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Changing Lives -- The Many Different Changes That Have Impacted Our Lives Since Losing a Child

There are so many parts of our life that are changing that it can feel so overwhelming when I think about it. We did not just lose our child the night of that fire. We also lost our home and my car...these are the two places where I spent the most time with Adeline. These are the places that really were the main focus of "home" for us. We spent so much time between these two places that I had not really processed this part of my grief and loss until last week.

Last week I was subbing in Adeline's old kindergarten classroom. I knew that this would have been her class when I signed up, but I figured that it would be the best way to test the waters of subbing in her old school. I was worried that I would break down or that I would not be able to handle it at first. However, it ended up being everything that I needed. When I think back on it, Adeline spent a lot of time in that building and in that classroom as she was a student there for 2 3/4 years when COVID struck. Being in that building flooded me with the feeling of home. It was so peaceful and it was honestly the best that I have been as far as feeling happy and having a sense of purpose and self that I thought was lost when I lost my little girl.

Obviously I longed for the things that I cannot have while I was in this space. I longed for those moments in her kindergarten class where her classmate Shane would try to touch my leg or hold my hand when I was there to spend time with her in her classroom. I remember her pushing his hand off of me and stating "this is my mommy." She was always so protective of me. She loved me so fiercely and was always so proud to tell everyone that I was hers. I was just as proud of her and I honestly could not believe that God would bless me with such an amazing human (I mean 4 amazing humans is quite the blessing.). I was so lucky to be the one chosen to be her mom. I just wish that I had gotten to see her grow up and become an adult and grow old.

(This picture takes me back to some of my last days with Adeline. She had received this really cute little girl make up kit from her grandma Sherry for her birthday. She carefully went through all of the make up and put it all away in a make up bag except the nail polish. She handed that to Althea and said "I hate painting my nails." I remember telling her that she had enjoyed it when she was littler. I also made her giggle telling her that I guess a little girl who doesn't want to do your nails is what you get when you paint your newborn's nails. She looked at me and was shocked when I told her the story of how I had special non-toxic infant safe natural plant based nail polish that I used to paint her newborn toenails and fingernails. I wish that I could have shown her this picture to hear her reaction.)

Some days my existence doesn't feel the same as it did before. I don't feel like I know what is going on. I don't feel like I understand the world. I don't feel like I should be breathing and happy. I feel like I should be so miserable and sad, like I should really focus on when I am going to be gone. My soul wants to be with my littlest love and everyone else in my family again. It longs to feel complete. However, I know that my other children and Shane need me. I would never harm myself, but that doesn't stop me from longing to be with my girl (I just want to be with them all though, not just my girl, but also not without my girl!).

I know that what I want is not a reality that I will have for many years. I know that I will be with my whole family again one day, but I hope that this day is far into the future. I hope that each of my other children is given the blessing and opportunity of being able to grow old. I want them to live long and full lives with all of the amazing experiences and dreams that will fill their soul. I just want her here with us. I don't know if I will ever even be able to fully comprehend that she is never coming back here. I just long for the moment when I walk into my house and she is standing in front of me, where this moment has really just been a long deep dream or where perhaps I was harmed and in a coma after the fire and those around me are all fine and this alternate reality was of my greatest fear and my own making. I know that this is not the case, that this is not the reality...but it is what I long for and so wish that it could be.

I don't think that anyone can ever get over the loss of a child. I don't think that the pain of losing a child ever stops. Each time that you see someone with a small child walking into a store, holding their hand on the bus, walking into the school, pulling up during school pickup, dropping off treats for a special birthday at a school, walking their little girl into dance class, out to eat laughing at their kid's choice of chicken nuggets in an ethnic restaurant, hearing a child laugh or giggle, at the movies, at the park, at the playground, literally know that you are missing out on something wonderful and that something so big was taken from you.

The day of that fire, I did not just lose my newly turned 9 year old little girl. I lost every single dream that I had for her from the time that I knew that I was going to be pregnant. We lost the chance to see our child be promoted to the junior high. We lost the chance for our child to go to high school. We lost the chance to ever see her graduate. We lost the chance to ever see her fall in love and walk down the aisle. We lost getting to see our first daughter have the special bond that sisters share. We lost the light and laughter that brought our entire family together and closer. We lost EVERYTHING.

Yes, we are living. Yes, we are laughing and loving. Yes, we have great times with the other three kids. Yes, we create new memories and sometimes we visit old favorite places. Yes, we still celebrate Adeline when we can including an upcoming heavenly birthday party with her 4 best friends. Yes, we will forever do something special on her special day with our family. Yes, we will find our eyes filling with tears as we celebrate happy moments, not just because we miss Adeline but also because she should here sharing in these moments with us.

There are so many smiles as I look back on the years that I was blessed to have Adeline with us. There is still so much laughter and giggles when we think of the silly things that our little girl did, the funny things she said, and the hilarious person that she is. However, that does not mean that there are not still the rivers of tears. I swear I have cried enough to fill all of the oceans, lakes, rivers, seas, streams, ponds...every body of water on the Earth. I have my good days, the days where I only cry a little bit when I am thinking of a memory or late at night/early in the morning when I finally have that time to myself. These are the good days because I keep it together for Shane and the kids. I keep it together and make myself strong enough for them and also I enjoy getting to be their mom.

I wish like anything that I could take it all back. That I could go back in time and have a different life, but that is not anything that can ever happen. So, instead...I sit here and I pray and hope that I continue to receive the beautiful signs that Adeline sends me. I pray that I can continue to take care of myself and that I can start to make my health and mental well being a priority. I know the things that I need to do and I pray that I can start to make those changes towards a healthier me. Is doing these things ever going to quiet the pain in my heart? No, but they can help me to be the best that I need to be for Adeline's siblings, to be the mom that I know that she would want for me to be.

Some of the changes that we have faced since losing Adeline.

**We have moved. We were first unhoused after the fire and staying in the Stoney Creek Inn. Then we stayed in a rental for 6 months before we ended up in our forever home. We thought that this would be it, but after school transition issues and one kiddo being happy at the new school and one kid longing for the old...we made another change. We rent an apartment in our old town and then my husband and I swap between the apartment and the child who longed to be in their old school and our forever home and the child who thrived in the new school. So, we officially live separate from one another all of the time.

**We have moved on to a new dance studio. Last year it became apparent that Althea was starting to get stagnant in dance and that she was now growing as a dancer or progressing as she should have been. We chose to move on to a new studio and now Althea is not only finally one pointe, but she is also dancing in her 1st Nutcracker on pointe and in a real tutu!! So many big accomplishments for my 1st tiny dancer....I just wish my littler tiny dancer was here to celebrate her accomplishments with her.

**My football player is growing in the sport that he loves most. He has lots of friends on his team and he enjoys playing the game, watching the game, and learning more about the game. His JFL program in the new town is really nice and full of wonderful people who dedicate so much time and energy into our son and the sport that he is so passionate about.

**Andrew is away at college. It was so hard to lose one child but then to have another child leaving the nest and going off to college less than 8 months later, it provided more challenges. The house has felt so quiet since the two of them have been gone. Both Andrew and Adeline were quite the talkers and both were often the center of attention and energy within our home. With both of them not here, it is so quiet and strange in our home. What was once a loud and busy place seems so quiet and almost lonely. It's strange.

**We adopted the best dog, Lovebug, who has truly become a member of our family. Bugs has helped us to heal in ways that I did not realize a dog could. He helps us to be better serious of us and helps us to make sure that we are always getting some love especially when we are sad or need it the most. Somehow Bugs just knows. He's silly and quirky and the best dog that I could ever ask for.

There are so many changes that it feels overwhelming and without Adeline being here, it feels as though it should not be happening. However, with all of that said, I want to cherish each day that I have been given. I don't want to waste my time here because I know that Adeline truly never wasted a day on this Earth. She was always vibrant and full of life. She was kind and loved so hard and I want to be able to show that same love to others. I want to be more like her and to share the joys of simplicity with the world around me.

I want to be my best while still carrying reminders of my littlest love with me each step of the way.

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