When she died I had a choice. I could give up or I could go forward. For a moment the choice was absolutely clear. When I was told that she was dead, in that moment, I could have followed her along directly. A leap off the building. A knife. The wall and my head. But then right away thoughts of family and friends flooded my brain. I had to be strong because this situation was already going to screw everything up forever and I couldn’t also double down and make it worse.
So for many, many months, not killing myself was the baseline I had established as “doing pretty good.” Plus, when you start there, getting out of bed is like successfully climbing Mt. Everest. I gave myself accolades for simply going outside for a little while. But those impulses kept growing, kept beating in my heart, kept pushing me forward. I learned to lie. “I’m ok”. I learned to breathe again. And yet I’m still not sure I can reconcile what my life should be versus what it is today, right here. Everything is always coming next, and it is the incredible human spirit that allows us to face the day and tell the lies and forge the hope we have no right to expect and yet we do.
I’m used to the lies by now. They are common and easy to say. I say them for the sake of other people, but also for myself. I have to lie so that I’m not always the one that sucks the air out of a room, even if that room is the entire outdoors on a glorious fall day and someone has questions about me, about my life, about how I’m doing. There is no point in ruining every idle conversation and friendly chatter with truth about my dead daughter, Everlee.
You’re welcome everyone that I have spared the honest recounting of my recent life. It is the absolute least I can do, and it cuts me with a slice of sadness every time I do it. Eight months since she died and it is still recent to me. Because it is not so much that time has healed my wounds as much as it is that the wounds themselves are the very nature, the very fabric, of my everyday existence. I miss Everlee as a matter of course, just like breathing, just like moving my body, like blinking, like the beat of my heart.
I am still amazed to have learned that a heart can remain beating when it feels like only dust and awful and the endless void inside. I am compelled to go forward, no matter the pain of my past. If anything, her lost life is a fuel for me to live twice as hard, twice as present, twice as calm as I ever would have before.
This weekend I celebrated my 28th birthday. (My birthday is actually next Monday, but for scheduling purposes I held my celebration this weekend). My birthday has always been my favourite day. I remember having to scale back my celebrations last year because I was beginning to get to that stage in pregnancy where going out just wasn’t a wise choice. I remember thinking at the time that maybe for my 28th birthday the baby, Everlee, could have her first sleepover to that we could have a party at the house once again.
How silly. I had no right to expect that to happen.
I was truly on the fence about whether I wanted to celebrate this year. It seems to me that I don’t have much to celebrate most days. But I had to push forward. I am so glad that I did. I am constantly reminded at every turn, that despite how incredibly tragic my life has been at this juncture, I have also been incredibly blessed with people who stand by me, people who will take the time to lift me up when I can barely life my head to look at the world. I had an amazing night. With amazing people.
Am I ok? No. I don’t know when I’ll be able to say “I’m ok” and mean it when people ask me how I am. But those little lies get me through that minute, that hour, that day. Convincing other people is easy. And maybe if I have enough of those little moments of good, soon I’ll start to believe the lies too. And maybe someday soon they’ll become my truth again.
Thank you everyone for making this weekend something truly special for me.
Rhonda, I could have written this very post 5 years ago. I actually think I did write about the ‘I’m ok’ response, and how it was a lie to get through encounters with people. You are not alone.
Sometimes now, ‘I’m ok’ is still a lie, but most of the time, now, I am ok… And, although I know it’s hard to believe, I’m happy. You will get there. It takes time, it doesn’t involve any forgetting.it is all about remembering and honouring your little girls life!
You wrote about the exact things I’ve been feeling lately. It’s been 7 months since my son was born still, and the “I’m ok” response, coupled with the feeling that living with this much pain shouldn’t even be possible. It’s not that I would do anything to harm myself, so much as I wish life would just simply end so that I wouldn’t have to wake up to facing each day, getting through the little moments that bring the pain rushing back. I still have days where getting out of bed is the baseline achievement for the day. It’s amazing how hard this is to explain to other people, but you aren’t alone, it seems a common refrain among loss moms.
I always say “hanging in there.” The choice of words is different but I feel exactly the same way. Sometimes it comes easy. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable and resentful that I have to say that. Sometimes I just want to be honest and say heartbroken, devestated, angry, hurt, depressed-and that there are no words in the human language that truly capture how I feel inside and how difficult it is to go on without my son. I’m completely on the same page with you and trying to go on day by day, minute by minute. My husband and I are also supported by some great people who love us. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed your birthday-mine is in February and I also feel unsure about celebrating. For now I just want to boycott all holidays, especially Christmas and all that surrounds it… but I’ll save that novel for my own blog (lol). Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with others-I appreciate it!