It’s been just over six months since our daughter, Cora, died and it has been weeks since I have cried. Weeks since I’ve been aware of carrying the grief around on my shoulders. I’ve been ridiculously busy without a moment to spare for grieving. Although I knew it would eventually catch up to me again – that is the thing about grief, it comes in waves – I refused to think about it. Greg always tells me to go with the flow and enjoy the times when I feel almost normal because the pain and the tears will find us eventually, probably for the rest of our lives. True that!
Last night I went to bed in a reasonably happy state of mind. I had a great practice with the derby ladies at our new, awesometastical location, went out for a nice dinner with my guy and we laughed…a lot, and then we came home and venue on the couch and watched undercover boss – a show guaranteed to make anyone feel happy. We were lying in bed with Juno, scratching his belly and laughing about how much he makes us laugh every single day and Greg said, “The only thing that could make this moment more perfect would be if Cora was here with us.” I agreed and, strangely enough, it didn’t make me sad to hear him say that. I mean, she is here, isn’t she. She’s on the mantle in a beautiful pink urn and I’m positive she checks in on us from time to time. I went to sleep feeling almost content.
I woke up at 4 a.m. and the moment I opened my eyes, I was flooded by visions of the night Cora died. I kept seeing her, over and over and over again, while the doctor and nurse took her off the ventilator and I looked down at her as she died and then slowly began to get colder and colder in my arms. I watched, as though I was watching a movie, as her skin started to turn purple as levitity set in and I remembered, as though it just happened, how Greg took her out of my arms and into his own and held her to his chest and sobbed for ten minutes before he stood up, walked her over to her incubator, set her down, kissed her and said goodbye.
I didn’t cry at all as I remembered this and re-lived it and I thought to myself, Hmm…That’s a good start.
20 minutes later, after I’d had all that I could take of reliving Cora’s death, I tried a little meditation to focus my mind on something else. I concentrated on my breathing and listened to my breath for 10 minutes and finally fell back to sleep, only to wake up again 20 minutes later.
This time, my mind shifted to later on the same night, about two hours after Cora had died. Greg and I were back in my hospital room and we lay on my bed, snuggled up together, and we both cried for hours, knowing that the pathologist was performing her autopsy at that very moment. We didn’t even speak, just cried a tsunami’s worth of tears and neither of us slept a wink even though we were both far beyond the point of exhaustion.
Laying in bed this morning and remembering that feeling of complete hopelessness and how neither of us could find any comfort in anything, those elusive tears finally caught up to me after weeks of build up. Usually when grief catches up with me, I end up in a sobbing heap. This time, though, my tears fell silently for close to an hour before they finally ran out and, feeling drained and peaceful, I turned over and fell back into sleep again.
I woke up at 8 a.m. feeling sad, but also calm and refreshed. As I sat drinking my coffee, I realized that I have reached what our grief counselor likes to call “The Turning Point”. That point when a parent who has lost a child finally begins to move into the acceptance stage of grief – where memories no longer paralyze us and the pain no longer seems heavy enough to buckle our knees. The point where our shoulders have become so strong that carrying around the pain becomes akin to wearing a familiar and heavy winter coat that we’ll never take off, but hardly notice most of the time.
I thought I would never get to this point, but here I am, once again surprising myself. Perhaps six months from now, I’ll feel as though that heavy winter jacket has morphed into a spring windbreaker and I’ll feel genuinely happy again, without that constant underlying sadness permeating my soul. Time can change people in so many ways.
Have a good Monday my friends. I wish you all enough…