Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sundays at Grandma's - Catching a Memory

Sometimes the strangest things-a sight, sound, even an odor—will evoke a memory.  I have been having those lately—some happy, some sad, and all of them full of love.

My trips to see my daughters have been wrought with memories of the morning we found out Nora had died.  It is hard not to think about that trip on that awful morning when I’m on the same road.  There are points along the road that remind me of the painful phone calls from Lindsey, asking how soon we would be at the hospital.  These points bring back some painful memories, and then tears.  Hopefully, as I make more trips to see my daughters, those memories will not evoke as many tears. 

Recently I was ironing my red ‘Proud to be an Educator’ tee-shirt for a sing along at our state capital.  As I was ironing the scent of the shirt was familiar.  It hit me—this was the same scent that I smelled as I ironed each of the many seams on Nora’s Dr. Seuss quilt.  That was a happy memory—as so much love was put into each piece of that quilt.  As I sewed it I was imagining my little granddaughter laying and playing on it.  It was exciting for me to do this for my daughter and her daughter!  A happy memory.

Last weekend I stopped at Target on my way to my grandniece’s 1st birthday party.  I still needed to get a gift.  I went to the book section and found two adorable books for my grandniece, hit the wrapping paper section on the way out for a card, tissue paper, and a gift bag.  After paying I went back to my car and wrapped the presents before leaving the parking lot.  As I was writing the card my mind had a vision of my husband, Bob, kissing Nora’s forehead in the hospital while Lindsey held her so proudly, but so profoundly sad.  This was a sad moment that tore at my heartstrings.  In that small gesture my husband showed so much love that my heart ached.  Lindsey, holding her daughter and asking ‘isn’t she beautiful?’  Yes, Nora was a beautiful little girl, and she was surrounded by family that loved her overwhelmingly.  A very sad moment filled with so much love.  I couldn’t help it, that memory made the tears flow.  Thank goodness I had at least 15 minutes of travel time before reaching the party to compose myself.

I know that there will be times when something just clicks, whether it is a sound, a song, a smell, or a picture, and it will remind me of Nora.  Hopefully, as time goes on, those memories will be less and less painful.  I also hope, they will never end.

Just recently I went on a “Hopes and Hearts” walk in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, in honor of Nora.  I was amazed at the number of people in attendance.  At the end of the morning the names of the babies being honored were read.  With all the hundreds of people in attendance, not a word was spoken during this 20 minutes.  At the end of the announcing of the names, we released balloons that had been inscribed by each individual there.  Mine was ‘Dear Nora, I will love you forever, Grandma’.  It felt good to write ‘Grandma’ on Nora’s balloon.  When the balloons were released I watched my balloon ascend into the sky, wondering if Nora’s spirit would see it, and know how much she was loved and missed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letters to Nora - The Changing Shape of Grief

September 23rd, 2013

Dear Sweet Nora,

It has been a few weeks since I have written to you or over a week since I have written on my blog.  It’s not you honey.  I really want to write, but my energy is low and I feel stretched thin with life right now.  We have spent the weekends, this month and last, celebrating you in some way that I haven’t had time to write about yet, but so want to share with others.  And then with my new teaching gig and new responsibilities at work it’s been hard to keep up with the blog, which makes me sad.  I have still been doing my grief project!  I just haven’t been writing about it.  I hope to share more about it by the end of the month.  I want to share with everyone the great ways we celebrated you this month and the nice things I have done for others in your name!  You are touching lives still, Nora, even though your feet don’t touch this earth, your spirit still does.

I don’t know, maybe my lack of writing also has to do with the fact that my grief has morphed, changed shape, and settled in to my soul in a new way, now that it has been 9 months since you died.   It’s impossible even to think that your dad and I would have a 9 month old in our house.  Maybe it’s not impossible; it just hurts too much to think of what that might have been like, having a beautiful 9 month old little girl in our lives.  Nora, I think there are parts of grief that I am still not brave enough to uncover.  I’m not sure if I ever will be and a part of me is starting to realize that might be okay. 

But my grief is a silent passenger on my journey through life.  It’s like a small black shadow that sits on my shoulder.  Some days it’s bigger than others.  Some days you can hardly see it. But it’s always there, never to go away, always with me.  I guess that’s okay. Because the grief I carry for you is my love that I will always hold in my heart for you.  I just wish it didn’t hurt so much!  I wish it would be a happier feeling of love.   

I have to let you know though that it’s not always depressing in our lives right now.  Your dad and I are actually doing OKAY!  We spend time together, love being in each others company, and even go out and have a good time.  We LAUGH more then we used to.  We smile more, cry less, and even hope more for the future while honoring the past.  I know it might be silly, but here is a picture to prove to you that dad and I are okay.  We are out at Oktoberfest.  We danced to polka music, drank beer, and had a happy moment again.  It’s not much, but it’s something right?  It’s the little moments of love that count, and that’s what makes the difference between a life well lived and a life waiting to be lived.  I hope your dad and I still fall into the first category.

I love you my sweet baby girl and miss you always.

Love Always & Forever,


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Word Rocks - Paying it Forward for Her

Hi Folks!  It's been a while.  I will have to say that now that I started a teaching gig, my posts might be more sporadic (as you might have noticed!).  I hope to get back on track sooner than later.  Please, hang in there with me.

Today I want to talk about my healing theme for September which is Paying it Forward in her HONOR!  On Friday, for my grief project I will outline my plan in further detail and tell you about all the great work I have done in her name since September 1st!  If you follow me on Instagram, you will already know about my good deeds done to honor Nora.

But, this week starting on Monday, I partnered with Carol at Word Rocks. A few months ago, I got an Instagram message from Carol that said "My heart is really touched by her beauty." On a picture I had posted of Nora right after she was stillborn.  I was touched that someone else, someone who never met her, could see her beauty like I could!  Someone who was not her mother or family member could see the exquisiteness in my daughter's picture as she lie there dead. Where most people turn away from such an image, Carol saw Nora's light and essence.  She saw her beauty.    

And our connection didn't end there.  Carol didn't know it, but I was intrigued by her work at Word Rocks. I researched her project on her site and LOVED what she was doing.  Writing inspirational words on painted rocks and leaving them in public places all over the world, hoping that the right rock and the right word finds the right person.  The person who needed that rock the most that day!  There are some amazing stories on her site about how word rocks have found people in their moment of need and brightened someone's day.  I just knew I wanted to do something like this to pass on Nora's light to others.  A random act of kindness in Nora's name.  

I was ready to reach out to Carol, when I found out that she had already contacted ME!  She sent me a sweet email asking if she could send me a word rock to honor Nora as she was so moved by her story.  And then a week later this package arrived!  It was so beautiful that Nora's image, had touched someone's heart so deeply that this person was moved to reach out to me.   

After that I asked Carol if we could partner this month to do a week of word rocks together in Nora's name!  Carol was ecstatic about the idea and I think at times put more love into her rocks then I did into my own.  We agreed to do the same words on the same days moving forward and spread kindness through word rocks around our respected cities and states.  Then we take pictures of where we left our rocks in hopes that the right person comes along and experiences some of Nora's light and beauty that Carol and I are sharing with others. All in hopes that Nora's tiny and short life touches others as she has touched me and people like Carol.  

Words can not describe how honored and moved I am by Carol's willingness to celebrate my daughter's life.  As a bereaved parent of a child who never breathed a breath in this world, sometimes it can feel like others don't care or don't want to acknowledge the loss of my precious child.  But Carol did the opposite, she honors my daughter and by doing so, she helps me move forward in my grief journey towards healing. 

Thank you Carol for helping me spread Nora's light and love in effort to bring a moment of kindness to another's day along with helping me heal through this loving experience.  Feel free to follow our project this week on Instagram.  You can follow my placement of word rocks @stillbreathinglindsey and make sure you check out all the good work Carol does @word_rocks.  She has so much love to spread I'm honored that Nora and I can be a small part of it.

P.S.  If you find a rock, turn it over and see how you can share your story of finding the rock at her site  I'm looking forward to seeing at least how one of Nora's word rocks touched another's life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sundays at Grandma's: Living with Grief (and Not Letting it Show)

Today's post is by Nora's Grandma Gerry.


Grief…. it seems to be always around me now.  I have found that when I am alone in the car, I can actively grieve and cry.  I can let the emotions flow and I don’t have to try to explain them to anyone, as many times I can’t even explain the tears to myself.  Today I dropped my husband off at the airport in Milwaukee—over an hour away—so I had plenty of time to cry and let the tears flow after leaving him.  Halfway home and after several tissues the trees opened up to a field to the southwest, and a rainbow that was low to the ground appeared out of the overcast clouds, as if a signal to me that things will get better.  They will, but it will take time. 

When I am at work, at home with friends or family, or running errands I keep the grief bottled up—actively avoiding it.   I have found that many people think that the grief for a child that didn’t live outside the womb should be short-lived.  As a society we keep quiet about such things, as if to say if we don’t acknowledge it, then we won’t be sad.  I am hesitant to talk about Nora to some people due to this taboo.

I am also puzzled at that lack of compassion people have over stillbirth.  Some individuals that I work closely with did not even acknowledge the loss of my granddaughter with an “I am sorry for your loss.”  They have treated the situation like it didn’t happen.  Other people who acknowledged the death tried some very clumsy condolences such as, “It was God’s will” or “There will be other grandchildren.”  My inner voice always SCREAMS at them, “You don’t have a very compassionate God!” or “What about my dreams and hopes for this granddaughter?’” But I just say a thank you and tell them there are no words.  And I go through the day pretending that I am all right, when I know perfectly well that a big piece of my heart is missing.

I have found that some people will accept my grieving and allow me to talk about it when I need it.  Those few people—family and very close friends—I will treasure forever for their support and love.  Some people just don’t understand what it is like to have someone die before their time.  I have experienced it too many times.  Recently I had a friend say to me in an exasperated voice that it was “time to move on.”  I can’t begin to describe the anguish and pain that tore through me when this friend made that remark.  My heart actually hurt.  However, I didn’t let it show.  I wanted to say, “Tell me please, when will the pain go away?  Will I just wake up one day and be done grieving?” I don’t think so. 

Why can people who have living grandchildren talk about them but I am forced to keep my love for Nora quiet?  I know that people who have not experienced this type of pain cannot understand it. And when that person does experience something of this depth, I will be there with the right words.

Perhaps staying too busy or cocooning up in my house are not the appropriate responses to grief.  But as a teacher, I had no choice but to shove grief to the back of my mind until summer because I had a responsibility to my students.  When summer came I felt I needed to form a cocoon to process Nora’s stillbirth, my daughters’ and son-in-laws’ grief, and the grief of my husband and the rest of the family—to understand how it has affected each and every one of the people I love.  I have tried to remain strong for all of them—keeping my emotions at bay when I am with them, maintaining the appearance—Keep Calm and Carry On.  

-Grandma Gerry
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved