Joe and I are lucky to have great people in our lives– wonderful family and friends. They’ve provided us with much love– hugs, cards, letters, texts, calls. Losing a child creates a situation most people do not know how to handle, though. Including us. The day Zoey passed away, I asked for privacy. Those wishes were respected. I was surprised, though, how few people reached out to me in the following days. Maybe they were waiting for me to say we were ready. Maybe they didn’t know what to say or how to approach us. I understand. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted or needed either.
What I do know is that nothing you say or do can make me sad. I’m already sad. Talking about Zoey or our loss does not make it worse. In fact, I appreciate it when someone mentions her name to me. I don’t want her to be forgotten. I don’t want to ignore that she was here. I don’t want to ignore that she’s gone. There are moments I feel like our time with her was all a dream. If nobody ever says her name, that makes it even more dreamlike. You don’t need the perfect healing words to talk to me. Those don’t even exist. There are times I want to talk and times I don’t. There are situations I can’t handle right now. Please respect that and know it isn’t you– it really is me– and I’ll take myself out of those places if needed. The holidays will be hard. Even Halloween is hard. I wish I was picking out an adorable costume and taking her to the pumpkin patch. I need to protect myself, so please be gentle with your understanding.
Keeping busy seems to work for me. It is not what works for everyone. Yes, I went back to work. Yes, I went back to the gym. But I’m still hurting. Some people need to go to work. Some need to stay in bed all day. Please don’t judge either way. Neither person is handling their grief better or worse than the other– just differently. My outward demeanor does not tell the whole story. You don’t see me curled up on the couch with Zoey’s stuffed Clydesdale. You don’t see me cry on my way to work every morning. I’m finding my way and I’m doing what I can.
I have a group of friends that have been putting up with me for years– even though I whine and complain every time I see them. They are my trail therapists. The ones I run with. They have taken Zoey’s spirit with them on 5ks, half marathons, marathons and an Ironman. I can’t tell you what I felt when our friend said the words “Zoey you are an Ironman” after his last race. There are no words to express what it means to have your friends tell you your daughter was their inspiration to keep going. That she gave them strength. These are some of the most determined people I know. To think my daughter made a difference to them is overwhelming. I also know they’ll support me as I train for Zoey’s race.
I’m very lucky to have very understanding and loving people in my life. The ones that know when I need to talk about Zoey and when I need to talk about nothing. Their support, their love, gives me strength. I lean on them more than they know. I treasure my time with them–whether it be via text, call or dinner.
I know I’ve mentioned him before, but the greatest support is my husband. Who knew when we met that we’d end up here? I wouldn’t change a thing. Twice in my life he’s had to pick me up off the ground and help me stand. He really took those vows “for better or for worse” to heart. He’s an amazing father to our daughter. Seeing the way he looked at her melted me every time. And I know he’ll stay by me for every moment of heartbreak and every moment of joy in the coming years. I’m beyond lucky. Beyond blessed.