Hello, old familiar enemy. That spiraling out of control mind game is back again. Did it ever really leave? Or have I become so good at busying myself with nonsense that I learn to ignore it for longer?
I think they call it grief. I call it absolute hell.
Messing with me, my sleep, my concentration. I am full of things to say – full of rants and angry foot stomps and curse words. I could scream. SCREAM at anyone, anything. But nothing helps. Not a damn thing helps ease this pain and I feel like I’m drowning or suffocating and try as they might (and they do try) no one can save me. And worse still, everyone offers and we are SO LOVED. And yet I’ve never, ever felt so alone. I feel like we all just bump into each other in the darkness, trying save each other but the real truth is that everyone just has to watch me drown because they cannot help. I am numb to most of life and only feel the searing hole burning inside my chest where my heart used to be.
My little girl would have graduated from preschool this week. She would have proudly stood and gotten her certificate among her friends…the very first friends she ever made on her own. Only now, she’s been gone longer than she was a student there. Her little coat hook was lovingly made “permanent” by her class teachers and her memorial garden is set to be dedicated soon. Only…we’re the only ones who know. When the school doors close today, all that’s left of Kate’s time as a honey bear are the memories. See, that’s how the other parents must feel too – but their kids get to move on to make new memories. Mine doesn’t. Mine is stuck there – forever a preschooler. Forever four. Years from now, they’ll wonder “why all the foxes?” No one but a select handful will know of the girl for whom this garden is named. Next years’ parents won’t know who Kate was or why a few teachers look like they’re trying to hold back a tear when their new class learns “This Little Light of Mine.” Kate’s classmates will go on to make kindergarten friends. They are young…they won’t remember her. The Drainsville Dragons will never know her.
Katie doesn’t get to go to summer camp. She won’t get to enjoy her first summer learning how to swim in her own community pool. She’ll never get to chase the ice cream man down the street and she won’t get to work out those legs some more…running and playing and learning to tackle the rock wall of her very own swing set. It sits and collects leaves and pollen now. Taunting me from the kitchen window. It was her last birthday gift, after all.
She will never learn to tie her shoe. She’ll never have a sleep over or go camping with her daddy.. She won’t learn to ride a bike or to play soccer. She’ll never learn to read, write a sentence or tell me what she wants to be when she grows up.
No Finding Dory. No family vacation. No birthday girl on June 5th.
And this? This is just my stream of consciousness for today. The last HOUR. These are just the thoughts I thought as my eyes opened this morning and I steeled my heart to get out of bed. How can anyone survive this? How can anyone find good from this? How can anyone live through this pain and come out the other end having learned something worthy? Because I’ve heard from my baby and I know she is okay. I know she feels better and I know she is with us. I know she plays with my hair at night and messes with my jewelry. I know she hears me and I know she KNOWS she is loved and missed.
But THAT. DOESN’T. HELP. Because the “Dear God WHY” and “Good Lord, HOW”s that consume my mind at 3am are all I can see through my tears. The weight of this pain on my shoulders and the air that I carry rather than her sweet self in my left arm is what I feel. The reflection of a lost woman who used to have it all is what I see in the mirror. The pain of the same loss of his dear Kit Kat, plus the loss of his once-was-wife is what I see in my husband’s eyes when he looks at me.
Her smile a memory. Her voice a whisper. The lives we planned and prayed for…over. Now…what?