After 4 Years, I've Finally Found Beauty in the Midst of My Grief


It’s been four years baby girl.

Four years since I got to hold you or feel your sweet little lips on my cheek.

Four years since I heard your laugh or have been able to run my fingers through your beautiful brown hair.

And I miss it all.

I miss you.

My anxiety has been on overdrive this week. I’ve been lying awake at night just staring at the ceiling in the dark. My stomach is in knots and I constantly feel like crying. My soul is aching for you.

The past year has been one of the most difficult and equally beautiful years of my entire life. I said goodbye to so much. It’s taken time to come to terms with how different it all looks from the way I planned it.

But it is in the thick of the mud I finally found myself.

For so long I lived in a state of disassociation. I knew my daughter died. And even though on the outside it looked like I was grieving in such a healthy way, I wasn’t allowing the grief in at all.

I talked about Olivia, but didn’t really let myself remember her. And when I did think about her I only wanted to remember the good and refused to remember all the trials and tragedy.

And when the tears welled up and threatened to explode down my cheeks, I would force them to stay in.

I said I was making a choice by refusing to let the grief win. But in reality, I was refusing to grieve at all.

There have been so many tough days this year. I have days where the grief overtakes me. Days where she is all I think about.

But I am finally really grieving. Really processing it all.

And while it is far from fun, it is also completely necessary.

With each day I get a little healthier. My feelings become more real and less veiled. And with that, the beauty of the mud in this life is starting to show through.

Yes, I lost my daughter. And yes, I got divorced. Both have been incredibly painful. But there is so much beauty in what has come after these storms.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I love harder because I’ve lost so much. I have a deeper appreciation for the people around me and for the “small things” that happen each day because I know tomorrow isn’t promised with any of them.

Katie holding Olivia Caldwell

I can really see the beauty that’s come from all of it. And that is what makes me grateful for all the mud I’ve had to wade through in this life.

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. To date we have given $225,000 to pediatric cancer research in just three years. To learn more or to donate please visit www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.

This post was originally posted on the Olivia Caldwell Foundation blog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Childhood Cancer

Olivia Caldwell laying in floor

On Missing My Daughter, but Finally Being at Peace

People ask me often how I can cling to my faith the way I do after losing my only daughter to brain cancer before she even made it to her second birthday. And the answer to that question always takes me back to the night Olivia died. Watching a loved one — especially your child [...]
Scarlette Tipton Halloween Costumes feature

3-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Proves You Don't Need Two Arms to Enjoy Halloween

Scarlette Tipton is like most 3-year-old girls: she enjoys singing and dancing, she watches “Moana” like it’s her job and she rocks a homemade costume every Halloween. Scarlette’s costumes, however, are a bit more creative than your average 3-year-old’s. When she was just a few month old, Scarlette lost her left arm to a rare cancer. Since [...]
Katie and Olivia Caldwell hugging

On Remembering the Last Snow Storm Spent With My Baby Girl

The first snow storm of the season blanketed Casper earlier this week. As I watched the snow fall, silently covering the city in white, my mind took me back in time to the first Casper snow four years ago. Ironically, just as I am this week, I was fighting my first cold of the season [...]
magic wigs feature

'Magic' Wigs Turn Kids With Cancer Into Disney Characters on Halloween

Halloween is the perfect time of year to get scared, but while many of us choose to watch horror movies and share spooky stories, children with cancer don’t have a choice; they must face their frightening diagnosis every day. Not only is the word “cancer” a scary thing for a child, but often so is the [...]