“Why did I do it?” I shake my head, as I realize it happened again. What happened again? I put myself through the ringer of grief and what set me off was just a movie; a movie to finish off the weekend that focused on angels who had to resolve some things from when they were alive on Earth.
Remembering that I had seen this movie before, I thought it would be ok to watch it again. Boy, was I wrong! I had no idea the heartache that would follow when I went off to bed. Sleeping just was not in the works, as my mind couldn’t let go of the reality of losing my daughter Erica on a Wednesday in November of 2008.
Though I know from God's Word that my daughter is not an actual angel, I often think of her that way and I imagine her flying down from Heaven to comfort me. I imagine her big, beautiful smile and her wrapping her arms around her broken Momma. “God, if I beg enough will you let her come to me in my dreams? Please, God, I need to feel her presence, spend some time between here and there with her, is that possible somehow?" I also wonder, if Erica knows how hard her Momma is struggling with her death and the daily grief that I endure, though I really don’t want her to know. I want her to be happy in Heaven. I wouldn’t want her to see me like this.
So many thoughts kept zooming through my head the night I watched that movie about angels, and I couldn’t stop or control the thoughts. The thought that troubled me the most was based in the fear that I may never be able to revisit the day of the "crash" (as I call it) without feeling like my mind, heart and soul will explode right out of my body.
Whenever I try to “go there,” to the day of the “crash,” I realize I’m not ready. At the time I am writing this, it has been 4 years, 2 months and 7 days since Erica died at the hands of a woman who was on her cell phone while driving an SUV. I think of that day as the day of the “crash,” because my world came crashing in on me.
I often wonder when will the grieving end? When will I stop having these moments of pain that are unbearable?
After 2 hours of sleeplessness and deep sorrow, I had soaked my pillow with my tears and quiet sobbings, and
I became very much aware that I was holding back the sobbing - swallowing it, so that I wouldn’t wake my husband who was sleeping right next to me. I didn’t want to wake my husband and have him see me like this;
I was broken, shredded, a mess. There have been many times that I’ve let my husband console and comfort me, but that night just wasn’t one of those times.The tears stung, as they rolled down my face, and
I thought of how grief stings like a million bees stinging all at once. I also felt like I was barely breathing and I had to concentrate on letting the air come and go. “I have to breathe," I told myself. "Just breath!”
Realizing that I wasn’t going to sleep, I asked God to help me, because I honestly felt like I was going to “lose it!” Though, I knew from experience over the past 4 years since Erica's death that the intensity of the grief wouldn’t last and eventually I would go to sleep, I also knew that I needed to hear from the Lord that night and that He wanted to speak into my heart through the pain. I knew that He was with me in this “valley of the shadow of death” and that He would carry me and help me to make it through the night. At one point, I knew He was saying to me, “Fear not my child, I will never put you through anything that you cannot bear. Though you may be in the valley of the shadow of death, fear not for I am with you.”
Knowing that intense grief like this will happen again, my heart will ache for my daughter and my wounds will again be exposed and laid open before God, I also know that God will sit with me in my grief and be my loving Father who will spend the night with me and help me get through the darkness.
I am sharing my dark night experience and heartache with you, because I know that there are so many other “moms like me” who bear the same sorrow I bear, and perhaps by sharing something of my "dark night" this will somehow help me continue to move through my grief and keep aware that I, like you, am not alone in the dark.
What a blessing it is to know that there are others who truly understand the sorrow that I must live with and who will also experience the presence of God in their dark moments. We are blessed to have a God who draws close to us in our sorrow and despair, and that we have Him and one another to share something of the sorrow in the night and the blessings that come “in the morning!” As God promises us " . . .weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." -Psalm 30:5
With Love and Hope,
Shelley Forney, “a mom like you”
Erica Leanne’s Momma
Associate Director, Mothers Like Me Comfort Ministry