up into the sun again and rejoice in every moment with all my heart.  Someday.  Maybe.
 
Others have asked me, “What has this done to your faith?”
 
“This has made my faith stronger, far stronger, than it has ever been.”  I tell them.
 
“How can that be?!”  They ask.  “How can that be?”
 
I have learned in my life that no matter how much it hurts, no matter how unfair it seems, no matter how senseless, something good will come of it.  It’s never evident in  the moment.  But these things are undeniable when they start showing up.  Divine order is beautifully manifest in absolutely everything one can rest their eyes upon, their hands, their heart.
 
I will have my moments of weakness, and I’ll grow stronger.  For now, one breath, another breath, stand, one step, another step.  Breathe, raise my eyes to the sky, bring my hands to my heart and hold her there and listen and watch and patiently wait…  for something good.

A Body at Rest, a Mind in Motion

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I had underestimated my ability to watch entire days pass from the single vantage point of my couch.  What I see are the purple ribbons tied into the trees by loved ones.  Danni’s favorite color was purple; mine the combination of purple and green dancing together… the way they will when the leaves again cover those trees.

I see the birds visiting the feeders and remember someone telling me that the birds call the angels.  I understand that sometimes even angels can’t do more than angels can do.  I don’t like that.  But I guess I understand it.  I don’t like that there is simply so much I will never know.  No matter how long I sit on this couch and watch time pass.  That isn’t what will heal me.  I don’t like that, either.  That’s all I feel like doing.  No matter how many times I play the whole scene over in my head, the things I don’t know are still the things I’ll never know.

So many children have been taken this month [Sandy Hook Elementary 12/14/2012].  How can I possibly feel lucky that at least I had 18 years?  My heart aches to know that a month behind me are 40 other parents who are only into their second week of this.  How can I possibly feel lucky that I had not yet bought any Christmas gifts that wouldn’t be received?  How can it feel like a blessing that I no longer need to worry about where she is, who she’s with, whether she’s safe?

In my first post, I invited the world to watch the resilience of the human spirit.  I must have faith that such a thing exists.  I did in that moment.  Many have asked me, “What has this done to your faith?”  My faith.  The first time someone asked me that question, I answered without hesitation, “It’s made it all the stronger.”  I’m not a stranger to loss.  And then I said what I thought I wanted to hear.  “Everything happens for a reason.”  Another thing I sit here thinking about until I realize, I’ll never know what that reason is.

“Any minute now, I’m going to leap up off this couch and…”  That’s what I say just before I drift off into a dark sleep.  I don’t move for hours, I know I’ve slept, but my dreams are gone.  My colorful, detailed, vivid, motion picture dreams are gone.

No, I don’t know what that reason is, but I’m not willing to allow it all to have been for no reason.

The End of The World As We Know it…. “and I feel fine…”

There was a part of me, though I never subscribed to the idea before her passing, that actually hoped the world would actually end today.  In so many ways, the world ended for me that November night, in that ER, in that room, with the careless, thoughtless words and actions of that heartless doctor.  “Focus,” she’s telling me now, “on what really matters here.  She is wiser than I.  She walked her talk and called me on the lapses in my own walking and talking.  But I am angry in this moment.  In this moment I wish for that doctor to feel one minute of my pain.  Just one minute of what I must learn to live with for the rest of my life.  One minute of this would kill the man.  One minute.

No, I don’t feel fine. 

(It’s time I had some time alone,
It’s time I had some time alone,
It’s time I had some time alone
I feel fine…)