At the one-year mark, I found my grief shifting.
I’m not saying 12 months was a magical number of healing, or that it even had anything to do with the fact that it was one year, it was simply when I started to notice.
In the days and months that followed coming home from the hospital with empty arms, grief was all encompassing. It was right there, raw, consuming. I expected it around every corner, constant reminders that made me approach life cautiously, knowing the pain was right there, in everything, all the time. I wept, not just cried, each, and every day for almost 6 months straight. The tears were always on the brink of coming, always threatening to expose me, always my companion. Was I depressed? Perhaps, slightly. How can you make it through an earth shattering moment and not be “depressed”? But that term gets thrown around too loosely. No…mostly, I was just learning to live without the daughter I love so deeply.
But, as time went on, I learned to cope. It didn’t mean the grief and the sadness went away. No, not at all. In fact, they just became deeper, more engrained, more real. The shock began to wear off, and the weight of what I will live with through the rest of my life began to set in. But the ability to interact with life, to participate with the day to day, and even smile (though most of the time it was fake), became easier.
And now… now it has shifted to deep within my soul. It lives with me, as it will until the end of my days, and will forever mold me into the woman and parent I am becoming. Though I am not a prisoner to its shackles, I am a friend to its embrace. Grief will forever change me. But, as opposed to its ever-nearness before, now it can spring up and shock me with tears when I least expect it.
It’s like swimming.
Your body is plunged in to an icy, cold pool and for a while, you are frozen. Literally. You can’t move. For awhile, all you can do is float, lungs gasping for breath at the surface, hoping you make it. Then, you begin to flex your fingers, and toes, and legs, and arms. Your body grows accustomed to the cold, and you start to swim. The frigidness is all around you, but you learn to move with it. You even close your eyes and start to enjoy the feel of the water around you - the way it carries you, as you start to feel a little lighter.
You smash into the concrete wall on the other side of the pool.
And the pain is just as raw and real and breath-taking.
A gasp at a row of three-year-old ballerinas, knowing you will never swell with pride watching Her on stage.
A sob in a dark theater, realizing you will never watch Her face light up in Disneyland like hers does on screen.
A knife in the gut as a child in Target cries out, "Mama!", knowing you will never heard those words on Her lips.
These moments take you by surprise, and suddenly it all rushes back in an instant.
She is gone.
And it hurts.
Because, I love Her.