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I’m drowning again. That’s the horrible thing about living in these uncharted waters. They are totally unpredictable. The surface will be calm for a couple days. I’ll bob along, thinking I’m handling everything pretty well. I might even venture to take a little swim, try to move away from this spot where I seem to be permanently tethered, like some sort of pitiful human buoy.

Then BOOM. The thunder crack is so loud it feels like my head is going to split open. I know what’s coming and I cringe. The storm is building inside my mind, inside my heart, but no one else can see it or feel it but me.

The lightning strikes, electrifying everything around me-my relationship with my husband, my friends, my daughters, strangers. My body feels like it’s on fire, burning with all the raw emotion that losing a child brings. The current racing through me doesn’t hurt just me. It’s ready to leap to anyone I come in contact with. I’m charged with pain and couldn’t contain it even if I tried.

The clouds start rolling in, covering any light I thought I was starting to see. They build and build until I can’t see anything else, only my anger and sorrow and grief.

The rain starts, if you can dare to call this downpour by so gentle a word. It stings at first, thousands of tiny pinpricks of pain, all the memories of her life and death. It starts raining harder, all the despair pouring out, burning my eyes, but freezing my soul. It seems it couldn’t possibly get worse, but it does. The tears won’t stop. The flood is covering everything, washing away all the broken scraps from the shipwreck of my old life, my old self. I have nothing left to cling to.

The waves begin to crash. I struggle to stay afloat, but they keep pulling me under. They toss me back and forth, pulling me, pushing me. I gasp for air, and am only choked by the sea for my efforts. I can’t breathe, can’t think. I’m drowning, and there is no one around who can save me.

I begin to think how much easier it would be to give in to this sea, to just quit fighting it and let it take me. Would I float down, down, peacefully to the bottom? Would I be able to see her face again, there in the depths, far away from the storm raging on the surface? Would she be there waiting for me?

But, for better or worse, the human body, the human spirit, won’t give up without a fight. The primitive takes over and drags me back up to the air. The storm has once again exhausted itself and the waters have calmed. A single, tiny, blinding shaft of light forces its way through the clouds. It hurts. I don’t want to look. The thought of living once again in the light makes me ache almost as much as trying to live through the storms. Why should I get to experience the sunshine when she never will?

My battered body once again bobs gently in the waters. I know that someday, somehow, a long time from now, the sea will finally be done with me. It will wash me up onto the shore, and I will have to learn to walk again on the land.

I will have to deal with the people who live there, the ones who have never been tossed into the ocean, never lived through its furies. They are as foreign to me now as I am to them. How could they possibly understand when they’ve only watched from the water’s edge? How will they help but recoil from this broken figure dripping with anguish and regret? Will we even be able to understand each other’s language anymore, when they speak of hope, and I speak of hopelessness?

Maybe someday I will be able to sit in the sand again and watch the storm without it crushing my soul in the waves. Maybe someday the rains will fall softly again, and I’ll be able to think of her with a smile. Maybe someday I’ll be able to see the beauty again, when I’m not swallowed up by the suffocating grayness of the clouds. Maybe someday I will be able to take the wreckage of my loss, and build it into something new, something worthwhile, something meaningful. Maybe. Someday. But for now I must go on, swimming in my sea of grief.

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