"You never know how strong you are
until being strong is the only choice you have."
I've read this quote many times before and just recently saw it posted to Facebook. There are lots of things that happen in our lives everyday that make us feel like we are being strong, physically and mentally. Not overreacting when someone yells at you at work, stubbing your toe and "walking it off", working full time and maintaining a household, not losing it when you are cut off and honked at, walking away when someone is gossiping. All of these things make you feel strong. When you are in control of your emotions and reactions, you feel strong. But what does it truly mean to be strong? Through all of this tragedy people keep telling me how strong I am. I don't feel strong. I feel exactly the opposite. I feel weak and vulnerable, fragile. I feel like I have no control over my feelings and emotions. One minute I feel like everything is going to be ok, so confident that this is the Lord's plan and so happy that I had Q in my life for 20 months and so positive that this experience is just what I need to grow and be a better person. Then the next minute I am angry. I am furious that my perfect, beautiful, happy little girl was taken from me. That I had no warning, that I had no choice, no chance to say goodbye. I feel blindsided, hurt, betrayed, punished almost. I get so angry when I see all the kids at the park, in their parents cars, being pushed in strollers, eating candy and reading books. I am angry that I never get to do these things again with my darling girl. Then I feel pain. I feel empty and alone. And mostly I feel sad. A sadness I never knew existed. A sadness I never wanted to know existed. A longing that I worry will never go away. I feel like I will never be happy again, that I will never be able to laugh and relax and enjoy life like I used to. That I will never be able to love another child like I do Quincy.
People keep asking me, "How are you?" I never know how to respond to this question. I know everyone is genuinely concerned and really do want to know how I am doing, but I think they also want me to say "Good, I'm great. Feeling much better." But I am so far from great, or even good. When people ask me how I am doing I want to say, "I am surviving." I feel like that is all I am doing right now. Surviving. And sometimes barely. I do the bare minimum to keep my daily life going. Nobody ever plans on losing a child. When you think of your future you never think you will have to bury your child. And nobody prepares you to lose a child. It's not something that you ever want to think about having to deal with or even know how to deal with. And now that I have lost my child, I am afraid. I am so blessed to have a little one inside, kicking and wiggling and constantly reminding me he is there, but I am so afraid for him. I am afraid to love and connect with him. I am afraid that he will be so different from Q, that he will not meet my needs like she did. I am afraid he will be taken away too.
Brady and I were talking last night about summer coming and everyone getting excited to go out and do things. We are usually really active and were looking forward to a summer of boating and camping and jeeping. But without Quincy none of these things seem as appealing. Brady put it perfectly when he said, "Sure puts a damper on everything, not having Quincy around." As a parent, or maybe just a mother, or maybe just me, as you think ahead in life to the things you want to do with your family you picture how it is going to be. Quincy is in all of those pictures. I said in multiple monthly posts for Q that I couldn't imagine life without her. And I still can't. She is so deeply ingrained in all of my "pictures". Every plan and every dream for our family's future she is there, the big sister, my buddy and helper, my little girl, my friend.
So, back to my question, What does it truly mean to be strong? Being strong is waking up every morning with a prayer, a prayer that you can make it through one more day. Being strong is getting in the shower and going to work and answering every time someone asks "How are you doing?" with at least a partial smile. Being strong is taking care of Brady and our home, and showing a commitment to him that I can still be a wife and a mother amidst the pain and sorrow. Being strong is fulfilling my church callings and attending sacrament meeting even though I want to stay home and hide. Being strong is preparing for a son, even though I long for my daughter. Being able to let myself feel joy and excitement for him as I am mourning and aching for her. And being strong is moving forward. Every day. Minute by minute. Not giving up and not giving in to the sorrow. Remembering that there is more life than this. This is just a test, and although it's hard to see past this minute, being strong is trusting and having faith that everything is ok. Everything is going to be fine. I think maybe I am strong.