Grief. 6 years in…

Today is the 6 year anniversary of the day my daughter Elizabeth came home to hospice care, from a devastating week in the ICU. This has been a week of many tears, and some small sense of almost-embarrassment – that it’s been this many years now, and these anniversaries are still so full of emotion. I KNOW that it’s normal and healthy, and no one has ever told me how I should be feeling, and yet I still have some expectation of what this “should” look like. So, I remind myself the depth of the love allows for the depth of the grief. And there’s no right, or wrong, way to do this. And this is what my grief looks like…

This week I’ve been allowing myself to look at photos and video from the time around Elizabeth’s brain surgery, and her time in the ICU, and then right as she came home. I did it each time with conscious preparation, asking myself if I really wanted to watch the videos from before her surgery, when she was telling many of us she loved us, i.e. saying goodbye, knowing she might not emerge from surgery at all, or not her same self, which was largely the case.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, non-hodgkins lymphoma, cancer, Tucson,

Elizabeth Blue, day before surgery

This particular anniversary day started very early, with the dog needing to go out, followed by the cat scaring her and not letting her back inside, which meant I had to go out and herd her back in to safety. So I was up early when a client texted with a rare, urgent need for a quick phone session, and before I’d showered or eaten, I talked to her. It amazes me that I can be so present and calm and offer insights and advice to another, while I’m feeling so vulnerable, aware of my own sadness moments before. I love that we have that capacity to shift, and be present for someone else, as well as for ourselves.

This week has also been ordinary – taking Gracie to the dog park, seeing clients, answering emails and watching an Australian Netflix show I’m addicted to (Offspring). I’ve also been remembering so many details from that time: the ICU conference room my family took over, where we ate scones and lattes my mom brought in (from Raging Sage, for the Tucson folks); the acupuncturist who did a hospital visit to treat Elizabeth, with the cool case she carried all her tools in; brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts in a public bathroom on the nights I slept in a chair by Elizabeth’s bed; the night she was given an overdose of some medication, causing some scary symptoms that the next nurse courageously admitted the reason for; the moment when the ICU nurse told me she heard we were thinking of hospice care, which I’m sure was her gentle way of suggesting that, and which angered me, but ultimately brought us a huge gift of two months of peaceful time at home together, with incredible grace and love; setting up the hospice/hospital bed in our living room with soft sheets, and my sister arranging a big vase of pink roses where Elizabeth would see them; not remembering her arrival at the house – was I not there? is that possible? was it overwhelming? I can’t remember…

roses, altar, Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher

roses on the altar

Then later this morning, I read that a friend’s husband was just diagnosed with leukemia. Though I know them only through social media, I broke down sobbing, with tears for what they are entering, and what may lie ahead. These kind, lovely people with two children and a life about to change in ways they can’t even imagine…and it reminded me so of that time of Elizabeth’s diagnosis – so raw and wild and surreal. I send them reiki and prayers for grace and ease with all that is coming.

And now, my day is coming to a close – I’m tired, Gracie is tired, (finally) after an hour running at the dog park. I’m going to eat some leftover tofu curry for dinner and watch something that takes me away from my memories, that wrenches opens my heart and makes me laugh…Grateful and feeling peaceful at this close of day.

Gracie, Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue, Maui,

Gracie sleeping with her bear

Lucia Maya, Elizabeth Blue,

my toes freshly painted blue today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rainbow, Maui, Hawaii, Hui Noeau,

today’s subtle rainbow

14 thoughts on “Grief. 6 years in…

  1. Just now finally braved reading this post. It brought tears, but your words are so thoughtful and beautiful. I’m really so proud of you; your courage to continue sharing your journey with others. I know you bring strength to others who are suffering similar tragedy and sadness. And that photo of E. Wow, her presence is remarkable. Love you and so glad we will be together soon! XO

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  2. Oh how this resonates with me… six years this week since Shea’s death (7/25/12) and so much emotion. Such vivid memories of her last days, at first noticing her confusion, then as she quickly declined. Her release from the hospital, a day and a half before she died: she just as easily could have been admitted to ICU, but staff knew she wanted to be home. My husband’s shock, when we arrived home; he had seen her the day before but her condition was dramatically worse. There was no time for hospice. Her first hospice visit was scheduled for Wednesday, the day we awoke to find that she had passed away overnight. Sadly, these last days remain my most vivid memories of my daughter. It’s time to go back through photos, to re-read her CaringBridge site, to dig up videos — how I wish there were more.

    Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story so tenderly, so beautifully. I am in awe of your grace. I know the ending of the story; September 23 is my youngest daughter’s birthday, so it’s a date that sticks with me. Oh how I wish we didn’t have so much in common. And yet, I’m glad we have met, if only virtually. Sharing loss brings some comfort in the face of the most terrible of events.

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    • Dear Liz,
      I’m struck by how many parallels we have, and also wish we didn’t have so much in common. Every time I see a photo of your beautiful Shea, I’m so moved – she reminds me so of Elizabeth and something about her just opens my heart…I also have these vivid memories of those last 2 months in hospice, more “real” sometimes than the previous 22 years, which makes me sad.

      I’m grateful for our connection as well, and believe our daughters helped bring us together, knowing it would give us some comfort.
      with love, Lucia

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  3. Oh Lucia … six years … it’s when I “met” you … when I stumbled upon this blog and was just so moved by your story, your voice and your openess and honesty in sharing your feelings. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no rules, no time limits. We’re told it gets easier with time. I’m not so sure. We go through our daily lives, we even feel joy, but we never forget what we’ve lost. And that’s ok. I am thinking of you and sending hugs.

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