Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New Normal

The other day, through tears, I said to my husband, "I just miss feeling normal." He said: "There's going to be a new normal. Life will never be the same again, just like after we lost our first baby. But there will be a new normal."

Isn't he so right about that? 

Sometimes, things happen in our lives that change everything. They change the way you feel about yourself, and the way you see your life. Game-changers, I guess. At first you are ripped apart, and floating in darkness. You feel alone in your grief. You start to believe that this is all you will ever feel. Then days pass, and despite what people say, the pain doesn't lessen...but it does becomes familiar. You learn to live with it. 

The other day I realized that, from now on, whenever I meet someone new, and they ask about my parents, I will have to say, "My Dad lives in Germany, and my Mom died." This is now a piece of my story, and it's a part I cannot change. 

Rafael asks a lot about death. It has become a permanent part of the landscape of his childhood. This is another thing I cannot change. 

It means so much more than anything I can write here. The loss of my mother, the her-not-being-here, the no-more-letters-or-emails, the fact that her voice is only something I hear in my head. It has so much more weight than I can explain. It is woven throughout my days and nights. I think about it all the time. 

This lump in my throat, and the hot tears that spill. They are a part of my new normal. This missing. The terrible moment when I wake in the morning and remember that she is gone. Her final hours in the hospital, swollen, black and blue...and then seeing her lifeless, her body growing cold. It plays like a film in my mind every day. 

All a part of my new normal.

It's not that there wasn't beauty to be found in her death. Surrounded by loved ones! How many are so fortunate?

And it's not that there isn't beauty in my life. Just look at these photos. So much beauty indeed. 

But for now, it feels somehow separate from me. I laugh and smile, I play with my silly boy, and revel in his perfect face. I smooth his hair, put my face to his head and breath in his scent. I cook good meals, meet good friends. Talk about all the hundreds of things there are to talk about. 

But always, just beneath the surface, like a fine, lavender fog-colored layer that only I can see, right there, like a layer of second skin...there is that sadness. Always that sadness.

So the new normal is still settling in. I am still learning what it all means. 



  1. You are such a powerful, beautiful writer! These words perfectly describe the universal, yet ever so personal, experience of great loss. I am glad that you have the courage to send these words out into the world via your blog. Although you are suffering, you are also offering others who suffer loss an opportunity to feel less alone.

  2. I heard once a young girl talking about her dad's death and how she became aware after a while that to honour him and love him after he had gone it was ncessary to "let him go". I'm sure it doesn't happen immediatly or when you want it, this is a ripening process, and the veil of sadness you feel wrapping your thoughts is part of it. Let it be Dawn, do not resist to your right normal reaction to what happened to your life. Do not dramatize it try if you can to accept it, that's life, your little boy and your husband know you are normal as you are. The same you will think when it's its time. ciao Mada

  3. Your photos capture autumn's cold beauty. You are brave to write of your sorrow and missing your mother. My own mom died young, in 1971, and I still miss her and wish she had met my husband and seen her grandkids. I think our lives are very short, even living to be 90 or 100 is not many years. Heaven is a joyful place, that much is sure.

  4. Gorgeous photos as always. I love how you capture Gods work all around you. I'm asking Him to help you through this and to help you to live the new normal in your life.

    Blessings my friend,

  5. So good to see your lovely photographs, Dawn. Be extra good to yourself. The circle of life is so hard. May your new normal bring you peace. It's one of the toughest things in life. Take all the time you need. xoxo ♥

  6. You are absolutely right. I lost my Dad when I was 20. That was 40 years ago. I still miss him....I know he's with me, but I miss just seeing him, talking to him, hearing him, watching him. No one can take that sadness away from you; it is a part of you that will make you even more special as years go by. Trust me, that as awful as it is, it is a part of who you are..... and there are worse things, as I'm sure you know. It can always be much worse. Right now, your feelings are raw, and they are supposed to be. We all understand, but we also long to hear your words, see your photographs, and share your life in Austria. You are welcome to visit me in CO anytime.... Especially now, more than ever, love yourself Dawn. You need to be kind to yourself.... xoxo

  7. Beautiful words, packed with meaning. God bless you, Dawn - thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  8. I understand your sorrow as I lost my husband 2 years ago on Nov 10th, in the death and renewal time of fall. Even after 2 years I still have moments of sorrow and longing. It isn't as often but it does and will happen. I focus on the wonderful moments we shared and the great memories he gave me and it makes me smile.

  9. Dawn, I can relate to what you're going through. My mother and I were very close and when she passed away I felt lost. I just wrote a little about the loss of my parents on my blog. It's always harder around the holidays. I think of them every time I use their good silver, or other things that had been theirs. My mom died only 15 months after my dad, and though it was 13 years ago, I miss them very much. But, over time, the pain subsides and you begin to think of mostly happy memories. It does get easier, just remember that. Thinking of you,

  10. I know your sadness, but it will get better. When my Mom died I cried all the time, the first time I walked into a store at Christmas time I cried because I realized I'd never have another Christmas with her.
    But the sadness has faded and the love I had and have for her lives on. She'll always be a part of me.

  11. I am sorry for your loss. I like the thought of a "new normal", it is comforting to put somethings in perspective that way. Being a Cavalier owner (of two as well) I know they will do their best to comfort you.

  12. That is an extremely smart written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  13. I wanted to stop by and wish you a happy new year filled with peace and restoration.


  14. I built my house by the sea.
    Not on the sands, mind you;
    not on the shifting sand.
    And I built is of rock.
    A strong house
    by a strong sea.
    And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
    Good neighbors.
    Not that we spoke much.
    We met in silences.
    Respectful, keeping our distance,
    but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
    Always, the fence of sand our barrier,
    always, the sand between.
    And then one day,
    -and I still don’t know how it happened
    the sea came.
    Without warning.
    Without welcome, even
    Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like
    less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
    Slow, but coming.
    Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
    And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
    And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
    And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
    That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
    Well-acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
    And you give your house for a coral castle,
    And you learn to breathe underwater. by Carol Bieleck

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