Today was busy. Aren’t all days though? I didn’t actually realise what the date was until late in the afternoon when I went on to my calendar to look at the details of a meeting. And then I realised: The 10th. Of the 10th. It has been seven years since the day when we lost you.
Many emotions came along with that realisation. Firstly guilt, that I’d taken so long in the day to remember. Then flashbacks of the days before you died: your call out of pain, your collapse on to the floor, me lying next to you in your bed, holding your hand, looking into your eyes, lying and telling you it would all be okay, while we waited for the ambulance to come.
The rush to the hospital, hoping a place could save us, could save you. But hospitals cannot do anything to stop the rapid march of such a disease. They could only alleviate your pain. So I sat down on that chair next your bed, and the nurse asked if I wanted some tea, and you said ‘yes please’, while your eyes closed and those were the last words I ever heard you say.
Dying doesn’t happen like it should. It’s not gentle, or even peaceful, it is mostly ragged and savage. Or at least it was for you. Listening to each sharp intake of your breath, waiting for the shaky exhale, it was a kind of torture that nothing prepares you for. You only want it to be over. The people left behind sit suffering, torn between wanting you to stay, because how can we be in this world without you, but knowing there is no use, and so wanting you to go. To release this precious life.
I remember holding tiny Rachel, cradling her, clutching her to me like a gift and hanging on to her. I feel like she kept me sane, kept me grounded, kept me here. We sat for three days next to your bed, but your spirit had already left. We were just waiting for a body to die. And when you finally did – what we felt was utter relief. There are so many things no one tells you about dying. These are only some.
The next few months and years were some of the hardest of my life. The darkness would settle over me every morning when I woke, like a mist. Always there, seemingly impossible to shake. There would be long bouts of tears, anger, rage, and jealousy when I saw other women your age, and older, going about their merry lives without a care in the world. Why us, why you, why me?
It takes a long time to get perspective when grief like this hits. It takes a long while for gratitude to resurface. Gratitude for all the years we had together, when some people get so few. For the relationship we had. For the childhood you gave me. For the woman you made me.
I’m a different person to the girl you left behind. Death does that. I’m happy though, so happy. And I know that’s all you ever wanted for us. In a world filled with so much hatred, destruction, pain – making yourself happy is no mean feat. So I think you’d be proud.
Tonight while typing this post, the tears were flowing and Ben came over and said “Mommy why your eyes look like dat?”. Then he hurriedly ran and called his big sister and she came over to witness the event and I got the best hugs from both of them and they ran off to tell Daddy that Mommy was sad and what must they do? They’re good kids. The best. I just wish you could know them.
But you can’t. So tonight we will drink a glass of wine in your honour. We will eat jelly babies, your favourite. You always liked the black ones the best because you said they were juicier. And you know what the funny thing is? Ben always picks the black ones out if we offer him a bag, as he says they’re his favourite too. I didn’t say a thing, he just must have some magic flowing through him that connects him to you.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that although we don’t cry for you everyday, you are in every single little thing we do. You left a bigger legacy than you’ll ever know.
We love you and we miss you, always.