17 July 2008

Fourth of July

Thirty-four days after Grace died, I got it in my head that we needed to get out of the house and we needed to go to Riverfront park and we needed to take Carver and Sophia to the Fourth of July Fireworks show. We brought a blanket, we brought snacks, and we sat on the grass looking up at the sky watching the fireworks. And I remember just staring at them, listening to the crackling and kabooms and looking at all the people around me, hundreds, a thousand or more people, and feeling lost in a sea of strangers.

Tears were streaming down my face, and Sophia was buried in my arms terrified at age two of the noise the fireworks were making. And Terry was holding Carver who was mesmerized by them. There were people everywhere, eating cotton candy, drinking icees, and I had never felt more lonely, more alone than in that moment, the sky above lit up and somewhere out there was Grace among the fireworks, lost in the air, and I couldn't reach for her, I couldn't save her from the sounds, I couldn't cover her ears.

And five years have passed, and just a few nights ago, we sat under the stars, on the same grass watching what could have been the same fireworks and it was a beautiful and glorious site, mesmerizing, transformative and Sawyer at two was on my lap and I was covering his ears and I buried my face against him and I said a prayer in thanks for his sweet, sticky self, for the way the icee was spilled all over his shirt, stuck between his fingers, and his hair hard and cracking from the sugar, a sweet, sweet taste of life and love.

14 July 2008

...something is missing...

My daughter Sophia cried for an hour straight tonight. No, she didn't cry, she sobbed. And while she sobbed, Terry and I tried unsuccessfully to figure out what was wrong.

She had fallen asleep from sheer exhaustion at about 5:30 p.m. on our bed and woke up an hour later sobbing.

We assumed she was discombobulated. We assumed she was hungry. We assumed a lot of false things on the pretext that we are the parents and we assumed we knew what was wrong. My talking made her crying worse. My leaving the room made her crying worse.

And finally after settling down, after drinking some water, after being cheered up by her older brother, she confessed that she didn't really know what was wrong, that it just seemed to her like something was missing. But she couldn't tell us what was missing. She just felt like something was missing.

She has done this before--started crying inexplicably and in the end can't vocalize what's wrong. And tonight I thought about it some more. Of course, this something missing she is going to carry her whole life.

I've felt it. Terry has felt it. Carver has felt it though he doesn't express it in the same way. Something is missing. Someone is missing, and I think that I need to be more aware of this as I help my children navigate through the complexities of this feeling. Because as Sophia grows up, as she understands the greater thing that she has lost, her grief could become larger, heavier, more complicated. She may in fact feel that missing sister more as she struggles to understand her place in the world sans Grace.
It may be that as my grief settles and changes (never diminishing), as the children grow older, their grief for Grace may feel unsettled and larger.

And sometimes, I get too caught up in my own grief to allow anyone else to have theirs. I want to keep my grief for Grace and I want it to be THE grief for Grace and I don't always remember to let Carver or Sophia or Terry or even Sawyer have their own grief. And yet, here in front of me is Sophia reminding me that she has her grief too.

The last thing I want is for her to walk around with that hole being unable to express it, being unable to be okay with it. I know that hole; I know that sense of loss deep into my bones as deep as a five-year-old girl knows when she has lost her father, when she has come home from kindergarten to find her mother and her brothers at home crying and a whole host of friends, family and strangers walking around in her house and never understanding why her father decides to never walk through that front door again. And as she fails to understand all of this or describe it or even be allowed to express it, the hole just grows deeper and larger and darker until it disappears into a black hole only to be unleashed thirty some years later as she holds her lifeless daughter on her lap and in her arms.

And that hole, that something missing is what she's been trying to protect her family from unsuccessfully. And yes, Sophia, yes, something very large is missing, and there is something very fragile in that feeling, but there is also something very beautiful and delicate and full of love, and full of love, and full of love...

02 July 2008

Gina and Sarah and Grace

Last week a friend moved away. She didn't move across the country or out of my life, but she moved across the state, and with her she took a piece of Grace. Last week we were standing on her porch talking, and she told me her story of Grace, her story of standing in her driveway, having a party during Artfest weekend and answering the phone and hearing the news and standing among friends with tears rolling down her face. And as I heard that story for the first time, it occured to me that there is a whole piece of Grace's story I am still missing.

I am missing the pieces of Grace that affected other people's lives. I have another friend who started a jewelry business after Grace died. And these are the friends that get it. They are not the friends who have lost children, but they have an innate understanding of my grief that most people seem to be missing. Why is that?

Why is it that some of the people I've known the longest, some of the people I grew up with, some of the people I've shared houses with, don't get it. They don't get that the grief doesn't ever go away, they don't understand that what I really need is for them to just say Grace's name, they don't get that it's okay still, after five years, that I long for Grace, that I think of Grace, that I miss Grace.

My circle has grown smaller. My circle includes the people that understand me, that let me be me in front of them, the people who say Grace's name outloud, the people who tell me their dreams about Grace.

I miss Gina already. I miss the familiarity of her presence, knowing that in a moment I could step onto her porch and be with her as she talks about Grace; I miss the security of having just one more person in Spokane who was here when Grace was here, who gets it and gets me and without saying anything else, I miss just being in her presence, in their presence together knowing that when I am with Gina, Grace is present and Grace is real.