After my daughter’s death, I was tempted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep my pain away. Part of me wanted the world the stop. But I had two other young children to care for, and knew that option wouldn’t be good for them or me. Yet, I was devastated. How could I possibly go on?
Life didn’t make sense and I couldn’t focus. I struggled with even basic tasks and everything was so out of control. I didn’t know how to fix my pain or even how to fully embrace it, but I felt the need to “do” something. So, in the middle of my chaos, I made a conscious decision to look for the good in life. I’m not sure what prompted me to do this other than the fact that I had been part of a Bible study several months earlier that encouraged us to thank God for something every day.
With every ounce of energy I could muster, I began looking for something for which to thank God. The first day, I struggled to find something. Even though I was surrounded by loving people and was blessed in many ways, the fog was still very thick. As I pondered my new goal, I looked around the room and it occurred to me that I was encircled by flowers – every surface and corner burst forth with color and aroma. And so, I thanked God for flowers.
I continued this ritual for several weeks until eventually, I had a tangible and lengthy list for which I was grateful. Although this didn’t minimize the pain of my daughter’s passing, it gave me a fresh perspective. It helped me to step towards healing instead of retreating. It helped clear my thoughts. But most of all, it began my journey of learning to live again.
I wanted to be whole again – not forgetting my daughter, but living with greater purpose as I honored her memory. I wanted to experience life fully, without fear. I didn’t want to sleep-walk my way through life. I wanted to be present and engaged. I wanted to enjoy my other children and to give them the gift of a healthy mother – in mind, body and spirit.
The journey was not easy or straight. The path carried me over hills and potholes, around curves, and I even revisited a few stops along the way. But ultimately, I reached the summit where I could see the beauty of our Creator. I could look back and see the progress I’d made while looking forward to the adventure and fullness of life ahead.
As I continue the journey, Ashlynn’s memory lives on within me, inspiring me to embrace God’s plan. I am thankful for the hope He’s given me and for His grace and mercy as He holds my hand along the way.
Cindy Shufflebarger 2011