For A Moment

I don’t think there is a bereaved mother that hasn’t bargained her way into the thought “I’ll be alright with never seeing my child again . . . if s/he can just be alive”. I did. In truth, I still do. Sounds silly, I know, but that is just the tip of the grief iceberg mental gymnastics we play with ourselves. Another piece of grieving that is exhausting. It’s really no surprise we always look like we need a good night’s sleep.

Shortly after Becca was killed I decided to attempt to go shopping by myself. You see, I didn’t venture out of the house alone very often. And when I did, it was to go to the lake shore to sit on the frozen beach. That day I’d decided to cook my family dinner and went to buy the ingredients. I rarely cooked in those first months, either. So this trip out was big.

After I’d finished gathering my groceries, I got into line to wait my turn. That’s when I saw the young woman a few people ahead of me. From behind, she looked exactly like my Becca. Or she looked enough like my daughter that my mind, desperate for it to be her, filled in the details. Either way, my breath caught in my chest and my heart raced. My mind screamed at me that it was her! Everyone else was wrong!! I had been right all along. My daughter was still alive . . . it had all been a huge mistake!

Then a small voice edged it’s way in between the rejoicing the rest of me was doing. “She’s dead,” it said, “you had her cremated, remember?”. All of a sudden I was listening to a debate between warring voices.

“That COULD be her!”

“But it isn’t.”

“Someone could have made a mistake . . . it was someone who looked like her.”

“You saw her body at the morgue.”

“I know, but maybe something has been fixed . . . and she’s back.”

“You know that’s crazy, right?”

I listened to the argument as I watched the girl shift her weight from one foot to the other. The way her ponytail swung. The big hoop earrings. Fidgeting impatiently while standing in line. Pure Becca. All of a sudden, it seemed the girl was going to turn around. I panicked. I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see her face. In my mind, she was my daughter. I could not have that illusion shattered just yet. Deep inside, I knew it couldn’t be her . . . but a part of me needed it to be.

I turned away and left my groceries in the store. I never saw her face.

In the quiet stillness in the dark of the night every bereaved mother whispers the prayer: I don’t need to see my child again, I promise I won’t, but please . . . please . . . please just let her/him be alive somewhere else. I will give up my life with my child in order for her/him to have one.

Thesre are moments when we see someone who resembles our child so closely our hearts leap with joy. We can’t help it, we don’t control it, it just happens. Like a flower instantly blooming into fullness . . . we are whole again. As quickly as our heart fills . . . it bottoms out and the hope and joy empties from it.

We would give anything for our child to be alive again. Our own happiness. Even our own life.

I'm a mother, artist, and writer. A decade ago I lost my daughter. Writing and painting heal me.

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