Day By Day

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“This is the only thing in the world I have that truly belongs to me.”  I said stroking her curly blond hair as she sat in my lap sleeping peacefully.  Without hesitation, the response I received was, “No, she doesn’t.  She belongs to God, and He loaned her to you for a very short time.”  Little did Tony know when he said that to me on September 18th, exactly two weeks later, God would choose to take my Morgan to be with Him. That was 17 years ago, October 2, 1997.  My life changed forever that day just as much as it had changed on September 1, 1992, the day she was born.  Only this time, I wasn’t crying tears of happiness and joy.  I was crying tears of agony and heartbreak from the deepest part of my being.  I was grieving.  And, yes, there really are 5 definite stages of grief; and they cycle, not just occurring in one specific order and/or just one time.  It is a process.  A grueling process.

 

For me, it went like this…

 

Bargaining

I begged God to give her back to me; telling Him I would do anything He wanted me to do – just please give me back MY baby girl. Obviously, that wasn’t what He had planned.   I was willing to do anything just to see her big blue eyes sparkling with life again; to see her smile light up a room; to hear her laugh when Tony was tickling her, or to simply stroke her curly blond hair as she sat in my lap asleep.  It seemed my petition to God wasn’t even being considered as that harrowing night lingered on and on.  Eventually, I knew there was not going to be a compromise between God and me.  I just didn’t understand why.  I had always tried to do the right thing, to be a good person, to show His love to others. It just didn’t make sense.

 

Denial

There had to be some simple explanation for Morgan not being home in the days and weeks and even months to follow. “This must be a dream.  I will wake up and it will all be over soon,” I told myself.  When that didn’t work, I would tell myself  “She’s just visiting her dad.  She’ll be coming home soon.”  Actually, I believe those thoughts kept me sane at times. It was easier than to believe them than to think I would never feel her warm touch against my skin again. Oh, the anguish I felt day after day, night after night.

 

Anger 

When the bargaining and the denial seemed futile, anger most definitely set in.  It was anger like I had never experienced before.  It was from a place so deep within me that I wasn’t sure I could survive if I kept it inside of me.  Let me tell you, I know for certain that God can handle ANYTHING if He can handle the anger of a mother who has lost her child. I screamed at Him on a regular basis – loudly, very loudly. I wanted to hate Him because I knew He was able to protect her, but from my very limited perspective, He had chosen not to do so.  “Why, God?!! Why?!! Why MY child that I had prayed to have for 8 long years? The child You promised me and You gave to me.  The same child who brought me joy even during the nightmare of an abusive marriage and an ugly divorce.   Why did You have to take my only child when so many people have a house full of children they don’t even take care of; they don’t even want them?”  The entire situation was just so wrong and unfair. Yes, I was very, very angry.

 

Depression

This was the only stage I didn’t dwell in for very long.  While I did experience profound sadness, I never felt hopeless.  I did take time to myself to cry, and I wasn’t able to focus on work or other “trivial” things for a little while.  I tried to find the good in things around me, even the little things.  It wasn’t always easy, but I believe just a little positive energy and a lot of hope kept me from slipping into the abyss of depression.  Hope and faith are two very powerful entities.

Disclaimer: I believe situational depression and chemical depression are very different.  One is psychological, and the other is physiological.  I have never experienced either. I do believe, however, that situational depression ends up being a choice after a period of time.  Chemical depression is an imbalance of chemicals in the body and can be treated with medication.  Both can be debilitating and should be treated by a professional.   

 

Acceptance

Depression seemed pointless once I had dealt with my anger once and for all and realized that God really DID protect Morgan that calamitous day.  He protected her from the pain and struggles of this life, from the ugliness of sin in this world. He had given her HIS very best.  He had given her “the perfect life”.  I was the one who lost, but my loss was/is only temporarily.  After all, I get to spend eternity with her!!  Once I realized that, I realized that I was supposed to move forward in life, finding joy and success so that God could get the Glory for my survival.  Because, believe me, none of “my strength” is me.   It is ALL Him.

 

 

Over the past 17 years, I have realized some things.

 

1) People genuinely care.  The outpouring of love from friends, family, and people whom neither my family nor I have ever met, then and over the past 17 years, has been absolutely amazing.  Tears, hugs, cards, memories of Morgan different people have shared, and stories of how lives have been changed through Morgan’s death are all reminders that others have shared my pain and loved me through it.

 

2) I can choose to be bitter or better. Bitterness hurts not only me, but also everyone around me.  “Better” gets God the glory He so deserves and I live a productive life.  Let me think… I choose “Better”!

 

3) I can continue to ask “Why”, but I will likely never get an answer in this life.  On the day I meet Him face-to-face, I can ask that question and get an answer. I finally realize, though, that at that point, the answer really won’t matter because my tears will be turned to joy. I will not only be in the presence of Jesus, but Morgan will be there with me as well.  What a day that will be!

 

4) There is always someone out there who has it or has had it worse than I… the parent who has watched his/her child suffer through the pain of cancer or some other disease on a daily basis not knowing if today would be their last; the parent who has experience the tragic loss of more than one child – maybe all of their children have gone before them; or the parent who has had a child taken from them and doesn’t know where he is or if she is being tortured.  I can’t imagine.  I just can’t imagine.

 

5) I have learned to count my blessings instead of dwelling on my losses – like the family I still have with me!  Tony and Lexi make every day an adventure. It makes for a much more pleasant and productive life to look for the silver lining in every cloud.  It reminds me daily that God loves me beyond words.

 

6) Even when we are not faithful to Him, God is FOREVER FAITHFUL to us. He takes what Satan means for harm and works it for our good and for His glory. I see the faithfulness of God with every new sunrise.  I may not always like or understand everything, but I have the joy in my heart of knowing that regardless of what happens to me or around me, God is completely in control.  He has a plan for me.  According to Jeremiah 29:11, it is always a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future.

 

7) I did not willingly give my child up to death.  God did.  He loved you and me so much that He SENT His Son to DIE for us. What?!! Having lost a child to death, I can’t fathom actually volunteering my child up to die so that other people could live.  Sure, take me, but not my child!! All I know is that God must really love us to actually send His only Son to die for us.  I can’t fathom that kind of love, but because of it, I know that I will see my Morgan again.  The next time I see her it will be for eternity; no more goodbyes.

 

As I go to work today to take care of the sick, I pray that God will use me to inspire someone to look to Him for their healing, their hope, their inspiration.

 

Today, remember to tell the people you love how much you love them even if it sounds “mushy” or unlike you.  You will never regret it.  I promise. The last words Morgan heard me say as I walked out the door that morning were, “I love you, Mo’! Someone please wipe that jelly off her face!”  I’ll always smile at that memory.