The last several days have been hard, harder than the months before. I don’t know why. I just know that my mind is racing constantly with what should be, what I want to be, and with overwhelming pain. When I realized that in a couple of months it will be 2 years since Melinda’s death, I nearly lost my mind. How is that fucking possible??!!!! How can my child be dead for almost 2 years and the world keep turning?
For nearly 2 years I have been trying to redefine myself and my life with little success. Last week I realized I have to redefine so much more. All our lives are categorized into “before” and “after.” This categorization helps us sort out the chronology of life. It helps us plan for a future, and it helps us define ourselves. We all have many “before and after” scenarios. After we finish school/university there is the hope of a fulfilling career, money earned, and accomplishments achieved. Before we get married, we learn to explore our potential and define ourselves. After we get married holds the promise of happily ever after, of companionship, of love. After we have children holds a future filled with family trips, memories, and celebrations. After the kids move out brings with it the opportunity to rediscover our partners and ourselves in a new and exciting way. The many “afters” in life come with hope, come with promise, come with something better on the horizon. This is NOT the case after the loss of a loved one who was so deeply embedded in our hearts and in daily life.
This deep of a loss requires redefining myself, my life, my hopes, my future, my relationships, and every fucking word in the English dictionary. And this is the reason that grief can not be timed or rushed. I literally have to redefine practically every word in the dictionary. A chair is no longer a piece of furniture. After loss it’s a tangible picture of the empty space at the kitchen table. A coat isn’t just an article of clothing; it is something Melinda loved, bought, and still lingers in the house but no one wears. Every food is linked to Melinda because she loved it, or didn’t, because she created treats with it, because I took extra care in preparing it, because it’s a memory of family celebrations that no longer happen. A flower isn’t something I eagerly await in spring. It’s what I leave a grave; it’s what I spent hours making with Melinda. A cup doesn’t just hold my tea; it’s the thing Melinda’s hands touched when she painted it in a ceramics shop. After means I have to redefine everything I see, smell, touch, taste, and hear every single day for the rest of my life. The truly difficult part is that these “after” definitions can change daily depending on how low I am at the time.
All of the “before and after” scenarios have lost their meaning. My chronology has shifted to one single event in my life – the day my daughter died. My life is now divided into 2 segments. There was a time when there was hope and joy. Now there is pain and sorrow. Before and after.
I feel like the next couple of months are only going to get worse. We have to face another May, more defining of “after,” more change. I still have no idea how I do this. Nothing is clearer or easier. Anyone who thinks that I should be “moving on” by now, should be “doing better” by now, or should be feeling the pain “ease” should try standing in front of a mirror and saying their child’s name followed by the words “is dead.” Say it aloud. Even though you know it’s not true, it’s a horrible statement to make. Now imagine standing in front of that mirror, saying the same thing and knowing that it is your life. This after is different.