Thursday, June 17, 2010

A World Forever Changed

It has been a hard few days. No inspiration or motivation to write at all. Writing is cathartic and healing. Moreover, it prompts lots of loving responses that keep me going (and if I’m being honest, that’s at least one of the reasons why I do this so publicly). But writing also means really getting down and being with the pain. So on a day when I am already feeling low, the idea of sinking further in by writing (even though it eventually uplifts me) is daunting.

Last night, Ed and I went to our first Compassionate Friends meeting for bereaved parents. At one point, the facilitator said, “We have a saying around here that when you lose your child, you lose your future.” I had to chew on that for a bit before I could agree, because I have been trying hard to keep visualizing a future for our family—sometimes it is the only way out of despair, even if just momentarily. But I realized that when we lost Hudson, we did lose our future. We lost the future we had imagined for ourselves—a future that did not include a lifetime of remembering and grieving the loss of our child. As I said the night Hudson died, we are learning to live again in a world that is forever changed.

In this world, I can barely stand to keep living in my beautiful city, so full of Hudson memories it is. While I imagine that many parents who have lost a child do continue to live in the city they shared with their child, the instinct to flee is powerful. I have to find a new grocery store because I can’t face the Harris Teeter on Kalorama where I went with Hudson almost every week. I can hardly drive across the Mall without crying as I remember all our many adventures there and in the museums that surround it. I have to steel myself just to walk Bess on our normal route around the neighborhood. Everywhere I go, Hudson should be there. But she isn’t. Not physically, at least, and that’s how I want her.

In this world, many of my favorite songs now hold new meaning that makes them painful to hear. Never again will I be able to listen to such favorites as Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind,” or, especially, “Seasons of Love” from Rent, without a sharp stab to the heart.

In this world, one of the hardest parts about returning to work (and I haven’t been back since that first day) is the fact that at the end of the day, I will simply go home. There is no day care pick-up, no dawdling in the driveway, no taking pots in and out of the cabinets while dinner cooks, no chatter in the highchair, no splashing in the tub, no Goodnight Moon, no giggle after I whisper “Don’t go to Dook!” at the end of the bedtime alma mater ritual. Not with Hudson, there’s not.

In this world, we will raise children who never knew their oldest sister, and (hopefully) will never understand the grief we will feel forever over her loss. We will have to find a way to make her an integral part of our family while not allowing her siblings to feel overshadowed by her death. In this world, we will never be the same parents for our future children that we were for Hudson.

But, in this world, we are ourselves transformed. In this world, Ed and I have a new and deeper understanding of our love for each other. In this world, we have an extraordinary appreciation of the love we share with our friends and families. In this world, we are grateful for the magic in millions of everyday moments. In this world, Hudson is always with us. In this world, we will never be the same parents, but we will be better parents because we have an uncommon (albeit unwelcome) awareness that life is short.

We have lost one future. But we have gained another. And that is One Good Thing.


  1. Try this song from Todd Rundren. Hewre is the link:

    Uncle Vince

  2. Mandy, Your words and insights are profound and on target. You're doing good work. Sending love, patience and courage though your well-stocked on fronts. Lesley

  3. The love you shared with Hudson is touching parents whom you haven't met, and by extension; their children.

    Love endures, and love changes the world - even after our loved ones are gone. Nothing else has that much power.

    Thank you for writing.

  4. Windy is so right. You all have touched Matt, Hudson, and myself in many ways.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful writing with us.
    Sending unending love and light your way.

  5. Mandy,
    I think of you everyday and grieve for your loss of Hudson.
    Holding you close to my heart Mandy. Just wish there was something I could do to help ease just a moment of your pain.
    May God Bless You today with some peace.
    Linda Miller
    Charlotte NC

  6. Like everyone else, I wish so much there was anything I could do to help ease the pain you are feeling and sharing so openly and eloquently here. I know there isn't, but I think it will be a very, very long time before I go a single day without thinking of you and saying a prayer for peace and comfort for you.

  7. My dearest Mandy and Ed - Every time I read something that you have written my heart breaks all over again. For you to share such a difficult time with us has been extraordinary, and I feel honored to be your friend and blessed to be able to offer my love and support.

  8. I drove by a church today whose board out front said "Being happy doesn't make us grateful, being grateful makes us happy". It instantly made me think of you and how strong you are to see things to be grateful about when you're hurting so much. Keep it up, your gratefulness will help you heal.

  9. You are an amazing woman, Mandy. God bless - Abbey

  10. Just as I was about to post that you are an amazing woman, I see that that is exactly the post left by the person before me. I'll say it anyway. You are an amazing woman, Mandy Hitchcock. Thinking of you always. -Meghan Knight

  11. Oh, Mandy. The bravery with which you continue to face each day is astonishing, and awe-provoking. You recognize the temptation to pull the covers over your head, and you plant your feet on the floor anyway. Your and Ed's love for each other is more than One Good Thing -- you are the reminder to all of us that even when we're in the valley, the darkest, hardest, bleakest valley, there IS light on the other side, even if you will always see it through a new lens.

    In imagining your new future, you are finding ways to cling to what is real and beautiful about your past, while still boldly forging a new path. It truly is a beautiful thing to behold. Although you have no choice but to be "in it" right now, you haven't allowed your grief to paralyze you, as so many of us do. You are stretching your soul, probing for signs of healing, and, of course, finding those deep dark pockets of hurt lingering still. And yet, even now, you see that there is a future for you and Ed, albeit changed. Your love for each other has matured, strengthened, morphed into something so real, so raw, it's an inspiration to so many.

    I lift you up all the time in prayer, and smile through tears when I read your honest words. Your being in touch with your grief reminds me to be in touch with life, period. To be, where I am, right now. That is enough. The quote you liked on my fb page the other day is from Matt Maher's song "Hold Us Together" -- love it:

    much love to you and Ed today.

  12. Mandy,

    Everyday I think about yall and Hudson. I pray everyday that one day we might forget the pain. But the pain we have shows that she was close to our hearts and that we loved her. Even if you just saw her once or never saw her. Everyday look at that picture of Hudson that we got at the service and I feel like hudson is near me.

    God Bless


  13. Mandy, you are as ever amazing. I am still thinking of you and Ed all of the time. Love, Sherry

  14. Your words hit me deep every time you write, Mandy. If it is healing for you, please continue to express yourself when you can. We are all still here, listening, supporting, and loving you.