My two daughters have both had exciting events this past week. Kylee has started her junior year at UCA and is now living in an apartment. MiKayla is off to a great start this past week in her senior year in high school. I have had different people asking me how I am doing with Kylee returning to college and MiKayla beginning her senior year. I think my answer is often surprising to them.
My perspective on the girls and each accomplishment and goal that they reach is of true and excited celebration. I believe that all of us who are bonded as parents feel like this about our children. We are so excited each time they reach one of their goals and experience success.
Of course, when our children move to a different city for college then there is sadness, and we definitely miss having them in our homes and in our daily lives. These feelings are normal, and I definitely miss my Kylee girl when she is at college. We had an incredible summer together, and MiKayla and I love having her home with us whenever she gets to be here whether it is on the weekends or during the summer. The three of us truly appreciate each moment that we have together.
When you experience trauma and loss as we have then those moments that we have together become all the more meaningful and priceless. The girls and I have such a close bond, and I am so very thankful for it. After my husband Kirk died in August 2011 and my only son PK died in June 2013, then the three of us have developed such a strong bond after walking through so much trauma, pain, and grief together. Because of the trauma and pain that we have to endure, then I think perhaps that our perspective on life’s seasons varies from others who have not experienced such loss. I think that is normal also. When trauma and tragedy happen in our lives, then our lives and our perspectives change.
I remember different circumstances that the girls would encounter at school after their dad and brother had died. I remember each of them wondering to me at different times why someone at school would be so angry or frustrated from something that did not seem to warrant the response that was being expressed. I remember the girls not understanding why those different situations would cause such anger or frustration in someone. I also remember trying to explain to my two daughters that because of the trauma and pain that they have experienced then they may not be feeling so upset over something that may be very upsetting to someone else. I believe that is one of the ways that trauma and pain change our perspective. When we have experienced such heartbreaking loss then other things that may have previously upset us may not anymore or at least not in the same manner.
I also believe that as we continue to work on our healing and adjust to life without our two guys that we all will continue to become more sensitive to the pain and grief that others have experienced or are experiencing. I think that as our hearts have experienced a lot of pain and trauma that we are more aware of when others are hurting. This will hopefully continue to grow in each of our lives. I hope that that these tragedies will continue to build strong and sincere empathy in our hearts and minds for all of those that are in our lives whether they are in our life for a brief amount of time or if they are with us long-term. It is my hope and prayer that the three of us will always be very caring and empathetic to others.
I believe that because of the trauma that we have endured that my perspective is very different on the seasons that my daughters are in. I have many friends who have children who are the same ages as mine. The other parents that have children who have started their senior year this past week like MiKayla have spent time feeling much sadness. They have been expressing their sadness at all of the lasts that are happening as their children start their last first day of high school or their last first volleyball or football game. I think these feelings are normal and understandable. I also have many friends that are moving their kids into college right now, and they are feeling much sadness as they move their kids into somewhere that is not the home that they all have shared. The thought of suddenly our kids living somewhere without us can be overwhelming and sad. This is again normal and understandable.
As our children continue to get older, and we think of them moving on without us then that is difficult for us as parents. After all, these children have been with us all of their lives. From the moment that they have existed then it has been our job to take care of them and to provide for each of their needs. As we think about them living somewhere without us then sadness and tears do come, and the thought of the end of this season of our children living with us is hurtful and brings pain. This is normal. For those of you who know me, then hopefully you know that I believe in keeping it real and sharing our feelings. I believe that when you are having those feelings as parents then I think that it is good to express those feelings and to share them. I also believe that it is good to realize that those feelings are just one of the many expressions of love that we have for our children. We all know as parents that one of our main responsibilities for our children besides loving them and providing for their needs is to prepare them for the life that they will live independently of us. We know this is our job as parents, and we try to prepare our children for it. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel the pain of separation when it is time or when we think about that time approaching. Of course we will, Again, we need to share those feelings and know that it is okay that we are feeling this way. It is a true expression of our love for our children and for the sadness that we will feel as a season ends when they begin living somewhere else.
I do understand these feelings. I feel these things also. But I must share that while I do feel the sadness and separation with Kylee or in MiKayla’s case, the approaching separation, my heart is so celebrating these seasons that the girls do get to experience. My son died the summer before his senior year. He didn’t get to have his senior year. I wanted him to have that experience so much. He didn’t get to. When Kylee was a senior and had a wonderful senior year, then my heart was so happy for her. I am feeling the same way with MiKayla. My heart is celebrating that she is getting to be a senior. MiKayla is pumped. She is saying that she is so excited to have a wonderful senior year. I love hearing her say that. I love seeing the joy on her face and in her eyes when she talks about her day, or when I watch her having so much joy with her friends. I am celebrating that she is a senior. I am so excited that she gets to experience this. Will I be sad when we are separated and will I miss her? Absolutely. However, the trauma of losing my only son and the fact that he did not get to experience his senior year has completely flipped my perspective. I am soooo excited for every part of MiKayla’s senior year!! I felt the same way as Kylee girl had her wonderful senior year.
My perspective is also different about Kylee currently being in college and for when MiKayla goes to college next year. I am so excited for my two daughters. PK also was never able to experience college. I am so thankful for the years that Kylee has had so far and for the year that she is going to have this year. Again, my perspective is completely flipped because I am so excited that she is getting to attend and experience college. I loved college! I had great years while I was at college and grew and learned so much. I think the college season is awesome, and I am so thankful for the incredible experience that Kylee girl is having.
I truly marveled at her this summer while she lived with MiKayla and I. I could see such growth in my girl in each area of her life. I am so thankful for the maturity and growth that I am seeing in her. What an incredible young lady she is! I am loving this experience for her. Trauma and loss have the ability to flip your perspective if you allow them to. I am thankful that I have been journeying with my two daughters and celebrating each new season in their life.
With all of this celebrating and thankfulness, that does not mean that I don’t truly miss Kylee and that I will miss MiKayla. Of course I do. Of course I will. These two girls are bonded with their mom and with one another in such strong ways. I believe that journeying together through trauma and tragedy builds bonds that are very powerful. This has happened with the three of us. Our bond is strong, and I am ever thankful for it.
It is important to note that even though we have experienced such loss and that our perspectives may be different from yours because of our experiences then we still absolutely want to hear what hurts you and what causes you pain. I have learned that sometimes people shy away from sharing their experiences or pain with me because they “compare and contrast pain levels”, and they don’t feel like they should share their pain with me because of the pain that I have experienced. I greatly encourage you NOT to feel like that with me.
I experienced this with one of my friends Paula. Paula and I have been friends since our two boys were in tee ball together. (In fact I think Paula was PK’s first crush 🙂 ). Paula was one of PK and Alex’s tee ball coaches, and PK and Alex became friends during tee ball and stayed friends through the years that PK was alive. PK loved Alex!! So do I!! After PK had died, then I remember a time that Paula was over and we were visiting. Her one son Will was already away at college, and our Alex was preparing to go and was traveling quite a ways across the country to study. Paula was having normal sad feelings about this next season of her son’s life. She started talking about it and then it was as if she told herself that she should not be talking to me about these feelings. She looked at me with such care and concern. I think what happened to her in that moment is that she started realizing how much that I wished that I was sending my son off to college, but that I couldn’t because instead I had to bury him. Paula was very sensitive and caring about the death of my son and truly cared about him.
I appreciated her sensitivity; however, as her friend I was still wanting to be there for her. I still understood why she was sad that her son was moving away. I understood why she was feeling pain that this season of her life was ending. She loved he sons and would miss them so much. These feelings are normal and understandable. As the months continued and when Paula and I would get together again then I think she came to realize that she could still share her feelings with me and be real about whatever she was experiencing in her own life. I truly do want others to feel comfortable sharing their feelings with us even though we have experienced trauma. We continue to care about each of you and want to continue to share in your lives whether it is the joy or the sadness… we all experience those on our journeys even if it is in different ways and from different events.
As I drove away from my Kylee girl on Saturday night, did I feel sadness? Of course. I will miss my girl!! I absolutely had tears pouring down my face as I left my girl there and drove home. However, at the exact same time that I felt sadness then I was also experiencing so much joy for my daughter. I have much joy and thankfulness for the two great seasons of life that both of my girls are in and for how well they are doing despite the tragedy and trauma that they have had to deal with. I am so thankful for each moment that they have in their lives and for each moment that they are able to experience. These seasons are most definitely to be celebrated!!
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” Dr. Maya Angelou