The calendar I was desperately trying to ignore screamed the news to me at 12:23 a.m. on August 4, 2015. Everyone was sleeping when I jolted out of bed, sobbing quietly as I made my way to the sofa in the beach house we had escaped to for this week. Much to my surprise, Bailey, our family healer, was stretched out comfortably on the floor in the hall which was so unusual since he never sleeps alone. Was he alone?
Since we arrived, I noticed he was content to sit alone in the living room too instead of claiming one of our laps. Another un-Bailey like behavior — especially in a strange place. Our family dog is rather neurotic. It is no wonder he has issues as I wonder whether this 12 lb dog of pure love did indeed sign up for the mega job of comforting a grieving family.
Finally a piece of cheese lured him from his cozy spot and had him snuggling up next to me as I cried and began to write a post on my blog as well as on all of my support groups reminding them all to please remember Amy. I even wrote on my Facebook page which I rarely do because engaging in social media remains weird for me.
As that awful August 4 continued on, I was comforted by many who did indeed remember my sweet girl. We burned a candle for Amy all day, toasted her as we do at every single meal and later released balloons on the beach with our personal messages as well as sending love to the many other loved ones who I have learned about through their parents.
During the weeks leading up to “that day” I started to crumble. I kept a running mantra in my mind reminding myself that the worst day had already happened, but my heart and mind had their own agenda. Flashbacks and death words kept jabbing me until it finally took me down to revisit the raw pain from the very earlier months.
What had become of my life? I wanted to throw up from the building pressure. I couldn’t put two words together. I was immobilized by the reality over and over again. That grief does ebb and flow and sometimes you do have to allow it to just beat you up before it releases you back to a better functioning state.
People’s tolerance for grief runs out quickly. No one knows but those who live it. During these past two years I have met many grievers who have found it necessary to retreat in order to survive. Personally, I have always been afraid to give into that inclination. People do need people as I continue to realize. Many have taken my absence and silence personally just as I have reacted to their sudden hiatus from my life. Even in the early weeks after Amy’s sudden death, people could not resist reminding me how I had changed. How awful to assess a shattered person who is already so self-conscious and feels like an alien. As I recall that now, I understand even more the need to retreat in order to survive.
Grieving the loss of someone you share the deepest loving bond with can be difficult to witness. People will twist and turn your reaction to your devastating loss into intentional wallowing. To quote Mr. “T”, “I pity the fool.” Yes, yes — ignorance is bliss. The reality is that while I will grieve Amy the rest of my life, I remain fully aware my sadness will indeed isolate me from many people from my past. It already has as they need to be in the mood to deal with me and only reach out to me on certain days. Out of obligation, I guess. The confusion lies here as I am not able to go in and out of the ring with them. You are either with me or you are not. And just to be clear, grievers require so little and are not contagious.
For the ones who have been here from the beginning and still standing with me, I hope you are part of my soul family and some day I can be a source of comfort to you as you have been to me. I know I have not always made it easy to ride this hurricane with me or witness me emerging on the other side of one of my deep grieving cycles. This is my reality. Complete happiness and peace are no longer happening in this lifetime. I accept that as my reality.
Yesterday I got stuck in a 2.5 hour traffic jam as I was 10 miles away from my destination approaching the bridge to this beach town. When I finally made it to the bridge, I noticed only one lane was smooth and functional while the lane next to it was being jack hammered. Suddenly it struck me that I am existing next to many in the ezpass lane while my lane is broken and shattered which makes it difficult to navigate. A contrast so stark I wanted to hug myself and acknowledge my own challenges as I face each day. My reality is that Amy is not coming back in the way I need her and I will never be able to drive in the ezpass lane again. I am not alone on this jack hammered road. There are those who travel here too — some ahead and some behind. It truly never ever ends. Tragedies are everywhere. There are those who will jump onto my road with me and even take me for a short ride with them on their ezpass lane but at the end of the day, Amy is not here. That is a lane changer.
Happiness is not a choice. I did not choose for my daughter to die or to become so sad. I enter each arena carrying the ramifications of out-of-order death. I am no longer complete. In my eyes, if you have all of your children living here, then you are winning at the game of life. However, I am still pushing myself to be the best possible broken version of myself and not drop out of the game.
Over time, my reality may have more bright spots. There is laughter and always love, but my road will never be the same without Amy. I am not immune to additional heartache. Life makes no promises. It can all change in a blink of an eye.
My reality is that even those I love have and still may intentionally walk away because I am not who I was before my daughter died. I am learning to mourn relationships that I miss but are forever changed. That mourning is nothing at all compared to mourning my Amy Marie.
Yesterday, I had an exchange with a young woman, who is my older daughter’s friend. Her family is in this awful “club” and she told me “all you can do now is cherish the memories and continue to love Amy.” This lovely compassionate woman is over 10 years ahead of me but she understands family tragedies.
My challenge remains living here without my youngest child’s physical presence. There is nothing normal about that so new normal will never be a consideration for me. Instead I am searching for a way to cope and survive. My search includes finding a way to make peace with my reality as best I can. But let me be clear, “getting over” Amy is not an option. That beautiful lovely child of mine will be with me forever.
Again, these are my thoughts of my own personal reality living here without my child. Trust me, I do not know the way so I am making no predictions based on my two-year nightmare.
All I know for sure is that love never ever dies and I am always remembering Amy with so much love.