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Lots of Big Feelings

By on Sep 13, 2017 | 9 comments

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October 1st will mark the one year anniversary since my son passed away.  I don’t want to dwell on sad thoughts and memories.  If I have learned only one thing throughout these past 11 months it is no one can do grief for you; you have to go through the hard internal growth and acceptance on your own .

A few weeks ago, on August 30th, my husband and I traveled to Nashville. I  was scheduled for back surgery on September 1st.  We were told to arrive at the hospital for pre-surgical tests on August 31st, and then come back the next day for surgery.  My husband made the hotel reservation.  The only information that he gave me was that the reservation was at a Hampton Inn a couple of blocks away from the hospital.  I gave no thought to it because he always does a great job taking care of that type of detail.  Around 10:00 p.m., the evening of the 30th, my husband pulled up into the parking lot of the very same hotel that our family stayed in many times because it is adjacent to Centennial Park.  This is a park where Will and Hunt played in the USTA Jr. Tennessee State Closed Tournament for several years in a row.  We have so many memories as a family staying there, eating at nearby restaurants, and walking to the tennis courts from the hotel.

My back was hurting from the long drive, it was so late,  and I just didn’t have the heart to ask why did you make reservations at this particular hotel?  I sat down in the lobby while he checked us in and I just felt like crying.  The surgery scheduled was a big one and I was already overly anxious and emotional.  Here I was, sitting in the lobby of a hotel that was filled with memories of our family in happier, hope-filled times.  We unlocked our room and dumped our suitcases.  I walked over to close the curtains and darned if those tennis courts weren’t my view out that window.  Why?  This is what I mean when I say I cannot escape the melancholy.  It just jumps out of nowhere when you least expect it.  As if it wasn’t enough to be worrying about the surgery, now I was laying in a bed trying to go to sleep with those tennis courts right outside my window.

So, here I am recovering from a difficult surgery that was supposed to be a 2 day hospital stay and ended up being 7 days.  I hurt.  I can’t drive for at least four weeks.  My husband is back at work. I have way too much time on my hands to think.  I am thinking about my back and how much it hurts.  I also have a lot of time to be ticking off the days on the calendar until October 1st.

The memories and reminders of conversations, texts, and I love you, too, Mom’s from last September run through my head.  I am remembering that beautiful fall day, October 1st, last year, when my husband, Hope, Gray and I went to a pumpkin farm.  We were naive and blissful as we pulled our wagon around picking out pumpkins and gourds of every size and color.  We posed for silly pictures with scarecrows and hay bales.  We arrived back home and immediately began arranging our pumpkins on the front porch, patio, and indoors never dreaming that the following Saturday that we would be having 60 loved ones at our home following a funeral.

It is so cliche’, but we were so innocent.  Of course, in 30 plus years of marriage there have been plenty of hard times.  Losing parents, having the typical financial trials most of the people I know have, raising children, and an assortment of health issues had been part of our lives up to that point and had been endured.  But all of those things are a natural part of life. You move past those things, they help you to grow and develop perseverance.  Losing a child, even an adult child, is something that never seems like a possibility.

During the past 11 months, I found a closed Facebook group for parents who have experienced child loss.  I don’t think any of the people in this Facebook group are from the South.  They mostly seem to be from the Northeastern or the Southwestern part of the U.S..  Under any other circumstance, I would probably never dream that I could become connected to strangers in spirit.  These are all bereaved parents who are trying to live with hope.  Two Sundays a month, they have an online Zoom meeting.  I open my laptop, log-in, and see these beautiful, hopeful, lovely faces in little boxes around the perimeter of my screen.  There is usually a guest speaker who has written a book on grief and healing.  There is an opportunity for each participant to speak and share their experience.  As sad as I feel sometimes, when I hear these lovely spirits share their stories, my heart hurts for them.  These are people that I have never met, but I know for a fact that  if I am ever lucky enough to be in their presence, I will not hesitate to give them as tight an embrace as is socially appropriate. As they share the circumstances and details of their child’s life, it takes my breath away.  I always leave these meetings in awe of how strong these men and women are.

All of them are further along on their grief journey than I am.  This is how I know that one doesn’t ever get over it.  Nor should they.  This is the price of love. There is no timetable.   The abundance of depth of character that these parents possess is beyond anything I have ever witnessed.  I am not where they are yet. But as I look at the love and compassion on the faces in the boxes around the perimeter of the screen when one of the group is speaking from their heart, I am so very aware that this type of  wisdom, grace, humility, and dignity cannot be obtained without going through the fire.

This grief stuff is a lonely business.  The love and support of friends makes it tolerable to put one foot in front of the other and is such a gift .  But just as no one can recover from surgery for you, no one can go through grief for you.  I have found that it takes being pushed into my fears and memories, like staying in a hotel where I would never, ever, in a million years make a reservation on my own. The fact that our room overlooked a park full of tennis courts that held such sweet, yet now feel sad, memories and I lived to tell it lets me know that I can persevere.  I don’t have to like it, but it lets me know that I can do all things by leaning on faith I didn’t know I had, surrounding myself with people who are holding me up when I don’t feel like I can, and knowing that I truly only manage by completely submitting this to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Peace and Love.

Cindy Magee

Cindy Magee

Cindy Magee is a wife, mother, and blogger living in Jackson, Tennessee. Married to her husband, David, for 31 years, they have four children, three boys and a girl.Two of their sons are married and their daughter is in college.

She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.
Cindy Magee

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9 Comments

  1. Scotty Miller

    September 13, 2017

    Post a Reply

    I so understand where you are! Our son’s 3rd Angelversary just passed & I am grateful to be this far on the journey. Of course it means that I have been physically separated from my son these 3 years. But, I am also very close to him. In spirit. Many, maybe most, folks can’t understand that but the parents in Helping Parents Heal certainly do. As do 2 of my closest friends. And wouldn’t you know that we never talked much about their kids or what they went through until I joined the club! And oh….how much I needed to talk about my son and our experience as he struggled with cancer! And they knew to just listen. No advice, no judgement. And so we move on and hopefully forward. Peace to all.

    • Cindy Magee

      September 14, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Scotty,

      Thank you so much for your response. First, I am so sorry for your loss. You are such a great dad to read my post and share your feelings about your loss.

      I do know what you mean about feeling your son’s spirit. It is weird to try to articulate it to those who have not experienced a loss like this. I also feel my son’s spirit intensely but I never know how far to go in sharing it because I am fearful that I will sound a little nutty to those who haven’t had this unique experience. But isn’t it such a beautiful feeling to feel’s your child’s spirit?!! It has heightened my awareness that heaven is real and so much more accessable than we were aware of before our child gave us the ultimate gift of showing it to us!

      Thank you for your response. Much love to your family.

      Cindy Magee

      • Scotty

        September 15, 2017

        Post a Reply

        Hi Cindy. It’s really late & I just saw this response from you. I’m at the AREI Conference in Phoenix & have to be up very early. I will try to get back with you soon. I do want to let you know that I am Tucker’s mother, not dad but the mixup is frequent & understandable!
        Be well, Scotty.

        • Cindy Magee

          September 15, 2017

          Post a Reply

          Scotty,

          Thank you so much for clearing up my error. What a charming name for a little girl/ woman. I am so happy you took the time to respond so that I can know you better. Have a great meeting!

          Safe travels,

          Cindy Magee

  2. Lindie

    September 15, 2017

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    I think you ARE full of wisdom, grace, humility, and dignity Cindy!
    And I feel blessed to call you my friend.

  3. Diane Romagnoli

    September 15, 2017

    Post a Reply

    A perfect title for this blog post Cindy. Such big feelings from your heart that have touched mine. You certainly have walked through the fire . . . the surgery, the memories, coming up to Will’s first anniversary. I witness your wisdom, grace, humility, and dignity as you open your heart and share your beautiful son and your grief. It is true, no one can work through our grief for us yet we can walk together. In our vulnerability, we reach our emotional depth and bring it to the surface to share, to learn to grow. I have learned much from you Cindy Magee and will hold a special place in my heart as October 1st approaches. Sending you much love and wishing you a speedy recovery.

    • Cindy Magee

      September 15, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Diane, I am so honored to have you read and comment on my post. I admire you and your grace. To get a compliment from you means so much. I started to share with the group but I wasn’t sure.

      I received a call today that our son’s monument has arrived and hopefully will be installed by October 1. Another milestone.

      Thank you for your kind words and well wishes.

      Cindy Magee

      • Diane Romagnoli

        September 15, 2017

        Post a Reply

        Cindy, please feel free to share your blog with the group. The more seeds of hope we plant, the greater number of people whose hearts we may touch; who may find words or a perspective that resonates and illuminates their path in a new way. The vulnerability you are able to express shows your hard work in processing the layers of grief. Surrounding yourself with hope, you have shown us the growth that is possible. There is much to be learned from both those ahead of us on the journey and those that come behind. We pay it forward and backwards. Our heart-connections are strong.

        The monument in place for Will’s first anniversary will be a bittersweet moment for sure. Our journeys are filled with contradictions in emotions. I believe this becomes our new After-way of life. We learn to live with both sides of an emotion and we find our balance along the way. We understand the joy and the ache; the bitter and the sweet; the love and the longing; the grief and the gifts. No paper or digital guidebook available yet the Love from our children, our faith, our guardians . . . show us the way.

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