Yesterday I was talking with a good friend. We were talking about grief and I was consoling her. You see, her best friend since College just died. This friend was a sister to her and the loss is tremendous. Compound that with the fact that she is still new in her grief from her daughter dying – it is just a lot. I was telling her how sorry I was for her loss. I gave her sympathy as best I could, knowing that there is nothing I could do or say to help her. There is nothing I can do or say because grief is so lonely.
I know many parents who have lost a child. My husband lost the same child I did. We went through hell together, yet it is so individual. I am not him, I don’t know how he feels, I don’t know what he feels. I don’t know the intensity of his pain or grief. I only know how I feel. I know that I dwell for days before Emma’s Angel Day. It never fails that the anticipation leading up to it is almost worse than the day. I borderline shut down…I snap at everyone, I don’t want to do anything. I can’t cry because, well I can’t even find time to pee without anyone bugging me, how in the world can I cry? So sadly, that comes out in anger. We internalize so much and take our paths of grief so differently.
I express myself through words. I need to write. I need to get it out there, say how I’m feeling – even if no one is reading. I don’t write for anyone other than myself. While I know that you are here reading either because you love me and my family, you heard about me, or you are just curious to see what I will say about Emma today…I don’t write for you. It is all for me today.
And even with all of those who love me, all of those who send emails, texts, Facebook messages, Tweets and comments on my posts, grief is so lonely and isolating. It is something that only I can do. It is in my head and my heart. I am the only one who knows what it feels like for me to miss Emma. I am the only one who knows how much I wish she were here.
As we drove home from the hospital in the back of my sister-in-law’s friends car, I remember wondering why the sky was so bright. Why were people still driving on the interstate? Didn’t they know what had just happened? Why is everyone going on with life the same as always? Don’t they know my world just stopped?
In the hours, days and weeks following her death, I would cling to Jeremy. I would scream, cry, beg, plead, pray, bargain…whatever I thought it would take to get her to come back. I just knew the Coroner would call and tell us there had been a mistake, she was awake and we needed to come get her. I woke from very restless sleep always searching for her. She slept next to me, so when she wasn’t there I was so confused as to where she could have gone. Jeremy would remind me and the screaming, crying, begging, pleading, bargaining would begin again.
I was so very vocal about my grief, my pain, my anguish. I didn’t know any other way to handle it. She was my world, my everything. And when she left, my world completely crumbled around me. I needed people to know what the world was missing by her not being here. I needed everyone to know that the best part of me was gone. That I was more than what they saw, that I wasn’t a newlywed pregnant for the first time. That I was pregnant for the SECOND time, that my first baby was so beautiful and perfect and gone.
In the years that have followed, everyone has gone back to their lives. We have picked up the pieces of our shattered family and tried to put it back together. While it looks complete to all who see it from the outside, we know where the cracks are. We know where the hole in the picture is. I have internalized so much of my grief and drawn into myself further and further when it comes to my baby girl.
As the day approaches I realize what I am feeling. I feel so incredibly lonely for my girl. I miss her. I haven’t been to her grave in over a year. Jeremy and the kids haven’t been there in 18 months. Libby keeps asking to please go to the cemetery to visit Emma. I hate that we can’t.
I miss what we would have had. I so wish that she had been able to wear the clothes we bought for her that day. I regret she never saw the changing leaves, felt the brisk autumn air, saw snow, built a snowman, had a birthday, learned to walk, learned to talk, went to preschool, went to kindergarten, rode a bike, had a best friend, played with her siblings. There is so much we have all missed out on without her here.
Today I will cry. I will snuggle my kids and then I will put on the face I always do and take my children to meet their teachers. I will shove my grief and my sadness back into the little spot where it can be so I can function and not let anyone know. I will put on my brave face and be kind, loving and gracious to all I see. I will keep it all inside like I always do.
But while I do that, I will be thinking of her. And feeling that hole in my heart only Emma can fill.
For more about Emma and how to help those who have lost a child, please read these posts.