Visibility of my Soul

Today can’t stop. It’s like being on a never ending carousel. You get on and the ride goes up and down, round and round. The attendant has left and you have no choice but to continue. There are 365 days of the year, (or add one more for Leap year). I have had times where I have cringed certain days. Days that I just want to skip right over. July 4th is now a bittersweet day for me. I’m on that carousel. Horse up is the wonderful memories he brings me. The utter joy I have of the happier days in my life. I can still see his face and hear his voice the night I last saw him. Those are the “horse highs” on the ride. The “Horse lows” is him not being here to celebrate with me. I have the horrible complex catch 22. I’m taken back to the my pregnancy and the day he was born to wanting to hug him, see him, hear him…. Oh man, The elation of that day. My first baby, The anticipation of holding my son. Him being a holiday baby to the now remembering that he’s not here, but now resides in Heaven. The constant round and round makes me dizzy. Up, down, up, down, round and round… And someone please turn off that creepy music.. It’s supposed to remind you of happy childhood days, but I’d rather hear a classic R&B jam from the 90’s. Today is a tricky day…

This is what I see now.. July 4, 1996 – January 19, 2013. 16 years of life. And every year is the same now, I add another year. He would be 24. Every year I ask the same questions according to that age..This time it’s What would he be doing now? Working? Still in college? Would he have a girlfriend? What would he look like? Yep, I wonder about it all, and it’s never going to stop….Those wonderings will continue for the rest of my natural life. And it’s ok. I’m not sharing because it’s a problem, it’s my reality.

Are there birthdays in Heaven? Is there any recognition? I’d like to imagine that there are for just a moment. I close my eyes and envision not birthday cakes, not party favors, but music and dancing. I see our loved ones looking at us and saying a prayer that we will be ok as we remember them on the day they were born. My dad told me about a dream he had of Eliyah. He saw him sitting on a very bright street corner playing his trumpet. He said he had a look on his face that embodied more happiness than he had ever seen. My father then went on to say that his look gave him peace that Eliyah was doing just fine. I can’t help but have the same vision. Eliyah left this earth 7 years ago and I have yet to have a dream about him, or talk to him in a dream. But I could see him thru the lens of my father’s dream. However on his birthday I picture him celebrating with Jesus. Playing his trumpet for him. I talk to him always and today I would ask of him to remind Jesus of my prayer to make this day less heavy for me. To shine on me in a very special way because my heart hurts….

I have/had a video of Eliyah playing happy birthday on his trumpet to me. I say have/had because thru much searching I still can’t find it. I can see what he had on, where he stood, and his big smile of joy afterwards, when I remember it. But I still can’t find it. It bothers me.. It was so personal. And because he’s not here I grieve it’s whereabouts… Had to bring it up because it’s in my thoughts, but I’m not going to dwell on it any further today.

I write and share with the heart of transparency. I want people to know that broken crayons still color. That it is ok to share the broken pieces, the broken moments, the broken dreams gone unfulfilled. This is an unthinkable journey, yet here I am. By the grace of God I can share with all of you. My heart is to encourage, uplift, and to inspire. Happy birthday Eliyah. You’ve inspired me, and through your life gave me purpose to pursue a life worth living. Thank you Eliyah for I know even now there is value in each and every struggle and pain. Your life pushes me forward to manage said pain and to complete what God has called me to do!! I love you forever my son.

Tears in the back

I haven’t written or shared anything here since the beginning of the year. My father Wayne Wilson passed away suddenly at the end of January, and being a daddy’s girl, it did a number on me…… Thinking about it now it’s probably been 6 months. I kept saying to myself I need to write in my blog. I’d say c’mon girl aren’t you thinking about writing? Sure.. I thought about sharing..But it just didn’t feel possible. I think and have thoughts about much this year. We are still in a pandemic of sorts. Many have lost love ones this year, and would probably conclude that this is the worst year ever in their lives, and for different reasons. I write this blog in an effort to help with my own personal healing in my journey, but to also encourage others who have experienced the loss of a child. Some have reached out to me saying that this blog has helped them through other losses, and to that I say to God be the glory.

Grief is not about survival. It is about living each day well through hurt, pain, loss, fear of future, etc. My heart has been overwhelmed lately watching the news in part and seeing what is happening across our nation, and our world. I think about those that have experienced new loss, and the indescribable pain they now feel.

Yesterday, I visited the cemetery where my son Eliyah is buried. It’s not something that I do often, or make a habit of but I felt the need to get out of the house and go somewhere where I could cry, pray, and not be bothered. When I got out the car and walked to his grave my body just fell into a sit down position and I just weeped. I weeped for the son that I miss so much, my father who’s loss to me is still very raw, I just sat there and cried. I just cried because I had the feeling of being on the “backburner” on the stove. Through this time I’ve had to console others. When my daughters were younger and even now of course I have to lay aside my hurt to help them. One of my girlfriends always reminds me that I am of no help to anyone if I am not cared for. Airlines always tell you to put the mask on yourself first, and then proceed to help someone else. Who will care for the person that must care for everyone else? Who provides love to the one that feels depleted? I sat on the grass. I never sit on the grass anywhere because within about 5-10 minutes I’m super itchy. Hahaha. I even had a little blanket in my trunk but I was too weak to move so I just sat there. I dont know how long I was there. Maybe 30 minutes, but I needed to talk my thoughts out loud. I needed to pray, I needed to read, and re-read Eliyah’s marker over and over.. I could feel the tears in the back. What do I mean by this? Well, when you are cooking a large meal, maybe for Thanksgiving or a celebration. Most stoves have 4 burners on top. The burners in the front get priority use for what is needed quickly or what is needed or being tended to first. The burners in the back are used for maybe warming something up, or you have already cooked the dish, so you put it back there to get out of the way. It’s important however that these burners are not left alone or forgotten about because of their placement. This is what parenting, or moving through these times feels like for me. Like I’m crying in the back somewhere unattended. It’s a catch 22. God gives you strength, and people see that and make assumptions that you are A ok. You help your friends, your kids, family members, your neighbors, and even help those who are just going through the first year or first few weeks of grief. They’re looking to you because you made it on the other side, and smiles are there again, and comfort for them is needed and you are the only one who can give it. I understand it completely.

The struggle of staying sane through these difficult days is what the tears in the back are. I know I had to reconcile that time moves on even when you aren’t ready or don’t want to. I know that it is ok to not be ok. I know that broken crayons still color. I want you, me, us to be well. Self care for you is important. Do not neglect what it is that you may need. Do not push or allow yourself to be on the ” back burner” if you need the attention in the front that is condusive to your healing. Tears in the back requires an assessment. I am no good to others when I am a mess. Most times even the people that I’m closest to fail to recognize the distress signals. Or the expectation is that I’ll be good in a day or so. Tears are cleansing and given by God for a purpose. Never loose sight of that. I’ve cried often this year. It’s been a year for the record books. Just keep the tissues on standby…But through this difficult season I know that God will wipe the tears away. He bottles up the tears. Joy will come again, and it will be unspeakable. This is my hope that I cling to…….

Boundaries in Grief

The thing about grief is that what is true always changes.  My life since Eliyah’s passing hasn’t become easier, it’s become more complex.  I set on a search for balance, which included setting some much needed boundaries.  Friends, family have this idea of how you should be. It’s their perception of how you should grieve. For example, ” You’re too happy today, shouldn’t you be more sad? ” Or “you sure are sad don’t forget to smile it’s been almost ( insert time here).”  People unintentionally will fault you or bring guilt because they perceive it should look a certain way. I was and am determined to not fall into that trap.  Grief looks different for me than it does for anyone else. Grief is unique. I had to talk to the Lord about this often.  Smiling…. I felt how can I do this when he is not here to enjoy? I felt I was betraying Eliyah who was not here.  Sadness… does Eliyah really want me to be so sad? I searched for moments yes moments of enjoyment.  I wasn’t going crazy, I was grieving.  There are so many layers to grief. I experienced people saying extremely insensitive things to me.  It’s like did that really come out of your mouth??? You can’t wrap your mind around it. But what matters the most is not what is said to me or about me but my response. What is my reaction? What are my thoughts towards this person? They don’t understand my pain, or maybe they are trying to avoid their own pain, They speak without thinking etc.  Whatever the reason may be has nothing to do with me.  What was helpful to me was not to respond. Yep, keep my mouth shut and when necessary remove and isolate myself from the source.  You think, am I not going through enough without the extra nonsense of people?? yet God was reminding me that even in grief he will get the glory.  I had to forgive…Cry out to God to help me because this is hard.. Job said ” I have heard many things  like these; miserable comforters are you all.  (Job 16:1-2). Can you even imagine??  How frustrating it was to listen sometimes.   I had to in my anger and sometimes confusion forgive.  I could not allow bitterness to take root in my heart towards these individuals. Did I get mad? Yep…. I sure did.  I could not believe that people I knew would behave in that manner or from a different perspective those that vanished, disappeared, went ghost, that simply could not handle or face our loss did that…. I though they would be near to my family and instead they were not.  Again dealing with the many layers of grief.  Recently, I sat with a young woman who recently lost her teenage son. Part of our conversation, she told me she visits the cemetery every day. I said to her you must do what gives you peace. She said her sister asks her “Why do you go there, he’s not there!” She said she knows but it’s something she has to do for now for herself..  I told her if going to the cemetery for the last month since his passing brings you healing, then that’s what you do. You can not be pressured into grieving how your sister feels or wants you to, or anyone else for that matter. I said people mean well for the most part, but going to his gravesite helps you and that is all that matters.  Well meaning, well-intentioned people, has caused me to pray more. They do not understand my pain, and nor should I expect them too. My expectations have to stay in check and I have to focus on what is crucial and beneficial to my healing. Having and keeping my boundaries. It always points back to the Lord.  I was reminded a couple of days ago that God’s Sovereignty is over my situation. He is in absolute total control which means I can trust and lean on him through my pain. I hope and pray that you can do this as well.

The Fixer

Good morning.  Have you ever called someone to come and fix something in your home? Or maybe took your car to the mechanic to have something fixed? Maybe your like so many I know including myself that can fix stuff around the house, and with channels on you tube you can just do it yourself.  There is a cartoon called Bob the builder.  His motto is “Can we fix it? Yes we can!”  I work in television and film and on a sitcom all the problems are solved in 30 minutes right? It’s quick.  As a mother I have fixed many of things. I’ve hemmed pants, sewn buttons on, solved problems around the house, super glue at times has been my best friend. I have fixed “boo-boo’s” with band aids, I’ve even as some say fixed dinner.(laugh)  Yet, on Jan. 19, 2013 as my son laid lifeless his bed,  I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t change what had already happened. I couldn’t reverse this.  I wasn’t able to sit him on my lap and tell him everything will be ok.  I couldn’t fix this tragic, terrible, thing. I was no longer the fixer….. I could not wipe the tears away with a tissue and make this ok. No amount of super glue, crazy glue, gorilla glue, tape, band-aids, nails, putty, or any other adhesive was going to hold my heart from the billions of pieces it had broken into.  Honestly, I’ve never felt such pain in my life. Several times after his funeral I found myself at the Dr.’s  office and the emergency room once because of the physical chest pain I had. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. The tests results came back each time as negative, EKG was nice and normal. The doctors could not fix my broken heart. There was a pain there that could not be detected with machines. It could not be detected or helped with medication to make it feel better or go away.  As a child, I used to hear the term “Jesus will fix it” someone even made it into a song. When you are facing a monumental challenge what does that mean? What does Jesus will fix it really mean? I needed real answers. I could not focus on my hurt or my problem in order to get these answers. I had to rely on my faith.  I could not leave my faith behind. I had to trust that God would show up.  I was suffering, in pain, and needed help.  What I had to understand was that even the most damaged, broken, unimaginable situation that I or anyone else could go through including the death of a child was not to hard for Jesus to heal.  Who is God in character? He is for me and this is the truth. So it means that with my sorrow and pain I can’t be the center, he must be. Eliyah’s death had to be looked at from a different set of eyes. Yes my heart was bleeding out, but I know that God is persistently consistent and apart from him I could fix nothing!!!  This is how my healing would be. This wasn’t going to be a neat little pretty package that all works out just fine and dandy, and end in a fairytale happily ever-after.  In this “fixing” of it all would require me to know that my faith must continue to render that God is always Good. Always.  This wasn’t going to be a sitcom fix as mentioned above. It was going to be a lifelong journey.  A journey of remembering who God is through my faith, knowing that he cares for me. I didn’t have to be a fixer any more. I can quiet the sound of the hurt and let hope and faith resonate the loudest.  His power alone can handle and manage it all.. What a healing to my hurt to know this.    Love Always Wins!!

An Empty Chair

I remember the first day of school for all my children. Since preschool I’ve taken that first day photo like many other parents. Now, over the years I’ve watched parents get elaborate thanks to fantastic websites like Pinterest.  Eliyah passed on a Saturday morning just shortly after returning to school from a 3 week holiday for Christmas break.  I know the first Monday after his passing, was extremely hard for his friends, peers, and teachers. The school did a very special memorial over the PA system. He was the anchor and the face in the morning  for GVTV. They too did a special announcement for their fallen friend. That was the first day of his empty chair. Each class he was in had an empty chair and a very real realization that he was gone….. An empty chair in Band, English, Math, History, Lunch, etc.

          I also had empty chairs.  I remember looking back in my driver’s seat in my van and seeing where he sat most of the time. I had to walk by my dining room every day and see the dining room chair that he would no longer sit in. The couch, his bedroom on his bed, my room, everywhere that I ever saw him sit would now be empty……It took a while to not see his face looking back at me while I stood in the kitchen and watched him eat. I remember funny times where he would eat the biggest bowl of cereal and I’d ask did he save some for the rest of us and we’d just laugh!!!

          Eliyah was a Junior in High School.   The first day of what would have been his Senior year, I was a wreck. My daughter was going to be a Junior now and my other daughter Second Grade. Once again faced with the agony of sadness for one and joy for the 2 others. It’s the craziest feeling.  Smiling while crying.  That year was the hardest for me. The place where he would’ve taken his back to school photo was empty…. All of his friends/peers were participating in Senior activities. Homecoming, Prom, and all else that comes along with it.  I dropped off my oldest daughter at school one day and saw the seniors in cap and gowns outside prepping to take their senior photo… I lost it. I don’t even know how I drove home. My heart felt that missing piece!!!! I did not attend what would’ve been his high school graduation but many told me they honored him and gave a moment of silence.   It was so difficult and sometimes heart wrenching to see birthday announcements, and graduation announcements from others. I know they didn’t send to be vindictive towards me but dang, didn’t they know how much I was hurting? The truth is no. They were doing what most do, go on with their lives.  I told people that he had already experienced the greatest graduation that one day all of us living for Christ will. He is in Heaven and nothing would ever top that. That’s what my Spirit celebrated. That’s what my faith shouted to me. But my human, motherly side said this sucks…..

          Many parents that are grieving are seeing the empty chair for the very first time.. This is the time of the year which we call back to school and many kids didn’t make it over the summer to enter this school year.   If you know someone who has or is experiencing the empty chair give grace. A listening ear is encouraged. No one is looking for you to be the hero, just be present. It’s a challenge to see other kids grow, change, have new experiences, develop, while you will forever miss those milestones. Be gentle, and show kindness. To my fellow members of the club no one wants to be in,  continue to celebrate the memories. Honor your child the best way you can.   Acknowledge all of the beautiful moments you shared. Healing is taking place. Be kind to yourself. There is no timeline, no manual.  Say your child’s name and express the love within!!!!! Amen!!!!!!

 

I have a hope….

I pray each day that your sorrows lighten. The Lord is your strength. I knew that when Eliyah passed there would be new journey ahead of us that we would have to endure.  I didn’t want it nor did I ask for it but here it was. I could not change it… I couldn’t close my eyes, click my heels and wake up and he’d be back. I wanted to even bargain with God.. Change this outcome for my peace I cried out!! I wrestled with him, I told God that I thought you loved me…well this doesn’t feel like love… Love shouldn’t hurt I thought. You allowed me to be crushed and I don’t  know if I can trust what you say!! I said all of this in my hurt.  I will tell you that I was in awe that God gave me so much strength and compassion for others in the midst of those first few weeks. My faith in God, probably just a tiny bit bigger at the time than a mustard seed demanded that I have hope.  It demanded that I not lean to what I understood because I didn’t know why. I didn’t have any answers. I knew that this, Eliyah’s absence felt unbearable. My spirit did what my flesh wanted to fight. I was able to smile because deep down I knew God did love me. I kept hearing it….Elizabeth, you’re so strong, you’re so composed, you’re so inspirational, you’re so this and that…..I “felt” like none of that. I was this woman/mother who felt like she has just been stepped on and was struggling to regain focus. I felt insane, helpless, invisible, and very other feeling inside.   These were my feelings.  I believed in the power of God. I knew that if I let go I would have crumbled. I thought that only the dark clouds of despair were visible.  So, I kept my eyes on him. I kept focused on him. I clutched only to him.  I only wanted to see his Glory because my heart, my spirit knew that it was the key to my survival. It was imperative so that I may endure.  I was brought to the edge of hopelessness. I want to encourage you that God knows your struggle, and heartaches. There is no hole to deep that Gods love can’t reach. Endure, fight, and don’t lose hope!!!! Words alone can’t heal so I/we/ will go to the rock that’s higher than us!!! Amen!!!!