Ask any grieving parent and they can (but probably won’t) tell you about the two distinctly different lives they started living the day their child closed their eyes on this earth and opened them in heaven. From that first moment, they now see life in two different spaces of time simultaneously. The time between what was, is, and was supposed to be tends to blur together, often leaving a grieving parent feeling a multitude of conflicting emotions.
Shortly after my three-year-old daughter left us for heaven, my newborn grandson was born. His birth was a joyous occasion filled with expectation, yet it was also a day of sorrow knowing his aunt would never meet him. She had counted the days until he was born and missed him by a few short months. That day I could see my joy and sorrow overlapping.
The day my school children stood in the yard with back-to-school signs I happily snapped pictures of this milestone in their lives yet in my mind's eye I saw my other little girl standing with her preschool sign in hand only a few years previous. This was to have been her Kindergarten year and I could only imagine her standing there beside the others with a happy grin and a sign reading, “First Day of Kindergarten”. My heart hurt knowing I would never take that picture.
In a few short days, another one of my daughters will marry. To see her coming down the aisle in dazzling white will burst my heart with happiness yet at the same time my brain knows the little girl walking in front of her with a basket of rose petals should have been her tiny sister. At that moment, I will cry tears of joy and sorrow for what is, for what was, and for what should have been.
Living as a grieving parent means that now in every situation I see two versions of the truth—what is directly in front of me and what is in my mind.
Cancer took a lot from our family.
It stopped our “what was” moments.
It changed our “what is” moments.
It stole our “what was supposed to be” moments.
Cancer changed our family forever.
What it couldn’t do is destroy us. Instead, it made us cherish our memories of what was a beautiful life with our little girl. It helps us be grateful for what we still have in life. It also gives us a longing for heaven and the time when we will all be together again, just as it was supposed to be.
MEET COURTNEY MOUNT: Courtney Mount, wife and mama to 9, became a grief writer after losing her 3 year-old daughter Millie to Neuroblastoma in July of 2020. Her heart is to connect with other grieving parents helping to normalize grief sharing, all the while pointing to her faith in Jesus. She does this by writing both on her FB page @MilliesMiracle2020 and for various organizations.
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