Friday, May 3, 2013

Here's the Thing about Change

Here’s the thing.

Everything we experience in this life changes us.  No matter what it is, good or bad, short term or long term, life changes us.

We are different with each year that goes by.  We learn, we love, we laugh, we lose, we break…and as a result we change.

I would challenge any person out there to tell me they are the same person now as they were before they had their first love.  Whether the relationship lasted and became something deeper, or whether it ended, each person going their separate way, it’s not possible to stay the “same.”

I would challenge any parent out there to tell me they are the same person today as they were the day before each of their children were born.  It’s not possible to stay the “same”.  It’s not possible to “not change”.

Why then, are there people out there that feel it strange that “Steven and I are changed now?”  Why does it confuse others that, “we are not the people we used to be?”  That we’re “not back to normal?”

None of us are.

None of us are the “same people we used to be.”

Life- “an account of the series of events making up a person’s life.” 

By definition, this thing called life is all about change.  It’s all about the “series of events” that happen to us, and how we react to them. 

Although Steven, the boys and I are 18 months out from the day our world stood still, we are still reeling with the effects of change that Brynna’s death has had on our lives.  Every day, every experience, every single thing is different now than it would have been, had she lived.  So, everything about us, and how we perceive life, how we react to others’ joys and heartaches, how we are able to participate in the world around us…is changed.

In the beginning, so many people tried to console us with, “this is your new normal.”  “Things will never be as they used to be, you won’t get over it, you’ll just get through it.”  And yet, here we are a year and a half out, and some of the same people that seemed acutely aware of this irreversible change, now seem frustrated or confused by the fact that “it’s not over yet.”

Parents…please take a moment and think about each and every one of your children, one at a time. 

Think about the day they were born, and the joy you felt.  Think about how you fed them, held them, smelled them, watched them grow.  Think about their smile, their laugh, their cry…their voice.  Think about their handprints on the walls and windows, think about the piles of their clothes in the laundry room, and on the couch waiting to be folded.  Think about sitting together for meals, watching them smile as they talk about their day.  Think about the pride you feel when you watch them do whatever it is that makes them happy.

Now…imagine all of that is gone.  None of it ever happened (or if it did, it is cut short and will no more).  It all should have happened, but it didn’t.  Take it a step further now and imagine you held your child in your arms and watched them as they took their last breaths.  You watched as their color went from pink to purple, and you watched life slip out of their precious body, and felt their skin cool.  Instead of years, you had only moments.  Only moments to try to let your precious child know they are loved and cherished.  All the hopes, dreams…  All the love and support…  All the time and energy you were ready to invest in this, your greatest life’s work…none of it gets to happen because they are gone.

Does having other children make this any easier, one’s presence replacing the loss of the other? Does time passing make it any easier to accept the fact that your child is not with you?  Are you the same?  Will you ever be the same again?  Would you even want to be?  If you were “the same” it would mean you hadn’t experienced this child.  Would you do that? 

Or would you do your best to embrace this change, knowing you are the way you are now, because your precious child touched your heart? 

So often, we as humans, are resistant to change, believing for some reason that “what has been” is better and safer to bet on than “what might be”.  The irony is that we don’t have any control over any of it.  Life will continue to do its crazy thing and change us with each passing day, molding us into versions of ourselves we never saw coming.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just different.

I will be without my daughter for the rest of the time I am on this earth.  I am going to be different as a result.  Steven is going to be different as a result.  I find myself getting less and less worked up about the things in life that “have to happen” recognizing that most of it doesn’t really matter.  Instead, I find myself drawn more toward relationships and loving those around me that are comfortable continuing to bear witness to this pain.

Day after day, I do my best to accept this change, these differences, within myself, recognizing I am changed because the love I have for my daughter is more powerful than the fantasy of remaining the “before Brynna died” version of myself.  To have known her, held her, loved her, smelled her, means I am changed, and I am okay with that.

Please be patient and kind to those around you that are currently being molded by life.  Change is scary to watch, but it is also very scary to be thrown into, and having the support and understanding of those around us makes what can seem impossible to handle, possible.