Shortly after our daughter Laurie’s passing last October, a new acquaintance shared her story of loss of a child. Her tone of voice let me know she meant to comfort me by saying, “Don’t worry, I stopped crying all the time after only about four years.” Others warned me that particular days like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays would be the hardest.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t feel worse – or less worse – one day or another. I doubt a week has gone by since our loss that I haven’t met someone else who has lost a child or a loved one, or another family is faced with making a decision for organ donation. It still feels unreal.
I’ve met a few of Laurie’s organ recipients and been told general information about others. It is hard to explain the connection and the love and encouragement I’ve received through them. It is very challenging at first to hear of others able to do things because of our child’s gift of life that I wish she was still doing. Those days I think of comments Laurie made that showed how important her decision to be a donor was to her, and I feel some of what the mother of a 19-year-old organ donor recently described as “something good coming out of devastating pain.”
Knowing Laurie’s desires and determination (“If I don’t make it through menopause, I am determined to have all my organs intact and healthy.”) does make me wonder that she knew her path would be shortened.
It also increases my admiration for her steadfastness to keep healthy. On our last trip together, (to Chicago) she refused to even taste a formerly favorite treat of Chicago-style popcorn because it contained corn syrup, and she reminded me to let one piece of awesome chocolate be satisfying, while seriously warning that having more than that in the house was downright dangerous for me. Those memories and so many more – especially our adult relationship, growing herbs, cooking with ancient grains, and studying our physical and spiritual heritage together, do bring joy and gratefulness that we had become more close friends than mother and daughter.
I’m strengthened through those memories to encourage and comfort others who have lost a child.
At the same time I am reluctant to admit the truth that there are moments in each and every day when I need to make an effort to focus on all she brought to our lives rather than the loss for me, and her family now and in the future.
I don’t say this often enough – I am grateful for those who let me know they are praying me through and I am humbled to have the privilege to hear the stories and pray for others who have had a similar experience.
Memories are great, and hearing Laurie’s words in my head as well as reading – and re-reading her emails and notes – does bring comfort. Laurie was great on doing a topical Bible study, not to focus on whatever problem or struggle she was dealing with – but to study the remedy — like praise. We lived at a distance from each other, but met when we could in between to study and pray together – and then shop and eat a fancy meal or find some good chocolate!
Perhaps that is why life seems to pass so quickly.
I have one more reason to long for heaven.