Grief is not just a feeling that you at some point experience, it is a journey. This post is an attempt to document my journey through the first year of the loss of my Grandson Kaiden Joshua. I have layers of emotion, layers of experience, layers of grief over the loss of Kaiden. Its been a year, and still I can be triggered into a grief-storm. Talking to Kaiden's big sister BreAnna, seeing a baby boy about the age Kaiden would be, a song, seeing a dragonfly... can send me to that place. Dragonflies live out their full lives in a short time span, some as short as 24 hours... I always experience Kaiden as a blue dragonfly.
My heart today, feels like it felt a year ago... the helplessness I feel, is profound. My family is hurting and I can't make it better. Some of the experiences and images from that time cling to me, and to the entire family, and maybe they always will. I know that Kaiden is in an amazing place with his Creator and his ancestors... and that HE is just fine... but that doesn't keep me from recognizing that this situation totally sucks! I feel like I've come a bit untethered today, like I slithered out of my skin and am free-floating.
I do not pretend to know how it feels to be my Son Joshua or his wife Ashley as the parents of the child who was born directly into heaven... just five weeks short of his due date. I can only relate the multilayered experience of this Gramma. I not only journey through the layer of the intensity of my grief for the precious boy we lost, I also journey through the layer of devastation of not knowing how to comfort my Son, Kaiden's father... and his beloved Ashley. Or my daughters, Kim and Erica, the doting Aunties... who waited with such eager anticipation and who are also hurting profoundly. I am no more help to them, than I am to Josh and Ashley. As a Gramma, my role is to empower and nurture my children and grandchildren, to serve as an anchoring point for them in this world, to be a source of strength. It mostly feels like I failed miserably at this, when it comes to our journey with Kaiden.
On the day we lost Kaiden, I told my friend Anne that I didn't know how to be the Mother and Grandmother that my family needed me to be. Her wise council was that I needed to be the person that Lynn needed me to be, before I could be anyone, or do anyTHING... for anyone else. While that is absolutely true, I don't feel like I ever GOT there... for any of us. Maybe I'll talk to her today.
We discovered that there might be complications with the pregnancy, early in the second trimester (I think... maybe it was late in the first). Our family's journey through the pregnancy was part joy, part hope, part faith, and part just plain scary. Erica and I went to visit Josh and Ashley a few weeks before his arrival. It was a beautiful family time of love, affirmation and reconnection. BreAnna had her first birthday when we were there, it was awesome to be there for that! I spent a fair amount of time lounging on the couch with Ashley, with my hand on her belly, talking to Kaiden and pouring out my love with and without words. Every time I felt him move, it felt like I was holding him. One evening while Josh and Erica were off doing something... I watched from the living room as Ashley was rocking BreAnna to sleep in her room down the hall. Ashley was singing Jesus Loves Me to her children. Kaiden snoozing away in the belly beneath his Sister who was snoozing on him... it was a sweet, sweet moment that I will never forget.
I mourn for those experiences we never got to share with Kaiden... those first steps, and first words and walking in the woods together. I wanted to share a birthday with him (he was due on my birthday)... I wanted to share my love of the one leggeds, the two leggeds, the four leggeds, the swimmers, crawlers and flyers. As a traditional Grandmother, one of my roles is to pass on the teachings... I so wanted to be able to do that. I want to teach my Grandchildren... ALL of them... about turtles and herons and dragonflies. During this grief journey year, I have neglected to do that with my other Grandchildren, which makes me feel even suckier... I need to work on that. I love them each completely and profoundly for the amazing and unique spirits they embody.
This loss took the wind out of my sails, and made me feel like a crappy Mother and Gramma, who didn't have much to offer to her family beyond her immense love. I know in my left brain, that this is not fair or accurate, but my right brain on the other hand is not on board... it just knows how much this all hurts.... and wants to just make it all better.. and simply cannot.
I just hurt... down to the deepest places of my being. It always helps me when I'm in turmoil, to seek out the trees, the woods, the water and the rocks. Those places are where I hear Creator's voice most clearly, and feel Creator's love most keenly. The hills and the trees wrap me in their arms and help me gather myself again - perhaps I'll take to the woods sometime today.
Today, is also my anniversary. I have been partnered with my amazing Jen for 15 years, I love her utterly and completely. And she loves me beyond all reason. I celebrate our love and commitment, our relationship and our life! It is hard to have these 2 anniversaries on the same day though... on the one hand woo-hoo celebratory... on the other hand... not so much. I don't know how to be fully present in both, yet they both deserve my full presence.
I do know that I'll be drumming later today... and that is always, ALWAYS good for me. I'll be drumming with people who are very dear to me. Being in their loving presence will be perfect. Rhythm succeeds, where words fail. Perhaps, by expressing through rhythm... I'll drum my way back into my skin.