When, exactly, is this supposed to start getting “easier?” Please don’t misunderstand and think I’m actually asking for you to attempt to answer that. Every book, every counselor, every grief blog I’ve read convinces me that everyone does this at their own pace. I get it. I also don’t want you to think that I truly believe it ever WILL get easier. Different, maybe, though I’m unsure how. Every day is different without her.
I’ve had smiles and laughs. I’ve had good evenings out with friends. I’ve enjoyed a cocktail or two. What I haven’t done is experience any of those things without pain and guilt. Her face immediately comes to mind after every laugh because I long to hear hers. I smile and wonder if my face looks different. It feels different. I’ve noticed that I’ve aged 20 years in less than 3 months. With every outing with friends, there is a sick feeling of knowing I don’t have to check my phone for texts from my mom about how dinner went, how bath time went and what time she went to bed. With every drive home, regardless of the time, I have nothing to rush home TO. I have yet to experience anything close to joy or happiness, though you might not realize that by looking at me. Two nights in a row we have had great dinners out with friends. But as soon as the car door closes behind us after parting ways, I feel like I have gravel in my eyes from exhaustion. I feel like the mask I wear to get through anything, even a lovely evening out, is made of stone. I go to bed every night with a headache from trying to keep upright all day and a burning sensation in my eyes.
I mention what I’ve read in every book, discussion with counselors and blogs I’ve poured over…they also taught me that it’s normal to feel like I don’t ever want to be okay. Well, thank God for that, because yes. 1,000 times yes. I don’t feel like I ever want to move on from the pain I’m in. How could I? Would Kate want me to be happy? I’m sure she would. Can I be happy without her? Simply stated…no.
Last night, as we drove home and I rubbed the gravel from my eyes, my husband said “there are no words to describe any of this – the emotions, the emptiness. None of it.” No matter how I try, I can’t convey what it feels like to cry…really, really CRY, every day for 82 days until my stomach hurts or how to explain to anyone what it feels like to have the ONE THING you’ve wanted your whole life just taken from you. And when that one thing is your child? How do you explain the emptiness? The dreaded days and hopes that you don’t wake up? But when someone asks “how are you doing?” you say, “I’m doing as best I can” or “one foot in front of the other.” I want to scream, “I am, yes, STILL AM, an absolute wreck!!” And she was so worth loving that I should feel this bad all the time! And feeling any other way feels like it is a betrayal to how much I love my daughter. I feel like if I stop begging for forgiveness over not being able to save her, it’s as if I’ve accepted the need for forgiveness. If I stop feeling this sad, I feel like I’m giving up on her. What, exactly, I don’t know. I know she’s not coming back, but the illogical and desperate side of me keeps thinking maybe she will…that this is all still a really bad dream.
I’ve only moved a few things of Kate’s since she passed. Each time I did, I was absolutely wracked with guilt and with pain over somehow “accepting” that she won’t need the spoons in our silverware drawer, so it’s ok to move them. Moving her little stool out of the bathroom in our basement was a huge wave of emotion – she hardly needed it anymore anyway, she was so tall but by getting rid of it NOW was like “and just as a nice, friendly reminder, self…she won’t be getting any taller ever again.” When will I ever gather the nerve to move her toys and books from our family room? Everything is right where she left it…exactly. And see…I don’t even WANT to. To me, it feels like a gut punch that says “we’ve moved on from you, Kate. We’ve found something better to go here. You don’t live here anymore and we’ve accepted that.” NO NO NO NO NO.
But when? I feel desperate. I feel crazy. I feel hollow. Numb. Lonely (so very, very lonely) and very near a breaking point I don’t even know how to anticipate. I already feel like I’m a shell of who I was. No clue who to be, how to be or how to live. Without my little girl.
When you watch videos just to hear her voice…and then find yourself counting how many days after Christmas she died…when gallons of milk at Target, cows in a pasture on a beautiful drive through the country and a laundry basket of the last three things your child would ever wear bring you to your knees…I know the time isn’t “now.”