Tonight while I was cleaning out my purse and then eventually my wallet, I found Holland's ID card for the local rec center. I felt like I had gotten punched in the stomach. I remember leaving it in there. I have cleaned out all of Holly's stuff, and even Brizzy's old baby/toddler stuff in our house, but when I had come across this before, I wasn't quite ready to take it out of my wallet for some reason. It has been a while since I have noticed it in there. I have a lot of reminders her, probably almost every day, so I was surprised at my own instinctive reaction to such a simple little plastic card. But I think there were a few reasons it triggered a deep sadness:
- I seem to be affected most by things that catch me off guard. We have our guest room that Briz lovingly calls "Holly's Room," because it has pictures up of her. We have framed pictures of her in our living room, etc. When I go into these rooms, I see her face, I think of her, I smile. But very rarely, does something enter into my world that reminds me of Holland and takes me by surprise. It's hard to explain why this has such a strong affect. Experiencing a traumatic death sends your brain into shock mode, and in order to protect itself, it likes plans, prediction, anticipation. When something surprises my brain related to my daughter or her death, it doesn't do so well. It's not a bad thing. But it does trigger that gut wrenching pain. And it catches me surprise because I have very few moments of that anymore.
- The second thing that I noticed was her full name written out. I don't ever talk about "Holland Cottle." I say, "my daughter that died," "Holly," or "Holland," and sometimes even, "Brizzy's little sister." But I don't ever use her full name. It was a reminder to me of the person that she is. Not my baby that died, but the person she is. It made me miss her as a person, not just as my baby. And with that comes all of the missed experiences she would have had: school, playing, talking, etc. I think it was an added element that I saw her name written. I write Brizzy's name ALL the time. Briz is practicing her letters a lot these days, and she writes her name on everything, so even if I'm not writing it, I see it written quite a bit. But I don't ever write Holland's name. I can't remember the last time I wrote it. Occasionally in my grief journal, but hardly ever. And I won't write her name a lot in my life. I know this seems a little bit silly, and truthfully, they aren't even things that I think about on a daily basis. But grief is so surprising because it shows up in such random forms in the most random times. I try to allow myself to be sad because it is sad. And then I try to learn from it. It helps me eventually step out of the pain I am in, and understand the sadness I feel. That understanding makes it easier to work through.
At times I get angry that grief still plays such a large role in my life. But I remember how many of us experience grief in our own ways whether its through death, damaged relationships, faltered expectations, illness, divorce, disappointment, etc. Part of God's plan was to experience grief. That is part of the refining process that most people have to go through. It helps me to know that I am not being punished, but that I am given an opportunity to continue to learn and grow. And that there is a lot of help along that path.