Two days ago while in the shower, the words for this blog post began to fill my mind. The first complete year spent as a physical family of 6, as a parent of 4 physically present children, as a "once special needs parent". As with most years, it was a year filled with many different firsts.
2021 was the first year since 2015 that I didn't ever live in a room on the 8th floor of Phoenix Children's Hospital. It was the first year I learned just how challenging living in your grief can actually be. It was the year I woke up from the grief fog and fought the world of denial. If I am being honest, I will enter into 2022 still not mastering the art of accepting and still struggling to allow myself to sit in my grief.
2021 was the year I struggled to balance the parent I once was, with the parent I am not and give myself grace because I won't ever be the parent I expected myself to be. I spent a lot of 2021 learning to give myself grace in general, allowing myself to acknowledge that being a grieving mother isn't easy and to truly believe it is okay if I own that and fall apart.
2021 was the year I began to truly listen to my body and my mind and make my limits known to others when necessary. It was the first year I stop caring as much about other peoples' opinions and at times even expressed that their lives clearly didn't have enough challenges if they were so focused on the frivolous parts of life. Maybe that wasn't the most positive part of 2021, but on the other hand, it is extremely freeing to be able to file so many items under someone elses' "personal problem".
2021 was the year that Sonzee's siblings started to figure out the role she would play in their lives. Some of them mention her and some of them don't, and I spent 2021 doing my best to accept that everyone grieves differently, and telling myself that it is ok. It was the year that I wasn't sure how much her little brother remembered of her, but I learned he misses her a lot.
2021 taught me that the phrase "it's just stuff", while true, is still a challenge to accept in both heart and mind. Memories thankfully remain vivid in my mind, and while I fear the day they might no longer, for now, I continue to play them on a continuous repetitive playlist.
2021 was a year I experienced every emotion of grief and then some. Continuously. In random order. Over and over again. 2021 is the year I started to realize that being a grieving mom is really never going to hurt any less than it did the day it started. The experiences that trigger the tremendous downfalls will change, but the love is far too great that the pain won't ever dull. That is okay.
2021 was the year that I spent the first 7 months posting throwback pictures of Sonzee's life only to realize one day it was far too painful to look at a single picture of her. It was the year where I started to experience this grief lethargy that made doing typical parenting and daily tasks feel daunting and nearly impossible. There is a constant lack of energy that makes anything Sonzee related almost impossible to do. It was the year I stopped being able to paint as many rocks for her, to visit her grave, and in general to deal with anything related to her life.
2021 was the year that forced me back into a sort of reality with the start of the reopening of the world that essentially closed simultaneously with her death. Then much like the journey of grief, the inconsistency and unknown path of where life with Covid will continue to take us in 2022, it is sure to introduce me to new challenges, new realities, and new acceptances. Much like last year's uncertainty of how to celebrate the last year that we had her alive, I am unsure how to honor the first entire year without her ever being part of it. As we head into 2022, I know she will grace me with her Sonzee bear essence and hopefully, it will be enough to carry me through another 52 weeks of life without her.