September 27, 2016 · Personal
This is the one day of the year where I have a free pass to cry as much as I need to in order to cover for the other 364 days of the year where my chin is up, I’ve got my game face on, big girl panties pulled up and life…feels more like a battlefield. There is no way to predict what today will feel like from year to year. Ambitious, “I’ve-got-this” me scheduled a haircut for today because…well…it’s been four years now since Owen passed. Surely, one of these years I will wake up on his birthday and go the entire day without shedding a single tear.
I did, however, rock a pretty big smile during my haircut. Not the kind of smile I have had to fake in the past. The tears (very few I might add) were only shed behind closed doors today…and that’s ok.
On days like today, progress isn’t always measured in traditional ways. It is measured in the number of dirty tissues you have accumulated (exactly 4) and how quickly you bounce back to your “normal” self (3 minutes).
It is measured in the amount of joy you feel at your core that can not be squelched by the pain you inevitably experience on bittersweet, memory-filled days like today.
In the four years since Owen arrived on this earth, I had no idea our journey to have kids would be so hard. So frustrating and confusing. So downright LONG. What I didn’t realize was that the struggle AFTER Owen’s death would sometimes feel even MORE intense. More unbearable at times. More lonely than I ever thought possible.
Grief, I know how to handle. Child loss, I am an overcomer. Miscarriages, I am a survivor. Secondary, unexplained, “what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-you” infertility is foreign territory…but I am learning with grace how to navigate these waters.
One ultrasound at a time. One prescription refill at a time. One “Please, for the love of all things holy, is it time to pursue adoption yet, God?” conversation at a time. All the while shedding a few (and only a few) tears behind closed doors when the days, emotions and hormones seem to be stacking up against you. Then, after a fleeting moment of waterworks, letting that genuine smile shine when you remember that this, too, shall pass.
For those of you who do not know my dad, he has a lot of -isms. Things he has said to me over the years that have stuck. Like, “Don’t be a sheep, Nic.” Meaning, don’t blindly follow everyone else. Think for yourself. To this day, I hear his voice in my head whenever I chart my own course or break from the crowd.
One dad-ism in particular, I have literally lived by since Owen passed. Words that he has said to me over and over through the course of my life that had seemed empty…premature…perhaps spoken before their time. It wasn’t until I was walking through the hardest season of my life that these words began to carry some real weight.
I thought these words rang the loudest in my ears after we placed Owen’s body in the grave and I had to figure out how to make it without him. How to live as an earthly mother with no surviving children. Over this last year in particular, I finally realized that these words were more appropriately meant for THIS season. The waiting season.
The season that is priming me, molding me and re-shaping me to handle the exhausting, never-ending, sleepless, worrisome, carpooling, play-dating, snot-wiping, vomit-cleaning, cupcake-making season of being a MOTHER. What a glorious, messy, wild-ride-of-a-season awaits!
A few months ago when my parents came to visit, I had my dad write out the words to this dad-ism in his handwriting. I wanted to frame it. Hang it where I would see it every day. Reflect on HOW FAR I had come and how much strength I had gained through the process of life, loss, infertility, and feeling like the rest of the world is out there living the life you were supposed to have.
With a sharpie in hand, his words became a tangible, visual representation of the encouragement, love, and unwavering belief that even when I feel weak and defeated, my dad sees my potential. He sees the mountains I have climbed when I am only able to see the valleys that have swallowed me whole. He sees what I don’t see.
“You are stronger than you think.” – Dad
I feel these words are meant to be shared with you today and I wanted to share them with you straight from my dad’s hand. Words spoken from a father to a daughter. Mirroring the relationship and encouraging words as if spoken directly from my Heavenly Father to me, His daughter.
For those of you with broken, imperfect relationships with your dads. For those of you who no longer have dads here on this earth to speak encouragement over you and offer their dad-isms. For those of you simply feeling like the road you are on will never…ever…end. The words in this picture frame were written just as much for you as they were for me…and in honor of the strongest little lion I know (on his birthday, no less), never forget…