It’s been ten months without my daughter. Ten months, ten days, ten hours, it doesn’t matter it still feels the same. I am a shell of the person I used to be. I am a burn victim, skin grafted and moving through every minute always feeling pain. I navigate my days like walking through broken glass. People ask what I am doing fun for the weekend or what I did last weekend every Friday and then Monday. At work, I function best when I am insanely busy. When I am the charge nurse for the day, I run around putting out fires. As soon as I hit the stairs to go home, my grief hits me in the face like a slingshot.
My days off are filled with the overwhelming need to get things done for my family with limited ability to get the needed things done. I feel crippled by my grief. The time goes by on the clock and I am lucky to have crossed something off my to-do list. I dread the domestic chores of shopping and cooking that I have never minded most of my life. I spend most of my days off now alone. I reach out as best I can, most of my support group moving on to the needs of their own lives and their own issues. It is understandable that my blanket and safety net cannot surround me forever. I have to still move forward, though it’s like moving through cement. I have stopped making plans, I move forward day by day, moment by moment.
I move through these days doing the things that I have been doing for the last ten months. I see the grief counselor bi-weekly, I write, I sit and make art that feels meaningful, I talk in my online groups. I visit her grave, her bench, I walk alone or with a friend, if someone is available to walk with me.
I try and do all the things a mother still should do for my children still here. Whatever they need, the birthdays, the holidays, the sporting events. I do all of these things like the shell of the person I used to be like I’ve aged ten years in ten months. I buy things I used to make, cut corners where I can because I don’t have the physical or mental energy to do everything I used to do.
I try and find purpose in helping others, in giving, serving, and in my mind, it helps my daughter’s legacy go on when I find ways to do so. My free time filled up with looking for ways to find meaning. Many days I find myself laying on her closet floor. I let my other children see me heal but I don’t always want them seeing me falling apart. The tears intermittently flowing daily. I sometimes wonder if God counts every tear, he must know I have filled up multiple bathtubs by now.
Over the last ten months, I have had moments of feeling contentment. I have had moments where I did not feel the grief strong-arming me. I can count the moments such as kayaking in Tahoe as a glided across the water, lying in Mexico in the sun with my husband, laughing with my oldest daughter at a comedy show, watching my daughter’s playoff soccer game, and a few other moments. Moments that in the past that has brought me joy, sometimes bring me joy and sorrow together, like watching my oldest walk across the graduation stage, knowing my daughter in heaven should have followed in her footsteps a year later.
The holidays are here and my daughter loved making Christmas cookies, seeing the Christmas ships and Zoo lights, make crafts and shop. I am navigating dodging the things that trigger my grief, trying to create new traditions while still making myself do the things that are still really important to them. I am walking in uncharted territory, trying to give my living children memories and holidays to remember, while grieving what I have lost.