Runaway Grief.

Living close to a livestock auction, sometimes we witness farm animals zipping through our backyard as if running for their lives!  The fugitives make a chaotic run for the hills or greener pastures as an energetic long-legged farm boy zips around fences, rock piles or backyards to catch the livestock.  Personally, I’ve witnessed pigs, cows, horses, chickens–all sorts on the lamb *ahem*.  In early August 2014 a fluffy little critter was discovered hiding out in the grass when my husband was weedwhacking the edges of our small yard.  A sweet little tan & white Guinea pig.  No one was chasing after this furball.  This escapee was alone and hidden.

We decided to claim the Guinea pig as our adopted pet. A proper cage and watering unit was borrowed from a close friend for Phoebe/Honey.  You see, the children promptly named it both Honey and Phoebe.  My daughter despised the name Phoebe for no good reason.  It’s a wonderfully classic name! However, to this day if you call her a Phoebe–as in her brother teasing, “you’re such a Phoebe!”–she will vehemently erupt to deny that as if it were a terrible insult.

The wounded Guinea pig was coaxed out from below our honeysuckle bush with some tempting banana chunks for which it made adorable squeals.  I carried it upstairs to carefully bathe it with gentle soap in our tub, then dried the fluffy thing with a bath towel and put salve on the areas where the weedwhacker had given it a close shave.

Fussing over this Guinea pig was therapy for my grief-stricken heart.  I had something small and needy to direct my nurturing instinct towards.  One particular night on the front porch I cuddled it in my lap as I rocked back & forth on the rocking chair.  It eased the pain of loss.  It’s little chest rising and falling in a warm coat of its own tan and white fluff.

Although I am eternally grateful for each of my little ones, the death of an unborn child hurt to my bones, and I had lost hope, compounded by multiple losses earlier in the summer.  It had begun just 3 months earlier as our family said farewell to our 90-year old grandfather who passed away over Memorial Day weekend; an appropriate send off for a WWII veteran.  A week later in early June we put down our ailing chocolate lab, Macleod, the dog my husband had before we even met.  That goofy, loyal, allergy-ridden pup that was Frank’s companion for over a decade.  Later in June my dear older friend, Charlotte, passed away after a long battle with COPD. I miss her praising God through her struggle to breathe-she was an inspiration.  Then, tragically my cherished pregnancy ended at 10 weeks, and I had to have D & E at the end of July.  That summer royally messed me up.

After just 2 or 3 days of pampering her to heal, I discovered Phoebe/Honey lying on her side in the bedding of her cage, gasping with fecal matter struggling to exit her.  I panicked!  With a quick and anxious search for any vet that would see a Guinea pig, I finally reached someone on the telephone.  The kids & I piled in the minivan, with my “baby” lying on the passenger seat in a towel and drove towards the highway, with serious intent of saving the creature that had soothed me.  Then.  She died.  Half way up the mountain she stopped breathing altogether and went stiff.

That’s when my heart went stiff and numb from the pain of too many losses.  Too many goodbyes. Too close together.

The waters washed over me, and it was okay if I would drown.  The strength to tread water was almost altogether gone.  Under there, under the waves in this ocean of grief, it was quiet and peaceful in shades of blue-white shadows and light.  It was okay if I stayed under.

Coming up for air hurt my lungs.  The Lord gives and takes away, I repeated this aloud on the edge of my bed, shoulders slumped and head downcast while I looked at nothing.

Two friends recommended I see a doctor.  Zoloft was prescribed.

Having a degree in Therapeutic Recreation, I knew I needed something creative and fun to do with my hands to help the emotional healing process, along with prayer, medicine and the natural passing of time.  Signing up for a cake decorating class at our local Michael’s craft store would get me out of the house without children, allow me to blast music in the car for 40 minutes, and get me in a social setting to learn a new art form.  My husband wholeheartedly supported me.  After 2 months of classes in Fall 2014, I learned to decorate cakes like these for example:

Maybe it’s no surprise to you but fighting depression & then baking cakes all winter long makes you gain weight.  Did you know!?  And so by the Spring 2015, I had put on enough to weigh in at over 210 pounds.  Ouch.  In April, I decided to stop baking cakes for myself (but still did for selling cakes as a hobby).  Springtime weather was lifting my mood, the baby’s scheduled due date had passed, and I was ready to wean off my antidepressant.  You always want to let your doctor guide you through that if you are considering.  Anyways, a friend talked to me about a company called Plexus, and I began taking their supplements like a chromium drink, a probiotic and a magnesium.  It was part of my healing process.  The beginning of taking care of my body again.  I lost a few pounds, began walking outdoors again, and *surprise* I got pregnant again that month!  What a cherished gift from God, and she arrived 9 months later, healthy and strong.

Prior to my pregnancy, grief and sorrow had taken a heavy toll on me, and my waistline.  Then carrying my wished-for miracle baby for nine months also added to the work I have cut out for me in losing weight.

I will say that I have now lost all my baby-weight!  Every pound from the pregnancy is gone.  Yeah!  But I have not lost the depression weight yet.

New goal: shed my sadness pounds.  They no longer reflect my mood, and just how happy and grateful I am to be a mother once again.  I have bloomed from the fertile soil of grief up into the sunshine.  I am ready, with patience, gratitude, kindness and love.

Here’s to another day with so much to be thankful for.

And 45 pounds to lose.  One day at a time.

God bless you,


4 thoughts on “Runaway Grief.

  1. That’s sad, touching, truthful and raw, ashes into beauty…i am praising God for pulling you from the mirey clay, or cake batter, as it were…thank you Jess.

  2. Jessica, I knew all of this, but to read it so eloquently written from your heart to your hand is so heart rendering. Love you

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