Whatever it may be, it can be better…

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. In the last few weeks, I’ve lost two dear friends, in particular, a dear close friend to cancer.

My sweet friend died from cancer after battling this beast, as she called it, for almost three years. Elle, as I will call her, and I didn’t really see eye to eye for most of the 13 years I’ve known her. She and I are much too alike. We have much in common, but we have learned to manage our friendship through the years.

She was diagnosed with cancer just a month or so before I lost my daughter. Thereafter we found solace in each other’s pain and despair. She has learned to hear and feel my pain. I have learned to marvel at her strength and determination. Near her end of life, I would offer her prayers and encouragement, hoping it would give her peace and comfort.

When she passed, her sweet family told me I was brave. I’m not sure what they’re referring to, but it’s likely because I lost Allie and I’m still walking. I don’t feel brave; I only wanted to help Elle.

The truth of the matter is that Elle has been helping me with my grief. When Allie took her life, I was so lost. I was looking for a purpose, and Elle reached out just when I was searching for something. I know I felt guilty I was not there for Allie. I know I regretted that Allie didn’t know I was there for her. My friend gave me a purpose. She allowed me to pour my energies of wanting to help Allie into helping her navigate this cancer beast.

Now that Elle is gone, I’ve been bereft. I’ve felt lost because I’m not purposeful to anyone. I am still involved with our diocese, but that is going much too slow. I have had to look at my grief again, and I just hate facing something so awful.

I’ve found this past Sunday a path back to my faith. I found He is still there, just waiting for me to find. I’ve allowed anger, fatigue and discouragement overwhelm me. The rosary and the prayers that have lifted me for a while had faded when Elle faded away. I allowed these beautiful and uplifting gifts to fade away, and I became jaded.

I know it’s easier to wallow in our despair. I talk about this often here, yet it’s taking me a while to dig out of my hole of self pity. I’m still trying to ride up from the despair, hence it took a while to go back to my writing.

I’m still not fully inspired. I’ve been crabby. I’ve been impatient with myself. It hasn’t been fun for my poor family. I saw this, so I’m trying harder.

At mass yesterday I saw a glimmer of hope. It was a song that was sung that tugged on my heart. I don’t remember the song, but it was beautiful. In that moment I felt my faith again. The feeling of being deeply comforted was there once again, the same feeling I had when I was talking with Elle and other people I’ve met in this journey.

I miss my friend, and I miss my girl. Elle’s passing brought back all the sadness knowing my sweet baby girl is also gone, forever gone. I will miss my friend and hearing her laugh and cry. I remember all the beautiful things she told me about my girl, how Allie came into her dreams to tell her that it was all going to be ok, her family would be ok. Elle told me what a beautiful angel I have, that my husband and I raised an amazing soul, and that she is making her love grow in so many people.

I will forever cherish my time with Elle. I will forever hold her and my sweet baby girl in my heart. God is good, God is merciful, and God is loving to allow me the chance to have these two beautiful souls in my life.

Waiting for Godot…

My husband and I finally went out to a gathering last Saturday, a first get-together with people not in our close circle. The party was good fun with wonderful people with whom we played gin card games.

As I watched my husband finish his hand at one point, I noticed the slight droop of his shoulders and his well-worn smile that had a slight hint of sadness to it. It brought back to mind the long journey we’re traveling together. It’s a sorrowful journey yet loving and meaningful. We still have our other kids, yet one will always be missing. So deeply missed after almost three years.

In the three years, my youngest girls grew more than a foot each. We’ve made changes to our home just to break the mood and keep us busy. We’ve learned who are our real friends, and we’ve focused our energies.

Each step each day will forever be painful. I think there were just a handful of moments in the last years that I didn’t think about Allie. She is just my bright light, and I miss her every moment. I cry and plead for her. I want to find her, and I know where she is I cannot go yet. Sometimes I hope I get sick so that I can be with her. I’m not suicidal, but if death comes knocking, I won’t fight it.

Then I see my sweet kids, and I try to be brave. Bravery is such an understated character trait. It helps define you if you find that will power to do and be better. Standing up to fear is so very hard. Facing your frailties is sometimes unbearable.

Yet I must be brave. My kids deserve to live as fully and as lovingly as they can. I have to make their lives as meaningful as they can be. I have to show them that in between the deepest depths of our despair is love, light, God, Allie, redemption and joy. Pure joy.

I have seen that joy. I’ve felt it, even if it was fleeting. I do know it will come again, and I want my kids to know and hang on to that hope. This joy and love comes in different faces and ways, so I have to show them where to look for them. They are all gifts from God, and we cannot ever say no to His gifts.

God bless to each of you reading this. We are all brought together because we’re all looking for an answer. It’s an answer that can only be answered when we shed our physical side and embrace the spiritual. This is not a literal translation, even though we do this shedding when we pass away. It is in the now that we will find it. I’m going to keep looking, for these gifts and my girl.

To one’s true self…

Love is patient;

love is kind;

It is not jealous;

It is not pompous, it is not inflated, It is not rude.

It does not seek its own interests;

It is not quick tempered;

It does not brood over injury;

It does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never comes to an end.

I fall silent when I think of my daughter, who seems like only yesterday was alive and here. It’s been 2 1/2 years, and I can still imagine and pretend that she will walk through the front door to say “I’m home!” I walk by pictures of her in our home, and each time, I find her beauty and spirit breathtaking yet painfully so.

I think of what I have done in the past with her, lamented the times I was not patient, and upset that I can’t do anything more with her. It’s not helpful to do this, but it’s human nature. It’s also still a struggle to be a better parent with her siblings, despite knowing what happened to Allie.

When I use my name in the prayer above in place of the word “love,” I find myself deeply examining my relationship with God, my family and my circle. I see my shortcomings, my frailty, my inhibitions and sometimes, my bests. This prayer from the Corinthians is an unbelievably crucial gift for checking ourselves, for examining one’s conscience, and being vulnerable before God. Reminders to step back to look at one’s life once in a while is an important step to remember who we are and what we believe.

God believes in us, that is so perfectly true. Our belief in Him, however, is tested each day. It’s because we are only human. God is merciful and kind. He wants us to always come to Him and to think of Him in all we do. I am at peace in believing He has my daughter. He had seen her pain, how she was not in her right mind when she took her life, and wrapped her in His warm embrace. I know this because I’ve felt it. I know it because I feel Allie is content, happy and at peace. I know it. I believe.