It is hard to believe another year has passed, but I have had the anniversary of Amber’s passing on my mind for a couple weeks now. It will be five years on May 13th, 2013 and the changes the years have brought are hard to explain at times.
As I facilitate the support groups and listen to each story I am always reminded of my journey. My heart is touched by each person’s story as my mind drifts back to where I was in my grief at that time. It’s not hard to go back for so often it feels like months ago. Some look at me as if I am too happy, or have too much joy – like it is not possible that I had ever felt like them, but it does not take long before they realize my journey, though different, is much the same.
I remember in those first few months how I was hardly able to breathe, sleep, eat, or quit crying. I questioned God often, watched the uncomfortable silence that began so quickly after my loss, listened to heartless comments, and lost my interest in almost everything except my family. I woke up daily and had to relive the nightmare over and over, and I began to be afraid of everything. I was uncomfortable everywhere, felt as though I did not belong in any situation, I was an outcast, mostly a depressing downer that no one wanted to have around. I tried to pretend to be alright, but I could not – I had no control of the tears. I wanted to be happy for those around me when they discussed their children, their families, and all those wonderful life events that I remembered from long before. I know it was not their fault that I felt the way I did, but that did not stop me from wondering why they were so insensitive to my loss. I mean, after all, this is my child I am talking about – I wanted to scream it to the rooftops at times. I did not understand the stigmas of losing someone to suicide, PTSD, anxiety disorders, or panic attacks and often wondered if I would have treated others with more compassion or empathy if I had not have known this type of loss. I had always had compassion for all other types of death… I had no idea that suicide was to be treated differently. To me it was always as simple as a Mother losing a child. I did not feel the shame I was expected to and had a difficult time understanding this treatment.
Eventually I feel to my knees and asked God to get me through, for I knew no other way.
It was at the end of March, 2010, just shy of two years from my tragedy when my job ended. This was by mutual agreement and I was glad that it had ended. I needed time to rest, heal, and try to make some sense out of what God wanted from me. The very next month, in April, was when the name Messages For Hope appeared by my own hand in a Sudoku book while sitting in the doctors office waiting to be seen. There were many other things I drew in the book, they were all words of hope. When I returned home that day I told my husband about what had happened and showed him the book. I simply said “we need to open this company” and he said “sure”. I knew it was a message from God, but I was unsure of its meaning at the time. We did immediately open the company though and never looked back. It took many months later to discover the true meaning of the name.
There had been many prayers during those first two years and I knew that I had changed spiritually; I could feel it in everything. It was that summer after leaving my job and my getting the Messages For Hope revealed to me that I had many questions for God. I was planning another Walk for Suicide Prevention, I had begun to have anxiety and panic attacks and was confused about the future. I have shared this story with some of you, but I thought worthy of another share……..
I remember that day when I sat at my dining room table and wondered WHY. Why am I living, why was I created, and what does God expect of me? Why do bad things happen to me? If my life was predestined would you really create me to suffer? How does this God of mine who is supposed to LOVE me so much that he sent his son to die for me, allow me to suffer?
I was barely holding up my head that day, my legs could barely lift for each step, and I was feeling hopeless and so very alone. I was not giving up, but I knew I needed answers for my 50 years of living. My mouth opened and I called to Father,
“Dear Father, please help me….please comfort me…. please give me the wisdom to understand what you want of me. Father, I am having difficulty understanding how you love me and want to punish me all at the same time. Father, I know you are a loving God and right now I need my Father, I need my Father to wrap his loving arms around me like any Father would his child. Father allow me to sit with you and you hold me and comfort me - help to dry my tears and give me peace so that I may rest from my grief.”
As I begged God to wrap his arms around me and I wept I wrapped my arms around my torso as if God was holding me. As I sat talking to my Father I suddenly felt his arms in my own, and knew that Father was indeed holding me, comforting me, and loving me as a Father would a child. It was an experience I would never forget and opened my mind to the power of God and how he might work in my life. I knew that what had happened was nothing short of a miracle, it was not simply my imagination. I wondered where God had been through all the other desperate times of my life – there were just so many questions that I could not answer.
I think of all these things and how in December of that year I learned of Grace for the first time and we opened two of the first support groups for Messages For Hope. It’s been two and half years now since beginning those two groups and I have met hundreds of other survivors and Chuck and I are both blessed to be able to share our lives with each of them. We are thankful to have our families, health, friends, and God with all his blessings surrounding us daily. I thank God that he has given me true joy and happiness that I had not known before this tragedy.
That joy that I have found from allowing God to be in control of everything in my life has confused many to think that I may have forgotten about my loss, or I was “over it”. I am not grieving my loss like I did 5 years ago, I understand the peace Amber has now…..But I miss her. I miss her laughter, I miss her hugs, I miss her telling me that she loves me, and her calling me Mommy.
I am always reminded of this loss at Mothers Day each year and although I miss her very much, I am so blessed to have her sister, my youngest daughter, Kristin, my very special son-in law, Josh, and three wonderful grandchildren, Kayla, Jason, and Collin.
I have very much learned to honor my daughter’s memory and as I think of her I now remember that beautiful face, and great sense of humor. She was a loyal friend, an intelligent girl, and I am a Mom who is missing one of her daughters this Mothers Day.
I love you, Amber…. Mommy