Eleven Years Gone.

Mom and Emma3

How is it that time drags and flies at the same time? How is it possible that 11 years ago I held my sweet girl in my arms, nursed her, loved on her, changed her diaper, sang to her, and played with her? How is it possible it was 11 years ago?

It feels like yesterday, it feels like a lifetime ago.

I told someone the other day that it felt like a different life. And it really does. My life when she was here, and my life when she is gone.  Before and after. I know I am not the only grieving parent who feels this way. I think it is how it is anytime something traumatic happens. We section our lives into “before the big bad thing” and “after we are forever changed”.

I have tried to ignore it this year. Ignore August 23. Pretend like it would just be another day. I put it out of my mind. I have taken the kids to meet their teachers, drop off school supplies, been excited at all the right times. I have signed up for PTA events, got the girls into Girl Scouts, Seth into choir, and have done all the things I am supposed to do. I have laughed, I have read books, I have nursed my baby, gone to the gym, and pretended as if this week is just the same as every other.

But my body and soul know it is not. I am more tired than usual. I have much less patience with my fighting children. I am reaching for chocolate chips more often than I should. Despite my best efforts, I can’t hide the truth from myself. It is as if, on a molecular level, my body knows this is the time of year that hurts.

The August sun looks a certain way to me. The shadows are longer than they were a month ago. The oppressive heat, even the way the air smells…these are all clues to my aching heart.

She died on a Saturday. I went to Weight Watchers that morning. I don’t know that I can bring myself to go to my Weight Watchers meeting today. I don’t think I can do it. I know Zachary would be fine. I know that it is completely irrational for me to think that just because I did the same things today that I did on this day 11 years ago, the same outcome would happen. But I do.

Who says grief is rational anyway?

I just hate this. I hate that this is my reality. I cringe when I hear my children talk about how many kids they will have and Libby says, “I am going to have 6 kids too. I just hope my first baby doesn’t die”.  Punch to the gut.

Emma would be going into 6th grade this year. Middle School. She would have a locker, a best friend, boys that she liked. She would be singing songs I am sure I don’t know, have inside jokes with her siblings and friends. She would really be starting to have independence from me. She would want to be wearing makeup, playing sports, playing instruments, maybe even starting band. She would be entering puberty soon, and becoming a woman.

I watch other girls her age and I always wonder. What attributes would Emma have similar to those girls? How would she fit into our family? What would we laugh about? What would we fight about?

Sometimes I wonder if there is an alternate universe where I am living and my whole family is together. In that place, i don’t know what it is like to bury my baby. All I know is joy at having all my children together. I know what kind of big sister Emma would be. I know how Seth would have handled not being the oldest. All the questions I have in this life are not questions there, but just reality.

Today I will remember her. I will let myself cry. I will eat ice cream and cupcakes and not count any points. Today I will remember my girl, tell her siblings about her, and pray that she can feel of the deep love we have for her.


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