Today I had one of many conversations with a friend and grieving mom. Although we have never laid eyes on each other, we have developed a friendship based on an unimaginable pain. Just a couple of months after Melinda’s accident, this friend lost her beautiful daughter unexpectedly. We connected, at first, with comments on each other’s blogs, then through emails, and then to phone calls.
Today we talked about our children, all of our children, as we always do, but most importantly we just understood. Having suffered such incredible loss at almost the same time, we have ebbed and flowed with the pain in very similar ways since our conversations began over a year ago. We talked about how exhausting it is to always be hearing trite “motivational” blurbs about moving on, and making the choice to live, and so on. As we talked, I told her the analogy I’d given my newest therapist during my last session earlier this week. The therapist had asked me why I couldn’t potentially see myself happy in my future even if it obviously couldn’t be the same happiness that once was. I had previously explained that moments of happiness are not only possible but have already happened, but that moments scattered over weeks or months do not add up to a happy life or an internal contentment and that not one of those happy moments came without the sting of pain because of who/what was missing each time. To try to better explain, I offered her this analogy.
Imagine your two children are going to be separated – one will live on one side of the world, and the other on the opposite side. As the parent, you get to choose which one you will live near. The catch is that once you’ve made your choice, you CAN NOT see or speak with the other child for the remainder of your life. There will be absolutely no communication with one child, ever, in any way. You will not hold that child when she’s not feeling well; you will not hear her laugh or see her smile, and you will have no news of how she’s doing. Now choose! Which one will you be near, and which one will you not see?
My therapist sat quietly for a noticeable amount of time before she finally said: “Is that how you feel?” That’s exactly how I feel with the exception that I never had the opportunity to make the choice in the fist place; it was made for me for no apparent reason, without any obvious logic, and without consideration of the outcome. I couldn’t have made the choice had I been given the opportunity so I guess that is irrelevant, but having the choice made for me doesn’t make the outcome any less devastating.
For nearly two years, I have heard people tell me that I can choose to live again. I’ve heard them say I can choose whatever I wish. I’ve heard them say JUST choose and you’ll be fine, you’ll be healed. What they don’t understand is that I do choose. I choose. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Each morning when my eyes open, the first thing I do is say good morning to Melinda, always. The second thing I do is choose which child to live near. I may not vocalize that choice and it isn’t always a conscious one, but I make it each day as I get up, as I move about the house trying to accomplish even the smallest task, as I go see therapists and doctors, as I buy food donations in Melinda’s memory, and as I help my oldest daughter achieve her goals and dreams. I make the choice every day. Consider that the next time you see a grieving parent who doesn’t seem to be “healing” fast enough for everyone’s liking. Just know that, each day, that parent makes a choice. Simply because the choice doesn’t fit someone else’s definition doesn’t mean it’s any less valid or any less difficult.