I’ve been away from here for a while now. By “here”, I don’t just mean my blog. I mean my grief too. For all my big talk about how I was not going to avoid or hide it from anyone, myself included, I feel like that is what I have done the last few months. To be honest, the place we moved is so nice, and we are doing so well, and are so happy, that I think I simply didn’t want any sadness to intrude upon it.
And maybe that’s okay. Maybe I’m at a point in this life that I don’t need to deal with it so often, and there is just less of it to deal with. I suppose deep down I knew all along that this is where I would get to. I was adamant about trudging through the pits of my despair early on, so it wouldn’t take as long to climb back out. Nevertheless, it is almost as scary to admit how good I’m doing now, as it was to admit how bad I was doing then. Because I was so “in your face” about how I was never going to let go of Eliana or her memory, I’m sensitive now to even the appearance that I’m now doing so.
The truth is, life does (except for the most tragic of the bereaved) go on. We may not like it. We may fight it. We may scream and curse and weep. But it does about as much good as trying to stop the wind. The rest of the world keeps right on going as though we never lost our children, and our own lives keep right on plugging along too, whether we want them to or not.
I figured that some people who follow my story were probably curious about what we did on the one year anniversary of Eliana’s death. I have heard and read so many beautiful things that parents have done on those days. I wish I could say that I have an equally beautiful story to share. Instead, I’ll share the truth.
I have a yahoo group to notify people of events done in memory of Eliana. I asked the people on it to each light a candle at the time of her death, and to take a picture of it for me, which I could then post on her memorial. I had just moved out of state and was all alone on this day, and it felt like a way to connect with people who love us, despite how far away we were. I wanted to spend a quiet day at home, and light our candles at the same time.
We ended up spending most of the day doing errands. At an hour before the time the candles were to be lit, do you know where I was? Sitting, contemplating, crying, talking, or getting ready? No, I was at Home Depot. It was one of those trips that you think will only take a few minutes. At twenty minutes ’til I was really starting to get stressed out. At fifteen ’til I told my husband I didn’t care what we were doing, we could do it later.
We got to our house with five minutes to spare. I grabbed some of the things from her cabinet, laid them out on our buffet, and lit her candle. Over the next half hour or so, we added more things, cut some fresh roses for bouquets, the girls drew pictures, and we lit more candles. Our little grouping got quite large, and ended up being really pretty. We sat and talked about her, recalled funny and sweet memories, and I spent time on her memorial crying. It ended up being an okay day.
But still, the fact that I almost missed it really upset me. How could I almost miss such an important moment for whatever it was we were doing at Home Depot? I decided that day that I was not going to write about it. How embarrassing! And how pitiful compared to the other things I’ve done in her memory that I am rather proud to have done. Ugh, I don’t want to admit that not only did I not have the time or energy to do some grand gesture, but that I barely managed to achieve a meager one.
A few days ago I changed my mind. When I started this blog, I did so with the hope that baring my soul would perhaps help other grieving parents by letting them know they are not alone, and possibly open the eyes of those who have not experienced the death of a child. Above all else, I wanted it to be REAL. Well, what could be more real than the fact that, despite it being the anniversary of our daughter’s death, this was the only day my husband had off work, and there were things that had to be done and just couldn’t be put off? I’m not willing to sugar coat my real life now any more than I was willing to sugar coat my raw grief then.
It’s good that we can put some things on hold temporarily in order to deal with the excruciating work of grief. I think it’s good to throw ourselves into the pit if it will help facilitate our eventual climb back out. But it’s also good that real life gets in the way after a while. There are still dishes that need to be washed, yards that need to be mowed, and errands that need to be run. Real life forces us to start living again, even if shallowly at first.
So there it is: what we did that day, and really, what we’ve been doing since you last heard from me. Living life-some happy, some sad, a lot of average. I was wrong about how I’ve been dealing with my grief. I haven’t been avoiding it. It has simply changed shape and I didn’t recognize it. I haven’t let her go. It just doesn’t hurt as bad to hold on. Welcome back to the real life of a real bereaved mom.