I can literally feel Leyden's face against mine. I can see her kicking her feet and hear the nurses squealing with delight for her Easter dress that was a "splurge" purchase. She wasn't really old enough for candy but you bet that I filled her Easter basket with a new wub-a-nub, some clothes and "sweeties" (hospital sugar water) that she literally loved.
Last week I celebrated Leyden's light as I crossed the Boston Marathon finish line and continued .4 miles down to Leyden's tree and hung my medal. I heard her name on the course and saw signs cheering her on and even one massive poster of her sweet face. It was a time where I felt the positive force through loss and really found comfort in being able to honor her.
A week later, I feel very heavy loss.
Emptiness wondering what her Easter dress might look like, if she even agreed to wear one (if she inherited my taste, an Easter dress would not be a given. :) ) I imagine her playing with her uncles and getting extra chocolates (and hugs) from her Nonny. I often think that Leyden probably would have been her Poppy's best dessert buddy since all of his children outgrew that role. Easter is a day that was always spent at my Nana's- who Leyden was named after. Memories of my Easters there flood back and I feel tremendous loss that Leyden never met her namesake. I remember my family being there on Easter 2014 and FaceTiming with them saying Leyden would be down to New Jersey the following Easter.
She never made it.
Often, when I share about the beautiful endeavors and moments that have transpired since losing Leyden, I am told that I inspire others to shift their adversity, loss or heartache into growth. While it's my passion and purpose to help others do so, I would not be serving others well to not be directly honest that sometimes, it has to be ok, to not be ok.
Sometimes we need to take the pressure off to find tangible growth and know that making space for the pain- the actual energy of loss that sometimes demands slower movement, quiet time and tears- needs to exist to transform. And it IS growth.
There is no timeline on grief, heartaches, loss, challenge or whatever other adversity you or someone you love may be navigating. I find that when the heaviest of days set in, being honest with myself and my Team of supports allows me to take on the heaviness more effectively. Having 3-4 loose plans to remove pressure to fit into a certain environment is also important. I hit on both of these strategies in more detail in earlier blog posts as well as on my podcast.
One other tip- take the opportunity to thank the people supportive of your loose plans and very real needs. When you do, you are allowing the challenge of your loss, to offer a path to strengthen your relationships. And that's a gift from your loved one.
And of course- be compassionate with yourself. You are managing a lot. You are showing up each day. You are doing your damn best and it's ok to not be ok.
You got this.