Her Story

12:30am, December 9th. 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The rain is still coming. We went several months without a drop and now it’s been raining for a week straight.

On Wednesday we attended yet another funeral. My aunt jokingly said, “I’m going to have to invest in a funeral wardrobe. Everyone keeps croaking on me.” We both laughed nervously at the joke, then fell into a moment of silence.

Sometimes at night I lie in bed, not sleeping (which has become so normal for me), and overcome by emotions I’ll quietly weep, until my husband hears my sniffling and heavy breathing. Turning toward me, wrapping arms around me, tussled beard and a groggy voice, he asks, “Are you okay?”

I’m not okay.

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Some days are better than others. Some days are far, far worse.

The first great loss I experienced was when I was 19 and my grandfather suddenly passed away. It has taken me years to come to terms with that death because I didn’t really deal with it when it happened.

But, my daughter has faced three losses within 10 months. And she is only eight years old. And I lie awake some nights mourning her childhood. I know that this year, her eighth year, will shape the rest of her life. It will set in motion so many future issues and inspirations.

Will she lapse into depression as she enters her teen years? Will the blend of genetics, hormones, and grief plunge her into emotional darkness? Will she recover from it? Will she make dangerous decisions because of it? Will she consider suicide, just as the first person we lost this year did? What demons will now plague her future because of this year? Because of three funerals in one year?

She’s only eight years old.

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That this year will be part of her story breaks my heart. I can not begin to imagine the depth of what she’s feeling. I try so hard and her therapist says she’s doing great and we’re doing great. But, it isn’t enough. I can’t undo what’s been done. For her, much of her childlike innocence has been lost. The other night she told me she’d already made a plan for her death and burial. She knows how she wants to be buried and where.

At eight years old I was still struggling to tie my shoes and my greatest frustration came from wearing glasses for the first time.

For her, it’s what will happen to her body once she’s dead.

This will be part of her story. A part that I cannot rewrite. A part of her story that is completely out of my control and while, of course, I miss my mother…watching my daughter miss her as well breaks me.

And some nights I lie in bed praying that the second and third act of her story will give her much more beauty and joy than this first act has. Because it should never have been like this. But, there’s no going back.

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