Friday, December 29, 2017

On This Day.....

I woke up at 4:30 that morning. It didn’t seem strange to be up that early, I hadn’t been sleeping soundly for weeks. I headed for the dining room to check on Jillian and Steve.  Her bed had been moved downstairs, making getting around more manageable with Jillian’s wheelchair.

Oh…..Steve and I made quite the team! We had a routine that worked very well for us. I would stand behind the wheelchair to hold it steady, Steve would wrap his arms around Jillian’s chest, lift her up, while I’d quickly pull the wheelchair out of the way. He would then pivot her to the couch, or where ever we needed to go., and as Steve gently lowered  her down, I would lift her legs and get her into a comfortable position. Whew! We made it. And this went on throughout the day.

At night we used a monitor so I could hear Steve if he needed help during the night. Looking back, I really am amazed at how well we worked together. Jillian made it easy. She never complained.

Jillian’s breathing had changed the past couple of days. Slower, less breaths in between. It was frightening in a way. Unsettling. Maybe because I was hoping for that miracle.  But any change meant change.

I made myself a cup of coffee and walked outside to sit on the stairs of the back deck. It had snowed the night before. I sat down on the step, not feeling the cold through my pants.  It was so quiet.  Just sitting. Listening. Praying.

I heard the owl that morning, I knew there was some meaning behind the haunting call it made, but I didn’t know what it meant. But I do know there was some significance in hearing the owl during the weeks prior to that early December morning. When the owl was silent, I went back inside.

As if in slow motion, with no real thought, I drew a bath for myself. I wasn’t cold. I’m not sure why I felt the need to take a bath so early that morning.

After I was finished getting dressed and ready for the day, I headed back to the dining room and sat with Jillian. I listened to her breathing. It was different. I knew this morning was different.

I kissed her chubby cheek. I caressed her face. I ran my fingers through her hair. I held her hand and memorized every single detail. She had beautiful hands, long strong fingers. Beautiful, memorable hands. I couldn’t stop touching her. I wanted to fuse my life into hers.  My precious daughter- I would gladly have given my own life for hers. But it didn’t work out that way.

Jillian’s last breaths are forever branded into my soul. I hear them when I lay my head down at night. Five years later, I hear her last breaths. She has fused her life into mine.

So, as I look back and remember that last morning, Jillian’s last day on earth, I contemplate what I’ve learned since that day:
  • Grief has no rules, no boundary’s, and will last a lifetime.
  • You are not alone. But in the end, you do grieve alone. You do it your own way. And that’s perfect for you.
  • Do the work. If you have a Jillian day, embrace it.
  • Never listen to what others try and tell you when it comes to how you should be feeling, when you should be feeling or what you should be doing. It’s not about them. It’s about you.

  • You are not the same person. That’s okay. You will learn to accept this new person and love her/him. And so will everyone else. Be true to your new self.
  • Love on your loved ones.
  • Grab your puppies.
  • Get a chicken.
  • Run.
  • Love wins. It forever wins.
  • And always remember… Psalms 46-10 “Be Still and Know that I am God”.
 In loving memory of our beloved Jillian Marie Hayes Wagner-09/24/1989-12/29/2012

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