In the last several weeks, I don’t think there’s been a single person we or anyone we know has talked to who has not said “How much more can one couple take?!” (referring most recently to the burglary, then Brad’s Dad.) We are quick to say “Don’t ask, don’t even think about it. It can always get worse.”
As Life continues to pile itself on, we hold on to what we have. Each other, our families, our home, our pets.... our friends. We are loved, our stomachs and cupboards are full, we have lots of roof over our heads, we still have some money in the bank. Millions upon millions have but the love of another...or not even that. We know, we know, we know. I know.
It does not change that I am tired on a level far beneath what is visible to the naked eye. A dimly burning wick for sure. God seems bent on not actually quenching it, a fact I cannot for the life of me comprehend. The above passage looks nice but can feel more a warning than the comfort I suspect it’s meant to be.
The necessary events and actions surrounding my father-in-law’s death brought me back to those first weeks after Anna where I was unable to participate in life or friendly conversation. Picking out family pictures to show at the visitation that included several of him with his granddaughters, one in particular where the eldest, maybe 2 years old at the time, was applying lipstick to her grandpa. Greatest picture. (We don’t have any of my FIL with Anna.) Seeing several family members and friends from my husband's side for the first time since she died at the visitation, getting through ‘the look, the words, the hugs’. Deeply appreciated, but hard. By the time we reached the luncheon following the funeral itself the next day, for all practical purposes I was no longer present. It just so happened that Brad and I were sitting at the end of a long string of tables, with this empty space between our chairs that was exactly where Anna’s high chair would have been. It was....weird, profoundly so for me. We hadn’t planned to sit there, it just happened that way. The space felt so obvious, sort of swirled what I looked at it, almost to the point of vertigo, and it felt like everything was screaming “She should be there...THERE!!!” Long-standing family friends were talking to me that were at the far end of a tunnel. Literally like you see on TV where you watch their mouths move but you’re 20 feet away and not registering a thing. I’m positive there is more than one beloved family friend who is considerably less than impressed with me right now. I left for about 20 minutes in the middle to sit on the curb a few blocks away. I didn’t even care that I was locked out of the house on a hot humid day in a dress when I was dropped off at home, so desperate to be alone with my combined panic and numbness, so close to having a genuine mental breakdown in front of everyone. Especially when it wasn’t about her!! It was about my husband's dad and family! How much of a selfish wench would I look like breaking down about Anna at his funeral services?! Good lord.
For the next 4 days I remained unable to engage - which was a real problem because Brad had been offered the job in Arizona and we needed to talk about it. I could literally do nothing but stare at him, maybe nod my head a little in discussing the pros/cons of taking the position. “You don’t have a partner right now.”, I said. Because he didn’t. With anything that required action, he was on his own. Luckily he went to spend the weekend at his brother’s cabin, and I woke up Monday morning somehow ready to get back into the world, so we were able to have a few hours of intense conversation about it before he had to call and let US Airways know our decision. (Which was “no”. The offer was not good enough to move across the country for...just hope we’re not kicking ourselves 2 years from now!! Brad is confident in the decision though, which is great.)
We feel the loss of her every day, but the hole where she should have been during that week was...gaping. Realizing how much of the whole experience would have been different with her there. A new little life, with promise and hope for a future in contrast to the end of life well-lived. Laughter and poop and mini-meltdowns vs. the sad challenges of those last weeks. Something delightful in the face of something profound. Having all those people meet her and delight in her presence, not cry over her absence.
Same sentiments, different day.