It’s New Year’s Eve; the start of another year without Melinda. I’d like to say this one will be easier than last year, but I know that’s not true. If anything, it will be more difficult, just like our second Christmas without her was.
The loneliness and emptiness have fully set in now. We are more acutely aware that our lives are forever different. It’s palpable on our tongues as we speak because words hold different meanings now. Our body aches have become “normal” to us, and we’re unable to fight off the cloud that hovers over even the happiest of moments now. Those moments are changed by grief, tainted with pain, and diminished by an inability to just purely enjoy.
I have mixed feelings about the coming year. On the one hand, I don’t look forward to it because I can’t imagine another year without Melinda’s smile, her voice, her hugs, or her joy. I anticipate that waves of grief will continue as always. Some days they will be knee deep and I will feel stuck, and other days they will loom over my head and come crashing down on me, and I will feel I’m drowning….again. On the other hand, one more year passing means I’m one more year closer to Melinda, to the other side, to being done with this pain. Those thoughts about being with Melinda never subside, and I can’t imagine they ever will.
I’ve heard people say they look in the mirror after losing a child and don’t recognize the person before them. They see a shell of a person, a different person, an aged person. I haven’t had that experience. I stand before a mirror and I see the same physical person I always was but without the light in her eyes or the smile on her face. I don’t think I look any more worn or tired than I did before. I don’t think I look different, but I know I feel different, and that’s far worse. My doctor has given a clean bill of health, telling me I’m actually (on paper) healthier than I’ve ever been. I’ve even had my psoriasis disappear, completely, about a month after Melinda’s accident. No more creams, no more pills, and no more struggles with covering up. I look the same, I think, but nothing about what’s inside me is the same, and that’s the hard part.
The person I was is muted now. The open joy that surrounded me is stilled and hard to find. The smile that beamed is merely a grin now. The creativity that allowed me my passion is now a distraction, something to do so that I’m not spiraling into despair. The small pleasures of life – a shared home cooked meal, a clean house, a bit of dessert, a beautiful piece of art, a good joke, and so much more – are now chores, too much work not worth the effort, or outright pointless. The parts of me I had once refused to allow surface in me are now there regularly. I’m angry, impatient, and intolerant of what used to be insignificant. I’ve learned to rage, to hate, to wish horrible things on others. I’ve learned to close myself off for fear of being hurt. I’ve learned to see the ugly that is around me.
I’ve tried desperately to find a “lesson” in all of this. What am I supposed to learn from all of this? But no answers are coming. My oldest daughter believes that maybe I’m supposed to learn to overcome all those things that have now surfaced in me, but if that’s the case, then I’m failing miserably.
I don’t know if I’m closer to anything or farther from it. I’m unable to imagine a time that I will ever again feel so happy that I will be brought to tears of joy, not in this lifetime. I know I feel farther away from Melinda because of time, yet I feel closer to her because she is constantly on my mind. I know that I feel farther away from her because I can’t hold her or hear her voice, but I know I feel closer to her because I’m certain, without question that she was spared a hurtful life. We have learned, beyond a doubt, that the life she wanted, had planned for herself, could never have happened because who she was planning it with, is not the person she thought he was. Knowing this has given me the strength to suffer agony so that she doesn’t have to.
I know in my heart there is no “end” to this grief and this pain, so I know I’m no closer to that. I know those waves of grief that we all wish would come with instructions are closer than even I realize and that the farther I move along this path, the more inconsistent they are likely to become, making them even more dangerous as time goes on. I used to be able to predict what would likely trigger a meltdown because everything was a trigger. Now I’ve absorbed those things and made them part of my life, but I still have no control over when a meltdown is about to erupt, and that makes them harder to ride through, for me and those around me. I still cry every day, at least once, usually more often. Sometimes the tears are because I miss Melinda; other times they come because of everything else we’ve also lost, and we’ve lost so much.
I hold on to whatever I can to help me get up in the morning, function during the day, and then fall asleep in the dark. I act the way I have to act in order to get through the day and function in life, but that does not mean I’m any closer to being over my grief or that I’m getting any better at dealing with it.
I had coffee with my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother a couple of weeks ago and she said something that has stuck with me. As we visited, which we hadn’t done in almost a year, she asked how the young man Melinda was engaged to was doing. She hadn’t heard. I told her he was married now and about all the hurt he’d intentionally caused us in the months after Melinda’s accident. I told her he had criminal charges hanging over him now. I told her about the many, many lies he told us and he continues to tell, and I told her he was never the person we thought he was. In her shock, her eyes teared up and her next words to me rang out like a bell, sharp and clear. She said, “Oh Mira, how God must have loved her so much to have caused you this pain in order to save her from that.” That is what I hold on to. That is what brings me closer to Melinda. That is what helps me endure this pain.
I’m not looking forward to 2015, but I’m also not fighting it. My Melinda, my giving, beautiful girl is always with me in my heart and my memories.
Wishing you all peaceful days.