I somehow thought it would be easier to grieve as the years passed.
I feel I need a badge or something.
I’ve survived five years.
I’ve moved into the second stage grief club… that’s for the more experienced grief survivors. The ones who are asked and can give advice to the unfortunate newbies.
But at five years I’m still sad. I still miss her. The memories aren’t as fresh, but they are still there.
The other day, I sat with an elderly man, in his eighties, and we shared the usual small talk about ourselves and family. While pleasant enough, he was a man of few words. He didn’t often make eye contact and appeared to want to keep himself to himself. His answers brief and clipped.
As I gabbled on, to fill the awkward silences, as I tend to do, talking briskly about my children there came the inevitable time when I had to mention Abi. My daughter who died aged 12.
He looked right at me. He dropped his gaze again and ever so softly that I could barely hear revealed he too had a lost child. A child he hadn’t mentioned to that point. His child died around 35 years ago, aged just 17. The middle child.
My heart opened up to him then, my perspective changed, knowing he has lived not just five years but a lifetime of grieving.
I didn’t care about etiquette then. I gently laid my hand on his thin, frail hand and he looked at me again. With tears in my eyes for both of us, I said simply, “I’m so sorry.”
He continued to look at me, sightly stunned. A delayed reaction of a man who rarely mentions the child who died.
His grief and mine were very different. He went on to say they were advised at the time not to grieve forever, he felt his child wouldn’t want him to. Even so, the pain of childloss was still there and could be brought to the surface in a moment. From what he said of his other children, the impact was still felt, unsaid, the family forever scarred by loss.
I’m not over it. I’m living with it, and I suppose pretty well. I’m working, creating, homemaking. I’m still a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m still me but behind my eyes and in my heart is the small hole pierced by the sword of grief.
On special days, memorable days, I cry. The memories press into my present mind asking to be replayed. I start them, but then find it too much.
I miss her so, so much…
I miss the child her and the young adult her. I miss everything about her.
I remember it all. Her being alive, her dying, her being gone. I haven’t forgotten the sound of her voice, her quirky mannerisms, the infectious energy she seemed to radiate. I treasure those memories and hope, when I’m in my eighties, I will be able to talk about her the same way I do now.
I’d love to tell you that it gets better. It doesn’t, not really, but it gets a little easier with time. But just because this is part of you now, that’s no reason to give up, to succumb to the despair. Grief may be part of my story, but it’s not my whole story. I take comfort knowing she is safe, with Jesus, and also that Jesus is with me. So we can never truly be apart.