Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

The Cemetery was busy this Mother’s Day morning – maybe I should stick to coming at night?

I stood there staring and staring at her grave, trying to take it in.

Trying to understand how we got from THERE to HERE?

The sun was shining and the coloured stones that fill the little flowerbed at the base of her headstone caught my eye.

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Leah loved arts and crafts, she loved making things, especially card making and baking.

When she was in P7 at Ballykelly Primary School her teacher had a Treasure Chest of materials for crafting.

Being allowed to use items from this Treasure Chest was a BIG treat for Leah. She especially loved being allowed to pick from the teacher’s collection of gems.

I looked at the coloured stones glinting in the sunlight and I smiled through my tears – Leah would approve of those!

 

The Cemetery Visit

The Cemetery Visit

The small item in the netting is a bag of chocolate coins - each of my children got these in their Christmas Stocking each year. I really struggle with only buying 3 Easter eggs and 3 Advent Calendars so I just bought 4 nets of chocolate coins.
The small item in the netting near the roses is a bag of chocolate coins – each of our children gets these in their Christmas Stocking every year. I really struggle with only buying 3 Easter eggs and 3 Advent Calendars so I just bought 4 nets of chocolate coins as per usual.

Tonight I did something that I’ve never done before.

I visited Leah’s grave in the dark on my own.

As I walked sobbing through the deserted Cemetery in the pitch dark, I asked myself if I felt any fear, but realised that I didn’t. As a friend used to tell me “when the worst that can happen to you has already happened, what is there left to be afraid of?”

I reached Leah’s grave and used the torch on my mobile phone to illuminate Leah’s photograph on her headstone. The headstone went on Leah’s grave in January, in time for her first anniversary, but the photograph took longer to get sorted. I saw it for the first time when I visited her grave yesterday.

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For the umpteenth time I asked myself “How did this ever become my life?

I had attended a Bible Study at our church earlier in the evening. We had finished up just as the young people were coming out of Youth Fellowship. The last time that I was at our church just as the young people were coming out of Youth Fellowship was two years ago – collecting Leah.

I crouched down beside Leah’s headstone, facing the lights of the City. I could hear the whirr of the little windmills that adorn some of the graves. I could see the flickering of solar lights on other graves. I gazed across the silhouettes of rows and rows of headstones and thought about how much each person was and is loved by their nearest and dearest.

During the day, the cemetery can be quite busy and I feel a bit self conscious giving way to my emotions, but I didn’t have to worry tonight. I had the place all to myself.

After a while, I used my mobile phone to listen to a song that Leah and I used to snuggle up together and listen to when she was very distressed – Oceans by Hillsong.

When the cold wind had succeeded in chilling  every fibre of my being, I decided that it was time to return home.

OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

One Year On

One Year On

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I haven’t blogged in 10 days – probably the longest time I’ve gone without blogging in a year.

I think it’s because I don’t know how I’m feeling, now that the first anniversary of Leah’s death has been and gone.

Now that it has been one full year since I have hugged and kissed my second born, much loved child, am I actually supposed to feel a little less sad?

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Taken before the Rend Collective Concert June 2013

One year on, is my heart supposed to feel a little less broken?

Or am I supposed to have developed coping skills that enable me to bear the pain of loss without, for example, bursting into tears at the sight of Leah’s favourite foods on promotion in the supermarket?

Despite the fact that Leah has been gone for a year now, sometimes I open the drawer laden with post transplant medication in her bedroom, gaze at the contents and wonder: “Did all of this really happen?”

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Yet, at other times I feel strong. A friend whose husband had taken his own life when their children were small, used to tell me “When the worst thing that can ever happen to you has already happened, there’s nothing left to fear.”

Now I understand what she meant.

Although I’m often sad, I have a lot less fear than I once had.

If God can give me the strength to get through this, well then what is there left to fear?

This is the "Kneeling Plate" on Leah's grave with one of her favourite Bible verses.
This is the “Kneeling Plate” on Leah’s grave with one of her favourite Bible verses.

We have also been so blessed with the support of family and friends along the way.

On Friday 16th January, the actual anniversary of Leah’s death, despite ice, snow and ungritted roads, we had 24 young people (mainly Leah’s school friends) at our house, to remember Leah with us.

We laughed, cried, chatted, sang some of Leah’s favourite worship songs, watched her “I Am Second” video, looked through her memory books, ate yummy food and played party games.

This was the third Friday in January, on previous years some of these girls used to come to our house on the third Friday in January for Leah’s birthday sleepover.

As the chatter of these young people filled our house, I thought about how fitting it was to remember our spiritual, fun loving, outgoing daughter in this way.

Then on Saturday 17th, my sister, her husband and three of her four adult children came to stay. It felt good to be surrounded by the love of family.

On Sunday 18th, we got together with my husband’s entire extended family for church, and lunch afterwards in my sister-in-law/brother-in-law’s house. Leah always loved these big family get togethers and so do I.

On Monday and Tuesday of this past week, my husband and I attended a Bereavement Programme, provided by Action Cancer.

We are certainly well supported by our friends, family, church and community.

For that we are really thankful, it all helps.

We still have to live without our daughter though, we still have to face the pain.

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This song by Casting Crowns is a song that Leah and I used to listen to.

I’ve listened to it a lot since Leah died.

I find the words very comforting.

“Praise You In This Storm”

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Grief really is about the Small Stuff

Grief really is about the Small Stuff

Leah at Grianan Fort in 2011
Leah at Grianan Fort in Donegal in 2011

Grief really is about the small stuff.

Yesterday I went to North-West Memorials in Muff, Co. Donegal, to order Leah’s headstone for her grave.

I was there for over an hour as we discussed every aspect of what Leah’s headstone will look like.

I had been there previously and taken photos of headstones that I thought were suitable, then taken these photos home to discuss with the rest of the family. Together as a family we agreed on the wording and the design of the headstone for Leah’s grave.

I felt very sad of course, but I was able to keep my emotions under control, both while driving to and from Donegal and while talking to the lovely man in the memorial shop.

Today as I was searching on YouTube for a song that I couldn’t quite remember the name of, I happened upon this song that Leah learned at Primary School and sang constantly around the house and in the car, once upon a time.

I was immediately reduced to a blubbering wreck.

My heart aches with longing for the girl whose smile, laughter and singing, brightened our lives.

I JUST WANNA BE A SHEEP

Chorus
I just wanna be a sheep
Baa, baa, baa, baa
I just wanna be a sheep
Baa, baa, baa, baa
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
I just wanna be a sheep
Baa, baa, baa, baa,

Verse 1
Don’t wanna be a goat…nope
Don’t wanna be a goat…nope
Haven’t got any hope…nope
Don’t wanna be a goat…nope

Verse 2
Don’t wanna be a hypocrite
Don’t wanna be a hypocrite
‘Cause they’re not hip to it
Don’t wanna be a hypocrite

Verse 3
Don’t wanna be a Pharisee
Don’t wanna be a Pharisee
‘Cause they’re not fair you see
Don’t wanna be a Pharisee

Verse 4
Don’t wanna be a Sadducee
Don’t wanna be a Sadducee
‘Cause they’re so sad you see
Don’t wanna be a Sadducee

Verse 5
Just wanna be a child of God
Just wanna be a child of God
Walkin’ the same path He trod
Just wanna be a child of God