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.