Child loss is a loss like no other. One often misunderstood by many. I can’t really tell you the events that have occurred over the last year, just that it has in fact been one-whole-year.... Three Hundred and Sixty-Five days. I don't know how we arived here, but here we are. I'm not quite sure how I'm holding it together, and some days I definitely don't- as can be evidanceed by me laying on the floor crying hystrically. The hardest part has been finding a balance between never wanting to forget the 10 years of memories and basically starting over my entire life as I knew it. I suspect I’ll battle with this for a long time, and that a lot of things will forever remain bittersweet.
We all have something we fight, but remember that for some of us, even the “good” days are harder than you could ever imagine. I will grieve for a lifetime. Period. The end. There is no “moving on,” or “getting over it.” There is no how to, no fix, no solution to my heartache. There is no end to the ways I will grieve and for how long I will grieve. There is no glue for my broken heart or no going back in time. For as long as I breathe, I will grieve and ache and love my son with all my heart and soul.
I’ve spent a lot of the past months thinking about a lot of things – who I am, who I want to be, and how I see this new chapter playing out that is being written only by me. (That sounds depressing when you think of it like that, but ridiculously invigorating as, “you’ve got the pen, girl, write the motherfu****g chapter(s) of your dreams!”) And if that wasn’t obvious as to what I was doing when I took a trip or more per month and traveled the world over the last year, now you know its because I was searching for some sort of... purpose- if you will.
In the last three hundresd & sixty-five days I've come to realize a few things about myself….
-I've learned how to open up to people, soften my steely outer shell, and not be so judgmental.
-I've realized my type A traits are a lot less of a “cute quirk” and more of a deplorable obstacle for anyone trying to make plans or work with me.
-I'm becoming a total and unapologetic beer snob.
-I grew meaningful relationships (including some I didn’t think would stand the test of time) let others fizzle out, and planted new ones that I’m pretty confident are just getting started. Quality really is the name of the game.
-I offered a shoulder to the sad and weary, and let myself accept it when I needed one, too. I spent some time honestly reflecting on my life and realized that the valleys are sometimes worth more than the peaks.
-I fell in and out of love with running.... like a billion times.
-I made some career/life moves that uptight Mandie wouldn’t have been ballsy enough to make! A new adventure awaits and I’m outrageously excited about it.
But what about the other things in my life? The non-tangibles? My hobbies, habits, ideas – all the things that make me- “me”? How many of them were intentionally developed, and how many either fell into my lap out of habit or laziness? How did I feel about bringing all of those things into this new phase of my life?
-Am I really such an introvert I can’t make small talk with the person behind me at the grocery store, or is that a personality trait I’ve slowly acquired over the years?
-Is it fun to pass on participating in things because I’m not super good at them just to protect my competitive ego?
-Do I really hate olives, or did someone tell me they were gross and I never gave them a chance?
What surprised me the most about this whole deeply intrinsic, uncharacteristically personal self-assessment was how much I think I’ve been wrong about my interpersonal relationships.- Being open, approachable, and welcoming do not come naturally to me. None of the folks who know me – from any stage in my life – would describe me as any of those things- I’m pretty damn certain. Plus, I have a severe case of Resting B***h Face that I just don’t think there’s ever going to be a cure for.
But I realize that a lot of the walls that I have built up were there for silly reasons. To protect myself from some unknown something or another that I worried would hurt me. That exposing any part of me to people I hadn’t screened, put through a personality test, and checked their FICO score would make me foolishly vulnerable and soft. That if I relied on someone they’d let me down, or even worse.... I’d let them down. I kept myself impermeable to any threat of hurt, and in doing so kept myself from fully experiencing the joy of moments and people surrounding me. I am lucky to be surrounded with friends who have been supportive. Though I will grieve the loss of my son forever and then some, it does not mean my life is lacking happiness and joy. Quite the contrary, in fact, though-it took a while to get there. My life is more rich now, but in a different way. I live & love from a much deeper place.
We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. I am grateful beyond words for each and every gift that comes my way. I bow my head to each one of you and say thank you, thank you, thank you. Because there is nothing– and I mean absolutely nothing– I take for granted. Living life in this way over the last three hundred and sixty-five days has given me a greater - different kind of- joy than I’ve ever known possible.
Getting used to a new life of hasn’t been easy. Through this journey, I’ve become a much more positive person, and I now prioritize my own happiness. Sometimes I choose to do things out of spite, just to prove that I can still do amazing things, I am still human and I am stronger than whatever life throws my way. I’ve set out to share love to the world. I do it to prove to the world that there are still good people in this world, miracles happen and dreams really do come true. I might be a little crazy in my feats of strength or the heights of my dreams, and sometimes it lands me in trouble, but I will keep on pushing and keep on fighting because for whatever reason, I have been spared and I am still here on this earth.