It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully lacking. -- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Autobiography (on his daughter, Susy Clemens' death)
Oh yes, Mr. Clemens, your words are timeless and spanned the decades from your heart to my shattered heart. Mr. and Mrs. Clemens were abroad when their daughter, Susy, died from meningitis; they never returned to their family home.
There is a weird grace mixed in with my inability to totally allow this saddest truth to settle into my soul. If only I could totally forget that day. I truly wish I could. There is nothing helpful about being re-traumatized as flashbacks continue to haunt me. Total acceptance is overrated.
Sadly, Mr. Clemens outlived 3 of his 4 children. Even now, I could weep fresh tears of empathy for this father.
For many, February 4, 2016 was just another day in paradise; just two days after the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow which supposedly indicates an early spring. For me, it was a day which unexpectantly ambushed me when I realized I had not seen Amy in two and one-half years. That realization rendered me sobbing from that place in my soul reserved for those of us who live with child loss. There is a secret trapped door embedded within each of us that leads to unimaginable pain which many will escape this lifetime without ever visiting. For those of us who frequent this place of utter devastation on the other side of this trapped door, some days will never ever be the same regardless of how many days have elapsed.
My heart and soul keep its own calendar. With the passage of time, am I better? No; just different. Different in a good way? Not always. While many emerge on the other side of this nightmare a better version of themself, I am not particularly a fan of what out-of-order death has done to me. While I realize it is understandable on some level how others find themselves gazing at the calendar which may give a false impression that surely I must be "better" by now, I am not. Instead, I am disenchanted and admit I continue to be afraid to trust life again since my comfort zone has been blown to smithereens.
As I struggled through this recent day of two and one-half years without Amy, I found myself still wondering what the heck happened to my life and how is it possible that time continues to march on without my child? Denial? Nope. Every day holds a reality check which slaps me in the face or tugs at my heart to remind me that my physical connection with my daughter is over in this lifetime. Yet to totally comprehend my youngest child's death is as Mr. Clemens' writes above -- mercifully lacking. My brain cannot process the finality.
Maybe if I were just a sketch like the one I have included above of a tearful woman, I could use an eraser to get rid of my tears and turn that frown upside down. I think I am grateful that I may never ever fully comprehend and process every detail of this new chapter in my life. Reality is overrated too. Some days will just never be the same.
Always remembering Amy.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at email@example.com.