Tag Archives: Life After Loss

I Will Never Forget

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops multiple frames around a portrait of her daughter Marika Warden who died.My dead daughter’s pictures pop up on Facebook, and each time I see one, my eyes pop out of my head. I’ve been planting her image all over online. And every time someone shares or comments on what I’ve posted, the response and the article with its photo come back to my email box. You wouldn’t think something like this could bring so much joy. But it does, to me.

The joy doesn’t come just because I know Marika loved collecting friends and putting her pictures on Facebook. It’s not because I’ve learned to like doing what she did. And it’s not to show her off or to grab your sympathies.

“One of the most scary things for us as bereaved parents is that our dead child will be forgotten.” These are not my words. One of my Facebook friends wrote this in response to my article, How I Swallowed my Daughter. This is my truth. I need to feel Marika won’t be lost and forgotten. I’m framing her face and pasting her all over the Internet so she’ll be remembered. “There’s that girl again,” you will say. Even for the short time it takes to look at her, or share her image, she will have been seen. And maybe when you remember she no longer walks the earth, perhaps you will cherish your own time here and your own loved ones, more.

That’s why, when I’m not looking for joy and finding life after loss, you can find me posting photos of my daughter on Facebook. Before friends and strangers, I am promising Marika and myself, that she will not be forgotten.

Thank you for sharing and celebrating her with me.

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Anger After Loss

Anger After Loss, Robin Botie in Ithaca, New York, letting go of inner angerAround the table bereaved friends spoke of anger. I listened as I scoured the closets of my mind for some story of my own anger. I found none. When my turn came to share I told them that, not wholly believing it myself.
“I need to get in touch with my inner anger,” I said, joking as the group disbanded shortly after. But it was not a joke. Across the clouded screen in my head subtitles flashed, “In Denial.” Because who was I to escape anger? Isn’t anger one of the stages of grief? I would be a rare case if I didn’t harbor some anger after loss. Most likely I had simply not faced it yet.

“This is very rare,” my doctor said, the next day. He put down my files and waited for my reaction. I sat in silence trying to picture the redundant crisscrossing, floppy colon he was describing. My colon.
“I’m a rare case?” I asked, like maybe I’d won a great prize. But really I was wondering, Why me? My stomach was rumbling. I already gave, I told myself, as in: I already gave up my daughter who died of cancer. As in: here I am trying to live my life bigger and better and how am I supposed to do that when I’m losing my health? And why is it that the more tests you doctors do, the more diagnoses I’m given? I’m still suffering from my original symptoms. And: I’m not angry; I’m just scared for my life.

Because maybe I’ve swallowed my anger for so long that it’s turned my insides floppy, upside down and backwards.

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Stuck Fixing My Messy Beautiful

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is reflected, praying with cameraIn March 2011, I turned into frozen mud.

I always believed I could design my way into or out of anything. To design is to start with something, a lump of clay, a need, canvas and paint, or a girl who died of leukemia and her grieving mother, and then turn it into something else. For me, to design is to fix and to make beautiful.
But in March 2011, cancer killed my daughter. I could not fix that. I froze. Like mud in winter. Who am I, I wondered? Am I still the mother of a daughter? Who or what am I supposed to fix now?

The day after she died I discovered my daughter was a writer. So I began to write. I wrote our story. And rewrote it and kept writing. Here was something I could fix. I could edit the manuscript endlessly.
But this is messy. In rewriting, I relive the times in and out of hospitals with my daughter. I bring her back to life for twelve chapters and hold my breath as I watch her die. Then, dragging my dashed spirit up off the floor, I fix the next half of the book where I travel alone to Australia with her ashes, come home, and begin a new life. Over and over again, I write and relive every day. For three years.

“When are you going to get a real job with health insurance?” my mother nags.
“It’s time to move on to something else,” says a friend.
“I’m designing my way to healing,” I try to explain. But the truth is I am stuck.

Writing led to blogging. Almost everyone has lost someone or something they love. I ache to fix the pain as another relative is diagnosed with cancer, a friend’s son kills himself, a stranger online reaches out for support.
“There’s life after loss,” I blog on my website, and write the stories of my own struggles in the hope of helping someone else.
Blogging led to photography. I wanted to add pictures to my stories.

My frozen mud began to thaw when I discovered Photoshop with all its fixing tools: a Patch Tool, a Dodge Tool and an Add-Anchor Tool, a Magic Eraser, a Magic Wand, a clone Stamp, …and a Healing Brush. Photoshop lets me redesign my universe. The opportunities for change are endless. The beautiful truth is there are some things I can fix.

“Can you make a photo of me flying in the clouds?” an elderly friend asks from her wheelchair.Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir, CARRY ON WARRIOR, is out in paperback now

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!   And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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