When the lights go out in your life and you find yourself tossed overboard by a tragedy which legend has it will take 7-9 years to process, where do you go in the meantime?
My child is dead. Months went by before I was able to use the words “dead” or “died.” Passed away sounded so much softer. Death was so final and even now I am not prepared for the finality of my child’s life here.
Everything suddenly changes. Death drapes the world in black, turns off the music and suddenly you become an alien. My Indian name would be: Woman Without Youngest Child. The days all turn into the same day and the world continues to turn without Amy. How is that possible?
They say Amy is in a better place and there was a plan. Robotically I nod while thinking how the hell do you know and what makes you think if I was privy to the plan that it would make the absence of my daughter any easier.
No one in this world loved me the way Amy loved me. That is a fact. Amy was my voice of reason. She was fiercely loyal to her “momma” and I to her. I have lost so much.
By the end of each day, I am battered and confused. While everyone is encouraging me to drink lots of water, eat right, exercise and sleep well, the notion that I can do these things is almost laughable. I am so dehydrated from crying, that I would have to drink a small lake to rehydrate myself after almost two years of crying. Eat well — what a joke. Food has totally lost its appeal and the only time I am hungry is when I am watching the Food Network channel. Exercise? My entire body hurts. I sometimes wonder if I have fibromyalgia. Restful sleep rarely happens. My child has died. Try falling asleep with that fact hanging over you before you close your eyes.
Last week I was in the middle of cleaning the living room windows when all of a sudden I heard a rumble similar to thunder followed by the loudest crash. A noise unlike any I have ever heard. Immediately I worried all of the shelves in my pantry had come crashing down again but a quick assessment of that room reassured me so the mystery continued. I glanced out of the back patio door to discover one of the old trees in the middle of the cul-de-sac where my neighbors take their dogs to do their business had come crashing down. Children ride their bikes around that same circle. By now a group of neighbors were gathered outside and as I approached a neighbor looked at me and said: that’s what termites will do. The entire tree was hollowed out.
Two thoughts occurred to me. First, in the early hours of a beautiful summer afternoon, it is a miracle that no one got hurt! Miracles. Now that we have not been granted one, that is not a word that holds the same meaning. Yet, I was so grateful that a beautiful day similar to August 4, 2013, did not become a new devastation day for one of my neighbors and no one had to live with unanswered prayers.
The second thought that occurred to me as I looked at the hollow tree and the power of those tiny insects is that old sturdy tree reminded me of grief and myself. Losing Amy has in a way hollowed out my faith despite my sturdy roots and who I was when my life was complete. How long before I collapse and crash? Or maybe I already have. Years had granted that old tree strong sturdy roots just like my life prior to devastation day had me standing relatively sturdy and strong. But the power of infestation of those termites is similar to the power of loss. Regardless of our roots or foundation, there are devastations which are more than we can handle and can bring us down.
Today I watched as they took down the 3 surrounding trees too. Those trees had probably spent many years growing and thriving together but one crash resulted in the loss of four trees. Again, I could not help but compare this to my grief and the way the death of my child has affected everything all around me.
It remains impossible for me to be the voice of hope today. Blame it on whatever you choose. Even I find myself fighting the urge to say what others want to hear, but honesty doesn’t work that way. Devastation has a voice all of its own. You don’t get the right to judge or evaluate unless you have stood in my shoes and walked down my path. According to 7-9 years forecast for processing the death of a child, I still have 5-7 years to go so cut me a break. But hey, maybe I will be granted a miracle and be reset sooner. It is not as if I haven’t been following the grief instruction manual to lean into my grief. Whatever! It takes your heart as long as it takes.
I still miss my daughter and everything she brought to my life. Always remembering Amy.