Can you believe I don’t know how to answer that question still after nearly 10 months. It still feels like a blatant lie if I say OK. Although that is the best thing and most expected response to the common greeting. It is just to a bereaved parent there is so much more to that question. Do you want to spill your guts out and open your heart to everyone??? No. However, I have cracked to total strangers and some have responded with the deer in the headlight look and others have grabbed right on to me and given me a hug. Do you want people to know how you REALLY are doing? yes and no. Do most people REALLY want to know how you are doing? NO. It is just a simple greeting, a common hello that people say and in my previous life, I said it too. Now that question slightly paralyzes me while my brain and body fight for the correct response. You see, I live in a socially awkward body that I no longer recognize. I haven’t figured out how to best live in this new body of mine but I have found solace in my family, a few friends and my home. The casual onlookers of my life may see that I am doing well or looking “better”. As the saying goes, “Never judge a book by it’s cover”. For those that know me well and my children, they have heard me say these words or similar ones so many times.
Let me tell you each day is different and I am learning to Live this life I did not choose like a baby learning to walk— It’s Awkward and Difficult. Some days are full of bumps, bruises and many tears and other days I feel like I CAN do this: Today marks 10 months of missing my Ellery. Here is how I am doing today and pretty much what my last 10 months have been like without my little girl:
Today I can feel the overwhelming weight upon my chest. The suffocating feeling of every breath I take not being able to get enough oxygen. I have now picked up a nervous tick and I grind on my teeth as though I am a beaver trying to cut down a tree. For awhile the months and months of daily and nightly panic attacks had subsided, but now they are back visiting me like a nagging persistent telemarketer you just want out of your life. I again wake up in the middle of the night to check on my husband to see if he is alive. When I touch his shirtless body and touch his chilly skin it brings me right back to the nightmare of holding my daughter’s lifeless body in my arm. It sickens me right back to the moment.
I am realizing as the weather is warming up it is triggering so much emotion. Ellery was present with me 1 year ago, running laughing, dancing, crying, yelling, playing. It is amazing what the mind is capable of. I still want to pinch myself to see if I can wake up from this awfulness, but no such luck. This IS my life, this is my situation and there is NOTHING I can do about it. My daughter is in Heaven and I will never hold her again. I will never see her go to Kindergarten, prom, college, get married or have a baby. You know not being able to see these hopes, dreams and aspirations come to fruition is terrible but what is honestly the worst for me is missing my Ellery. I MISS EVERYTHING we shared for 2 years, 3 months and 26 days. My body aches and yearns for EVERYTHING I had with Ellery. I miss hearing that innocent beautiful voice saying “I luv you”. I miss her screeching “weebee ON” or “children songs”. I miss when she would eat something and say “de-yishish”. Now in our household if someone says something is “de-yishish” that is the utmost compliment, a 10++++ food! I miss her having to get out of her crib 15 times a night to go potty knowing that we would take her. I miss her sitting on the toilet saying “I’m poopin” or running around giggle saying, “I tooted”. I miss the amazement when she would see a “bubberfly” or her screams when she would see a spider. Oh, I miss when she wouldn’t see me for 5 minutes and then I would walk up the stairs or walk across the park and she would run to me yelling “momeeee” like I had been gone for months. I miss the hugs that were pure love. I miss her smell and all of her tiny body parts. I miss her hair, her curly hair.
My heart breaks all over again when my oldest daughter says I will never get to see what Ellery’s hair looks like when she gets older or she wishes she could spin her again. My heart breaks when my oldest daughter wants to babysit a 2 year old little blonde girl because she misses her sister so much. My heart breaks when my son says with his eyes welling with tear that it has been so long since he has seen Ellery and that he misses her. It breaks my heart when my youngest says I wish I could play barbies and dress up with Ellery. It breaks my heart watching my kids suffer the loss of their sibling. It breaks my heart seeing my husband broken and I can’t do a thing about it. I breaks my heart seeing my mom and dad grieving the loss of their granddaughter while having to witness their own daughter go though such a nightmare. Although my heart feels like it has been ripped from my chest and torn into a million pieces, I have Hope and Faith. I have hope for a future filled with Joy amongst my sadness. I have Faith that I will be reunited with my sweet little Ellery someday.
So just remember, it is OK and a good thing to sincerely ask a bereaved parent how they are doing, (it is way better than avoiding them like they have a plague). However, that question may cause a mental conundrum, no fault of yours, it just is how it is. So a simple hi or hello is a great choice too. Also, if a bereaved mama starts crying when you speak to her, you did NOT make her sad. She is sad. You did not remind her that she has lost her child, she thinks of her flesh and blood ALL the time. Saying the child’s name and acknowledging his or her existence is a huge GIFT. A mama will never forget and it will never not hurt but the pain of her loss may lesson over time (at least I hope it does).