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New Beginnings

When everything burns to ash, be a phoenix and rise and begin again.

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It is the beginning of the school year and what better time to start afresh? It’s been a crazy, super short summer and frankly an awful year, so rather than wait until 2018, I’m happy to begin a “new year” now at this, the beginning of the new school year. My kids are loving their new teachers and I’ve decided its a great time to start a new blog, learn some new things and share it all with you here.

In the awfulness of 2017, we all got into some bad health and fitness ruts and our bodies were suffering. I had shingles, my husband had a gout attack and I lost 2 teeth. In short, it’s been a physically bad year. After that, we decided to reclaim our health and fitness. We are reclaiming our health as a family by making simple changes – drinking more water, eating more fresh fruits and veggies and less processed foods, being really intentional about what we put in our bodies consistently and fueling our bodies well. We are reclaiming our fitness by exercising on a regular basis, being more active during the day so we can sleep better at night and really trying to get enough sleep. Its not easy, but we are doing our best. We are not only trying to reclaim health and fitness, but wellness and wholeness, too.

Our physical new beginning started months ago when we started making simple, healthful changes. My mental new beginning started July 31 when school started for my kiddos. My blog new beginning is now and I invite you to begin again with me. Let’s get fit and healthy together, beginning now.

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The Day When Optimism Died

There’s a certain amount of optimism in pregnancy. Especially pregnancy before a loss. It’s like that first kiss when you still think a kiss means true love. Before your heart has been broken.

I chalk it up to pregnancy being considered a growing period. A time of family expansion. An adding time. A time for new growth, new life.

We like to pigeonhole times, things, people. We like to simply them. But not all times are simple. Sometimes growth is stunted. Sometimes a time to die precedes a time to be born. Some times are too complicated to be pigeonholed.

Once upon a time I thought a pregnancy meant I would have a baby. Then I had a miscarriage. Then I thought a pregnancy that lasts beyond 13 weeks meant I would have a baby. Then we lost Maggie 8 days before her due date.

March 3, 2017. That is the day Maggie was born. She had already died sometime in the prior 6 days. But that day she was born still was the day optimism died. Forever after, it will not matter how far a pregnancy goes. Until I birth a living baby, I will be “maybe having a baby.”

There is no certainty. No safe point of pregnancy when I will ever again believe a baby is for sure coming home with us unless the baby is alive in my arms. Because I know anything can happen at anytime.

Optimism died March 3, 2017 and it has not been reborn. And it won’t be. This mama, for sure, learned not to count her babies before they’re born alive. And I don’t think that lesson is forgettable.

3 Basic Ways to Help the Newly Bereaved

I don’t pretend to be an expert on grief. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a spouse (at least not to death) or a parent or a child that has breathed outside my womb. I’ve lost a sister, 4 unborn babies, grandparents, a great grandmother, an uncle and most recently an aunt.

There are so many types of loss I haven’t experienced. But even of the ones I have, I don’t pretend to be an expert. Experts don’t drown. But I have become fairly well acquainted with grief over the past few years.

It is a complicated beast. It changes without notice. You aren’t given a how to book or a roadmap or even a general description of what it is, what it feeds off of or how it operates. Everyone experiences it differently. And everyone experiences different losses differently.

So how can anyone possibly help someone who grieves? We who are steeped in grief don’t even know how grief works or what to expect next. What can someone untouched by grief do to help something we who are scarred by it don’t even understand?

It helps to have people who understands. But the only people who truly understand are those who have been touched by grief, touched and forever marked. Does that mean that those who haven’t been touched by grief can’t help those who grieve?

As Pete the Cat would say “certainly not.” All you need to know is what can help. And the answer is the basics.

You see, when you are struck deaf, dumb and blind by grief you forget about physical needs.

Food loses all taste. What the heck is water anyways? Is it 2 am already? When is the last time I exercised? Did I really just sleep until my kids got off the bus? Where did the time go and what did I do with it?

All of these are things I personally experienced while in a grief fog. I completely lost the ability to take care of my physical needs because I could no longer feel them over the pain in my heart and I couldn’t think through the shock my mind was in.

It all came back to me Wednesday night, at my aunt’s funeral. I watched people approach my uncle and offer words of comfort, share memories of my aunt, and try to help the unhelpable. And all of a sudden I was back at Maggie’s funeral and there were people all around me whose voices had faded to a buzz and I was numb again.

In that moment, I remembered the people who had looked at me and seen the physical needs. I remembered the ones who brought me something to eat and drink and made sure I actually consumed them (which is hard when the comforting masses will not stop talking to you because you feel duty bound to answer and thank each one).

I remembered what helped me and I offered that help to my uncle and now I offer it to you. The 3 most basic ways to help someone who is grieving in the immediate aftermath of loss when they are completely shell shocked is to anticipate their physical needs and help them to meet those needs they can’t even feel:

  • Make sure they have water. Dehydration is real even when nothing feels real and dehydration does not make grief better. When you are crying your body weight in tears, you need more water than normal. But you don’t feel the dry mouth over the ache of empty arms. A grieving person will not think to get something to drink. They need a reminder. Or even just a glass or bottle put into their hand.
  • Make sure they eat. Grief is exhausting and physically taxing. Our bodies need fuel during that 5 hour visitation and 2-3 hours of the funeral and reception. But there are so many people. And they all want to talk to the next of kin. Which makes it even harder for the next of kin to fuel up because it’s rude to talk with your mouth full. And you can’t feel your stomach rumbling over your heart breaking so you don’t feel the need to eat. But you still need to eat.
  • Pass the tissues. Grief is a messy, tearful, snotty business. We probably didn’t wear mascara because we forgot it exists and honestly we probably wouldn’t remember to mop our face or blow our nose. We might not even realize we are crying. But if you give us a tissue, we will probably remember what to do with it.

And there you have it. It’s basic. It doesn’t require you to have experienced grief or understand it. It doesn’t require the right words. It just requires a basic knowledge of our physical needs and a realization that we can’t anticipate or feel (or fill) those needs at the moment, but they still are there.

So help a brother or sister out. And do it kindly. Grief makes us insensitive to our physical needs, but it also can make us extra sensitive emotionally. We are crushed and broken and we need a little help and a lot of kindness. And anyone can offer that, regardless of their knowledge or level of expertise with grief.

All of these helped me in the immediate aftermath of the loss of Maggie, but they also helped when I lost my sister and seem to have helped my uncle when he lost his wife. These tips are helpful for anyone who grieves, not just grieving parents, but it seemed like a timely set of tips to share now since July is global bereaved parent awareness month. . .

Feel free to share this post or comment and share anything that helped you in the aftermath of loss. Let’s start some dialogue on grief and how others can help us. Let’s help make this bereaved parent thing a little better understood and a little less taboo of a topic. Let’s raise some awareness. Let’s make a difference.

Buckets and kindness

I’d like to think I don’t struggle with depression, but that’s a lie. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety and insomnia most of my life. The insomnia started when I was in third grade, but the anxiety and depression came before. I know it was there, I just don’t know when it first came.

It all got worse when I lost JoAnna and Maggie. JoAnna was one of my people who I talked things out with so losing her was a double blow. It was an awful loss and my person I would have talked that out with was also gone. And no parent should lose a child. When I lost Maggie, I wanted to talk to JoAnna again because she had lost a child before and she knew how it felt. But I couldn’t because she was gone.

On bad days, I want to talk to my sister. On good days, I want to share the time with her. Fun times, she should be there because she was the fun one. Boring times, she should be there because she would make them fun. There are few days that don’t make me think she should be there. And even fewer when I don’t think Maggie should be there. All times are harder for their absence.

I feel like I have a bucket that I’m supposed to fill and both of those losses put a hole in my bucket. I can’t fill it no matter what I try, but I kept trying. Because filling the bucket is my purpose so even though I’m pretty sure it can’t be done, I still feel like I have to try.

Giving up is not an option I want to consider. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s an option. It’s always an option. Sometimes it’s even an appealing one. But it’s never a good one.

I used to go shooting with my husband. I was good at it. I loved it when I shot better than him. But I haven’t been able to look at a gun since losing Maggie without thinking about giving up. For a while there, I had him lock up all the guns because I wasn’t sure I could resist that thought.

Now, it’s a little easier, but the thoughts are still there and I still don’t have any desire to go shooting. I still avoid razor blades and holding guns. They just don’t feel like safe things to be around.

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to give up. But if I’m honest, in the back of my mind, it is always there as an option. It just seems so much easier than continuing to struggle.

In middle school and high school, it was an option that I pursued and I have the scars to prove it. It was a dark time and a bad path and I wish I could forget it, but once you walk down a painful path it’s hard to forget it’s existence. The pain makes permanent marks on your memory.

So now depression and suicide are a hot topic. Everyone is concerned with suicide because some famous people killed themselves and no one expected them to. But I’m not surprised. Suicide is just the final conclusion — the death from a thousand cuts or the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Depression and life in general inflict cuts randomly and with no warning. Cuts you can’t block. And we take them and go on our way, doing our best, fighting as best we can as long as we can. Until we can’t.

A depressed person doesn’t necessarily walk around with a sad face. They are faking it til they make it and fighting with all they have to fill up their holey buckets until one day the bucket just falls apart. And what do you do then? You can’t fill a bucket that has disintegrated.

It’s no surprise to me that no one sees it coming, that suicide takes the smiling faces and the funny people. Because funny people are just trying to cheer up the whole world, hoping it’ll work on them, too. Depression doesn’t always look like an overwhelming mess. Sometimes it just looks like someone doing their best.

For me, it often looks like a red bucket covered with papers I haven’t gotten around to yet. Because it’s all I can do to give my kids what they need and I don’t have the energy to look at all the papers they bring home, too. Right now, it looks like a very messy corner, blocked off by couches that I filled with all the junk that had piled up the last time my friend came over with her baby. And that red bucket has a new pile started, too.

Because that bucket I need to fill? It gets filled with energy. Emotionally energy. But when I have no emotional energy, that drains my physical energy as well. When that bucket is empty, I don’t have the energy to do anything.

I can push through to an extent and I do. But I know when I’m pushing through that I don’t have the energy to do it all. So I prioritize what’s most important and do what I can and the other stuff literally and figuratively piles up. Piles — that is a sign of me struggling. And the piles remain until my husband gets fed up and takes care of them or until I have a good day and I can take care of them myself.

So I’m seeing all these posts about how to help those with depression and why people don’t just ask for help when they’re struggling and how a depressed person should just “swallow their pride” and ask for help. For me, it isn’t just a pride thing, though. It’s also a not wanting to be a burden thing.

The truth is, I struggle most of the time. I’ve been struggling in one way or another most of my life. Sometimes I struggle just to get out of bed. Other times I struggle with piles. If I asked for help every time I struggle, if I show people just how much I struggle and how needy I am, I feel like that would just push away all my friends and I need my friends more than I need less piles. So I just don’t worry about what I can’t do right now. I do what I can and the rest can wait.

I also don’t ask for help because I haven’t given up on myself yet. I’m still holding on to the hope that another good day is coming and then I will take care of my piles. And that day, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. Because I will see it in the clean space on my red bucket. It makes me feel good to accomplish that when I can. And when I can’t, I let it wait for me.

But therein lies the problem. People who struggle with depression don’t ask for help until they give up. And when they’ve given up, they don’t ask for help. They just quit. And that is why after they’re gone you hear that no one expected suicide to happen. Because they hadn’t given up until they did.

They kept a smile on their face and kept trying to fill their buckets. They kept cracking jokes and cheering up the whole world until they just couldn’t. Until the world was too hard to exist in. No one could see the giving up because it was done in a private moment. And in that moment, they found they no longer had the ability to ask for help. And then that moment was over and they were gone.

So how do you help someone who won’t ask for help? I think really the only way to help someone who struggles with depression is by reminding them that you love them and you’re there. By talking to them on a regular basis. By just being kind to those around you.

Because you can’t always tell if a person is struggling by looking at them. You can’t tell how close they are to giving up. You never know what will be the last straw. And some people will just never ask for help. It doesn’t cost a penny to be kind and you never know how it will impact those around you.

I know, it sounds overly simplistic. And I’m not saying it’ll save everyone. But it might. And if not, what will you have lost? A couple extra minutes waiting in line? A couple dollars to buy someone else coffee or pie? The energy it takes to offer someone a word of encouragement? The cost of a stamp and a card?

You can’t fix everything with kindness, but I can tell you life is a lot easier to do when you’re surrounded by kindness. It doesn’t fix depression or anxiety or dead baby, but it does make the world a nicer place to be in. And sometimes that makes all the difference.

There have been plenty of those times for me in my grief journey. When a card or a package arrive just when I need encouragement. When a friend sends a text and I can feel my spirits lift just knowing I’ve been thought about and prayed for. Feeling loved is a powerful, uplifting thing. It makes a difference.

Please don’t worry about me. This isn’t a cry for help. I am not giving up. I’m actually in a pretty good head space right now. I just know how it feels to be on the edge and I’ve spent a couple weeks now thinking about depression and anxiety and how they can lead to suicide and what I can do to help and this is what I’ve come up with and I don’t want it to end with me.

And remember, all of these acts of kindness can help a grieving parent. It’s bereaved parent awareness month, y’all. It’s a great time to talk about the acts of kindness that have helped us and act some kindness to help someone else.

So be kind with me. Be part of the change with me. Join me. We can call it a social experiment if you want to. Tell me what you do to add some kindness to this world. Tell me how someone’s kindness helped you through a low moment. Raise awareness, spread some kindness, all that jazz. . . And maybe together we can make this world a better place to live in. Maybe we can save someone from despair. To me, it’s totally worth the effort.

It isn’t going to be pretty.

It’s not that “it doesn’t have to be pretty.” It’s that it isn’t going to be pretty. In a world that places so much focus on appearances, it expects us to “make it look pretty.” But there’s no way to make the ugly cry of grief look pretty.

You can’t dress it up. No bow will detract or distract from the stark ugliness of it. It’s not just that you can’t cry pretty. You can’t bury your child pretty. You can’t let go pretty. You can’t move on pretty. You can’t move on at all.

There is nothing about grieving that is pretty. Except the person that your grieving who is so beautiful in your eyes and the love you have for them. But that is like the pretty side of the coin that no one ever sees because it’s a trick coin that always lands grief side up.

They can’t see past the puffy eyes and broken smile. They can’t see past the clutter collecting on the bad days. So many bad days. They can’t see past the pain.

And that’s ok.

There was a time when I couldn’t see past the pain either. There was a time when I couldn’t see the pain to see past it. But now I see it all. I can’t always handle it all, but I see it all. And I can’t unsee it.

Death and grief are ugly things. They are never going to be pretty. They can’t look pretty. And that’s ok. If they looked pretty, it would be a lie. I prefer the ugly reality to a pretty lie. At least it has some substance to it. It isn’t going to blow away in the harsh winds of life and death.

It’s not going to be pretty. It’s never going to be pretty. But it’s done and it can’t be undone. It can be endured, accepted, carried.

But it can’t be undone and it isn’t going to be pretty. Not ever. No matter what. It is what it is. And what it’s not is pretty.

Reality accepted? Grieving on. . .

Pregnancy Loss is a Brain Changer

I used to say my brain reset after each pregnancy. And that was true. I had been there and done that, but it seemed like every time I was looking up the same things. I could remember wondering the same thing before and looking it up but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the answer.

Like when should I feel baby kick? Or when can baby hear what’s going on outside the womb? Or what is developing this week? Or how big is baby now?

Every time I’d be amazed anew by the development process as if I’d never experienced it before. It was frustrating but everything I wondered was lovely and beautiful and amazing therefore the process was overall lovely and beautiful and amazing.

And then I lost Baby O and the game changed with the next pregnancy. I still couldn’t remember when I should feel baby kick or what developed when, but such wonderings were no longer full of wonderment. Instead, they were full of worry, wondering if something was wrong and if I would lose that baby, too.

Even though I know intellectually that each pregnancy is different, I feel like I’m stuck in a pregnancy Groundhog’s Day, trying to fix the mistakes of the past to move on. Trying to do something different to have a better result. Grasping at straws that do not exist.

Why do I call it “grasping at straws that do not exist”? Because I firmly believe that Psalm 139:16 is true.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

I believe God has a purpose for each of my babies. I believe their lives were ordained by Him and He knew how far they would develop. I don’t believe anything I did caused my babies deaths.

But each time I’m pregnant, I grasp at those straws that I don’t believe exist. I jockey for control that isn’t mine to have. I try to do all I can to ensure a healthy baby at the end. I try to fix whatever mistake I think I might have made the last time. I strive in vain. I know He is in control, but I act as if it’s all up to me. I try to do something different to ensure a different result even though I know I don’t have the power to ensure or change anything.

One time I exercised as normal and lost baby at 7 weeks. Another time I rested the whole pregnancy and lost the baby at 12 weeks. Once I worked until the 3rd trimester and lost her 8 days before her due date. The next time I didn’t work at all. And they all ended the same.

It is madness. It is frustrating, stressful madness that gets worse every time. It isn’t a do over, but I treat it as if it is. It isn’t trying again as much as it is a completely separate attempt, but I tend to treat it as if all variables are the same even though I don’t know what the variables are.

Of my last 5 pregnancies, I have 1 child to hold and that is hard and scary and stressful enough without me acting as if it’s a do-over or a continuation of the last try, as if they are connected when they aren’t.

Each time, I add another death and another concern to my growing list of possible concerns (because no cause has ever been found for any of my losses). And that is all I can remember from past pregnancies. I still have to look up the good things. But the bad sticks.

It’s like riding a bike at the gym that has “ghost rider” capabilities, where you race yourself from your last ride. You can see where you were and where you are now. I can see the pitfalls from the past, the places where it all went wrong and they follow me. But the good parts I can’t remember.

That is how pregnancy loss changes your perspective. At this point, even if I have another good outcome, it will still have been a scary, frustrating, stressful process to the end.

I miss the days when my brain truly zeroed out after each birth, when the worst parts were nausea and heartburn, having to pee all night long and the inability to find a comfy position, all of which were quickly forgotten at that first cry. I miss the ability to forget. I never thought I’d miss that. I didn’t see the value in it until it was long gone.

Losing babies changes everything. Irreversibly. I wish I could tell you how to fix it. Because that would mean I could tell me how to fix it. But all I can tell you is how it is.

Pregnancy loss is a brain changer. That’s how it is.

Celebrating Independence Day when I don’t feel so independent

If you ask anyone who has suffered a loss, the holidays are some of the hardest days. Even before I experienced the loss of Maggie, I had been vaguely and anecdotally aware that the first holidays are the worst when a loved one dies.

Spoiler alert it doesn’t really get any better the second year. Just sayin’.

I think it’s because holidays are a break from the norm. Without the distraction of normality and routine and work, there’s more time and energy to spend missing our loved ones, which is not a super happy pass-time. Combine that melancholy with a day that is supposed to be happier than normal days and it feels extra sad. And holidays that have any amount of family focus (which is pretty much all of them) seem only to emphasize the holes in the family our loved ones have left that cannot be filled.

So it strikes me as odd that worldwide bereaved parent awareness month includes the 4th of July. Yes, it is an American holiday in a worldwide awareness month so maybe the world just didn’t check to make sure there weren’t any holidays in any countries that would make a mama scratch her head wondering why that day was in the bereaved parent awareness month. Either way, it’s odd to me that a day when we celebrate our freedom falls in a month when we are raising awareness for something that traps so many in the past and their pain.

A bereaved parent does not feel free or independent. A bereaved parent feels so very dependent on their deceased child. A bereaved parent does not feel free. A bereaved parent feels imprisoned by pain and longing and missing that they can’t get past no matter what they try.

Substances do not numb it and though Jesus may use it or redeem it or both, I cannot envision a day when the pain will no longer be there, affecting me. I am forever changed by losing my child like I was forever changed when I accepted Jesus into my heart, only Jesus offered me love and healing and freedom and my child’s death took away one that I loved dearly and offered me brokenness and pain forever (or at least, it still feels like forever at the 16 month mark). And I chose the change when I chose Jesus, but the change chose me when my child died.

I feel like Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 when he talks about the thorn in his side. Not in that God has given me a special message that might make me feel superior, but the rest I feel:

“By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively. Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:7-10‬ ‭

I certainly begged God to take this grief from me. To let the ultrasound machine be wrong. Or to work a miracle and let my baby live. Or a thousand times since to let me wake up from a coma and realize this was just a very long, bad dream. All while knowing this is my reality and it is not changing.

So while I do celebrate the freedoms that living in our country blesses me with and I am proud to be an American. And while I do enjoy this break from routine to spend the day with my husband and kids. I will also feel the thorn in my side that I will neither celebrate nor enjoy and that will make celebrating and enjoying today that much harder. When I twist a certain way, when I my heart is in a certain position, at some time today I can be sure I’ll feel the stabbing in my side. It’s inevitable.

I might eat something and wonder if Maggie would have liked it. I might watch the fireworks and wonder if she’d be excited or afraid. I might just experience a lull and peaceful moment and miss the chaos a baby could fill it with. Or I might see my nephew who is only 4 months older than Maggie would be experiencing today without her. No matter what the moment or trigger, I will feel shattered like a firework, only silent and much less pretty.

That is what the 4th of July is like for me without Maggie. And yet, it feels like one of the easier holidays to miss my baby on for me. Not every baby enjoys fireworks. I can tell myself that maybe she wouldn’t have, that maybe this holiday is happier without the sadness and fear of a baby who does not like fireworks. Except for I am sadder without her so my every day is sadder without her, including today. But I don’t seem to struggle as much on the 4th of July as I do on other holidays, like Mother’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. And for that, I am thankful.

Grief complicates every day and Independence Day is no different. And my response is no different as well. I take the sadness as it comes, feel it, accept it as part of my life now and remind myself that His grace is sufficient for me, just as it was for Paul, for His power is made perfect in weakness.

I’m thankful again today that when I am weak, He is strong. I’m thankful to live in the USA, where I have freedoms that I would not have in other countries, including the freedom to worship God. And even though it hurts me to grieve her, I’m thankful that Maggie is mine. That’s how you celebrate Independence Day when you feel anything but independent.

Happy(ish) 4th, y’all.

The 3rds

Today’s blog has nothing to do with the fact that July is worldwide Bereaved parent awareness month and everything to do with the fact that it is the 3rd day of the month. Although, the fact that I take 1 day of every month to open myself up to feeling the missing of my baby girl and thinking about what might have been has everything to do with the fact that I’m a bereaved parent. I post about it every month, not to raise awareness (although if it does, that’s ok, too), but because I need to. And this month is no different.

I skipped a month once and I couldn’t figure out why I was in such a funk for a week or so. And that is when I realized I wasn’t remembering her for her sake, but for mine. It’s something I need to do for my own mental health. It keeps me sane somehow.

See, the missing is always there. There are moments sprinkled here and there when it is nearly unbearable, but one of the things that keeps that in check and keeps me from getting overwhelmed is knowing there’s a day once a month when I will set aside time to remember her and think of what I’m missing and express it. It’s like a relief valve for my grieving mama heart.

And that day is today.

Today, Maggie would be 16 months old. She would be taller and more mobile, busy learning about everything around her. And I would be enjoying watching her learn and grow and experience life — when I wasn’t having to save her from her own curiosity, of course.

At this point, I have to be honest — I don’t know what she’d be doing. All babies develop differently so when I think about what she would be doing now, it’s more wondering thoughts than concrete ones.

Like I wonder would she walk carefully or skip and run? Would she rather sing or dance? Would she love Are You My Mother as much as I do? Would she have a favorite show or movie? What would her favorite food be? How would she interact with her sisters and her daddy and me? Would she chatter incessantly or be a girl of few words?

I long to know the baby I carried but never really met. I long to enjoy a relationship with her that is vibrant and dynamic. I long to watch her grow and develop. I long for her that I cannot have this side of Heaven.

I exist in a constant state of longing. I cannot help but long for her even though I know I cannot have what I long for. It’s my cross to bear, my struggle to endure. Losing my babies is what makes me long for Heaven, where I know they are, in a way I hadn’t before their losses.

That’s the life I grieve. The 3rd is always with me.