Time and Pain

Grief and time. This is a topic of conversation I recently had with one of my closest friends. We talked about how when grief first starts you don’t remember days, weeks or even months. I’m pretty sure I lost a year of my life if not more. But one day you “wake up” you look around and see that life hasn’t stopped for everyone else. While I felt like the world was no longer spinning, people were working and at home celebrating with their families. As they should. Yet I look around my home and as the days go on there is a hole that stands out so much. And I don’t want to time to go forward. In fact I want it to go backwards!

There are moments I catch myself playing what if. I often wonder what if that brain tumor had just simply been the migraine I thought it was? Where would we be? I try so hard to be present in all my moments. But sometimes my thoughts race and wonder what she would be doing if she was with me. What would Melina be like? And right then I cry. At a game or a school event. I have learned those tears are just my love for Melina with no where to go, and again my world stops. These are the moments my friend and I talked about. Where you want to scream and be like do you know what happened to my family? Do you know how hard this is?

I don’t scream publicly, well I haven’t yet. I have yet to scream out in a grocery store when picking apples that my daughter died. But it is so crazy that it can simply be in those moments that it hits you. Stupid grapes…she always wanted to eat them out of the bag. Yet we bury the grief inside and keep going. Because I have to. Does this mean I bury my grief? Absolutely not. But I can’t always just be stuck in it. Because that isn’t the option I choose. And as much as I don’t want too. I too have to move forward.

The other day I got to talk to a group of students and share my Melina. These days are wonderful for my heart and heart breaking at the same time. I am sharing my most precious gift and hoping others cherish her too. Also I tell stories that make my heart go to some very hard places which makes rebounding on those day a little more challenging. I have a group of middle school girls I drive to school everyday. So the Friday I was presenting I told the girls on our drive that I was sharing Melina today at school. Maybe I needed them to know my heart at the moment, and they all smiled. So I asked them what had been on my heart. A question I hadn’t asked in three years. They were all young kids when she was sick. I asked the scariest question of all for this mom, “do you remember her?” To which they all screamed to me. “Yes!” And they gave me that adolescent look like I had lost my mind, “how could we forget”. Which only made me laugh. Of course they remember because she was Melina. So I asked for them to share their favorite moment. And for that seven minute trip we looked back and remembered Melina for who she was, not a little girl with a brain tumor.

We talked about how she wore her bike helmet all day. They talked about how bossy she could be. They remembered her being the best power wheel driver in the neighborhood. And they were stunned at how she was able to ride a two wheeler. And for seven minutes my world felt right. These little girls might have continued to move forward but they didn’t forget to bring their friend with them. And as they got out of the car that day I saw her. I saw their Cheeto gloves, their Choose Joy bracelets, and their rainbows. And I realized while everyone’s world moved on, it didn’t mean they didn’t take her with them.

Melina will always be in the forefront of my brain. Always. She is mine and always will be. Yet four middle school girls let me know that people might not move on and forget with time . Maybe it’s that people move forward and take her. Maybe people do see me. But not as a broken, grieving mom. But maybe they just see me as Melina’s, Emmie’s and Klara’s mom and that is an amazing gift. I don’t define my Melina as a brain tumor. So maybe people don’t define me as grief. Maybe with time they see me and just see Melina’s Joy. Or maybe if we are all lucky people see me and understand that yes there is so much pain. But my little girl has taught all of us how to find the Joy. So as much as time moves, and we are forced to move with it, that doesn’t mean that people are forgotten nor does it mean pain is forgotten. Maybe it’s just that with time Melina continues to teach us we have a choice, and every day we move forward we continue to make choices. And each day even in the pain we choose Joy for Melina. 💚🌈💚