I recently read that sometimes during the grieving process we bury ourselves with things to help us from remembering our loved ones are gone. While we know they are we are distracted with activities or something big to preoccupy our minds and try to help fill the void we have in our hearts. I thought about this…a lot – it is us in the last year. Since her passing we have declined buying a home, looked for a home, designed a home, bought land, built a home, moved in, went on vacation and planned for a party to celebrate her day and our new beginning. But at the end of the day, when it is finally quiet – the emptiness, the void – it will still be there.
I have had a million and one blog posts I’ve thought about in my head when I’m driving, laying in bed, getting ready in the morning or going through the routines that cause me to stop and think – but I don’t. I don’t because writing down my thoughts make them real and real means it is a constant reminder she is gone. So I think about what I want to write but I don’t want to make it anymore real than it already is.
If I had to go back and remember this first year I’d say the first two months were like walking in this really thick fog. I wasn’t sure what was up ahead of me and I didn’t much care. I also certainly couldn’t see what was behind me. I felt like I was walking with my hands out in front of me just trying to navigate taking each day as it came. I could only see what was right in front of me and I simply tried to just move forward concentrating on nothing else but one foot in front of each other.
Months three reminded me of walking out of the fog and finally being able to see and feel everything. That was truly what it felt like because the pain was unbearable. I cried a lot. I would cry mostly during the day when the sunshine would come through my windows and I would wonder why. Why her? Why us? Why now? My husband and I also were on different grieving cycles. He had cried mostly after her death and now me 3 months later. He thought I needed help, he wasn’t happy with us and I had to explain that my timeline for grieving wasn’t like his and he needed to understand we would be ok but each of us needed to grieve on our time, in our own way. We walked out of that storm but it was rocky for awhile.
The many months we were building our house my grief was sporadic. If people would ask about our building I would share it was the perfect diversion we both needed at the time – and it was. Being type A individuals we needed to take hold of something and grab it and be challenged by it. And we were challenged – building is not for the weak. But neither was a special needs child, so building a house was a cake walk compared to that. We faced what I refer to as “stupid stresses” – picking out flooring, color of the carpet, where outlets would be placed, cabinet styles – all within a certain budget. Stresses not the less but stupid in comparison to what we had been through. When we weren’t in the thick of decision making it was quiet and we sadly remembered why all of this came to be.
We made it through a first Christmas…barely. We sobbed and sobbed that day remembering who was gone from our world. As imperfect as our life was with her special needs we had created our own perfect world. Letters, cards and gifts were opened and tears fell on them as we both saw the amazing impact she had on the lives of others around us. We were amazed, proud, and encouraged but yet very sad. As much as that helped us through the day and helped us better understand her purpose here on earth we missed her deeply. We were so glad to have that holiday over. Our first major holiday she wasn’t here.
Her first birthday came and we struggled and fought the weeks before. I could tell Tom was struggling but the only way he knew how to deal with it was by being angry and pissed off at the world. I let him have this time. I would tear up when speaking about her birthday to many so I tried to focus on our party. It was hard for me not to be emotional – I remember her being born, just like all my other children looking into their eyes and the beauty I felt from creating this little person and looking forward to all the years ahead.
The 1 year mark is coming up. I’ve been calling it an ‘angelversary’ but that even sounds “nice” to me and none of this is nice. Although almost daily I remember the day she passed, the emotions, the words, the faces of those around us…that is THE day I get to live yearly reliving it all. There should be no such day for your child. Like her birthday there have been weeks, if not months, of anxiety over this date. Last year when she passed and I was in this fog state I told everyone that the holiday she actually passed on, Mother’s Day, won’t be sad. It was her message to me that I had done my job and her job here was done as well. She was baptized on Mother’s Day in 2007 and she died and went to heaven on Mother’s Day, 2014 at the age of 7.
But, looking back now, while I believe all that…part of me wonders what was in my head those days. I really thought she was sending me this message, that her death meant something good for me. Was my fog that thick I couldn’t see? My daughter died on what should be to me is a day celebrating all your children around you. Even if there are no gifts, just having them with me, smiling, laughing and enjoying our day together is enough. But this year, it won’t be enough. Nothing about it will be enough.
I would like to hide underneath my covers in my bed on Mother’s Day. Truly when I envision the day, I see myself curled up in my dark bedroom watching endless reruns of CSI, Law and Order or Castle. Me hiding from that day. Me hiding from her absence. I envision people tip toeing around the house saying “this is what mom wants, she wants to be left alone.” But, the other side of me, the side ever so grateful for my two children left wants to see their smiles and count on them to warm my heart. They have no idea of the depths of this pain nor should they see it on a day we should all be together. So, the plan is to drag myself out of bed, head to church, hear her name and try not to cry. Try not to feel like I want to vomit just like I do just thinking about it. To smile with my boys so they realize there is life beyond death.
The age old saying is “time heals all wounds.” I can’t say that holds true in losing a child in my case. Especially this first year. Every once in awhile when the fog lifts and you stop hiding you realize what has happened. Because when you come out from the busyness of your day you realize that what your trying to avoid facing is right there, smack in front of your face. There is no escaping it, no trying to mask with other distractions. Those distractions soon fade and your still left with the pain you never addressed in the first place. I’m painfully aware and worried this will be sooner than later for us.
Her death has also changed me, changed us. In fact, it has changed any one of us involved who had a stake in my sweet girl. Ask any relative, good friend and they’ll tell you how her leaving this earth has changed them. And something in your life that puts death smack dab in front of you should change you. It should humble you.
I now have too many fears since she left us. I worry more about the people I love. Sickness get me rattled, hearing about cancer, someone declining rapidly – it all bothers me now. I know now how nothing is guaranteed and it can end any second. I can’t bear to lose anyone close to me right now.
Mother’s Day and May 11th will come and go and we will survive, just like we have every day since. Some day we’ll come out of hiding behind our busy life and it will hit what actually happened. Tears will fall, hearts will still feel empty. And that’s ok….because…
“There are still days the pain outweighs the joy….and I’m ok with that. You see she was once my joy, and my grief is because of my love for her. In denying my pain, I’d be denying my love.”