What is it like to live every day without your child? This is my reality and my story.
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://histficchickie.com/2020/10/18/grief-in-a-downpour/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/histficchickie/support
Grief. That ugly word. That real word. A word you cannot escape once you experience the reality it brings. I have known loss in my life… grandparents, friends, acquaintances, as all of us have, but when the ugly word comes in the form of the loss of a child, well, there is no comparison.
Five years have passed, five years since that heart-wrenching day where we got THAT phone call. The phone call of your nightmares. The phone call where you insist that the person on the other side of the line is making up a story or dreaming or lying. But they are not. You see moments like this portrayed on TV or in the movies, but when it happens in real life, it is quite different. The shock washing over you numbs every nerve ending in your body and the scream surging inside your lungs cannot find a way to your throat, instead you find yourself shaking and sobbing and pulling the covers over your head.
The very personal details are mine, and even after five years, I cannot find the words to speak them. All the reader of this post needs to know is that if ever you find yourself out at a club or with friends or anywhere that involves alcohol, do not drink and drive, or drug and drive. Read this and think of my daughter. Read this and think of my son-in-law. Read this and think of my grandchild. Yes, three lives taken by one man, no, not even a man, a boy; a careless irresponsible boy drugged up and drunk and speeding away from police. My kids were only one mile from their home, driving home happy and oblivious to the oncoming terror. And it happened, in one split second. They are gone and now, here I sit, typing on my computer and spilling the grief which daily wakes with me each morning.
I have read so many posts about grief and pinned so many pins over the past five years. One I like particularly says, “There is a word for a mate who loses a spouse, there is a word for a child who loses their parents; but there is no word in the English language for a parent who loses a child.” Why? Perhaps because the pain is beyond comprehension, beyond mere words. Not that the other losses are less, because they are not, but the out of order unnaturalness of losing a child is, well, in truth, there is not a word, or words, to completely explain. All death is unnatural.
So, I wrote a story about my journey. Here I share my words of the day we buried our children. Grief freezes each second of those first days and you become aware of every passing second. I remember every detail. Here is a slice:
Grief in a Downpour
Rain is just rain, unless you have lost a child; unless you have lost children – a daughter, a son-in-law, an unborn grandchild. The vibrations of the drops pelted against my skin as I stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of the funeral home. I stood still, letting each watery bead pop and drizzle, each bead magnifying in my mind like a tsunami surging and cresting around the one thought in my brain. I closed my eyes and tilted back my head; the river from the sky mingled with the ocean breaking through my lashes. The roar of the downpour pressed against me. The greyness shadowed over my shoulder.
In that moment, I saw each solitary droplet, a perfect circle reflecting the world around it; a fleeting flash captured in the essence of liquid. A time capsule. A mirror. An eye on the seconds swimming by – the moving crowd of mourners filing past me out the doors, giving hugs, uttering words and each rushing to their waiting cars as the clouds burst. My gaze fell upon the doe-eyed young mother standing at the curb at the crosswalk, her face full of the future as she stared down at the child in her arms. She pulled the bubbled umbrella closer to shield them from the rain, yet one glistening orb took note of the twitch in her fake smile as she glanced at the business woman darting from the yellow cab. The rain wondered what the young mother regretted as it streaked onto the woman’s back. The woman held her briefcase from the past and above her head, cursing as the slick sidewalk drenched her red-soled shoes and the air frizzed her bottle-dyed hair. The rain broke harder, delighting in the mischievous grin she cast upon the young messenger boy as he sped by on his ten-speed. The rain pondered what she left behind as it beat against the muscles of the rushing guy. He popped a wheelie to the here and now, oblivious to the honking horns, as the oil-slick streets spattered against his calves and his faded blue shirt drank the water. The rain thickened hard against his perseverance, sloshing resistance as he broke through a puddle to send a spray into the opened window of the yellow cab. The rain questioned his carelessness as it slithered down the old cab-driver’s raised fist. The driver rolled up the window against time and youth as a puff of cigarette smoke mingled with the mist and he wiped the residual liquid from his wrinkled brow. The rain clouds rumbled and contemplated what he feared as the droplets beat against the window, unable to reach the young mother and child scooting into the back seat of the now available cab. She shivered from the chill, but smiled and hugged her child close, knowing she had many more miles to go before she braved the storm, before she tasted the stream of time upon her lips, and reached her destination around many corners. Yet, the rain examined her misplaced surety as her eyes touched upon the vision of me standing on the sidewalk. I was once like her, bubble-protected, but now I am a passing vision to her, nothing more; and the rain, a mere inconvenience.
My eyes took notice of the fragility of the weather as they all moved on with their lives; all things replaced with another sunny hue. Time continued forward while my tears flowed into the vacuous depths of the street drains, carrying with them the leaves and the trash of the world. The dirt of my heart. The mire of this sadness. My rain eased to single pronounced droplets from the corner of the awning, plopping onto the glistening concrete and answering my life in a simple resolute response that the details of these horrible days will tear like a daily tornado thru my heart as I travel this lonely path. Each raindrop a detail, each splatter against the pavement – the irony of flowers to brighten a dismal day, the color of my hair graying with the clouds, my husband’s trembling hand clutched in mine, my son’s thunder-filled cry, my daughter-in-law’s rain-shielding hug, my granddaughter’s innocent sunny smile, the grandparents aging with each crack of lightening, and my son-in-law’s parents reflecting back the same dark stormy eyes of loss.
But the clouds roll by and time moves on. This is my reality, this is my rain. There is many days of rain, many storms and each morning I check the weather, each morning I look to the heavens as the sun peeks through the silver-lined clouds and I recall deep inside a distant hopeful dawn. Reaching in my purse, I pull out my sunglasses and cover my puffy eyes, lift my chin and take one step….and another…..and another, till I find the pace that matches the patter of waking to another soft dew-covered morning or falling asleep to another rage-filled stormy night ….and another….and another….and another….and on and on and on. Another yellow cab is coming… another tearful dream-filled night rounding another hopeful dawn…. my daughter is just there…. my son-in-law is just there…. between sleep and awake…. just right around the cloudless corner…..thus, I keep moving forward. I do not give up.