Whoever first said the words, ” sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, has never felt the power of words said to them that tear a part of them away, over and over. I have. And let me tell you it is the words that have torn me apart more than any physical blows ever could, and I have had plenty of physical blows in my life. Physical wounds heal over time while words repeat themselves over and over in our minds and heart.
Dealing with the death of my son in 2005 and later the death of my daughter in 2012, I have been walking a journey I never, ever wanted to walk. My son died July 17, 2005 and by the end of September I was back to channeling, helping others, spending time with other Mothers who were also dealing with the death of a child and doing what I had to do in order to move on in life. I set aside the 17th of every month to just be, and to feel what there was to feel. Though my grief and anger definitely showed its’ self to others I still did my work though I also gave myself time to just grieve fully; at least once a month. My son’s death was sudden. His death came as a result of his choice to drink and drive his motorcycle. I was also angry with him for doing that. I was angry with some people who helped him on his bike when he was too drunk to get on it himself. I was so filled with sorrow and anger that my time spent working was not always the best it was able to be, but it was the best I could do at the time.
Time ~ such a simple word. Only four letters long and yet carries so much weight to it, at least for me. Time heals all wounds. I do not find that to be true, at least for me. Time allowed me to release some of the emotions carried. Time allowed me to rant and rave at some of the things people would say to me, thinking they were helping but only truly rubbing salt into the wounds of my grief and anger. Time also allowed me opportunity to walk along the ocean. It allowed me to pray. It allowed me to scream at God. Time allowed me to write letters to my son and to God in the sands of the beach where his ashes were placed. Time also allowed me to understand in its’ passing that pain is pain, grief is grief and I alone can determine how much anger stayed within me. Years passed as I learned these lessons and though the sorrow still walks with me, I began to weave myself back together, one breath at a time. I learned to be honest with how I felt and to speak the words that are there to speak, and yet at the same time to be aware how I speak those words. What I have come to understand is the words spoken or written can heal, or they can slice someone to pieces. I choose to not slice someone open with words. If I do, once realized I own them, speak about them with the person I spoke them to, and do my best to help heal what harm my words had created.
As many of you know, this process took six years to accomplish. To get to the point where I could truly say I had happiness again in my life even though it was woven into and around the sorrow that was part of me, I also had happiness. I could look in the mirror and not seek to turn away from the raw pain that lived in my eyes. I began to discover who I was post Joseph’s death and I found out I was ok. I was different than I had been before his death but who I had become was ok and I was content.
And then came the phone call that once again shattered my life. My daughter, my most precious first born and the answer to my prayers I prayed so many years ago called to say she had stage four non-smokers lung cancer. It had spread to her brain. And we later found out it had also spread to her bones. My remaining son and I left our home in New Jersey that night and relocated to Vermont.
My daughter gave it all she had. She also looked at and healed some scripts from times gone past. She began to see how one of the scripts she and I shared, ” I do not matter”, was a great lie. I had learned that yes I do matter and she was in the process of understanding and transforming that script. Perhaps one day my writings will speak of moments during the time my son and I relocated to Vermont on April 21, 2011 to Heather’s death on March 21, 2012, but not today. Today I am writing about the power of words to hurt and how difficult they are to move past.
I have been blessed with seeing my son many times since he left this world and was able to see his own healing occur until ultimately he stepped fully into the light with so much peace and love that it actually brings a smile to my face when I recall that moment. His death was sudden. It took him time to let go of being here, just as it takes time for me to learn to live here without him. Heather’s death was not sudden. When it began to be apparent she was really going to leave this world I knew for her it was a blessing. For her it ended her terrible, horrible physical pain. It still rips my heart apart knowing she wasn’t ready to leave her children. I still see her eyes open, look at her son sitting next to her bed and with a tear running down her face watched her breathe her last breath. She was ready to be done with the cancer but she wasn’t ready to no longer be here. In the dark of the night I remember myself kneeling by her bed when she called me in the early morning hours to come over and help her with the pain in the final few days she got to be in her home. I see myself kneeling by her bedside with my hands on her back as she finally drifted into sleep, her pain alleviated for a moment and I hear myself pray to God to end her suffering. I prayed for God to take my beloved child from me rather than to see her suffer so much unless God intended to heal her in a moment. Can you ever imagine praying for that to happen? Can you imagine what that is like? I hope with every part of me you never know what that is like.
I have only seen my daughter twice since her death. The first time was shortly after her death while going through photographs to use at her memorial in Vermont. The second time was a short time later when she came to me. I was so happy to see her! And then she spoke to me and said, ” The words I left behind will take you a lifetime to heal.” And then she vanished. Words she left behind? What words? She left no journal except for the writings she left on her web site. In the later months she didn’t keep up her web site because she felt she wasn’t able to be honest and did not want anyone to know how she looked or felt. What words? I had her cell phone and so I charged it up and read the words she left behind. With a few people she said some horrible things about me. I told myself it was the brain tumors speaking. She really didn’t hate me. She really didn’t “just tolerate” having me around because she “needed me to have Ma-Ryah help her with the pain and healing.” She wrote about me coming over in the wee hours of the mornings ( before I went when asked to be there to help with her pain) and that I crawled in bed with her. ” OMG!” she wrote to one person. “She is here! She crawled in bed with me!” It didn’t happen. One thing perhaps necessary to make clear here is in spite of being told later that my daughter only wanted me to be her Mother, that was not the case. Except for very rare moments I was not permitted to hold her, to hug her, to cry, to be upset about what was happening to her or with anything going on in the household. I was not allowed to hug and love her though she did allow others to come and do that, even at the end. Not me. She and I spoke about that. She and I spoke about so many things I never imagined talking with my daughter about, but we knew part of the healing journey, even if death was the healing, was to have the courage to be honest. So we spoke about everything. I believed what she said. I believed she spoke truth. Until I read her words, I believed she spoke the truth. After I read her words I cried as hard as I did when I awoke at 5 a.m. in the morning on the day she died and knew that was the day she was going to die. I cried so deeply, my body hurt. I cried so deeply it felt like my heart was being pulled apart. I spoke to her and told her how sorry I was that she had to spend the last months of life with someone she hated so much. I cried and begged God to end my life in that moment. Of course my life didn’t end and now on top of living on past the lives of two of my children, I had to find a way to move forward believing my daughter hated me. I told myself it was the brain tumors speaking. I told myself she really did love me, she only resented me having to be there taking care of her, taking care of her children and home. She and I had spoken about that too. I told myself all these things and so much more and yet all I knew now was how deeply my daughter hated me. The journey from that day to now has been a journey into hell and back several times. I no longer believe she hated me. I believe she resented me. And I can’t say I would feel any differently in her situation. I wish I could see her and have another talk with her, this time fully from truth on her part. I believe her coming to me was to let me know she knew how deeply her words could hurt and she was saying she was sorry. A part of me whispers within my mind, ” Maybe. And just maybe the words she left behind are her truth and the times she said she loved you, wanted to spend time with you, etc., were just her lies.”
What hurt even more than the words my daughter left behind were the words the people she wrote them to who would respond to her with more words of pain. I am intense. I own that. I speak and live my truth as clearly as I possibly can and not everyone desires to walk in that way. I own that. Not once did the people she wrote these words of hate to respond to her and say, ” Your Mother is there so much because you are too sick to take care of your self or your children.” “Your Mother is there because she loves you.”” Your Mother is there because you have cancer.”” Your Mother is there because just like every other time through the years you have called to her for help she dropped everything and came…no matter what because she loves you.” No. Those words were not said. They threw me under the bus. They fed this part of her. They did not own their own truth. They helped tear my heart apart even more. To my face none of this was ever shown. Behind my back though? Unbelievable words of pain.
Since the moment my daughter came to me and spoke about the words left behind, the words shared by her and a couple of people have been the demons that arrive at night to tear me apart over and over. Moments replayed in graphic detail of the times I stepped aside so others besides her children, brother, father and myself could be with her because they were important to her rise up again in my mind. In the hospital as her life was drawing to an end how people were not restricted and could come even if it meant her family stepped aside, because each person meant so much to Heather. All of these moments and more, covered in the hateful words tear at me like wolves ravaging a carcass found in the woods and I cry and hurt even more than I do already.
I know I also have a choice in how I move beyond these words or not. I have done a lot of work on myself, owned what is mine and let go what is not. I spoke to the people who wrote the words that threw me under the bus. I let them know what I felt about it. I spoke with them about it, because I have the courage to own my choices. It may intimidate some and yet it is one part of me I am very proud of. If I have words to say to someone I say it to them and not someone else. I will seek to have it result in harmony and yet whether or not it does, I will own how I feel. None of the reasons for doing this matter to me. None of it changes what was done. The only thing that changes is what I do with it. For over a year I have allowed these words to intensify my pain over the death of my beloved child. I have allowed it to cut pieces of me away each time the words resurfaced in the dead of night to tear me apart. In the past few weeks I have begun to heal the wounds these words created in me.
I wrote out some of the more hurtful words left by other people. I tore them up. As I tore them up I said these words did not define me or my daughter. I tore them into pieces. And then I found a Mother’s Day card my daughter gave to me in 2004 and read the words she wrote. I held them to my heart. When the inner demon’s voice said those words were lies, I silenced it and held the words of love, of truth to my heart. I have read and re-read the words my daughter wrote on the card more times than I can count. When the words left behind attack me now I get this card and I read it out loud over and over again until the hateful, hurtful words are silenced. I have chosen to not believe the words of the tumor, or the many moments when I would drop my life during the moments of her life when my daughter would call for me to come and stay to help her when she would say angry words about me to others. ( How quickly these moments were shared with me after my child’s death) I have chosen to embrace it does not matter if she resented me or not, hated me or not because it would not and does not have the power to change the love I had and will always have for her ~ no matter what. My response to her through the years in times of crisis was always, ” I am on my way.” I am the one left here in this world and so it is up to me how I respond. I can allow the words left behind to tear me apart and keep me in a perpetual journey into hell, over and over again, or I can choose to remember the times she spoke with me, created with me, shared with me and created with me through love. That is my choice. I have had some people say to me I had no right to read her texts. If you ever walk where I walk, if you ever live through what I live through you still would have no right to judge what I ‘should’ do or not. Her texts were not read until she spoke of the words she left behind. Even if she had not came to me and said that, if reading her words were what I chose to do…that is mine to choose, no other may make that choice. In the meantime I breathe one breath at a time, I listen to my heart beat one beat at a time, and I heal one moment at a time as I once again re-weave who I am. And in time, in blessed time I will once again find myself happy again. I will once again be able to look in the mirror and not seek to turn away from the raw pain I see in my eyes and feel in my heart. And if necessary to get to that point I rewrite the words left behind by her and those few who threw me under the bus, then so be it. I will write them and destroy them over and over until “words no longer break my bones or hurt me”… Or more accurately, my heart.