There are moments which will mark your life; moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts; BEFORE this and AFTER this.
Everlee will always be my BEFORE and AFTER. That moment I held her in my arms, feeling her beautiful stillness, that was the moment I knew nothing would ever be the same again. I would never be the same again. Time stood still for three days in that hospital room we shared with her. It was a time I’ll always cherish, never take for granted and always wish for more. I remember feeling at peace for that moment, and at a place of acceptance. It was a time of great sadness but when I look back I only can remember the peace that surrounded me, the love radiating throughout that room, and the flawless beauty of that peaceful angel in our presence.
However as beautiful as that sounds that peace didn’t seem to last. The moment I was being wheeled out of the hospital room and down the hallway to go home, without her, the gravity of AFTER finally hit. Any peace I found was gone. I watched people walking by me as we traveled through endless hallways, just going about their lives. I kept waiting for someone to ask me about the blanket I held that didn’t contain a precious little baby to bring home. But nobody did. Time was going on for them. They were all blissfully unaware my world was crashing in as I was being taken farther away from my precious child. This was simply it. I would never see her or hold her again in this lifetime. I was headed home to deal with the AFTER. I was headed home without my baby.
All I got to bring home instead was my memories of my perfect little girl, her cute little pink hat, and the blanket we wrapped her 4 pound 11 oz body in, still stained with some plaster from the hand molds the nurses made for us.
Returning home, to normal life, the AFTER really has been the hardest part. Walking out of the peace that surrounded the only moment we shared with her.
My AFTER, has it been a whirlwind of emotions, additional losses and heartaches to add additional sting. So much Pain and suffering that you would think to yourself how is it possible my own heart is still beating when its this broken. Everything about you and everything around you starts to feel utterly broken in a sense. You think and hope this brokenness can be fixed but only time will be able to tell you. You look back at old photos from BEFORE and wonder if you’ll ever be able to smile so carefree again. That smile doesn’t look forced like it does today. Today it’s forced because you so desperately and genuinely want to be happy again, but no matter how big that smile is it just can’t seem to hide the sadness in your eyes. Your eyes will never be able to lie. You realize that all this sadness has forever changed you. You wonder who you are now and what the future holds. Because right now the aftermath looks bleak.
And two years down this road truthfully I still feel the brokenness, my future self is still so uncertain. There is still so much more healing to be had. Currently in our struggles with infertility I still feel time stands still. I’m still so very much in the aftermath of this. Infertility is a different heartbreak of its own, so for awhile I feel I pushed aside my feelings of grief and maybe prolonged this whole process. There is only one way to finding yourself through this. And it’s digging deep and through your grief. There is no running from your feelings. They will always catch up with you. Through it is allowing yourself to feel each and everything. One step at a time, dealing with each situation as it comes. I know We all wish there was this rule book to guide you through grief, a timeline, and a picture to show you who you are now. That will never be a thing though. Each Journey is as unique as you are, Each journey everyone will find themselves and happiness again at all different moments.
There are times of despair in this journey that I find myself wandering in Hopelessness. Times where I resent all the pain. Where my mind spins in relentless questions of why and feelings about the what ifs. Despair that I won’t make it through, that I’m not strong enough. Times of wondering if I’ll ever feel comfortable in my own skin again. Where I’ll be able to see more joy and light in my eyes than sadness. Times of utter defeat as you give in to emotional exhaustion. Times of retreat.
These times of hopelessness can last for hours, a day, weeks at a time, sometimes months or full seasons. You try not to let it over take you, but this is grief. This is also getting through it.
But as I shut my eyes and picture myself holding my little Everlee Jo, my heart Is once again surrounded by the peace that I found in that hospital room. I gaze upon my photos of that beautiful sleeping angel, and I’m reminded of so much more than just pain and sadness but rather more the endless love she has shown me. The endless love that has poured over me from that very same moment. The many gifts and signs the Lord has granted us to let us know she is safe in his arms. His Faithfulness to guide me through the dark. The beauty I have created out of my love for my littlest daughter. My heartwork for her. The beauty and Joy my eyes are now open to and that surrounds us on a daily basis, times of utter beauty and stillness when you know heaven is reaching Earth at the moment.
When I gaze upon this photo of her all that is radiating from Everlee to me is the peace and beauty that I speak of now.
A Sunflower was our first gift from heaven on the day Everlee gained her wings. Now a bright reminder and sign my angel is near and a gift to let us know she is ok.
Everlee’s garden, where angels dance, a place I created out of my love for her. My heArtwork. A place I’ve found purpose and healing. A place to find stillness in this chaos of my broken heart.
The beauty I’m thankful I can fully recognize and see. Moments I call when heaven is reaching to Earth, and Everlees home and mine meet. A glimpse into the glory of heaven my daughter’s forever home. I can find her in these moments.
So while I might be wandering through bouts of hopelessness and relenting pain still. There are moments of great clarity of who I am becoming from this defining moment. In my AFTER. Enough to help me not give up and chase after my aspirations and dreams of how I would want this loss of my child and myself to change me. Enough to make me continue to find hope through our season of infertility, knowing God can work wonders through brokenness. I understand this very much and believe someday I will understand just why I was chosen to walk through these struggles.
I believe very much that I was blessed to be given Everlee. Even for a moment. She has taught me a great bit and opened my heart to so much. I may not like the winding path of grief, and find myself fighting with the hardships this journey entails. I would never wish this on anyone but I have come to accept this as my path in life. My burden to carry. For the light I find along the way seems to outweigh the darkness looming over me at times. And even though I long for that misplaced smile of my BEFORE I know when the day I find a new true smile, I really won’t ever miss that one again. For the new smile will shine the blessing of Everlee through.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ a loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross