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...