By Tanya Tiger
In the twilight of my grief
I heard your love like a symphony
Through missing pieces of my heart
Each note carrying a different part
And as these notes rose through the night
Love’s music filled the cracks with light
I wrote this poem for my daughter Kristin who passed away last year, on August 3, 2014, at the tender age of 16-months.
She was the brightest light I had ever known and she became one of my greatest teachers in life and in death. I have come to know anger, grief and fear through the loss of my daughter and I have also come to know strength, faith and grace as well.
The greatest lesson my sweet angel has taught me is how to love and appreciate life.
Her death was a catalyst for immense change. I was forced to be stronger than I ever wanted to be. I was forced to come face-to-face with one of my greatest fears…the loss of a child.
The blessing came when I began tapping into that wellspring of strength and realized that it had been there all along—just beneath the surface.
My journey to uncovering this strength came as I sat at her bedside, knowing in my heart of hearts that she was fading, and I promised her that I would go on living in her honor; that I would carry on a legacy of love that she had started in her short time with us.
You see, Kristin was born with Goldenhar Syndrome, a rare disorder that effects a child’s craniofacial and body development often leaving them disfigured and in need of numerous surgeries. In some cases the deformities are so severe that the child does not survive.
In Kristin’s case her first surgery is what led to her death.
During her 16 months on this planet we ran a fundraiser to help support the medical expenses that were to arise from her medical care and surgeries. Through this fundraising the world got to know my sweet Kristin and she inspired so many to go beyond what they thought possible. The outpouring of support from around the globe renewed my and many others’ faith, and in humanity as a whole.
This was the legacy I promised to carry on in Kristin’s name—hope and love.
Even though my life was ripped off of its foundation, and I was left staring into an abyss of uncertainty, I found comfort in knowing that she watched on from the other side. I still feel her presence and her gentle reminders to keep my promise.
When I lay awake in bed, cursing the day or someone who crossed me, I remember her lesson—love. I remember that each day I am given, even the “bad” ones, are days that she will never get to live. I try to remember to let go and forgive so that I can make room in my heart for love.
And, I hold her little hand in my dreams and thank her for everything that she has taught me.
I tell this story because I believe it is important for others to know that they can keep going even after a devastating loss. We owe it to those we’ve lost to live for them, to bring love to the places and people that hurt like we do, and to show our beloveds that we honor their lives—no matter how long or short—by not giving up.
I write this for Kristin who was and is the bravest soul I know. xoxo
Tanya Tiger, LMSW is a creative and fiery soul who dreams of a world where everyone is free to be their authentic selves. She has been writing, drawing, sculpting and otherwise flexing her creative muscles since she was a young child, often at the exasperation of her teachers but always with encouragement from her parents. Tanya recently found herself going through a major shift in the very foundation of her being. This shift happened when her youngest daughter, Kristin, died unexpectedly at the age of 16-months. Forced to face her greatest fear, Tanya chose to turn away from the shadows of anger and hatred that loomed and instead turned toward the light of love in her daughter’s honor. Tanya is also mother to an insanely funny 3-year-old girl, who keeps her imagination running at full force and effect with her larger than life personality. It is Tanya’s heartfelt hope to inspire people through her writing and to show that strength can be found in vulnerability, that a person can survive the worst kind of pain, and that there is always a choice when we are faced with tragedy.
Editor: Dana Gornall