Me, Bravely.

Christa Doran Uncategorized 13 Comments

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. -Anne Lamott

Too many “good” days in a row usually means a kink in the line and a breakdown to follow. The weekend was sunny and bright, filled with lots of distractions and laughter, which is both beautiful and dangerous. When I remain distracted, and don’t take the time to process the sadness and move through the grief, it catches up to me, building and building until is bubbles over when I finally sit in silence.

In the midst of the distractions this past weekend I took a big step and asked someone to take a photo of me, with my two daughters. This is the first time I have taken a photo with my girls since Lea’s death and it was both sad, and a step through the pain. I don’t believe I will ever “move past” this, but I can move through this, however seems right. And taking that photo, on that day, felt right.

Last year

This year’s photo was missing one of my children, as well as the sparkle in my eyes. I looked at the photo and wondered when that sparkle would return, when I wouldn’t look so dead in the eyes…tired, sad and defeated. Then I remind myself that these eyes have seen things they never should have, and while my eyes may have lost their spark, they are filled wisdom, strength, sadness, love, commitment, grief, joy, pain, fatigue, perseverance, more strength and more love (thanks to the friend that reminded me of this). They are a bit less sparkly than they once were because one of my sparks is missing from my life. The spark that allowed me to love deeper than I ever thought possible, to face my darkest fears, and to be me, bravely.

Caring for two, healthy children is easy compared to what we were used to. While the emotional work is hard, the daily and hourly physical work is so much less. Lea required full time care and that took everything we had in order to hold it together and provide her all we could in every way possible. It took so much work to keep our spirits up, to carry and move and position her body, to meet her every need and want. Now that it’s over, it feels like I am experiencing an unravelling of sorts, in every way possible.

Unravelling is a good way to describe how I feel every day since Lea’s death. As I peel back the layers of grief and sorrow, I also have to face the daily triggers, a something that causes deep sadness while reminding us of how much we have lost.

Triggered, as I clean the “teeth” drawer, purging old toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes that should have made their way to the trash months ago, and I find Lea’s toothbrush. I immediately had a vision of her perched on the purple stool, one of us behind her for support, scrubbing her teeth with her left hand as well as her ability allowed on that day. I wanted her to be here so badly, next to me, screaming through foamy mouth that she was done scrubbing and needed a boost to rinse.

Triggered, when I finally threw out the remains of the last thing Lea had baked. I had held onto it long enough and it was starting to mold, but the thought of throwing something away that she made, something I could smell and taste that she had a part in, felt impossible.

I remember scurrying through our cabinets in search of something to bake, preferably, chocolate. Minutes later Sabine and Lea were perched at our kitchen island measuring, mixing and stirring the thick, rich chocolate in a stainless bowl. Later on that night we enjoyed Lea and Bean’s delicious cake, covered in a healthy layer of chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. This was the last cake Lea would ever bake, and the last time she would see her best friend Bean, as she died just two days later. I am so glad I said “yes” to her baking request and the beautiful mess it created.

Lea & Sabine, May 8, 2018

Triggered, when I find her sneakers, still in perfect condition, sitting on our hall shoe rack. I gather all of her shoes and put them in her closet, longing to lace them up for her, even if for just one more time.

Triggered, when one unassuming night I looked at Lea’s empty bed and it hit me that she is never coming back. I imagined her the way she used to be, asleep in her bed, full cheeks and sweet profile, french braids undone from a full day. I start to panic at the thought of never being able to kiss her, or hug or, or smell her, or experience her. That night I went to bed with two of her turtles and two puffy, red eyes.

We have been unable to pack away any of her things. Her room and office exist the way they were when she was with us. I know the day we will come when we will be ready, but that day is not today.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” -Vicki Harrison

 May 2

This Thursday will mark one month since her death. We are resuming our routines and finding a new “normal.” I went back to work last night. I am so grateful to do a job that I love, where I feel a deep sense of purpose. I couldn’t imagine returning to work that I hated. Our house is quieter, less chaotic and crazy. Liv and Keira are doing as well as they can be. They have always had a special connection, but now, they are closer than ever. Thick as thieves. Bonded tighter than ever because of this shared tragedy.
I know this is how it is going to be. Lows, and even lower lows. Even (almost) four weeks later, it still seems like a dream, and there are still moments I feel like this can’t be happening. She can’t be gone. Those nine months we had “left” with her went by far too quickly, and I wish we were still in them. Because as bad as many of those moments were, I could hug her and kiss her and smell her. I replay memories of her in my head so as not too forget her. Part of me wants them to fade, in hopes that the pain and sadness will fade with them, and another part is scared to forget her and the amazing girl that she was. I know someday the sparkle in my eyes will return. Until then I will show up and face each day as bravely as I can, because that is what she would do.
Be you. Bravely.
From Lea’s kindergarten journal, January 17, 2017
Saturday, July 28 there is a Lessons From Lea Cocktail Social to benefit The CT Chapter of Cure Starts Now. Get your tickets here. Space is limited and more than 50% of the tickets are sold already!

Comments 13

  1. You are truly an inspiration Christa.
    I continue to hold you all in the light, seeing the vast wings of Archangel Michael embracing you all, along with Lea’s light & brightness there too as they both hold you all in thier healing presence.

  2. be you. bravely. amazing words and a reminder for us all. thank you for sharing all of you. so much love is always being sent to you, mike, livia & keira.

  3. Every Sunday Jasen and I pray for you and your beautiful family in church. We continue to keep you in our thoughts and send you love. 💙

  4. Am thinking about you. 😘 keep on trying to get that sparkle back. She will always be with you and even more so when you are enjoying your life with her sisters laughing and smiling!

  5. 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜so much love, so many many prayers surround you all. I pray you can feel even a slight breeze of comfort from our blanket of prayer…💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

  6. Christa-
    Someone once told me grief of a child is like a blanket you are knitting. The place where the loss happened is a gaping hole. You keep knitting and your blanket pattern returns to its original pattern but the hole remains. I can’t imagine the pain you and Mike must be experiencing. I think you must be one of the strongest couples I have ever met. I pray for you and your family every day and hope you find the strength to move through this one day at a time.

  7. Always offering you all up in my prayers…for peace, courage, strength, faith and comfort in the beautiful memories of your sweet angel Lea.
    With love,
    Linda Manzelli 💙🙏

  8. I imagine it will always feel like a dream, a shared dream with Mike. “A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality.” (Yoko Ono)

  9. Christa, it seems so off that any words we might share could not possibly meet your need, and yet, the words you share bring us hope. I am continuing to pray that the Father of all comfort will bring strengthening aid to you and your family. I wish to carry any part of your sadness that I can.

  10. Your words are so poignant- although I wish I didn’t have to know who you were you and Lea are truly an inspiration. If you ever do write that book it would a heart wrenching top seller… thinking of your Lea, your family and that this evil serial killer disease begone from this planet

  11. “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

  12. Everyday, holding you, Mike, Liv, and Keira in love and light and sending Lea’s spirit love and peace on her journey.
    Thank you for continuing to share with us.

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