Currently, I am reading a book which speaks to me like no other since Devastation Day. It is taking me forever to get through it because a) I have lost my ability to read a book normally — no seriously, grief has overtaken that part of my brain, so I typically listen to audio versions and b) every chapter in this book makes me pause and think or leads to a compassionate cry.
This book makes me feel understood which is a blessing as I continue to exist feeling mostly misunderstood. This book gives me hope that my faith, which seems to have betrayed me by ignoring my prayers and stealing my daughter, will once again return. This book makes me feel less alone. Grief is so lonely.
Rare Bird, eloquently written by Anna Whiston-Donaldson, speaks to my broken heart and fractured mind. Anna lost her 12-year-old beautiful son, Jack, in a tragic accident, which left her dealing with many of life’s questions and issues which as a grieving mother are now part of my every day challenges. I have discussed the power of this book with two other grieving moms because I know we are all searching for “something” on the other side of our own individual Devastation Day.
Yesterday was my last work day this week. I confess there are no words to describe how relieved I was to get away from the Happy Thanksgiving exchanges and from listening to everyone’s plans. My reality is I cannot deal with this type of innocent chatter nor do I want to share how heavy my heart is as they ask about my thanksgiving day plans.
My best interaction this week happened during a birthday lunch for one of my best friends where we exchanged Thanksgiving recipes. No in-depth chatter about “families”, kids’ ages, grief or anything deep. Just good old-fashioned generic conversation. Hallelujah for that brief reprieve from the normal lunchtime chatter. I felt a small victory in being able to survive a lunch unscathed. In hindsight, it seems I rarely survive any conversation without some innocent comment filtering through which explodes my fragile spot.
I was so relieved to shed my fake chirpy work facade that I could have skipped out of that building last night. Despite working among very kind people, no one truly knows the triggers I deal with every single day and how difficult it is to stuff my grief while I am at my job. Five days of just being able to grieve freely without analysis, observation or judgment is sort of a holiday, I guess. Pathetic that it has come to this.
How sad is it that my goal while I am off from work for the next 5 days is to finish a book. So when someone asks me what are my plans for the holiday, do I answer honestly? Do I admit how difficult it is for me to finish a book with my shocked brain which obviously hasn’t received the memo that I should be all better by now? Should I also tell them how I desperately need these 5 days to try to heal from the damage caused leading up to another lonely holiday without Amy? I may not to be able to easily read a book yet, but oh I can just about read their thoughts … get over yourself, woman, it’s been almost 16 months … Life goes on; you have other children and loved ones. As if I don’t already know. Just for the record, I adore my kids and loved ones on both sides of the veil. Your reminders are still irritating as well as insulting.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. We have had large gatherings as well as small ones. We have set ovens on fire, had gravy snafus, cooked the turkey with the hidden giblets bag, or forgot to turn the oven off or on as part of our family memories. However, my most precious constant was having my loved ones at our table, including Amy and my mother-in-law each and every year for almost half of my life. The very thought of another year without them has me sobbing as I write this now. Many others have empty chairs at their table too but I can only speak about my own table.
In my heart I do want others to enjoy their holiday time with their families but there are days when I am not strong enough to hear about your loved ones all being home for the holiday as I face my empty chairs. Yet, I know everyone has an invisible life wound and triggers which awaken their pain, but losing a child is unlike any of the painful life wounds I also carry.
As I sometimes try to pump myself up to a normal level and try to fit into the world as I once knew it, I am constantly reminded that I do not fit in. Sometimes I wonder if I should be exiled to the land of broken hearts until I am better able to once again co-exist here. Because existing here means watching the stark contrast between our worlds now and dealing with words with a broken filter. Regardless of the intention to help or whether your words come from a place of compassion, charity or utter ignorance, those words still have the power to destroy a moment of peace so I am afraid to engage.
I know I complain a lot but this is my designated dumping grief pot so I put it all on this blog. However, my compassion never ends for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. When I light my candle for Amy, I will pray for everyone who knows this pain and lives with this invisible wound of grief and longing.
God bless the brave ones who fumbled for something to say to acknowledge how difficult another holiday would be without Amy. Thank you! But please stop telling me to “try” to have a good Thanksgiving. I am currently “trying” every day the moment my feet hit the ground and I talk myself into getting out of bed.
This week I looked into the eyes of a few people who totally get me and accept the not so improved me. Your unconditional love and acceptance of the not so better version of me warms my heart. You do deeds to remember my daughter which make me want to weep with gratitude. You listen and allow my tears. I include you when I count my blessings. Thank you.
Remembering Amy and all of the empty chairs and broken hearts on Thanksgiving and every day.