I have a history of not dealing well with change.
It's the introvert in me. Mixing up my personal space makes me extremely uncomfortable, but life has a way of not caring about what we want at all.
I had gotten comfortable in my life. Finally, after over a decade of drama, tears and struggle, I had finally found my stride.
I had finally filed for divorce. I became a member of an amazing organization that I have wanted to be part of for a long time. I was moving up in my job, able to save a little more money and was fixing my credit. My oldest daughter by love was living her best life out of state during her freshman year of college. My oldest daughter had just turned 18 and was about to graduate from high school. My other children were happy and healthy. I had the best friends in the world. Early in 2018 I released my first novel and was set to release my second. I started my blog and invested in my website. My social media presence was increasing. Daresay, I had even fallen in love. I was pushing myself beyond my personal space issues and I was kicking the ass of the social anxiety disorder that I had been diagnosed with 10 years ago.
I had seen the light from a dark place of depression that I held onto for years and I was finally almost out of the shade altogether. Then life happened. And it wasn't a small, manageable hurdle.
Life knocked me on my ass. HARD.
February 26, 2019 was the first day in almost forever that I had considered suicide. After healing from Post Partum Depression and recovering from the worst marriage ever, I thought that I had moved past being down. I had gotten a handle on my life. I knew what I was doing. But yet, there I sat in a hospital waiting area all alone, looking out of the window and wondering how quickly I could write out a last will and testament because I was positive that I could not live through what I was going through.
February 26, 2019 was the day my life changed. It was the day my sanity was tested. It was a day that I will never forget, no matter how much I want to.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 was the day that my oldest daughter passed away.
At a time when we were supposed to be shopping for prom dresses and taking graduation pictures, her father and I were signing papers to take our baby off of life support and planning a funeral.
It would be easy to insert some cliché here. Like, "life is so unfair" or "everything happens for a reason". I've heard a lot of that the past few months. "She's resting now" and "She's safe in the arms of Jesus". I tried really hard to smile and nod at these words that were supposed to give me comfort but I found them to be hilarious. I'm supposed to take comfort in the fact that I was never going to see my daughter again? How does that work, exactly? Tell me, specifically, what I am supposed to do and how I am supposed to feel better?
Don't worry. I'll wait.
There was nothing anyone could say and nothing that I could do to feel better. I couldn't feel anything. My daughter had died and the clock had the nerve to continue to tick. I thought that divorce was the worst pain that I could ever go through but I would gladly go through the same divorce multiple times if it meant that I wouldn't lose My Chief.
But the other funny thing about time was that it stopped for no man. or woman.
After the cards stopped arriving and my family went back to their lives, I had to figure out how to raise my other four children and be there for my almost grown stepdaughter when all I wanted was for my heart to stop breaking. I had Stacey when I was 19 years old. She was by my side for every adult milestone that I had. She was my cheerleader and my motivation for everything. I was her example. I was her mom.
And now she's gone. Damn again.
In the days to follow, my mind did everything I could convince it to not to give up. I went back to work and back to running my t-shirt business. I tried to act as normal as possible but nothing was normal. My Chief was gone. It didn't make any sense to me. Notihng made sense anymore.
My kids went to see the counselors at their school and were on the road to dealing with missing their sister. My stepdaughter saw the counselor on campus. My parents went back to their lives and everyone started moving on. But, no matter what I did, I felt like I was walking around with a shirt that said "Be nice to me :) My daughter died!" I had to figure out what I could do to help myself heal.
Then, while having a conversation with one of my best friends who had lost her father some years ago, I heard something that snapped me out of the daze I was walking around in:
"It will be a year before you start feeling normal again. A full year.
A year of holidays, birthdays and memories without Stacey before you will fully understand that she is no longer in this realm. You have to feel a year. You have to survive 365 days. And once you've gone through that year, then you will be able to move on."
The first thing that I thought was "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
I was trying to streamline this grieving thing. I still had kids to raise and a man to love and books to sell and money to make and a life to live. I didn't have a year to spend crying about my daughter. I mean, I'm sorry she passed away and I missed her like crazy but a year?
So I went back to what was comfortable for me. My usual way of dealing with hard times and change was using marijuana and sarcasm, but that was working this time. This was new territory and I finally started realizing that I was a new person.
And here I am.
Welcome to Damn It, Sam... The Remix. This Introvert's Guide to Grieving...
This is my year of change. I am a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. This is my journey, my labyrinth. This is me learning how to embrace the change that I am, the woman that I am becoming. This is my life as an introvert learning how to grieve.
I vow to share with you my path to moving forward. The good, the bad and the unfortunate. I will not always be politically correct. It won't all be sunflowers and floating. I am not a physician or certified therapist, so I am not licensed to diagnose or treat anyone. What I am, is a woman that is part of a club no one sane woman wants membership to. I am living through the pain of losing a child.
So, moving forward, if my words help you cope with the loss of a loved one, I am grateful. If my life helps you understand being an introvert, I am happy to help. If I give you nothing but a bit of realism and dark comedy relief, thank God. All I want to do is get to the place that I can call healed. I can't ask for too much more than that.
But one thing that I can promise is that it will always be real...