Flailing

Fall has been a bit wonky.  I’ve been anticipating the end of the year coming for so many reasons.  I’ve never been one to really narrow in on a certain holiday, but this year, for some reason, I am legit feeling Christmas.  I don’t fully know why.  The past few months have been difficult and sadness and anxiety have been swirling around coming up in all of these weird ways.  Maybe Christmas is on my horizon because it feels nice and good and magical and calm.  Maybe because I haven’t felt like myself recently…or felt like I had much to offer or give.  Maybe because I can’t seem to focus and I’ve never felt that way in my entire life.

I thrive on to-do lists.  I love marking things off…preferably with a black Sharpie marker.  And since fall set in I feel like I cannot get anything done that actually needs to be done.  It feels as if I’m failing in a 1,617 different ways and my head takes me back to summer.  Summer meant something deep this year.  I told myself over and over again, “If we can just get through Leo’s surgery.  If we can just take him back home.”  I’m not sure what I thought would settle if all that happened, but I just knew I wasn’t sure I’d survive losing another child and it felt like if we could walk out of that hospital with our boy in our arms things would at least feel a little right.

Maybe I’m left feeling my way through the fact that Leo is home and thriving and working so hard and making so many gains and my heart still feels shaken to it’s core with Everett’s death.  I didn’t think a successful surgery for Leo would mean my pain from losing Everett would go away, but there was this massive goal ahead of us…a finish line we had not been able to cross with Everett…and I just had it in my head that something would shake out from crossing that line with Leo…maybe a change within my own self.

Summer felt simpler.  Harder is ways because summer holds such pivotal memories of Everett and us losing him, but we could easily escape a bit in the hot sun and cool waters.  We were more rested and there was this weird easiness and to the chaos of everyone being home together twenty-four hours a day.  There was routine within in the glory of absolutely no routine.  Now we’re in the midst of six kiddos in four different schools.  Three middle schoolers is not easy.  And not in a personal way.  They are fun and hilarious and we love the people they are turning into and love hearing about what all is going on at school and in their heads, but it’s hard to keep up with all that is placed on their middle school plates.  A large portion of the time I have no idea how to do their math homework and well, that makes it pretty hard to help them with their math homework. 🙂

Flailing is kind of my best descriptive word for myself in this season.  Like a straight up fish!  I get through a day and think, “What did I do today?!?!”  Time races and I feel left in it’s dust.  Unproductive.  Scattered.  Unable to figure out where exactly I am.  Emptied out.  And that feels hard to me.  Winter has owed money on her lunch account for two weeks now.  Like we get automated calls from her school and emails telling us her balance is now up to_____.  Last time I chose to listen to the voicemail or open the email it was like $4.80…her lunch is .40 cents a day. :).  Just this morning I finally sent in some cash because I could not physically will myself to our bank or a business establishment that would let me get cash back.  Or I’d forget when I was at a store that let’s you get cash back.  I just couldn’t.  I have officially begun dropping any plate…the smallest and the biggest, the nicest and the jankiest, the in perfect condition and the chipped, the dinner plate and the salad plate…no plate is off limits…I am fully capable of dropping any of them and watching them fall.

This year for Halloween 5 out of 6 kids used costumes we already had on hand from our dress-up drawer and bin or they borrowed supplies from their Aunt Jen to make their costume happen.  I bought Amon a $12 wolf mask and told him we’d figure out the rest of his costume at home.  New costumes for everyone…handmade or store bought…it didn’t matter…I just didn’t have it in me and I thanked them all for going with Mom’s current flow.

If I had to nail it down I think this is absolutely some form of depression.  Fall is hard because this was the beginning of our new normal without Everett.  This was when we started to see longtime relationships fizzle.  This is when the isolation and loneliness that so often come with losing a child began.  This is when we walked through all those first holidays without him.  This was the beginning of the slow realization to all the dreams that had been buried along with his little body.  This is the season of really hard things and even if my mind does not remember every single event, my body does.  My body has taken stock of the trauma and does not forget.  I believe I’ve walked through a lot of healing…it’s true…but I also know my body holds something sacred and immensely hard with Everett’s death and therefore a change in season can set me off in a different direction and course without my say.

This week I did a podcast with Taylor at the Speak Life Podcast…it will air in November…and I got to talk a lot about Everett and the day he died.  Before I even started talking about him I started to cry so when I spoke about some details pertaining to the day he died I absolutely sobbed my eyeballs out and I’m honestly not sure you’ll be able to understand a word I was saying.  It has been a bit since I’ve spoken to someone…outside of Josh Kelley…about that day and my feelings surrounding it.  So when it all came pouring out so did the relentless tears.  Afterwards I felt this deep sense of release…it was so nice to say his name to someone and share feelings from that day.  It also threw my day for a loop and I found myself binge listening to the Catlick Podcast while sewing 1000 fake leaves together to hang from the tree over Everett’s grave.  And by 1000 leaves, I literally mean 1000 leaves.  The things you can order on Amazon is for real!

We have not done therapy in a while because it got pretty complicated to A) Get to therapy B) Schedule a therapy time that worked for 7 humans and C) What we did while waiting on whoever was in therapy…sitting in a still car for long periods of time is hard on Leo.  So admittedly we’re really behind on therapy hours and do need them.  I’m a firm believer in EVERYONE NEEDING THERAPY.  Everyone!  My best friend Ashley…who is a therapist…is quick to remind me of this in a very kind way.  🙂  And she’s right.  I just wish services like these were more readily and easily made available to people…another soapbox…for another day…mental health and America.

I’m taking some steps to help combat all the wonkiness…lots and lots of steps…all the steps 🙂 and then sometimes I just sit with it.  Like this morning, after a sweet early 5am breakfast with friends, some sadness crept in so I took Everett’s colorful pumpkin we’d painted for him to his grave right after I dropped Leo off at school by myself.  We have plans to all go together tomorrow afternoon to hang his leaves, but I just needed to take his pumpkin alone.  Today.  So I did.

I’m breathing…like seriously, breathing.  Deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth.  It’s real.  And it helps.  Grace is probably my number one helper right now.  Lots and lots of grace for myself and offering up real words to others to help explain my off-ness when it involves them.  I sent one of Solomon’s teachers an email this week explaining briefly how chaotic the last few weeks had been and I apologized for still not sending in his supplies he needed for this particular class.  We sent them in this morning and I’m hoping she’ll extend some grace and love to all of us about it.  Sometimes remembering to buy and then actually going to the store to buy glue, graph paper and popsicles sticks is hard.

I mean, who hasn’t been there at some point in their lives?!?!?  Maybe not everyone, but my current life is in a season of always behind.  Always forgetting.  Always not enough.  Always feeling a bit more broken and scattered.  Always feeling at a loss.  And you know what, I can see it…I’ve recognized it…and I’m working on it.  Our best we have to offer can look so different based on one million reasons and factors and contributors.  And currently my best might not feel like my best, but it is just that…my best in my current state.  It’s what I’ve got and the world isn’t going to spin off it’s axis because of any of it.

So I might feel like I’m just flailing around like a fish out of water right now…thrashing and swinging from one moment to the next…just trying to survive…but eventually I’ll hit the water again.  I’ll catch my new rhythm and in the mean time, I’ll keep working and moving towards my waters edge.  I’ll get there.  I’m moving towards it.  And I’m asking for a little grace along the way.

14 Comments

  1. KarenRunkle says:


    You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.

  2. Wow. Just love this post. In my grief I feel like I am failing in all of the ways right now and what you have written is balm to my soul. I have permission to be not perfect, “the world is not going to spin off its axis because of any of it” – so perfect!
    Thank you x

  3. Flailing certainly does not mean failing. Flailing is 100% expected and means you’re living. I think a lot of us have been there-I certainly have been in a similar season for what feels like forever. I hope you’re offered grace every single day. You are brave, loved and amazing

  4. An unknown friend says:

    A baby eagle flails until its wings gain enough strength to soar.

  5. I love you. I’m so it’s so f’ing hard.

  6. I see you…and I’ll tread water beside you until you are ready to swim! Hugs always! ❤️

  7. Sending you love … lots and lots of it. You are amazing and your openness and raw feelings are always welcomed. Praying for you. ♥️

  8. Getting to the place where we can finally say, this is the season I’m in, it SUCKS, but hang in here with me guys, give me Grace, and getting counseling – (rather than struggling and fighting tooth and nail to try to claw our way out of it)- but like an acceptance that this is a season, leaning into God during this time, and riding the waves, and knowing you WILL pull through. Even if the tough days get really tough, you know that better days are coming and they’ll mix in more and more and start to outnumber the bad days. Give yourself permission to kill the mom guilt, and ask for grace from your people. It sounds like you’ve got it. I’ve see our family grow in compassion, understanding, and empathy when mommy’s mind cracked 2+ months ago! And the peace that came with accepting that it’s a season, it’s necessary for some reason, and God will bring us through. Just take it one day, one hour at a time momma. You’re doing amazing!!!! And by sharing, you’re encouraging SO MANY OTHERS!!!! Thank you for this.

  9. I can’t imagine your pain of losing Everett and can understand your body just going numb after all your family has been through. I’m sure you are still in shock and are just now dealing with your emotions and grief. Your family continues to be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being real, you are awesome in our eyes

  10. So appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I felt so scattered and lost at 2 years after my mom died. I knew grief but the inability to keep life straight and juggle all the balls just wasn’t in me. Trying to parent and keep everything going is no joke when your heart, body and spirit feel weighed down by unseen blankets!! Totally feel what you are feeling!! Praying for you!! Naming the season and each hard and feeling it as the feelings came sure helped.

  11. Laura,

    *Again* thank you for sharing your life with us. I have learned that floundering is OK. We have had some trials (nothing at all compared to yours) but it knocked us all off balance. It continued for a time and I had to remind myself that while technically everything was “OK”……we were still under a good amount of stress and that that was bound to have an affect on us.
    I have a good friend who is waiting for the results on the edge of something big. Hopefully it will all turn out OK but the possibilities are daunting. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to be a good friend. Like I just never learned it when I was young. I feel ill-equipped to help her if the news turns out to be bad. But I think about you and your friends…the ones who have stuck by you….even in the messiness….and how much it has meant to you…. and that’s going to be my playbook. I might never know the right words to say or the right thing to do…but I’ll stick it out with them. Thanks for helping me to know what is important.

  12. OH! And also this, “A large portion of the time I have no idea how to do their math homework and well, that makes it pretty hard to help them with their math homework.” TOTALLY get that….and sleeping with a napping child on a bed of laundry. TOTALLY.

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