Raw

My grandmother just passed away a little over a week ago. On the morning of her funeral, I woke up from the best – and worst – dream of my life so far. I don’t remember any details of the story except that I had my Kate back. There was no visual of her, no sense of how old she was or where we were or anything. She was just by my side, and I was filled with such a sense of joy and completion. And then, somehow, she was taken away from me again…and I felt such devastation, I cannot even explain. And as I shared this with people in my dream, no one seemed to care.

No one seemed to care.

And with that, an 8 year old scab was wrenched from its sacred place, and I was Raw. Raw.  Raw. I couldn’t even brush my teeth that morning without crying. And there I was, back at the funeral home to face it once again: the casket, those reeking death lilies, the stifled whispers.

Raw.

But I am a master of disguise (at least in my own mind). I pulled it together, honored my Grandma, and enjoyed the time spent with my family. But the raw-ness did not dissipate. This Christmas has been extra difficult as a result. Every smile has felt sadness, every act of tradition a little empty, moments of togetherness  missing the one… the balance of bitter and sweet a little heavy on the bitter.

It didn’t take me back to the day of her death – not really. There has been significant healing under that scab. What an ugly word – scab. As I was looking up words in the thesaurus to replace it, I found the word, shell. I think this works as an even better description of how I felt – like the protective shell had been ripped apart, exposing such vulnerability and emptiness of which I have not felt in quite some time. That feeling of wholeness…of completion is not something I will ever experience again, not in this lifetime. There is much joy, and there is fulfillment, and happiness…but never completion. To have that again – even in a dream – and then lose it was heartbreaking.

And the most puzzling part of all this for me was the fact that when I lost her again in my dream, no one cared. They literally shrugged their shoulders and went back to their conversations. It wasn’t anyone specific, or anyone I recognized…it was more this general hurtful feeling of being very, very alone. As I’ve struggled with this dream – how to interpret it, how to understand it, if I should even give it my time or concern – I think I’ve reached some answers.

1. Funerals will just always be hard. Duh. There are things about them that touch raw, vulnerable places inside me. I am acutely aware that others around me lovingly want to protect me from this, and either are afraid to ask, or ask hesitantly if I’m okay. I want to encourage those people that it’s okay to ask me (or not). Kate’s funeral is one more piece of an intricate puzzle that weaves her together inside my heart. It’s a piece that holds sadness and anger, but most of that has been healed – it’s still there, but it’s been layered over with lots of time and love.

2. This one is key. I am alone. Ok, so before all of you quickly call, text, and message me that you’re there for me, I know you are – I know, really. But here is the cold, hard fact: I alone know what it means for me as mother to lose my daughter Kate. My husband, children, parents, friends, all know what it’s like to lose Kate, but they lost her as her father, her siblings, her grandparents, etc. Other friends who have lost children know what it means to lose their child. But there is an aspect of loss, of grief that will always hold loneliness. I think this was what that second part of my dream was trying to communicate.

3. Ultimately, I am never alone. So how about that for conflicting points?! Shortly after Kate died, one of my close friends had an image of God holding me in his hand. The ONLY reason I know I keep functioning, feel happiness, and continue life (incomplete) is because of the one who holds me. He has so, so many tools. I have an amazing support system who are always ready to give a quick hug or say a prayer. And even when I think I’m being super strong, they see through my charade and lift me up in ways that never cease to amaze me.

4. I am ashamed to admit that I’m jealous. I’m jealous that my grandparents and Grandma Cecil get to spend this time with Kate. I know my friend Linda is laughing with her constantly. It’s really not fair. It’s comforting that they are together. But it also kind of sucks, to be bluntly honest. I desperately hope I get to make up (somehow) all this lost time with her.

5. I still don’t know what to say to people at funerals. I put pressure on myself to know what to say, how to act…after all, I have firsthand experience with loss, right?   But this is where #2 comes in again. I lost my grandma, but my mom lost her MOM. That’s a big difference, one that I can’t begin to fathom. But I am a devout believer in grace. I try to remember that I don’t need to have the right words…I can be there, offer help, and offer hugs and encouragement. I hope that it’s enough even if it never feels like it.

6. Sometimes I pray that I can know she’s really okay – for proof of some sort. As a believer, I’m kind of ashamed to admit that. After that dream, I’m not sure I want to pray it anymore…it was too painful to have her and lose her again, even in a dream realm. But one day this week, I had this strange experience of light. Several times, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an unexplained light – almost like something shiny was reflecting the sun – but there was nothing I could find to explain it. It was so very comforting…after all, one of Kate’s earliest words was “light.” I’m just going to hold onto it and savor it as best I can.  Better to find comfort in the unexplained than to reason it all away.

7. Where there is room for more healing, there will be continued growth. And here is where I think I will end this reflection. I am frankly shocked at how raw I’ve been made to feel 8 years after losing Kate. My first thoughts upon having such heartache again were that I was regressing, or maybe I hadn’t faced something and had buried it…only to have to face it for real (or as my kids say, “for real life”) now – 8 years later. Obviously there is something to this. It was a not a dream to be dismissed or discarded, but an opportunity for reflection and growth. This is actually just occuring to me right now, as I’m writing these lines. I’m hopeful for what is yet to be discovered, unearthed. And I guess that’s what’s really at the core of this for me – HOPE. I’m hopeful that God continues to speak into this story in ways that redeem my loss, and speak to others of his love.  Maybe – no, I’m certain – it’s because I have such a strong foundation of love and support, that I’m even able to have this sort of dream and grow from it.

Just when I think I have it figured out. And maybe when I begin to get a little full of myself and my certainty. A little raw-ness for a lot of hope turns out to be a pretty good exchange. Guess that’s what I’ll be looking for in 2014.

 

2 Responses to “Raw”

  1. Melissa Rudy says on :

    Ah, Becky… what a poignant post. I found myself nodding and “mmhm”-ing and tearing up as I read. Obviously I can’t know what you are feeling because I have never been through it, but I have had that phenomenon of having a wonderful dream and waking up to find it wrenched away, or vice versa… and every time I am startled by the crushing disappointment, or the liberating relief. I can only imagine how that feeling would be magnified a millionfold when dreaming of a lost child. I am so sorry you had to go through the feeling of losing your completeness again — BUT, I think that dream can and should be viewed as a visit from Kate. She is still with you, when you’re awake and when you’re asleep, when you’re happy and when you’re sad… whether the reminders are subtle or earth-shattering, happy or devastating, she is with you, all the time (as is your grandma). Love to you & your family.

  2. LilBS says on :

    Thanks, Melissa. Well said.
    Love to you guys.

Leave a Reply