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The Healing Power of Ribbons

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I should really be asleep.  Like REALLY be asleep. As in, I know tomorrow is going to be an emotionally draining, tearfully painful exercise in grief and strength and I need to be resting to prepare for it.  In 8 hours I need to walk into a funeral home and hug a friend who is allowing friends and family to say goodbye to a child that will never be gone from her heart.

Will she want to scream not to say goodbye but hold it inside behind a sad smile?  Another friend who had to let go of her child’s physical body was firm in her belief that it wasn’t goodbye, her words were “We’ll see you soon.”

Jimmy’s mom, Christy, honored me and touched my heart by asking if she could use one of my posts for the service?  I would like to say I was gracious and poised at her request.  I think we all know I started bawling like a baby and blubbered on the phone, forcing this sweet friend to reassure ME!  Oh yeah, I’m a rock.

I burned off many layers of the skin on my fingertips during the ribbon making ceremony.  A group of us will get together before a child’s funeral and make ribbons to be worn at the service.  I will never forget my first ribbon-making event. I cried so many tears during that day, I’m sure each ribbon smelled a little salty.  That was also the day I found out I am miserable with a glue gun.

At that funeral so many months ago, I hugged my friend and whispered in her ear, “There is literally a little piece of me in each of these ribbons. Pieces of my charred flesh are all over the place.” She laughed.  Standing in front of her child’s casket, broken by the loss, this amazing woman hugged me back and just laughed.

I am no better with a glue gun now than I was then.  And I’ve been through this process too many times since then.  Red ribbons, gold ribbons, ladybugs, butterflies,  soccer balls, they are beautiful and sad gifts.  I could make these ribbons in my sleep. Too much practice.

Yet, I am thankful for the time spent gluing, cutting, sharing, hugging, understanding and laughing. These are the times when we start the healing process, when we bind ourselves together to be a unified support for our friends.

8 Comments on “The Healing Power of Ribbons”

  1. #1 always home and uncool
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Been there. Stay strong. Drunkards like me need solid leaning posts like you.

    always home and uncools last blog post..Wake the Kids and Call the Neighbors! House Party Goin’ On!

  2. #2 Dawn
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 6:35 am

    What to say? You’ll get through it. You always do – but far too many times now. You’ll help each other and all be rocks for one another and, no doubt, some of you will stay stronger than others. But none of that really matters does it.
    You wrote wonderful words about Jimmy and I’m sure his Mum couldn’t ask for more of a friend than you right now. Thinking and praying for you all today.
    PS. Thank you for the emails. Your words mean a lot.

  3. #3 Izzy
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    God…my insanity, which I apologize for not warning you about prior to befriending you, seems absolutely unimportant in the face of what you’re doing today and what you deal with every day. Forgive me for wallowing in my crazy when so many have it so much harder. Love and support to you and your friend’s family

    Izzys last blog post..Better

  4. #4 Lisa
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    From that mom whom loved the fact that you gave your skin to make those wonderful ribbons. They were beautiful and even more special because I knew that they were made out of the love that you had for Hannah. I loved the ribbons that you and the mommies made. They really do mean a lot to me… I still have two of them. You might see it as not being strong, but Anissa a tear can say many things… for one that you love that child so much and two that you love your firend so much that you will stand by them in the hardest of times. You are a great friend to all of us and a wonderful support system.

  5. #5 Evon Mease
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    All I know to say to this is HUGS and I am praying for all the broken hearts involved!

    I only rarely get to meet any of the families of the kids I pray for….and yet I cry my eyes out every time. I don’t know if I could be strong enough if I was able to meet them and spend time with them.

    Love and prayers for you Anissa!


  6. #6 Stacy
    on Jul 26th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    It is probably funny that someone whose family is struggling through this fight can offer support to someone else. Like I said before, I am Lindsey Reichert’s teacher. We always had this unspoken bond being siblings of children with cancer. But today I lost that bond. Thank the Lord, I never lost my sister. When I saw Lindsey today she came to me and Christy said “has she let you go yet?” We all laughed, but I just pray that the Lord will let me know what she is feeling so that I can continue to be a source of strength for them., OK…I know I am going on, but for some reason, I feel like you can listen..
    Again, May God Bless you daughter!
    Stacy Cervone

  7. #7 Tropic of Mom
    on Jul 28th, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Weep with those who weep, as they say. And you go beyond that with ribbons. Very touching.

    Tropic of Moms last blog post..My weekend freakout at the museum

  8. #8 debutaunt
    on Jul 28th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    The ribbons thing just really reminds me of that movie “Like Water for Chocolate.” Maybe it’s because I just read about Heaven’s chocolate cake and your sacrificial tears/flesh.

    I’ve lost many friends these past few years, but I could never bring myself to attend even one funeral. I was no good at them before I thought I’d die, but now, I doubt I could hang.

    I’m glad I followed the path on twitter to get to your blog. I fully dig your style.

    (I was dx with ALL in Oct 2005, stem cell transplant in Feb 2006 & so far so good on the remission front)