Days turned to weeks, then weeks to months and then suddenly months have turned to years. The first birthday I spent without Heather I awoke to have my phone blown up with lots of text messages of friends and loved ones sending their love on this most difficult day. I was overcoming with the overwhelming amount of support thru text and Facebook messages on that day. The next few years many remembered and sent me messages, but the numbers got less and less.
The last several years to mark her birthday I have asked for people to post photos of them eating cookies or cranberry bliss bar to let me know they remember her birthday as well. The first year it was widely received and I had nearly 50 people remember Heather’s birthday. Those made me feel very loved. With the events of her 29th birthday in 2016 during our trip to Hong Kong the support was overwhelming as Bill got deathly ill in Manila.
Fast forward to the 9th time of celebrating Heather’s birthday without her here, and the text messages were not there when I woke up. There were a couple of text messages but not many. This year was her milestone birthday of 30 years since she was born. I had a few post cookies and send wishes but time has moved on and so have many who swore they would remember forever. I guess forever is a few short years to some and then they move on.
I do understand that the world moves on, however for me the two most monumental days of my existence are December 10th, 1987 when Heather was born and then April 20th, 2009 the day Heather died and my world changed forever. I understand that people get busy with their lives but for me it is a constant point in my life that Heather is forever missing.
Family and some friends gave us a year to grieve and then they expected us to be “like we were,” and “ back to our normal selves.” The life altering events of 2008 and 2009 have changed me forever and I will never be back to the “old” me. How could anyone go thru what we did and not be changed. People expecting me to be “normal’ are being selfish and expecting more than is humanly possible for me to do. Their expectations of my life and me are not real and therefore I have cut them out of my life.
This year is not only Heather’s milestone 30th birthday but also the jumping point in the 10th anniversary of cancer. While cancer will be 10 years, April 20th, 2018 also begins the 10th marking of all the events without Heather before we get the actual 10th year date. In the beginning I could never imagine surviving the year let alone 2 years, then 6 years and suddenly 10 years. While many have moved on and that is fine as I have new friends that I feel are family and they have patience with me and allow me to talk and vent. Walking the journey with a grieving mother is not easy, or fun, or happy; everyday can turn into a down day with a smell, word or sight.
This holiday season is the 9th year without Heather and it really isn’t any easier. As a matter of fact this holiday season was just weird and I personally glad to be past Christmas. Heading into 2018 brings lots of emotions and I am not sure how I feel about being 10 years past.
“ Imagine being separated from your child for the rest of your life.
Imagine never being able to see her, touch her, hold her, hear her voice, her laugh or see her smile again.
Imagine a violent period permanently placed where there should have been the endless run-on sentence of adulthood.
Imagine your garage filled with sharpie marked boxes of your daughter’s entire life, the clothes she wore yet will never wear again.
Imagine looking at the last photo you took of her without knowing it would be the last.
Imagine not being able to watch your child continue their life.
Imagine waking up to a living nightmare that never ends.
This is how the death of a child feels, every second of every day, for bereaved parents everywhere.
This is why my grief lasts my lifetime…
~Adapted from Angela Miller