I miss and often long for those early days of grief. The ones when everyone understood that my world had ended. The ones where she was just here yesterday or last week. Or last month. The ones where her juice, milk and snacks were still in the refrigerator and her cups were in the dishwasher. The ones where the towels in her bathroom were still damp from the night before. Or where her books and toys lay out from when she last played.
I miss and often long for those days because I could still smell her and feel her physically in our home. Her laundry basket held clothes she’d just worn. When I slept, I still woke expecting to find her. Expecting that reality was actually a nightmare and my life WASN’T really turned upside down.
I miss and often long for the days when it was accepted, embraced and expected that I cry and wail in sounds my voice now only makes in the stillness of my mind or in the privacy of when I am alone. When all that was expected of me was to ache, mourn, speak of her in the present tense, wonder out loud how on God’s green Earth this happened? When putting on a show, getting “better” at this fake life or being asked, however gently, to “move forward” wasn’t even conceivable.
I miss when my world had just stopped turning and when it had stopped for everyone around me, too. When Kate’s name was on the lips, in the hearts and in the soft-spoken sound of prayers from those around us. I miss when the pain was so overwhelming, I just didn’t even bother to get off my knees.
Now? I am expected to stand. I am expected to fake it. I am expected to move forward. I am expected to be better. I am expected to smile at the thought of her before I cry at the thought of missing her. 3 and a half years later, I miss being understood to the point where I didn’t have to explain myself.
Time doesn’t move in a way I understand anymore. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to go back long, long before I had a grief secret to keep. Long before I understood what could, and ultimately did, actually happen. There isn’t a single part of me that doesn’t wish for that every day. But as the days and hours pass, I still find that I bargain with God. Myself. The Universe. For what, I don’t even understand anymore. When she lived, when she was here, when she was real…THAT is what’s starting to feel like a dream. I’m losing my memories of her and it’s happened so, so fast. Too fast. I’m starting to forget what it felt like to be mommy. I’m forgetting what it felt like to live in that world of family. It’s where I felt most at home. It’s where I felt the most myself. There, I am still mommy. There…is where she is.
But. My grief secret is that I’d also go back to when this loss and pain was fresh and new. Because there, Kate was as much a part of other people’s lives as she is mine. Because it was so raw, I could remember that life with such ease. Afterall, it was just yesterday. Last week. Last month. Because in this new world of normal that is anything but, walking around with my broken heart bleeding and oozing from my chest as a bereaved mother is the only place I feel naturally myself after the sun abruptly set on the life I once knew and cherished so deeply.