Poppy and Fiona

Today Poppy turns 7 years old. It will be her second birthday without Fiona. Last year she turned 6 a few weeks after Fiona died. It was a difficult birthday to celebrate. I actually don’t remember much about it, except the party she had at the gymnastics school with her friends. Poppy seemed to be in a daze as well, reeling from the sudden loss of her sister. Everything felt forced, as we are forced to continue life with part of our family missing. So many years ahead of us without Fiona. It is overwhelming to think about. Poppy has grown so much since Fiona died. She has changed too. She is not so happy go lucky; she is more cautious, anxious, and stubborn about things for no apparent reason.

Fiona was such a cheerleader for Poppy, and a loving and proud big sister. Fiona did get pretty annoyed with Poppy at times, as Fiona was quiet and methodical, while Poppy jumps from one thing to the next. Having a little sister was very good for Fiona, and boosted her self esteem and sense of place in the family. They seemed to be always giving each other hugs. Their love for each other ran deep, despite the little fights and arguments kids have.

Shannons Iphone 802

I had a dream last night about my girls. Poppy was flying a hot air balloon type of contraption over a park, while crowds of people watched below. She lost control of her balloon and crash landed in the park, barely missing the trees and houses. We ran over to check on her and she was fine, just mad that she crashed. Then Fiona was there, and she was checking on Poppy, encouraging her. She gave her a hug, of course. That’s what Fiona would have done in real life. She was very loving and sweet, especially when someone was upset. Fiona had on a sundress, and she stood with the other kids while Poppy looked over her crashed aircraft. It seemed natural that she should be there, as Poppy’s sister. Then in my dream I remembered Fiona was dead, and it was not normal for her to be there. Realizing my luck at seeing her, I put my arm around her and sat beside her. I asked her how she was, and she said great. I asked her how she liked heaven, and she said it was great. It felt a bit like when you ask your kids how their day at school was, and you get a one word answer. I said, “Is it perfect? Because I know how you always liked things to be perfect.” Fiona said “perfect” a lot; I think she learned it from the mean dance instructor in the movie Barbie and the Pink Shoes. Fiona smiled at my joke, and said yes in her quiet, sweet way. Then my dream was over.

If only Fiona could be here today to wish Poppy happy birthday and watch her open her presents. To be the big sister to Poppy on her special day. To share with us her sweet smiles and funny jokes. To be a part of our family again.

Normal is gone

Oh how I wish my children could have a normal childhood. One with all their sisters growing up together. One without the trauma of death snatching Fiona away. Now their memories of Fiona will fade and she will be just a part of our past life that was normal and happy. I wish they could have normal parents instead of ones who are now not always there mentally and who are often just hanging by a thread. We didn’t just lose Fiona, we lost our normal family, our future together, and a lifetime of what might have been.

I read a devotional this week about rejoicing in trials. While I can be thankful for the blessings I have, the loss of a child is not a trial you can recover from, and certainly not a way for God to teach you a lesson and grow your faith. It’s a lifelong disability that you have to learn to live with, that tests your faith deeper than any other thing I can imagine. I can’t believe in a God so cruel as to take my child away in order for me to be a better Christian. These kind of teachings are what cause people who have truly suffered to turn their backs on their faith, as what is needed is comfort, grace, and compassion, not judgment. A bereaved parent already judges himself/herself more harshly than anyone could. We are damaged, fragile, and wounded; in Grief Share they said we should treat ourselves as if in intensive care.

I blame myself for not being able to save my child from death, even though you may find that crazy. I carry the guilt and shame of failing to keep my child alive, failing at the most important job I have ever been tasked with carrying out. I remember feeling like a complete fraud at Fiona’s funeral; I wondered when people would figure out what I was guilty of. I wondered if the hospital would be contacting CPS to make a report. I didn’t feel I deserved any of the kindnesses shown to me; I had failed to notice my child was dying in the hospital and just allowed her to fade away. Now I wonder if I can be a good parent to my surviving children. I second guess many of my parenting decisions. I have lost confidence and the ability to make quick decisions. I have a long way to go before I will feel like a normal parent again, if ever.