Wandering the Desert for A Year
Death Valley Sand Dunes – Public Domain
The memories of a child lost so soon after birth are the definition of bittersweet. A birthday is supposedly important, a time to celebrate. Everyone else seems to think so. People have sent us birthday cards, notes, texts, things to let us know they are thinking about us. They are all very kind and sweet.
a day to remember
However, everyday for the last year has been a day of remembrance for my wife and I. For her especially, there is someone palpably missing in the ether. She feels it deeply, in a corporeal way.
In beginning, the world seemed a darker place. Colors had less shine and everything was off kilter. I notice those thing less nowadays. Yet, I still haven’t decided if that means that things are brightening, or I am just forgetting what the world was like before our daughter left?
the sun came up today, like it usually does.
In the end, today is just another day without her for my wife and I. The difference is that other people are thinking about her and her absence. They are letting us know they remember. Again, it is bittersweet.
The notes and cards and flowers are a helpful reminder that we are not alone in our grief. Grief brings a sense of emotional solitude, so it is nice to have that reminder of others.
On the other hand, the notes are also reminders that my wife and I share a solitude in our grief. We don’t get to take a day off. We can’t choose to get off the grief train for a while and rest. We are always there. And, as far as we can tell, we aren’t going anywhere.
life in the hessian crucible of grief
Grief is a crucible. The forces that it brings to bear on a person are immense. Yet, crucibles are amazing tools for reshaping things. Metals are melted, combined with strong reagents. In the end something, hopefully stronger, emerges at the end of reaction.
Chemical reactions can go poorly. Reagents in wrong amounts, too much heat, rapid changes in temperatures, etc. These can force the reaction to go terribly, terribly wrong. On the hand, the reaction can get stuck in a chemical purgatory. The reaction has transmuted the initial components, but not delivered the final product.
The same is true for grief, it defines us for a time. We must let melt into our identity, where it can combine with the pre-existing pieces of our being. However, we must be careful. If we hurry it, if we had too much pressure too soon, things can go very, very poorly. If we ignore it, if we do not tend it, we can become moored in a netherworld. There we may stay, beyond the reach of who we once were, but not delivered into we might have become.
to live a life in 3 weeks
Over the next three weeks, my wife and I will live through the entirety of our daughter’s life, one year removed. It seems a strange twist of fate that it is an entire life. Yet it is. On a long enough time-line, 3 weeks and 90 years are indistinguishable. They are equal in their measure – lifetimes.
And her presence was immense for someone who couldn’t even muster 5 pounds. As measured by the emails, the cards, and the dozens of people who travelled from around the country to meet her during her brief time on this plane, she was mighty.
So, my wife and I enter the bittersweet season of her life. Three weeks, forever marking October in our minds. We walk along in her shadow, remember the beauty and the loss. For you cannot have without the other. Grief is the shadow that beauty and love cast when they are lost. Yet, I would rather live in a world of shadows than one without light.