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AVERYday: Blessings and Vanilla Beans - Part 18

Make no mistake, I am a mother full of grieving. Sorrow seeps in between the joints of my bones and I breathe weeping. I am a mother without. I have lost two of my four children: one who was 11 years old and one who never got to be. My mind runs away with numbers: counting the number of people wearing red in order to disappear from the sudden crippling anguish that threatens to suffocate my soul; running calculations: 50% of my children are in heaven, 50% of my children are on earth; playing odds: the even children have died. Avery was #2, the unborn would have been #4, if we have another it will be #5, the odd numbered children are alive, the odds are in our favor.

And yet, this grief that has colored my soul isn't a permanent darkness. I am aware of this. I am not stuck. I could be, but I'm not. Not in this moment. I'm aware of what the mind can seduce you into believing, that it can be full of lies so comforting, like a fluffy down blanket that beckons you to close your eyes for just a second.... but I won't be tempted.

I am the proud mother of Jadrian: beautiful, witty, fiercely compassionate, full of dreams and wisdom that belie her 17 years. This girl whose heart breaks when she sees a person sitting alone at a restaurant, who would rescue every stray animal if allowed, who has such an amazing life ahead of her to live if she can just trust God and not fall prey to the lies the voices in her mind whisper to her.

I am the proud mother of Brody: sensitive and caring, gentle with his heart and his kisses. Perfectionist of the Squeezy Hug. The boy who picked up the baton where his sweet Avery left off: "Mom, guess what?" "What, buddy?" "I LOVE YOU!!" Keen to continue the game which brings so much pleasure to my heart. "Guess what, buddy?" "What?" "I LOVE YOU, TOO!!!"

And I am the proud mother of Avery: God Girl. Faith filled. Tender hearted. Compassionate. Loving. Forgiving. Full of grace. And hand chosen to live in Eternity by God the Father Almighty.

Perhaps you might be surprised to know that I sit here today thanking God for all the blessings He has given me... especially on the day of Avery's passing. I have been blessed a thousand times over. I thank God that Avery never suffered. Ever. See, I believe that she was called Home and to Heaven she would go; her passing could have been carried out in a thousand different ways, but God helped protect my heart in the plans He had for Avery. I think so often of all the parents of all the children that are fighting a debilitating disease. Those Mamas and Daddies need our prayers. They need our support. They need to know that there are people holding them up when they feel they can't take another step. So I thank God that He protected my heart as best as He did.

Someone - someone special, indeed, has been sending Jadrian anonymous cards filled with support and love - and that is definitely something to thank God for. Because that person's heart is being pulled to do something for Jadrian, and they don't ignore it. And Jadrian needs that.

Before Christmas, a representative from the Young Auditorium, offered Matt and I complimentary tickets to a show called Leahy Family Christmas. It was the first time I would have been back to the last city my daughter had been alive in. I didn't feel very Christmas spirity. I felt... marked. Like every person would take one look at my face and know. Know that I shouldn't be in public, but home, under covers, sobbing.

But I also knew I couldn't stay home, under covers, sobbing, forever. And I loved this theatre. Adored it. This was the theatre I took Avery to, special Mommy - Daughter dates. This was the stage she had clogged on with the Walworth County Cloggers. Her spirit was in that auditorium and I wasn't going to miss trying to feel it.

I sat, tears streaking down my cheeks, as I watched this amazing Leahy Family sing and play and clog... children the same age as my Avery dancing the same steps she had danced on the same stage she had once danced! It was heartbreaking and yet also so incredibly comforting.

And then I saw him. An old man a few rows in front of me to my right. He clapped the loudest, tapped his feet, threw his hands in the air: "Beautiful! Beautiful!" He turned to the man next to him, "Isn't this beautiful?!" A thought flashed before me: what if this was the last thing he would ever see on earth? I felt so blessed to watch his amazement.

And then I thought... what if this is MY last moment on earth? There are no guarantees for me, either. It's not like you have one really crappy thing happen to you and then you get free passes until you're old and grey. Would someone, right now this very second, rows behind me and to the left, glance over at me and say, "that is a woman who really tastes life! That is a woman whose cup overflows..."

I saw Avery's wide smile in every dance step. I heard her laughter amongst the energy of the fiddles. And I felt the love she had oozing from that elderly man throwing his hands up in excitement, exclaiming BEAUTIFUL!

I thank God for those tickets. I thank God for those seats that allowed me to see, once again, how good life is. Music, family, tradition... these are what tie us to this earth. These are what we taste. These are what bless us.

I am so blessed.

The other day a friend of mine was talking about Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Maybe, if I had to visually describe where I am right now, it would be that my life - my heart, my soul, my thoughts - are like Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Where, in each scoop you'd find those little black specs of bean... it would be impossible to separate them out and remove them; they're just part of what you're eating. My sorrow is like that... all over, in between, impossible to separate out - just an accepted part of my life. But that doesn't mean my life is ruined. I mean, have you ever tasted Vanilla Bean Ice Cream? It's delicious! (Ironic: if you knew me you'd know I don't like ice cream, but Vanilla Bean is actually my preferred flavor when I eat it. Perhaps it's time to pick up a tub.)

Make no mistake, I am a mother full of grieving, yet I am also a mother thankful for the many blessings - and memories - in my life.


Amy said…
Beautifully said, Bridget ♥ I suddenly have a hankerin' for some vanilla bean ice cream. Its 7am but what the hell!!
Deana said…
Wonderfully written Bridget <3 perhaps that gentleman a few rows ahead had a special angel viewing with him <3 perhaps Avery was enjoying the show through him <3
gradydoctor said…
I love, love, love the pictures. I love the words even more. So beautiful. So peaceful and brave.
angie said…
so beautiful, bridget. I love that you are making a conscious decision to see the goodness, the beauty, the blessings amidst your grief. what a gift you are giving yourself. so much love, as always, from me to you and yours.
Anna See said…
Beautiful, Bridget. Yes, even in our grief, there is thankfulness. Strange but true. I think having been touched by our children, being blessed to have them call us mom, was a gift. Of course we thought it would last longer...
Love and Hugs from VA.
Brenna said…
Your children are all so beautiful. And that swirly ice cream is making me hungry. What a great picture.
You know what else? You are a mother who lets her children eat ice cream in the car. You are even more brave than I previously thought. ;) AND I also have to tell you that, crazily, I also do not love ice cream - except a really good vanilla.

Also, it is a gift to be able to see the beauty in others. I wish more people had this gift. I love that you are voicing it.

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