I’m finding it harder to breathe lately. The days have been overwhelming, and I anticipate they will only get worse as May approaches. Time is healing absolutely nothing and neither are the countless hours and thousands of dollars spent on therapists. The days for nearly two years remain static.
Last weekend I made what was as close as I could get to an Easter dinner. There was ham and sides; there was even dessert, but what was missing, what I couldn’t buy or create was what used to be, and what used to be was happy. There were only 4 of us for dinner – my husband, our daughter, her boyfriend, and me. The house was quiet; the weekend was quiet. We didn’t set the dining room table. Why bother setting a large table only 4 would sit at? There were no Easter antics, bunny ears, chocolates, laughter. There were no phone calls. No questions. Just silence.
This coming weekend is another Easter for us, Orthodox Easter which we normally celebrate with my family. I haven’t been in my parents’ home in 2 years. I haven’t been because I can’t imagine sitting at the dining room table without Melinda. That’s never happened before. I haven’t yet decided if I will attempt to go for dinner next Sunday, but I do know the thought of it makes my stomach turn and my tears flow.
In the middle of these 2 weekends was my oldest daughter’s birthday. She turned 24 yesterday. Melinda would be 22. My daughter took the day off work as she knew it would be what she called an “emotional” day. We talked, went for lunch, and visited the lottery homes. We bought tickets and went off to wander show homes in the area. Instead of a cake, we bought enough Italian pastry to feed about 30 people and we came home. Shortly after we went for dinner. By the time we got home, we were all exhausted. When I asked my daughter to pose for a picture with her pastries, she hesitated for just a fraction of a second but long enough to be noticeable. There are no pictures of her from her birthday last year. All previous birthday pictures are of her and Melinda holding up their fingers and toes to count the years. In the last birthday photo, my oldest daughter’s birthday the month before Melinda’s, she is sitting at the kitchen table with her all finger stretched. Melinda is sitting on the floor beside with her fingers stretched out and her legs in the air with her big toes pointing up so there would be 22 appendages. There will be no more pictures like that – ever. So last night when I suggested a picture, there was a pause, a second we all recognized as filled with pain, a second we understood could never be what it was.
I made it through the day without crying. Even as we sat eating tacos at lunch a block away from the cemetery where Melinda is resting I managed to hold in the shaking and tears. I held in the feelings as we wandered through the show homes and I imagined what Melinda would say about the decor. I swallowed hard each time I thought about how Melinda would be teasing her sister about being in her “mid twenties” now. I thought I would have my first day in 2 years without tears. I was wrong.
Just before bed, I couldn’t stop the tremors. I couldn’t stop the shallow laboured breathing, and I couldn’t stop the tears. I wanted nothing more than to scream at the top of my lungs, to beat the floor, but instead I sobbed as quietly as I could. No days, not a single day, without tears for nearly 2 years. I never imagined the body could produce so many tears and hold so much pain.
I held it in the best I could last night so that I didn’t ruin a birthday, but this morning was a different story. This morning I screamed myself hoarse, cried myself dry, and have now moved into numb. It’s still the safest place. My therapists have repeatedly asked me how I see my life in the future. This is what I see: each day filled with tears; an underlining pain regardless of the happiness of a moment; a perpetual numbness that keeps me detached from everything around me; a life I breathe through but do little more.
I’m bracing myself for May. Another Mothers’ Day without Melinda. Another wedding anniversary without a sense of happiness. Another marking of a year without Melinda. A reminder of a wedding day she never had. I have many reasons to dread May, but I will face it like I have everything else the last 2 years, numb and alone.