Over and over, in my head, over the last few months, I would hear that song from the Chili’s commercial. “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back.” I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…” It would come to me when I just didn’t want to deal with grief anymore. I’d think nope, I don’t want this, I didn’t ask for this. This is a big pile of nope. Setbacks are supposedly normal, I just want to hand it all back. I choose door number two, please. I’d like a redo. But, like groundhog day, I wake up every day to the same reality. No return policy or time travel allowed.
Today I wanted to scream it, my theme song, as I walked slowly down the empty basement hallway of the nearby church. I had excused myself to the restroom during the small grief group that my friend had asked me to attend. The leader has said that you have to experience your grief, you can’t really avoid it. One of the ways I have been trying to do this task has been practicing being more like Jim Carrey in the Yes Man movie. I don’t mean by taking on more responsibilities, I mean saying yes to opportunities to heal. I am like a drowning person on the sea of loss, unsure of what items will carry me closer to shore or at least keep me afloat. One of these items has been my faith, but in my faith, I believe I shouldn’t turn down opportunities that I might be being led to do.
So I found myself in this group. I said yes to my friend that asked me to go. The most revolutionary thing that was said tonight for the leader was, “grief was a matter of the heart, not the head, so it is the heart that you need to use to heal not your head”. the pastor said, “you wouldn’t use a hammer to paint now would you?” I suppose sitting in a slightly mildewed basement, eating store-bought cookies around people I would never be around without our common bond of loss was a matter of the heart. I held my friend’s hand under the table and I thought maybe being there for her was what I was being called to do and helping her heal in some small way would help me heal too.
I am in an online group and I eat up any ideas or memorial crafts, I read ideas of things that others do to help their children and their spouse. I listen to podcasts on heaven and I read about grief in other cultures. I have taken to walking through grief like some awful research project. In all my endeavors, I have started to look closer at the power of prayer. I had prayed for the protection of my girls and I still don’t understand if my blanket prayer just didn’t cover free will or why some people live through certain mental health and poor choices and then others don’t. I may never know the answer to that question until I make it to heaven myself. Almost two years ago my mother laid in the ICU. She was on a ventilator. It was the middle of the night and I was sleeping on a recliner. I was constantly looking at the monitor, her blood pressure was extremely low, her heart rate high. She was septic and most likely wouldn’t make it through the night. I prayed through the night for my mother either would be healed immediately or that she would be taken. That she would not live on the ventilator in pain. In the morning her blood pressure, heart rate, and vitals were all normal. She would recover. She later told me she was told it was not her time by a visitor while on the ventilator while I was praying. . She saw a very brightly lit man and all she could see clearly was his outstretched hands
I sat on the day I buried my daughter, and I asked my mother why she had been spared and my child had not. I had never meant to say those hurtful words but they came spilling out of my mouth in my darkest hour. As soon as I said the words, something hit me like a sense of knowing. I knew she was still here so she could be around for me on that most terrible day, and I told her that. In my “Yes Man” phase, I have been listening to a podcast teaching me to pray for Heaven’s Army to bring down the strongholds. I sat last week as I prayed for the strongholds of anxiety to be torn down from my daughter as she reluctantly walked into youth group. Telling me to pull around to take her home she would text me in a few minutes to leave. As I prayed she stayed and she never sent the text to come home.
Apparently, my singing the Chili’s theme song over and over in my head or telling God over and over to take back this mess laid upon me, is not an option. It’s just still one big pile of Nope. I will continue to reach out to whatever I can, trying to staying afloat through this tsunami. I will pray, and I will hopefully learn to pray to pull down the strongholds of the aftermath of grief that affect my family members. I will spend the next 7 weeks in an unfamiliar church basement, holding my dear friends hand using my heart to patchwork quilt the pieces of grief I’ve been left with.