Tuesday, April 28, 2015

One year...

Today it's been one year.  One year since my world was flipped upside down. One year since my sister, Lisa Stoddard, passed away.

I remember the day as if it was yesterday, cliche, but true.  I remember getting ready for work so I could go train the person that was taking my old position and hoping that for once I could be on time.  I remember looking at my phone as I was heading to the car and seeing that my mom had called a few times and had text me and I had thought to myself, "I'll just call her when I get Jami all set and ready to work for the day".

I remember my husband had to take me into work, I don't remember why he did, but I remember he drove me to work.  I remember thinking how dirty my van was and that "FOR SURE" this weekend I would clean it, just like I had told myself every Monday for months.

I remember walking into work and getting my things situated when I look up to  see my new boss walking towards me.

I jokingly said, "What are you doing on this side of the block?"... his face was grim and he asked me if I had talked with my Mom.  I remember still not being worried.  I was happy, I was in a good mood, I had NO intuition that something was off.

I said, "Funny thing you say that, she has tried to call me but I've been trying to hurry to get ready to get here and so I haven't called her back yet, she must really be desperate to hunt you down to find me!"

He said, "I think you should call her".

I was like, "uh... okay."

He said, "Do you want to call her somewhere more private?" Why would I? I was smack dab in the middle of a room full of cubicles...

I said, "No, I'm good, I'll just call her and tell her I'll call her back".

So I called my Mom.  I thought it was weird that my boss was just waiting at the end of the cubicles... watching me as I called her. I remember my mom answering the phone and yelling, crying, screaming, uncontrollable, trying to tell me something, but I couldn't understand.

I said, "MOM, what are you saying? I can't understand you? What happened?"

The next words that came out of her mouth were jargled but I got, "Lisa... accident... dead".

Of course I had heard her wrong and I asked again, "MOM... what? Who got in an accident?"

Then again, "Lisa... accident... dead... my baby, my baby is dead."

I guess I screamed, my knees buckled and standing seemed so difficult, I groaned and moaned and instantly tears were at my eyes and rolling down my cheeks... I didn't hear my cries and moans and groans, but the only thing I remember after that, is getting rushed into a more private room by my boss and an incredible co-worker and being left in there as I said over and over, "NO MOM, not Lisa, you have to be wrong, it can't be Lisa! I can't live without Lisa! Anybody but her... NO MOM... NO MOM... no mom." Lamenting, crying, groaning, my mind going a million miles a minute.  I kept thinking, Maybe if I can get to her I can help her... How do I help, how can I undo this, how do I wake up, this isn't real! All the while saying out loud, "No MOM, not LISA... no mom NOT Lisa!!!" while my mom is saying, "My baby Shelle, my baby... my baby is dead... not my baby... my baby is dead."

The rest of that week and the weeks following are a blur and yet certain feelings are crystal clear.

I was just sad.  I had a constant stream of tears from the time that I found out to what seemed like forever.  I cried when my husband picked me up to take me to my parents house.  I cried with my family at my parents house... (both my Mom and Dad were crying like little kids... completely grief stricken... I have never seen my Mom cry like that, and most assuredly have NEVER seen my Dad cry that way). I cried on the plane ride up to be with her husband and kids.  I cried when I held each of her children.  I cried when I sat with her husband, on his bed, as he lamented and moaned and groaned and asked "why" over and over and over again.  I cried that night as I went in and out of sleep dreaming that it was all a dream and then waking up over and over again realizing it was not.  I cried at the funeral home.  I cried when I saw her for the first time after her death. I cried as we did her make up and dressed her for her casket. I cried reading each and every post people had stuck up on social media and blogs.  I cried at every beautiful gathering put together for her honor.  I cried at the viewing.  I cried at the funeral.  I cried at the graveside. I cried talking with my family.  I cried more than I ever remember crying in my life.  I have never felt such soul wrenching grief.  I had lost one of the most influential and important people in my life.  I was sad and it sucked.

But I would have brief moments of reprieve where I would laugh at the most ridiculous things!  It was strange.

Another stage I went through was like a numbing stage and it happened in between the sad stage.  I remember at the viewing hugging people and consoling them, saying, "It will be okay, we will see her again."  It was the oddest thing, more like an out of body experience.  People would come up to me, some old friends, some I've never met before, hugging me and crying on my shoulder, I would pat them on the back and console them, going through the motions, understanding their sadness, yet wanting to make them feel better at the same time.

Then I went through this "Fake it until you make it" stage.  I got home from everything and went back to work and I had people constantly telling me how sorry they were and I would say things like, "Thank you" and "I'm as good as can be expected" and "Oddly, I'm feeling okay about it all.  I know I'll see her again, so I am okay, I'm doing really well." And I fooled myself into thinking I was absolutely fine.  I think I found out I wasn't doing "fine" when one day, about 5 or 6 months after Lisa's accident my hair dresser had cut my bangs... they looked just fine, but to me it was shorter than I had wanted, so I walked into my boss's office and sat down and said, "My hair girl cut my bangs too short..." and I started bawling... I mean like huge tears of sadness, over my bangs... being too short.  My boss looked at me and said, "I think this is bigger than your bangs".

So after talking to her I went back to my desk and made an appointment to speak with a counselor... and the last six months I have seen a counselor and read the most life changing book by Brene Brown entitled, "The Gifts of Imperfection". (Seriously, that book is amazing). I also have recently gotten my hormone's balanced and I finally... actually... feel like me.  I feel my life again... light and happiness and beauty.

Grief is an unwanted guest.  It stays with you until you do something about it.  Coming out of that dark hole can't be done alone.  I had my Father in Heaven, I had my faith and knowledge that I will see Lisa again, no doubt, no question. I had my family and my friends.  I had an army to help me grieve and help me climb slowly back to myself.

Sidenote: It's odd, you're life stops after something like this, and for me, I climbed inside of myself, I felt frozen and unsure and I questioned everything I ever believed in... but everyone else's life continued on.  I remember thinking, "STOP, everything just slow down and stop, please don't move on, don't forget her... don't keep moving forward... stay here with me, with us..." and I felt like I was at a standstill... moving through life, but not being a part of it, because what was life without our Lisa?

One of the greatest things my counselor said to me was this, "Lisa would want you to honor her by living your life". So simple and so true.

Lisa was selfless, compassionate, funny, easy to be around, a peacemaker, spiritual, a good role model, an incredible teacher, a perfect listener, the best big sister, a wonderful and endearing second mom, and one of my bestest friends.  I believe that there were many people there to greet her in Heaven, I believe she was embraced by our Savior, I believe she is happy and working hard.  I have had special and sacred moments where I know she is and has been with me...and...I miss her... everyday I miss her... still.

I will always have moments of sadness, I will embrace them, and then let them go.

I'm probably going to cry today (and probably laugh too)... I'm going to remember who she was to me.

Then tomorrow... I'm going to continue living.  I'm going to continue working at being the kind of person that will be able to live with her again...alongside my family, Brother Jesus Christ, and my Father in Heaven.

Nothing else matters.

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