Keeping it Real

I try very hard to keep it pretty real here on this page; I write mostly because it’s my body’s way of physically releasing whatever is getting me down at the moment OR, less often, whatever is bringing me joy or comfort. I don’t ever write because I feel like I have to, but more because I feel like I NEED to.

The other day, someone remarked about how “well” I was doing in the wake of Kate’s death. That is SUCH a mixed bag of emotions for a bereaved parent to hear. On one hand, you’re silently patting yourself on the back for holding it together; for keeping the mask on successfully. For managing to get out of the house day after day without feeling AND appearing an absolute mess. On the other hand, though, you feel some sort of guilt. Like…WAIT! NO! I’m not okay! Don’t be fooled, I am a MESS! And you want them to KNOW you are a mess because you don’t want to play into the common thought that after whatever period of time THEY deem appropriate, you should really be over this now and moving on. NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, people. I’m here to tell you.

So, I was thinking about my weekend and I thought I would share the brutal honesty of what it’s like to be me. Hooray for me for faking it because reality? Reality is the saddest form of torture you can possibly imagine.

Friday night: home from work before the husband and I’m thinking about our plans for the weekend. We have a full weekend and I’m already apprehensive about whether I’ll be able to handle it. We both change clothes and lay on the couch silently…until it’s dinner time and we remind each other “oh, we have to eat.” He microwaves leftovers and I pour cereal. One bite in, I realize the milk has gone bad because we never go to the grocery story or have “real” food to feed ourselves. So, like a 15 year old, I microwave tortilla chips and shredded cheese and eat that for dinner. Two cocktails later, I’m ready for bed at 9:25. I cry myself to sleep after kissing her door and saying goodnight like I do every night.

Saturday morning: sometime about 1am I am awake. I have to go downstairs and turn the TV on to put myself back to sleep because if I don’t, my mind will wander to Kate’s last moments here with us and I will wake the husband with my sobs. I know this drill. It’s happened time and time again. I go downstairs to the couch and turn on Casino Royale, but end up crying anyway because our digital photo frame flips picture after picture of my beautiful girl in the dark. I am alone and I am so broken.

Saturday 9:30am: I head to Starbucks to meet up with a new (again) friend from high school who wants to help us with Kate’s Cause. We have a fantastic coffee date, chat and cry. We talk and talk and talk and when I get into my car, I cry because I’m NOT headed back home to my girl.

Saturday mid-day: I cancel our day plans for a friends’ birthday at a winery. Not because I don’t want to go. I’ve been planning on it and looking forward to it. But I am not feeling very strong and I know the kids will be there. And I just can’t. I tell husband and he looks relieved; I know he worried about the same. So now I’ve missed my friends’ birthday and I feel guilt. So I fall asleep on the couch and just block out the pain.

Saturday evening: we drag ourselves off the couch and go out for dinner. I choke on my margarita trying to avoid sobbing while we eat our dinner and a mom entertains her five year old out front while daddy pays. I have to excuse myself at the end of dinner because I’m crying outright at the table and people are looking. I’ve been sitting there thinking “Kate will never know the joy of getting together with her girlfriends over margaritas. We’ll never know if Kate would have loved Mexican food like we do…she never got to try it.” Husband says he’s been thinking the exact thing.

Saturday night: we go to a party at a friend’s house. We know no one really, so we sit with the few friends we do know. No one knows our story. No one knows we have a daughter who died. And I don’t want to talk to anyone because I don’t want to tell them, but I also want to scream at the top of my lungs: I have a baby who died and you should know about her!

Saturday middle of the night: repeat of Friday

Sunday 4am: wake up with an insanely high blood sugar; a product of grief and anxiety and stress. Sick to my stomach and nauseated. Text yet another friend to cancel plans for brunch that day because I simply feel too sick to do anything.

Sunday afternoon: have to leave Reston Town Center because of a full-blown panic attack that starts at my knees and creeps up my neck. Hot flash, sweating from my scalp down and hyperventilating. All I did was look at a family with kids. That was it. Head home, sleep on the couch some more. Text with another bereaved momma friend; we share knowing hugs and love via text across the miles knowing we can’t REALLY help each other, desperate as we are to do so. Spent the late afternoon making a gold wreath for my daughter’s grave site because Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is coming.

Sunday night: Realize I have 6 texts, 4 emails and 2 important Facebook messages to reply to but haven’t. Ignore the fact that we still have no food to eat, I’m two cocktails in again and dreading the week ahead because it’s this. All over again. Day after day.

And that is why I scoff inside when anyone thinks I’m doing well. I am miserable. I am dead inside. What about this is a life?

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