By Tanya Tiger
I wanted to write something deeply profound, something earth-shatteringly beautiful and deep.
I wanted to write about the beautiful comings and goings of life and everything for which we can be thankful. I sit, at a bit of a loss, on how to proceed. Many of you already know that one year, three-and-a-half months ago, my baby girl Kristin was called back to that other place where souls are born.
Some call it Heaven.
Some have no name for it. No matter what you choose to call it, I believe it is where we begin and where we return.
I begin with Krissy’s end because, very recently, my friend experienced the same loss when her 3 ½ year old daughter, Lily, died suddenly. The news stopped me in my tracks and the pain rippled through lifetimes of existence. I was brought back to that moment when I knew Krissy was gone and my heart ached deeply for my friend and her family.
Two young lives, cut short, in such seemly pointless ways. I know that we are not the only families to experience this kind of loss. Unfortunately, burying your child is all too common in some parts of the world and tragedy strikes down the innocent every day. None of it makes any sense on the surface. I was left with the thought that “life is too short.”
Life is too short to be wrapped up in worrying about the bottom line. It is too short to worry about who is saying what about whom. Life is too short, and too precious, to waste another minute not living it to its fullest.
After my mind stopped spinning I went deep into thought about how I have survived such a devastating loss. The understanding I have come to, the one that has helped me accept my daughter, and Lily’s, untimely death is this—they chose us to be their parents. They chose us because they knew we would love them beyond measure and we would give them everything they needed to fulfill their purpose in this lifetime, as short as that time was. They also knew that we would be strong enough to take the pain of their loss and keep going in their honor, carrying their purpose with us forward with love and appreciation for life.
I can’t know why Lily and Krissy were taken from us so soon. I will never know what might have been. I wish that I had more answers, for myself and for my friends.
Since Krissy’s death, I have had to choose to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going, to continuing living since my daughter cannot. And now, Lily’s parents and family have the same difficult task ahead of them. I want to soak up every moment, for them. I want to stop taking for granted all of the blessings—big and small—that I have in my life. I want to honor them by being the very best version of myself that I can be.
I know, deep in my heart, that is what they would want.
I know this because they were both such amazing souls. They had smiles that would light up a room, giggles that were contagious to everyone in earshot, and a deep love in their hearts that you could feel in your bones. If you looked closely, you could see their old souls peeking through their sparkling eyes. They left us with so many gifts. Even on my darkest days I picture Krissy’s face and my heart melts. For all the unanswered questions her death left behind the one answer I know for sure is that Krissy was pure love and I was truly blessed to be her mother. I believe my friends would say the same of their daughter.
I know that my friends have a long journey ahead of them. I know because I continue to walk it every day. We are forever bonded through the love we have for our daughters as well as the grief we carry for the empty place in our lives they once filled. My heart still cracks open, and tears still flow from time to time. But, the good days are beginning to outnumber the bad and the light of love that I hold inside for Krissy—and now Lily too—shines through the cracks and heals the wound a little more every day.
These two beautiful souls never had a chance to meet while here on earth. It brings me some comfort to believe that they are now side-by-side and hand-in-hand watching over us as we fumble our way through life’s ups and downs. I can only hope that we make them proud and that they can still feel how very much they are loved.
I really didn’t know what I was going to write when I started this. I guess I have written a message of hope for all those out there with broken hearts. I do not have all the answers. I have come to realize that everyone’s journey of grief is their own, and it’s a very personal journey.
I wish I could take my friends’ pain away.
All I can say to them, and anyone else who is hurting is this: There will be days when you don’t think you can get out of bed and face the day. There will be days when you won’t want to. But, if you get quiet and listen closely you will hear your heart beating… you can, you can, you can. And some days will consist of nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other, going through the motions just to survive… and that is okay too.
I’ve found that the only real way to fail at living is to stop trying. So, even when it hurts to breathe, because my chest is full of longing, I get up and I try. The more I try, the easier it gets. The empty places in my heart and soul slowly fill with happy memories and the love I carry for our girls. And, as the days begin to return to some semblance of normalcy, I give thanks for the time we did have together.
I try to replace the grief with gratitude and sometimes I fail, miserably, but I keep trying. After you survive a loss like this you are, in a way, reborn into someone new. With this rebirth you discover parts of yourself that you never knew existed. You discover just how strong you really are and just how capable you are of living again. It may never be “perfect” but it will get better.
In loving memory or Kristin Ashley Tiger (3/22/13 – 8/04/14) and Lily Ann Haley (5/15/12 – 11/22/15)
May we be blessed enough to bring as much joy into the world as they did and may we live with gratitude for each day we get to wake up and try again.
Editor: Dana Gornall