Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spinach Scramble and a Scone

Someone said something very recently that I accepted as incredibly hurtful and dismissive. The result was a long drive in the dark and frequent phone calls to a few beautiful friends to soothe my soul.  I sobbed. And I sobbed. And I sobbed.  And I sobbed.

It's amazing how a single word with just the right inflection can transform a day. Especially when its directed toward someone you love. Especially when that someone is your child. And particularly, when that someone is your dead child.

I grappled with why- why do people say such things? How could someone be so hurtful to another? What would that person have to gain from wounding another person?

But the whys are always met with tinning silence.

This morning, residual feelings of pain bounced up and down in my gut. 

"I get to choose how I accept this," I said to myself.

Still, my intestines felt twisted and past hurtful comments, to which I'd long since said farewell, returned for an invited visit.  But I had no time for wallowing...and,

This morning, I moved my 21-year-old daughter into her new university dorm (note that my 18 year old should have been moving in with her, but she can't because she's dead).  

I arrived a little before the office opened so I went to a coffee shop near campus.  I stood in line ahead of a lovely family with a beautiful, perfect little girl with Down's Syndrome. And she was beautiful and perfect.  Quietly, I bought an anonymous gift card to pay for their breakfast. I sat outside and watched them eat.  They were grateful, I knew. 

This gorgeous little girl kept looking at me, waving and staring, and I wondered if she knew something that I didn't know.

Two decades ago, I probably wouldn't have done something like this. But in 1994, my daughter came into my life and she shattered my heart open, sending seedlings of love and compassion (often through the Kindness Project) into the world. They are not my seeds, they are hers. 

This is who my daughter is... Cheyenne Cacciatore, beloved child, precious daughter, always loved and always missed. As valuable now as she was then and as she will always be. As worthy of dignity and recognition as anyone, dead or alive. And this is her fruition.

Done in loving memory of my own beautiful and perfect girl...

She is my baby, my child.

She is not a "just".

I finished my tea. I smiled and walked to my car, and I cried.


Mary said...

Dear Joanne, This post and the sadness created in your heart by someone's insensitivity brought tears to my eyes...first for you and because in the past two years since my husband's death...I have driven those miles and cried those same tears over someone's remark. I am so sorry this happened. Your posting it may prevent it from happening to someone else or may make people think before they speak. I am so sorry for your loss and for your pain. Peace to your heart, Mary Friedel-Hunt

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

(((Mary)))) You are a beautiful human being, and I continue to think of the love you hold so close to your heart for your beloved husband... I too hope others consider their words, and open hearts...

Mary said...

And you are also a beautiful soul. I thank you for your comment and for remembering me. You and others dedicated to changing the way we deal with grief in this country are making a difference and you are part of the transformation that is underway. You are in my thoughts. Again I am so sorry that comment was so hurtful.

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

I'm constantly experiencing such intense longing to see my son and anguish that I will never see him again. Our children are our hearts and souls forever.

Bug Family said...

Dear Joanne,

I'm so so sorry for your hurt and the extremely insensitive comment that was made. Your strength is amazing and inspiring. I think the little girl somehow knew the kindness came from Cheyenne through you even without ever seeing or necessarily knowing of the RAOK card.

My heart goes out to you.

Love, MOJ

Tears in November said...

Dr. Joanne, I am so sorry that someone's insensitivity caused you this pain. To hurt you, of all people, you who are a voice and champion for those who face loss and feel they have no voice of their own. It hurts me. I have found that when others have no frame of reference for the pain of the losses someone has suffered, they can be quite insensitive and at times harsh. They just don't get it. But it still really is no excuse, I feel.
It was such a beautiful thing you did for the family at the coffee shop. And, I do think that the beautiful, perfect, little girl who continued to wave at you does know something... Angels do walk among us.


Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...


Just, thank you.

MissingMolly said...

I just recently found your blog and am a new reader so haven't previously commented.

First of all, I'm very sorry for the loss of your baby, Cheyenne.

I'm also so sorry that you've been injured by thoughtless words. I think most of us who have lost our babies have endured that additional cruelty. Our daughters matter, are deeply loved, and to minimize our losses is never okay.

My dearly loved baby had Down syndrome, too, and so your story held extra meaning for me. That girl at the coffee shop IS perfect, with her extra chromosome of awesomeness. As was my daughter. I wish she were alive right now.

Confessions of a Grieving Mother said...

Thank you for this post..I was just wounded this evening with a text message from a "friend". It helps to see I am not alone...Thank you

Kiri said...

What wonderful courage you have to keep turning pain into kindness, no matter how hard it is. Power and blessings to you.


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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