Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Maze

This morning I tried to re-ignite some of the old feelings I had as a child at Christmas time, but as hard as I tried (mostly just to see if I could), it didn't work. I can easily recall the memories...I just can't reach the feelings. It is such an odd if the switch that connected anything positive to the holidays has been turned off.
So I resign myself to "what it is...." This year, and the years to come, I will enter the maze as the holidays near. I will expect a feeling of progress only to be met with constant dead ends, waves of isolation and frustration, and the knowledge that regular back-tracking will just be part of getting through the season. Eventually, the end of the maze will appear and I will be able to move forward through another year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Recently, in one of our many debates over the topic of tithing, my husband said to me, "Haven't I already given enough? I gave Him my daughter." At first I was shocked and upset because that is not the way I feel. But then I realized that I can't dishonor this statement, because it is the way that he feels. The truth of the matter is that, at times, the idea of "giving thanks" for anything after the death of a child can be difficult.

Today, on the second Thanksgiving we are spending away from our daughter, I give thanks t0 God for Emily Elizabeth Anne Eccles born on October 27th, just 12 days short of the one year anniversary of Brittney's journey home. May Brittney watch over her baby cousin just as she would if she were still here with us.

"Life is not about the breaths you take, it is about the moments that take your breath away" Author unknown

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Discovering Messages in Memories...

Feather fascination
after basketball practice freshman year:
Who knew she would have wings of her own
in just three short years?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pop-up Memories

It doesn’t get better, it just gets different.

It has been over a year since my sweet Brittney passed away. It was hard…no torturous… to inch toward the one year anniversary of her death. But in the same way, it was such intense relief to see that milestone slip behind me. On November 9th, a year and a day after the accident, I took a deep breath and moved on...again.

I have to admit that today I do function; a year ago I faked my way through participation in life. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. The biggest challenge now is the frequent appearance of “pop-up” memories of the night she died. Out of nowhere, in the middle of a pleasant experience or a casual conversation, I often have a flashback to one of many moments I would prefer to forget…being woken up by Britt’s boyfriend to “Brittney’s been in an accident, we have to go to the hospital”…or the drive to the hospital during which Sean had the courage to NOT tell me how bad it was…or arriving at the emergency room door and asking the ambulance crew if this was the entrance, at which point they asked me if I was Brittney’s mom. When I said yes, they surrounded me and told me that she fought the whole way there…and I suddenly realized how bad it was. Or the point when I was escorted into the emergency room, barely standing on my own. I saw the gurney…surrounded by trauma center personnel, but just then a doctor turned to see me and said, “NO!”…a second person turned and said, “Get a priest.” How did they know we were catholic was my first thought. I was ushered to a private room. Stunned and numb, I barely remember the calls I made to family or what I said. I authorized surgery, threw up in the hospital restroom, and prayed.

Or the point at which the surgeon emerged to tell me that they had done everything they could, and I responded with, “but she is my only child…” I guess I thought that might make a difference, he might go back in and try one more time…but he didn’t.

Some of these “pop-up” memories aren’t even real, but perceived. I flash back to what I imagine it felt like for Brittney to be thrown 40 feet from the vehicle. What the ride in the ambulance was like for her…did she think of me; want me there? Her time in surgery…was she scared or at peace? Did she choose to go?

While I miss my Brittney terribly, my faith tells me that the pain I feel is not in vain. As difficult as this process is, I know there is light…and Brittney…at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Life with a View

God scooped me up and put me here...

what a way to heal!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blissfully Blind

As I looked into my aging cat's eyes today, I noticed a thin film and a lack of focus. It suddenly occured to me that she might be going blind. My first reaction was that if she loses her sight, her life will become difficult. Then almost immediately, the opposite thought hit me: Blindness can simplify life.

I have no experience with physical blindness, but I feel like I had my sight suddenly taken in another way. As a self-reliant person, and a moderate control-freak, I have always felt that I was in charge of my own destiny. When Brittney passed away, I lost all "sight" or sense of how to move forward. It was at this point that I became aware of the awesome power of blind faith.
My life became so much less complicated when I realized that someone far more competent and trustworthy than me is in charge.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Smile Challenge :)

I found this graphic on another grieving parent's page under the caption The Smile Challenge, and identified with it immediately. I can't help but smile when I think of all the wonderful memories I have of Brittney's 17 years here. While the "here" part has ended for her and remains to play out for me, I know that the "there" part, when my time has arrived, will begin with the most awesome reunion!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pet Grief

Checkin' in on the Animals...

Brittney was our only child. While there are many things that intensify the situation because of this detail, for me, it has provided some sense of ease. It does bother me that I will never experience grandchildren...and that Mother's Day has a certain edge because a part of me no longer feels like a mother; but on the other hand, my husband and I have had the luxury of working through the initial devastation without the responsibility of helping other children through their grief. We do, however, have two pets whose whole lives were spent with Brittney in the house.

Rosco, our German Shepherd is 10 years old, and Baby Kitty is 14. I wonder sometimes, if they are feeling the loss. In some ways, I think this is silly...Brittney would have graduated from high school and headed off to college this year. She was such a free and independent spirit, I don't doubt that visits home would have been few and far between. Still, there are indications that both animals are very aware of the emptiness left in the family.

Rosco perks his ears straight up at the mention of her name. Early on, I said to him a couple of times, "Where did our Brittney go?" after which he looked around the house for her and eventually gave up with what seemed like sadness and confusion. I no longer do that in the likely case that he does realize she is gone, but does not understand why. Baby Kitty is my rock. If I have a flood of emotions, she senses it no matter where she is in the house. She comes running, jumps up on my lap and pushes herself hard against me. Whether or not our pets are grieving the loss of our daughter, I thank God everyday that He put these two creatures in our lives and allows them to provide us with such comfort during this time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things that make me smile...

1. (12 years old) Brittney gave me a coupon for mother's day that was redeemable for two free mopings of the kitchen floor. She meant "moppings" but her dad and I always teased her when she would get into a mood that she was making good on one of those "mopings"
2. (4-8 years old) Butterfly kisses (eyelashes batted on each other's cheeks) and eskimo kisses (rubbing noses) every night before bed.
3. (3 years old) We had just moved into a new house and had very little in the refrigerator. While I was in the bathroom, the two neighbor dogs came to visit. Britt opened the door and determined they were hungry. She fed them each a cube of butter.
4. (4th grade) Girl's Night Out...every Wednesday, Britt and I went to a local restaurant with high backed booths and had appetizers and home-made root beer while she spread her homework across the table and we worked on it together for hours.
5. (teenage years) Listed under "heroes" on her MySpace page, Brittney wrote, "my mom...that's all"
6. (always) Her love for little kids
7. (always) She would make the sign of the cross every time she saw an animal dead along the road.
8 (always) Her zest for life...she lived it a hundred miles an hour, like she knew hers would be short.

9. (always) That she said " you mom" on a regular basis from the time she could talk to the day she passed away.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Running with Angels

With a combination of stressful events in my life, I have developed some extremely bad eating habits and have temporarily eliminated exercise from my "to do" list. As I approach the big FIVE-O, I realize that if this pattern doesn't change now, I may be facing some serious health issues down the line. This morning, I decided to go for a jog to get the ball rolling. Since this is something I have not done in about ten years, I was a little nervous about how my heart (not to mention my body) would handle it.

The most amazing thing happened as I stepped onto the two-mile path by the river and began a slow, steady jog...I could feel my daughter jogging along side me. If I closed my eyes, I could even hear her footfalls and smell the shampoo she used to use. The amazing part wasn't that she was next to me; this happens often. When I am driving in the car, I feel her sitting in the passenger seat. Sometimes, I see her out of the corner of my eye, but if I turn to look, she is not there... So I am used to feeling that she is still close to me. The amazing part was that she was jogging...with no pain!

From the time Brittney was five years old, she played, t-ball then softball, volleyball, and basketball. When she was in the 6th grade, she experienced severe back pain which led us to discover that she had scholiosis. She wore a brace, dealt with the pain and played sports right through it. When she was a sophomore in high school, she had a growth spurt and the scholiosis hit a crisis point. She was scheduled for surgery the day after Christmas in 2007 and two metal rods were put in her back. Team sports had been such an important part of her life...and now that was over. For the last two years of her life, she didn't talk about it, but I could tell it bothered her that she wasn't able to be quite as active as she had been.

But on that jogging path there were no metal bars! Just Brittney...full of energy, encouraging me to keep up with her. I didn't feel tired, or sore or resentful about the extra 40 pounds I was dragging along that path with me. Instead, I felt like I was being carried by angel's wings...maybe I was.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Myspace Comments

In church this weekend, my pastor suggested that we reevaluate our own BS...that is "belief system." From that moment on, everything he said spoke volumes to me. Too often we live our lives according to a set of norms. We react to situations in a way that is considered NORMAL or appropriate. The heart of the message was that God wants so much more than that for us~He wants us to live extraordinary lives rather than ordinary ones.

It is normal for someone who loses a child to experience nothing short of complete devastation. This toxic cocktail of emotions is expected to include periods of deep depression, withdrawal, anger, guilt and unimaginable sadness. I have had bouts with all of these in the last nine months and, according to the "old timers" (those who have been in this club for awhile), it really doesn't ever get much better. Without discounting one bit of the intensity of the grief that accompanies the loss of a child, I realize that for me, this is B.S. (a belief system) that has to go!

If I BELIEVE that Brittney is in the hands of God, then my devastation and sadness are a direct contradicton. During her entire life, my number one priority was my daughter's happiness; shouldn't it be the same now? But how can I be sure she really is happy? This is how I know:

From the beginning of this horrific journey, I clung to God for strength. Just days after my daughter's tragic death, as I slumped on my knees sobbing in the shower, I asked God to please show me how Brittney was feeling at that very moment. I cannot fully describe the shock I felt when immediately, my whole body was seized with a sensation of pure joy~something like you would feel as you were descending from the highest point on a roller coaster with your hands flung high in the air. I have repeated this question on a fairly regular basis since that day, and each time, the physical response has been the same...and I praise God for that continued reassurance.

Friday, August 6, 2010


"I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others' eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some, like me, have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Author Unknown"

During her brief lifetime, one thing that would guarantee a smile on my daughter’s face was shopping for shoes. In her teen years, these outings were some of my most treasured memories with Britt.
On November 8th, 2009, God gave Brittney a new pair of shoes. They are indescribably glorious. Providing comfort beyond words, these shoes are a pair I would not have been able to give her. They will never wear out or lose their brilliance, no one will have a pair
exactly like them, and she will not grow bored with them and want a different pair.
It is because of God’s gift to my precious Brittney that I gladly wear my painful shoes; this pain will not last forever…I know He has designed an incredible pair of shoes for me too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Aftermath


When I started this blog (with a few "how to" tips from my sister) more than a year ago, I was just about to embark on a new adventure with my teenage daughter, Brittney. She would be starting her senior year in high school, and I had been offered a job in Corpus Christi, TX...we had both been through a lot over the previous two years, and starting fresh in a place where the sun usually shines and the beach is out your back door sounded promising. I think when I titled this blog just a month before we made the move to Corpus Christi, I more or less WISHED to be on solid ground, and was determined to move forward from the circumstances that had shaken our lives in the recent past. I remember during this period of time feeling so determined, so faithful that God had a plan, and that plan would get us through anything...

I think if someone would have asked if there was anything that could knock me back down at that point, the only thing that I could have responded with would have been "only losing my daughter." On November 8th at 1:24 AM Corpus Christi time, God took my beautiful Brittney home. It was a car was one block from our home...her last words to me that night when she left were, "I love you mom."

As I stumbled back onto this blog, it was surreal. My daughter has been gone for months now, but through the grace of God, her spirit has not left my side for a minute. I would have been wrong about getting knocked down because God wouldn't have allowed it. As painful as it is at times...this is the plan~ and I am still on SOLID GROUND