Saturday, December 02, 2023

Parallel Love

Thank you Grace for teaching me the lesson on parallel love. 

As Olivia left for college and started living somewhere other than our home, a grief swept over me. This change in our family unit brought back all kinds of grief waves. Reminders of the first time we went for dinner and our table was for 4 and not 5. The first family photo of the four of us and just your picture frame. The first Christmas with only 4 stockings instead of 5. The waves hit hard as I recall these painful restructuring moments. 

Now the table is for three…and soon it will most likely be for two. This family unit is changing and although it’s changing in new and exciting ways it triggers a deep loss within this mama’s heart. 

Yet in this tug of war between past and future, I am reminded of what you taught me sweet Grace. That love defies all boundaries and space and can continue to run parallel despite the changes. You’ve taught me that no matter where I am, your love is right there with me. Even as I set a table for 4, there is always that parallel place for you. Each time we decorate the tree, it’s your ornaments that take center stage. You run parallel with me in everything I do and although our lines won’t meet again until heaven, I’m so thankful that we are still so deeply connected in this sacred parallel space. 

So as I look to the future and know these love ties between Olivia and Isaiah will twist and turn and perhaps run far, I’m thankful for the lesson you taught me sweet Grace that we will still be connected. 

I’m forever thankful for this parallel love that binds despite distance, time and space. This Christmas season reminds me of the message of hope found in a manger and that one day these parallel lines will become one. ❤️

Sunday, September 03, 2023

It's Not Over, It's Just Changing...

My daughter leaves for College tomorrow, and as I helped her pack her life into a few boxes and cases, I found my heart once again in the beautifully painful dance of grief. This paradox of excitement for what's ahead for her and the longing for days gone by has been swirling around in my heart since she began her grade 12 year, or maybe as far back as her first breath.  

Each stage of my children's lives has been especially savoured, because watching my children grow is an honour that I never took lightly.  You see when you bury a child, you bury with her all of the milestones, hopes and dreams.  Each big and beautiful moment with my living children will always be tethered to loss of our youngest.  This balance of living fully in the present with a piece of my heart already in heaven is one that I have become a master to in these many years.  Yet, there are moments like today that still take my breath away.

After Grace passed away, our family of course changed.  We had to learn how to be a family of four after being a family of five.  It was of course filled with growing pains, but there were moments of love intertwined.  We learned the new rhythms of living life and with time learned to invite the grief in as part of our family.  

I feel those same pangs within me now when I think of setting the table for three, or see Olivia's vacant bedroom.  At first it felt like I was losing Olivia as well.  Grief is tricky that way, it can engulf and overpower like a giant flood, to the point that you don't know which way is up.  This feeling of disorientation brought back a lot of fear, but after over a decade of grief I have learned to welcome this flood as a friend knowing that the waves will not overtake me as long as I don't fight them.  As I leaned into the raging waters once again and let the process of grief work through me, I realized that although our family unit is changing, it is not over.  Once again my faith has been an anchor, holding me steady, helping me to gain clarity and calm within the chaos and despair.  

If you are in the thick of family change and you also feel swept away by the grief, I want you to know you are not alone. I am here to walk with you.   I am thankful for the other mamas in my life that are also in this stage of adult children.  We were created to do hard things, of this I am sure but I am equally certain that we were never made to do this hard work alone.  

So as we head into a new season, I am reminded that my brilliant, whimsical, sweet girl is ready for this new stage of life and although my grief response may whisper in fear that "it's over," my resolved spirit and my steadfast heart also knows that it's just changing and that change can be beautiful. 


Sunday, February 13, 2022

And The Years Go By...

And The Years Go By...

And the years go by

although there were days where I saw no end to the pain

here I stand different but the same.

And the years go by

and the earth continues to spin and spin

around the sun, day out day in.

And the years go by

as the grief remains, the loss grows too.

The pain growing strong but just as true.

And the years go by

making pain my friend, a welcome tie

to the the babe, the child and now teen with the green eyes. 

And the years go by 

and although I have learned to laugh once more  

I still hold the loss behind closed doors.

And the years go by

but time stands still just the same

remembering each moment as a lifetime, our love doesn't wane.

And the years go by 

        so I choose with each breath

                to honour your life.

                    and sing your song 

                            until my own death






Happy 14th on the 14th our sweetest Valentine.  You are forever our greatest gift of love.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Hope of Spring

The sun warms my tear-stained cheeks this afternoon as I sit on the porch writing and reflecting.  I am thankful for the hope of spring and that the end of winter in nigh.  The winter of grief mirrors the elements of the season itself.  The dark, cold nights draw me to those I love and I long to be close and feel the warmth of their presence as we snuggle by the fire and take in twinkling lights that Grace loved so much. 

Although, as the long nights follow one after the other, there is a despair that can creep in.  Grief is much like these moments of enduring darkness; when you feel like you cannot take another day of it.  It is here frozen in memory and in the trauma of painful moments that a heart can grow weary, despondent, and fatigued.  The winter of grief can feel like a cruel and bitter wind reminding me of the desolate feeling of isolation.  The cold wind pricks through the tender layers built around such an aching heart.  Buried deep in the ground, one can feel so alone.

Yet, if the heart can muster up enough courage to hold on one more day, minute, second, moment, the hope is that spring will come. 

Like a seed growing into a shoot, the strength to rally enough fortitude to keep pushing up towards the surface is a miracle.  I, like the bud, have endured this winter of grief twelve times now only by the grace of God.  You would think it would be easier after twelve cycles.  You would think that my heart would know the way.  Even years later, I can assure you it takes courage to remember.  To remember the beauty of her life while at the same time navigating around the trauma triggers, takes a learned skill.

Each year I watch her eulogy.  It is always a bittersweet experience, reminding me that grief is not linear and is not bound by dualities.  When I listen to the specifically chosen songs, see her smile for her Daddy, watch her play with her jungle gym, see all three of my babies together smiling, and see those beautiful eyes, I am reminded of the deep and wonderful love we shared.  I too, am always in awe as I remember the army of family, friends and church that rallied (and continue to) around us and loved her and us so well. 

It is here that the pain of remembering transforms into a friend, and the grief that was once a foe begins to thaw the frozen walls of winter, making way once again for new growth to spring forth.  It seems counterintuitive that pain becomes healing, coldness becomes warmth, and that beauty does in fact rise from the ashes of a broken heart.  It takes perseverance for the bud to bloom and although tight and dark within the bud, the expectancy of the blossom that awaits within causes enough pressure to ignite the process. 

So, as I make space and sit with the beautiful pain of memory, I hold onto the hope that winter has almost passed, and that spring will come again. 


Saturday, February 13, 2021

You Would Be 13.

I paced the aisles yesterday clutching 2 gold-foiled balloons.  One was the number one, and the other a three.  I held these balloons and aimlessly walked aisle after aisle trying to come to grips with the fact that you would be turning 13 tomorrow. 

It feels like yesterday that we were celebrating the milestone of your first birthday.  Family, friends, and our church family gathered in honour of your special day as we dedicated you and celebrated your 1st birthday.  I was so thankful you were with us, as we had a few touch-and-go moments prior.  I remember you in your beautiful pink dress in your lovely pram and the feeling of such love.  You were our Valentine’s baby after all…you encompassed love.

Yet, somehow 12 years have gone by and now you would be 13.  As I looked at toys and clothes I couldn’t help but wonder what you would want for your 13th birthday if you were still here.  Would you be into flamingos or llamas?  Or would you be swept up into the world of T Swift looking up to your older sister?  Or perhaps like your older brother, you would love skating on our little homemade rink the last 2 days with him? Life for a grieving parent is full of these bittersweet wonderings.  Bitter for we will never know what might have been, but sweet in the indulgence of hopeful imagination.

My darling angel girl now teenager, you are missed.  How I wish I could catch a glimpse of you in heaven.  How I long to see the beautiful glow and sparkle in those precious green eyes.  I wish I could see how strong you have grown and hear all about the years that we have spent apart.  I wish I could hold you again and feel your heart close to mine.  I wish I could tell you how you changed me and how you inspire me everyday to get up and live this life, giving my best so that I can honour you and the One who gave you to me.

I hope you knew just how loved you were when you were with us, and how that love has not diminished over the years, but has indeed grown.  You were our sweetest Valentine, and will forever be.  Happy Valentines Day and Happy 13th Birthday Gracie, we celebrate and remember you always. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Good Grief

When driving to work I would pass Canuck Place Abbotsford campus and I would see the sign, Good Grief on a banner.  It caused me to pause each time.  Good grief sounds like such a paradox.  How can grief be good?  Well, I know how grief can feel bad. I know the days (still so many years later), when it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest and a vice is gripping my windpipe.  I know the days where little things feel like big things and my nerves are shot.  I know the despair, triggered by the reminders of the traumatic moments that catapult me back through time and space.  Oh, bad grief is very easy to find and if one is not careful can be hard to move out of.

Good grief on the other hand, although elusive can be found.  When you move through the pain and reach another level of acceptance and can remember all the love and precious moments, good grief is there.  When friends remember your sweet loved one, post a picture, or send a text there too you find good grief.  Good grief is your husband dropping everything to come change a tire that you should be perfectly capable of changing because he knows you needed support that day.  Good grief is when in the midst of sadness you feel that unexplainable love and comfort that comes from Jesus.  Good grief is not impossible, but it is a choice.  As I remember back to 12 years ago on Valentine's Day I can remember the beauty and not the pain of Gracie's birth.  Those were traumatic days from the uncertainty of her survival to when I fainted in the NICU due to low iron levels and forgetting to eat.  Yet, through the trauma there came unrelenting hope that we had for her life.  Her birthday reminds me of good grief.

March 3, however is not as easy to navigate.  The days leading up to her passing were laden with such anguish.  No one can prepare you for the death of such a loved one nor the painful reminders that linger for years to come. The 11th anniversary of her passing (aka her Heaven Due Date) is hard to enter because although we celebrate that she is no longer suffering and is dancing with the angels, it is a stark reminder of her absence.  We must work harder to move through the bad grief on these days. When experiencing grief, little things can feel like big things.  So please be gentle with those around you.  You may never know the magnitude of the load they bear behind a brave smile.  If you know somone who has experienced grief, reach out to them.  Check-in and remind them they are not alone. You may be the life preserver that they need to not fall back into the sea of pain and sorrow.

If you are going through grief today, know that I am here with you.  Although I don't have a secret potion that will ease your pain, I can offer you hope.  That unrelenting hope that the sun will shine in your life again. When you are in the dark days and the bad days of grief, lean into the pain.  Don't shy away from it for it will only grow in its intensity.  If you have experienced grief you know exactly what I mean.  When you avoid the pain, the grief will start to present itself phsyically.  The heart won't let you forget.  The sooner you turn and face the grief, the sooner you can confront and then release the pain.  My only caveat is that you don't stay in that deep place of pain too long.  If you stay too long, it will engulf you.  Be sure to feel the pain, cry, scream, whatever it takes to physically release the sorrow that is rising within you.  It's like you are caught up in a torrent of a wave.  You don't know up from down and you are frightened.  But once you surrender to the wave of sorrow, the waters will still and you will come up gasping for air.  It is here that you have the choice.  It is here where you must choose to live and not sink back down into the sorrow.  Live for the beauty that is still in your life now.  Live to honour the life that was lost.  Live to love and bless others. Live while you still have breath in those lungs.  Don't sink back in, but look up.  Look up to the heavens, to the mountains to where your help comes from.  Look up, for that is where your sorrowful moments can be transformed and where you learn how to ride the wave of grief.  Each time you surface, you will feel less panicky until eventually you learn to be thankful for the grief
for your sorrow links you to that beloved person.  The skill of remembering your loved one without the trauma of the loss takes time.  There are still days over a decade later that I still arise from the waters gasping.  Yet, more often than not I can withstand the torrent of sorrow and emerge feeling thankful for the good grief.

Grace Kathryn Elizabeth Evans
Feb. 14, 2008-Mar. 3, 2009

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Decade of Dance: Paradoxical Love

This bittersweet dance began on
This day of love, that has now turned into years.
A decade has come and gone
enveloped in joy, and intermingled with tears.
How can it be that we have lived
and carried on with life’s dance for a decade now?
When it seems like just yesterday I held your
small frame; fragile yet strong somehow.

And that was you my dearest baby.
Sweet and gentle yet mighty and brave.
And so the paradox of your life became my saving grace.

For if you could be both tender and strong,
I too would glean from your dance.
You taught me how to live in pain,
To take on a gentle, yet resilient stance.

I promised to sing your song,
To keep your dance alive.
But in order to do that, I had to learn
how to thrive, not merely survive.
On days that my heart was breaking,
So desperate to give into the dark,
it was your dance in me, igniting
God’s love to renew a spark.

A spark to love, a spark to hope,
A spark towards joy in desolate places.
To mirror your light, to show your strength,
to spread love to lonely and dark spaces.
For dying along with you was not an option,
And living without you had to be.
And so I devoted my life to reflect

your paradoxical dance living on through me.