Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gentle Nudges

After losing James, I felt a more complete love for Max. It was indescribably really, and all my weaknesses and shortcomings I wanted to improve upon. Mainly, I wanted to be more fully and wholly present.  Although I still often struggle with the urge to zone out and lose myself online, while watching a movie, or in a book, since James' passing I have often felt an unmistakable gentle urging to choose the better part, to choose to connect instead.

Let me rewind a bit. One of the most difficult aspects of this journey for me has been that I felt that I could never know what James' was like in this lifetime. Nine months of pregnancy didn't feel like enough to grasp a personality and I was bitter at my seemingly lost chance. In my faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we believe that families can be together forever and that in fact our families who are waiting to come to earth and who have passed  before us act as sort of guardian angels, helping to guide us back home to our Heavenly Father and to them. With this knowledge, I decided one evening to fervently and sincerely pray to truly know my son. From all of the experiences I have heard and read, I knew that it was possible to receive the knowledge that I so desired. I feel blessed to have been given the knowledge that James was/is an incredibly gentle spirit. I have taken this truth and it has been added upon and for that I am eternally grateful. So with this increased love for Max and a desire to be a better mother for BOTH of my children, I have felt gentle nudges towards better choices for me and for my family.

To play, read, dance, sing, go on walks, learn new talents, etc. I believe that James is on the other side, blessing, protecting, and guiding our family. Every gently inclination towards a better choice feels unmistakably his.

It feels this way because I recognize this gentleness. It feels familiar. It feels as if it is a part of me.

I suppose anyone could claim that all of this is the imaginations of my mind coping with loss and perhaps they are correct. But, nevertheless, my heart is comforted imagining it is James pushing me forward to become a better mother, because at the heart of every gentle nudge is the thought of him and all those moments I crave to have with him.

So I will do my best to have those moments and he can be there, watching over and guiding our family and experiencing it along with us.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Can Do It

For Halloween, I dressed as Rosie the Riveter. I have long admired the women who stepped up during WWII to ensure that factories kept running, that soldiers would have ammunition, planes, etc. to continue to fight the battle. In 7th grade I did a report on these women and their example has led me for much of my life. These were women who stepped up, to moved forward when much of life as they knew it crumbled around them.  Rosie the Riveter has been their poster-girl, with the words "We Can Do It!" emblazoned behind her. They knew that they were strong enough, smart enough, capable enough to perform the jobs that only men had been able to perform at that time. Those words follow me each and every day. While I am not building planes or bombs, I am fighting a battle. Grief is a war of the mind and it can be incredibly destructive if you do not believe that you can take measures to minimize destruction and yes, sometimes you can even fight back.

On bad days, when my sadness is overwhelming, guilt settles in and my heart aches for what I am missing. I want to hold my baby for just one minute more, I want to sing to him, and kiss him and it hurts to think that my time with him was so short. On those bad days, my brain stews and sometimes bitterness takes over. I become angry and bitter at those who are pregnant, those with babies, those who have said things and done things that hurt, and those who I feel have "failed" me for not doing. I hate those days.  On those days, it feels as if their is a weight on my heart. It feels hard to breath, hard to love.

But my constant is this reminder:

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61: 3)

While laboring with James, Kyle and I attempted to distract ourselves by watching a movie. It was some silly, heartwarming family movie and though our intentions were good, no media device would work. We tried the hospital tv (no dvd player), a portable tv/dvd combo (stuck in Spanish with no remote to change it), my mom brought a portable dvd player from our home (broken). It took a good couple of hours after we realized that maybe Heavenly Father wanted us to use our time a little more wisely. There was no escape from the sadness of this situation and trying to forget it through a family comedy wasn't going to happen. So we turned on some Mormon Tabernacle Choir and opened our scriptures. But where was I going to read? The scriptures seemed too huge in that moment so I just started flipped and stopping when there was a marker of some sort, I had a piece of paper with the words of a family friend and spiritual mentor that led me to Isaiah 61. This scripture has turned into a favorite as I think of the promise that is given. From the ashes of mourning we can become mighty trees of righteousness. The promise of the Savior is that He can turn our sorrow into something good, He can transform our lives.

I believe in that promise wholeheartedly. 

I have seen myself change from the moment I accepted the offer to be baptized. I have changed and I am stronger and more full of faith and personally I believe I have grown into a better person. I know that if I actively try, I can continue to grow.

So I try to choose forgiveness when there has been no apology, I try to choose patience when time goes against my wishes, I try to choose kindness, love, service, diligence, and obedience. I try. I am not perfect but I move forward trying to choose that which is good. 

The war of grief continues on and as I fight I remind myself that I can do it. I do not have to let my grief turn me bitter towards the world and in fact, I can let it teach me to see the hearts of those around me. It can teach me to love them, uplift them, serve them more fully. So I am trying to choose to let the Savior work through me, through my mourning. As I have done this, I have felt that weight on my heart lift and my heart can expand, to be filled with more love. It beats with more strength, changed for the better from the weight it has endured and will still endure. I feel peace and joy as I allow the strength I have gained to help me move forward, no on, but forward.