March 04, 2012

The back-up plan

It's hard to believe it's been over 3 months now since my grandma died.  I still cry when I think of her.  I talk to her just to say, "I miss you, Meemaw.  And I love you.  Thanks for calling me sweetheart."  I'm tearing up just writing this. 

There was a time in my life when I felt so empty and worthless and incapable of facing the realities of life, that I was sure that I'd take my life when my grandparents died.  They were my parents of the heart.  They were who I clung to.  They were the people who accepted me just as I was, and loved me exactly the way I needed to be loved.  I just didn't think I could handle the pain of losing them.  So I had a plan to escape that pain.  A plan I never told anyone about. 

That was before getting married and becoming a mom, of course.  Having a child gave me fresh joy in life and a powerful reason to endure.  It also gave me something new to fear.

I don't feel empty and worthless anymore, but I still feel incapable of handling the pain of loss. Having endured the losses of my brother to suicide and both of my maternal grandparents to lung cancer hasn't made me feel any stronger, any more resilient in the face of loss. 

I told my husband once that I don't think I have that spark for life that so many people have.  That certainty that their lives will go on no matter what happens.  Tragedy knocks people off their feet every day.  I know this.  Some people turn their grief into positive action, lobbying for changes to laws, starting up foundations, counseling others in similar situations.  I don't know what keeps them going when they've lost it all.  I can only surmise that there is some sort of essential survival instinct.  Some inborn resilience that I don't have.

This doesn't take away from my ability to live a joyful life.  But there's always the fear.  Fear is always riding shotgun with me.  It's the counterweight to the humor and joy I find in life.  Fear is my enemy. 

My mom once told me that she resented me for existing when my brother died at the age of 15.  It meant she had to live on.  She couldn't escape the pain through death.  At the time it felt like one more rejection from her, but now I get it.  I could not survive losing my son.  It would be more than I could bear.  I know this at my core.

I believe that God forgives me for my brokenness.  For having a back-up plan.  And I pray that He eases this burden of fear in my life.  I'm tired of the shadow it casts.

A Catholic Mass is being offered for my grandma at church today.  (Which means I can't skip this week like I did last week...)  If you pray, please say a prayer for us.   


  1. Oh Danielle, I wish I could hug you right now. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. My Pappap died 15 years ago and I still feel broken because of it. He was more of a parent to me than both my parents on a good day, combined.

    I will be thinking of you and your family and praying for you guys. If you ever need to talk about this more, please don't hesitate to email me ( I really like you and don't want you to be hurting. :(

  2. Danielle, I'm one of those people who never knows what to say.... I know the kind of fear you're talking about and sometimes it's hard not to let it rob the joy that Is. I'll say a prayer for your comfort and that you can let yourself rest in Him. Sigh. xxoo Mama

  3. You're a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. You don't have to erect monuments to be a survivor. Finding small joys and humor in the face of adversity, having the courage to open your heart, honoring those you love, trying to do better...those are survival skills.

  4. Aww, you three are awesome! I wish we could all have a wine and karaoke night together.

    You all understand the value of a grandparent's love. There's something magical about it. Thank God for them.