Again?

Three days ago I posted a blog entry about happiness. I must have been having a good day. With this piece, you will see the path of grief for what it is . . . a non linear journey. As we travel along it’s path, we traipse back and forth over ground we’ve covered dozens of times. It can’t be helped. Nothing is ever healed completely.

Another blogger read my last piece, “When She Laughed”, and left me a comment on my site. She stated that she liked the fact that I was optimistic in what I’d written about happiness. In a reply, I was careful to state that I didn’t want her, or anyone else to think I started my grieving feeling this way. Instead, I started it mad and sad and angry and jealous and bitter. Very little happiness or optimism was involved. I am always fearful that someone who is struggling may think somehow I am doing it right and they are doing it wrong. I don’t ever want to add more weight to an already heavy existence.

Especially, the feeling of failure.

But when I wrote that reply, yesterday, I was still having a good day. It was upbeat and light. I still felt happy. So many things are looking positive in my day to day life. Both of my boys are happy and doing well. There is a move in my future. My art, my writing. I’ve made big decisions that I feel confident in. A handful of people have told me that they are thrilled to see my eyes sparkle again. “You’re so happy!” they’ve commented to me.

Then today dawned cold and rainy and grey. And, magical because of a wedding happening an ocean away. I am not a royal watcher. I didn’t wake up extra early, bake scones, brew tea, don a whimsical hat, and settle in to be a part of the history making nuptials. I honestly don’t care enough to go out of my way to watch an American become part of the British royal family.

Yet, when the highlights played across the screen this evening I watched a few short minutes of the affair. What stuck with me was not the dress or guests. It wasn’t the fact that an actress from the USA became a duchess in England with the words “I do”. Or that so much of what transpired was breaking from tradition. None of that. What caught me off guard was the look on the groom’s face as he watched the woman he loved draw closer to the altar. His face softened when he caught sight of her. He appeared to be utterly mesmerized and completely in love with his bride.

All I could think about is the fact that my daughter will never have the chance to be looked at in that manner. And it is fucking heartbreaking to me that this (and so many other experiences) were stolen from her by someone who was irresponsible. By someone who decided drinking and driving was his right. By a young man who thought a boozy Saturday night took precedence over the safety of anyone else.

As easy as that . . . the happiness evaporated. I felt as if a balloon had deflated because of the piercing truth of my daughter’s death. Because of the enormity of the years, and experiences, she’s lost.

I’m moving nearer the lake. Who the hell cares?? My art seems to be taking off, in some regards, but what’s the use in pursuing it? What I write . . . does it help me or anyone else? Who knows. Nothing major changed in my life today, yet, everything changed in my life today. Nothing else really matters because my child is dead.

The hopefulness skittered away as quickly, and completely, as a cloud passing over the sun and plunging the world into darkness. There and gone.

I guess I am trying to illustrate two points here:

Even after eleven years, and some very deep healing, I still experience the emotions I felt initially following Becca’s death. I am treading over ground I have covered many times before. No one is immune from these circular situations that spiral us back from where we’ve been. Expect it. It happens to all of us . . . no matter where we are in our grief journey.

We heal in little pieces. A stitch at a time. But, not all soul sutures are strong enough to withstand a violent blow. I am not going to chastise myself because I did a u-turn and headed back into a place that I’ve been so many times before. I have a right to be sad for my daughter’s losses. And, for my loss.

So, yes, I will have good days but I’ll also have shitty days. That’s my lot in life now. I imagine I will always vacillate between emotions and this will irritate some people. They want us to be better. To hurt less. And, as quickly as possible. That’s just not going to happen.

Feel happy when you can . . . and embrace the sadness when you can’t. These emotions are critical to healing. Sadness is necessary.

The featured image above is from this past Tuesday when Stacey and I were in Muskegon. A bunch of dandelions growing between a sidewalk and a wall. Joyfully yellow with their heads turned toward the sun. They are beautiful because they exist in a place that isn’t very hospitable to greenery. We exist in a condition that isn’t amenable to complete happiness.

But we can give it our best shot each day to find some happiness among the tears.

 

Reaching the Past

One of my best friends absolutely loves Dr. Who. To listen to her explain the show, and all its intricacies, is quite interesting.Especially, the concept of “wibbily wobbily timey wimey”. A non linear progression of time. I will admit, I have only watched one complete episode of the show, so my knowledge is extremely limited in anything other than that basic definition given above. However, it is a concept my soul felt to be true, before I heard this phrase. This, and alternate realities or dimensions. And yes, I do realize that if we could go forward and backward, changing anything would be prohibited. But, I bet there is not one bereaved mother who would not jump at the chance to go back and save her child.

Eleven years ago, in 2007, my daughter had five days to live. Five short days. Today was the last Tuesday she was alive. Tomorrow . . . the last Wednesday. Thursday, the last time we hugged each other. If I could travel back to that very moment, that Thursday afternoon, I would hold her and tell her not to leave. I would bring her inside my house, and explain to her what was going to happen, and keep her safe. I would change this history.

Her last Thursday, and Sunday in the early morning, are the two times I wrack my brain over trying to get back to. I feel, if I was smarter, and could figure out a way to travel back, I would be able to save her. I just have to learn HOW. This is where the Dr. Who concept of time comes into play.

Reaching back through 11 years, or roughly 4,105 days, seems a daunting feat. The distance is just too far. But, as the calendar days stack up on each other, I only have to find a way to reach through eleven days. Much more doable. I once wrote a poem about Becca now consisting of memories and love and stories. If I could push all of those aside, all the gauziness, then I could grab her and drag her here. She’d be flesh and bones and laughter and embraces. We’d marvel at just looking into each others eyes again. I’d hold her and tell her how the world has changed since she’s been gone. And, how much better it is with her back.

It just seems so easy, in theory. And plausible. But, I am too dumb to figure it out.

As these next five days pass, I will become increasingly anxious, and will beat myself up because I can’t figure it all out. Today, I was supposed to spend some time with a friend. I cancelled because my mind just couldn’t get itself out of the loop: she’s gone . . . but you can change it . . . no, she’s dead . . . but you can figure it out, think harder . . . keep trying.”
Thursday, around three, I’ll be near a full panic because another chance to save her has slipped through my fingers. I’ll be silently screaming: damn it damn it damn it!!!! I just need to get to that moment. Saturday night, into Sunday, will be the other time I am frantic. I’ve slept through the time she was killed, 2:20 a.m., a few times in the beginning. Now, it’s my sacred vigil to be aware in the moment my child was killed. I talk to her, I sing to her, I cry. I don’t want her dying moment to go unrecognized. I wasn’t there the first time. I wasn’t able to help her then. I need to be there every time, now. This one moment, the minute just before, is the absolute hardest for me. Because, I fail every year. Just like the first one.

Which circles back to my feeling responsible for her death. Just like all bereaved mothers do. I always apologize to her for not being able to keep her safe. I have wonderfully supportive friends who would be by my side if I asked them. However, it’s a space in which I need to be alone. Just me and my Becca.

It’s a part of my healing journey.

So, I go to bed on the 21st, with the grief as raw as it was that day. The ache to hold her, stronger. The emptiness, deeper. The need to have her next to me, fuller. I can feel all of these, stirring in my soul, becoming insistent. As I fall asleep, I’ll let the notion of time travel, go.

Until this time next year. When I know she is close.