Grieving My Aunts Sudden Death, Right Before Giving Birth

I received a text message from my mother before I had gotten out of bed, “Call me when you’re up. It’s important.”

I immediately got out of bed, my heart beating faster. I knew something very bad had happened, because there is no way she should ever text me like that otherwise. I tried to prepare my still sleepy mind for terrible news. Somebody I love must be badly hurt, or dead. I just didn’t know who. Part of me did not want to know, but delaying the phone call would not change anything.

I went into the bathroom and quietly called her. There were no typical pleasantries. We both knew there was only one reason for this phone call. There was no way to sugar coat the news, “Aunt Cookie is dead”.

Then, silence on my end. My head swimming with the abrupt finality of those words. Injured, or sick leaves room for hope. Death is unforgiving, leaving no space for second chances.

How? When? What on earth happened?

Not so many details yet. She was at a friend’s house. She overdosed on her medications. No one knows if it was intentional, or accidental.

She was hospitalized recently for suicidal depression. She had battled depression her entire life, but she had lost over 100lbs in recent years and seemed to be doing better. Did she do it intentionally? Then again, she was known to occasionally abuse her medications. In an attempt to get relief from her mental stress, she would take too many benzos or opiates. That is an easy way to accidentally overdose, and given her age and health status, it would be even easier.

Either situation leaves us in sudden grief. A poor decision made in haste, clouded by depression. She is gone. There is no way to bring her back to us. My cousins, and second cousins have lost their mother and grandmother. My mother and aunts have lost their sister. I have lost my aunt.

And I am nearly 40 weeks pregnant.

How do I manage death and new life simultaneously? How does my family embrace, and celebrate a new addition; while saying goodbye to another loved one?

And then, the practical concerns that plague those coping with death. The Funeral. The wake. What if I go into labor at the same time as the funeral service? How could I possibly miss it? How could I ask my mother to help me, support me, watch my children during labor if she is supposed to be saying goodbye to her sister?

All of this is sitting inside of me, eating me up.

We describe deep sadness as our “heart breaking”, or “soul crushing”. It is a not just a figure of speech, it literally feels as if my heart is breaking and my soul is being crushed. There is a physical element to emotional pain that is undeniable, and it is with me all day today. I am carrying that heaviness, just as real as my toddler on my hip and heavy baby in my womb.

I didn’t have a way to prepare for this. Life is often interrupted by a series of uncontrollable events. We are really not in control of many things, despite pretending otherwise.

As a believer, this is a time for me to get grounded in the Word. To remember that He is in control, and knows all things. He is our comforter, our healer, and our refuge in times of need. I have to trust in Him, to continue to guide this pregnancy until birth. I have to trust him, even in the face of death and loss. I am reminded of my mortality as well. We are not promised tomorrow, so let’s make the best of today. And remember to tell our loved ones how much we value them in our lives, because you may not have another chance.

Shalom.

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Busy Moms Still NEED to Focus on Recovery

I am sitting at my laptop, it’s almost midnight. I have my Anatomy and Physiology text books to my left, my homeschooling planner for my 3 kids to my right, and I just swallowed a handful of chocolate like medicine. My 3 daughters are sleeping (for now), and baby brother is finally asleep after I nursed him and left the bed like a ninja.

I just finished planning the rest of this week; with all the kid’s activities (dance, cheer, music..), my schedule for college, and my husband’s schedule for college and work. I have half finished crochet and sewing projects that I don’t touch for weeks. But despite all of this—I am STILL in recovery and that means I have to make time for recovery.

Motherhood is very self-sacrificial. Of course it is worth it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a lot from us. I give from myself every day; my body through breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding, playing, my mind through planning, hoping, thinking, worrying, and my emotions through love and dedication. I do it because I want to invest in this little tribe of mine, but I also need to invest in ME.

Why? If I don’t invest in myself, my children lose me. If I forget about my recovery needs, my children lose me.

I read an article recently about the lives of men and women who are in active addiction, mostly with heroin. They had pictures of people at their worst. I recognized that look. I looked like that at one time in my life, before my babies were born. That bone-tired, devastated, hurt-beyond-words look. That junkie life that sucks the spirit from the people it possesses. The streets are hard living, and I remember it well.

It is good for me to remember. This addiction kills people. There is no way for me to exaggerate or employ hyperbole in this discussion. It is a war against addiction, and there are many, many causalities. In fact, the heroin epidemic has only gotten substantially worse since I was a user a decade ago. I have buried friends too.

I was at deaths door when I put down the needle and the stem. Emaciated. In such a depression that I was nearly comatose. Sore all over my body from the constant picking. And my heart and soul were in much worse shape. I was broken so badly, hurt by so many. It is NOT life I ever want to go back to.

So, I fight. Thankfully, most days don’t feel like a war anymore. When I first got clean, I hide myself from the world because I knew I was too weak to refuse drugs if it was offered. I had cravings so bad, my body would shake and I would vomit. I had intense physical reactions to my psychological addiction to crack cocaine. It was absolutely horrendous. But I survived.

And, my first baby was born not too long after. She was a beautiful light from God. She changed me. Motherhood changed me. From the moment she entered this world, I knew I would never be the same. I am a better person, a thousand times better, because of her and my other children.

So, please, if you a mother in recovery—focus on it. You know what you need to stay clean! Everyone’s recovery is different. It could be meetings, or church, or meditation, or prayer, or community, or exercise or all of the above. Just do what you know you need to do. Even if it means you have to ask for help with babysitting, or work a

little less, or go to school part-time. It is needs to be your priority.

If you don’t have your recovery, you don’t have your life.

If I don’t have recovery, I don’t have my life.

I do it for myself. I do it for my children.

Shalom.

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Baby Boy with his RECOVERING Momma

Mountain – A Poem

20170406_182751Our love is a gentle breeze

I am a mountain, tall and solid

From my soil grows all types of fruit,

Warm and ripe from the summers sun

From my ground—sharp rocks, jagged edges

You cut your feet when you try to climb me

Your hands reach for the delicious fruit

Hanging there on branches like slender arms

Your blood soaks into the earth of me,

Wet and dark

The ground is fertile like the lining of a womb

The rocks are a boundary raised from

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes; things that injure

And kill

And our love floats up to me,

Where the white snow covers my highest peaks

It sings to me, asks me to allow you inside

Every crevice and cave

Allow you to pick any fruit you desire

Taste its sweetness

But I shake my earth like a quivering woman

In rage, in shame, in storm clouds and rain

Red fire engulfs the trees, the birds, all things

Alive and beautiful

I am covered in ashes, black as onyx stone

I cannot accept your bleeding feet, your outstretched arm,

Your longing song you sang to me

And yet, beneath the ashes of my rage and pain

The tiniest of sprigs pushes itself stubbornly

Through the hot earth

Its leaves are the newest green, soft and supple

Like the breasts of a young woman

And then it stands taller, grows wider, takes up more space

Soon I am covered in these proud plants

Then trees, and their strong branches

Where birds come to nest and raise their young

I am alive again

The mountain breathing

My lover comes again, here you are

Your feet have healed and my rocks

Don’t

Cut you

You are patient in your climbing,

Holding onto earth and tree

You find me in the quiet solace of

My highest peaks

We rest together in the comforting snow

I hear the song you sing to me

And I begin to sing it too

We live together

And the blood-soil you gave me

Has become a sign for

New things

To come and grow here