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The Broken Shelf

Today I received the best gift, a story about my girl that I had not yet heard. A story about a broken shelf. I was visiting with her former 1st grade teacher, congratulating her for a new job. She chose to tell me the sweetest story about a broken shelf.

You see, she had just purchased a new shelf for her classroom the year that Adeline was in 1st grade. It was just a simple particle board shelf and she had it on its side. She said that Adeline put her foot on one of the shelves, not climbing on it or misbehaving by trying to reach something. Then the shelf broke. She said that Adeline sincerely felt bad about it and that is why she never did anything because it was a normal 1st grade behavior.

Today she shared with me that no matter where she is teaching that this shelf will be with her. She said that she can never part with it after the loss of Adeline because it makes her smile and think about the wonderful times that she had with my little girl as her teacher.

This story got me thinking. My heart is still shattered. It is broken into so many pieces that I know that it will never be whole again. There is a giant gaping hole where my girl was and that hole is filled with memories but it can never be the same as having her here with me. Like the shelf that was broken when Adeline left the classroom, my heart will forever be broken since she left this earth.

I spend every day missing her and thinking about the what ifs. I try not to but as hard as I try, I cannot find the way to change the train of thought that makes me wonder what could have happened that would have resulted in me saving her life rather than losing her. I long each and every day to be back in that fire, to be able to save her and get her out of be given a second chance and to make the right choices that would have left her here with me. I know that she is gone because I failed her and that pain is one that will forever weigh heavily on my soul.

I spend so many nights crying myself to sleep or laying in my bed awake with the thoughts that race through my mind. The lasting effects of trauma have changed me in so many ways. I can't handle things that I used to and in many ways it is like I am a completely different person. Whereas clutter used to fill my home with kids crafts, art projects, and toys spread throughout my house...always in need of picking up. Today my house is usually in pristine condition (it's a little rough now as I do some organizing projects and prepare myself to got through the tote pile that has been sitting since the fire. These totes are the last pieces of my former life that I will pick up and attempt to put together in way that honors my sweet girl and helps me move froward in a healthy way. They are incredibly hard to consider sorting through but it has to be done and I have to push myself to do it.)

I feel the longing near constant in my soul. The what ifs are devastating. I what woulds are just as bad. I wonder all of the time...what would she look like now as she was becoming older? What would she be into? What would her favorite song be? Would it still be her song? What would her favorite activities be? Would she still love being in dance class? What would she do in her free time? What would her interests be as she was moving through junior high? The what woulds feel almost smothering at times as I struggle to determine what would life be like with her still here, had she made it out of that fire?

I know that I can never go back. I know that I can never get answers to any of my what ifs or my what woulds...but that doesn't stop my brain from trying to process in the only way that it knows how...with many what ifs and what woulds that rage constantly through my mind.

We all have our personal battles. I am realizing that I present well most days. While I might tear up, I am able to save the real tears for when I am at home in my place of solitude. I am learning to share the stories of my girl with a smile on my face. I am learning to live without her even though I desperately don't want to. I am learning to focus on Shane, Andrew, Althea, and Huxley and to lean on Shane when I am in my deepest struggles or darkest hours of heartbreak. I am learning to be better. It's a process.

This month, I started attempting to journal every day. I started reading every day. I am on my 5th book of the new year. I started learning to write my feelings. I started keeping journals where I am putting all of my FB memories so that one day I can get off of social media because FB is one of the most painful experiences for me...yet it is one that I cannot give up because of the memories of my girl that I won't have if I do. Now I will have books to look through when I want to find something cute that Adeline said. I will have a way to have those memories without ever having to have social media. I will start with Twitter after FB and will work to compose all of my Tweets on the pages of journals too. Then I can forever leave these spaces that continue to remind me of what I do not have and what I am forced to live without.

Don't get me wrong. I am so happy for those around me who have their children Adeline's age, but sometimes it just hurts knowing that she should be here with her friends enjoying life.

I started with 3 goals for the month and kept track of them. This month my three daily goals were 1. read, 2. journal, and 3. exercise/stretch/meditate. I am doing well these. Next month they are 1. read and journal, 2. exercise, 3. keep a food journal and stick to 1200-1800 calories per day. In March they are 1. read and journal, 2. exercise and track food, and 3. sort through a tote. I am starting this way to get myself where I need to be, to help me better. My new planner not only gives me space for 3 monthly goals, but it gives me a way to track my moods each morning and evening. I have been doing this and see patterns that help me to better understand the things in life that I am dealing with.

I am thankful for the days that I still have on this earth, but will also be thankful for the day when I can be reunited with my littlest love. Until that day, I refuse to waste my life. I refuse to wallow in self pity or doubt. Instead, I must work to be the best for Adeline, to share her spirit, her joy, her love for life with everyone that I interact with. I fail sometimes but most of the time, I just try to leave the spaces that I am in a better place as I am certain that she would have.

While it might not be the world that I want, I must always remember that we do live in a wonderful world and that there are so many good things and blessings that continue to come my way, regardless of the heartbreak that I am living in. I am so proud of my other children and I am working on finding the right full time position for me. I will get there, but it will take some time.

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