Since we lost our Cora, I float through each day, riding a constant tide of emotions and trying to keep my head above water. Some days, that water is glassy smooth and I bob along peacefully, enjoying the lull in the waves and allowing the soft, rhythmic lap of the water around me to stun my senses and leave me nicely numb. Other days, I’m constantly pummeled by a rush of watery rage and despair and sadness and, surprisingly, laughter. I fight my way to the surface of one emotion, only to be shoved down again by another – constantly struggling, gasping for air, wishing they would stop punishing my body and leaving both it and my mind bruised.
I never know what kind of day I’m waking up to (when I actually sleep enough to wake up, that is), but I’m finally getting used to the unknown, unpredictability of it all. I’ve ceased to wish for some stability in my life because it is obviously not going to come to me any time soon. Instead, I try to start my day without any expectations at all and let things come as they will.
Greg is different. He gets up every morning and tears out the door so he can lose himself in the day’s work. He comes home and keeps himself busy so his mind is occupied for as long as possible. Then he turns on the TV and tries to lose himself in laughter for a little while. If he’s lucky, he manages to avoid feeling for days at a time, but every few days the pain catches up with him.
Last night, I went out around 7 p.m. to do a photography job and, when I came back, Greg was hanging out with his friend Darrell. After Darrell left, I gave Greg a kiss and sat down at the computer to check my email. I turned off the computer and walked around the corner to see Greg, sitting on the couch with Cora’s urn in his lap, tears streaming down his face, staring blankly at the wall. The moment I sat down to hug him, he started sobbing.
There is nothing more heartbreaking for me, aside from watching our daughter die, than seeing her father cry his heart out. Greg is usually so strong – athletic, manly (sometimes too manly…), stubborn, proud, seemingly bulletproof – but Cora’s death has stolen that strength from him. Whereas he used to be almost dismissive of anything that evoked strong emotion, he now feels everything. He sometimes cries after he hangs out with his friends who have families, not because he’s jealous that they have kids (which is exactly how I feel these days), but because he’s so completely grateful that they don’t have to go through what we are going through. He says he wants to hug our friends’ kids tight because he is happy that they are so healthy and full of life.
Mostly, he tells me that he misses Cora and he feels so sad that he’ll never get to do all of the things he dreamed of doing with her. He’ll never get to soothe her when she cries. He’ll never get to snuggle her. He’ll never get to see her ride a bike or catch a fish or score a goal or fall in love. All he ever got to do was hold her one time when her brain was already dead and she wasn’t even really with us anymore. He feels ripped off. We both do. The hardest part is knowing that we are going to feel like this for a long time, maybe forever, and that nothing is going to change the fact that we’ll never get to watch her grow up.
It really sucks.