What I honestly feel is a deep loss. One that always simmers just below my surface, usually at a low manageable boil. Sometimes though, on days like today, it feels like it's on the brink of exploding, and I feel this panic inside to keep it under control, keep it in check, because if not, the threat of the black abyss that took so long for me to climb out of looms in the distance, and inches towards me like a slow storm on the approach.
On November 23rd, 2002, Jeremy and I lost the one thing that we loved the most. Our daughter Vanessa Rose. She was ten months and one day old. To say it was the worst day of our lives is an understatement.
There are no words that can describe the devastation of losing a child and not enough time in the world can ever go by to get over it. Time is not a great healer but a deceiver. That wound can always rip open and sear you to pieces in a split second. It is always there hiding behind minutes, hours, years, camouflaged in the fabric that makes up your life. That scar will always take over my soul and I have made a peace with that, knowing that nothing will ever, ever be the same or ever turn out how I want it to be. My life will never feel whole no matter what I do or how much I try and fill it with random things and I'm okay with that because it is out of my control, and there is nothing anyone can ever do to make it better. Not that it's fair, but I will carry that weight with me always, because that's what mothers do. We bear it all, even if we can't.
Not a day has gone by that I have not thought of her, prayed for her or wished for her. She permeates this family with a very soft presence and how I wish it was tactile, but no matter how much I wish it is just beyond my grasp. Our hearts will forever be intertwined with vines that are unbreakable, and even though some days I swear I feel her, I look, and she is not there.
Gracie has grown up with this, learning about her from a young age, going to the cemetery for visits and I have scolded her about not counting her as a sister when at school at circle time she stated to her class that she had no siblings. We argued after school in the car and my heart reopened to a new hurt as I understood where Grace was coming from. She lives with the ghost of her, having never met her, only stared into the eyes of an infant that looked similar to her gazing back from a picture hung on the wall. A sister by blood yes, but a sibling in her mind, no. "A sibling is someone you live with, mama, at your house, and I don't have one," she told me, as my heart tore a little more. She's right. Sort of. She lives with a mother and father that are constantly distracted by grief, living in a world of what ifs? and I wish, and a long lost sister that sounds more like a fable than the real deal. How are we not going to damage her with our grief? I vow to try my hardest not to, to keep myself from going there, to keeping myself in check. It takes all my effort to save face in front of Grace, and also to the rest of the world. That smile you see is forced. laughter? I feel guilty about laughing. quietness? I'm afraid of questions that might come back at me, so I don't talk much, and if I do, it's about you.
Today is just not a good day, and I fall hard and fast, but my sweet Grace pulls me back into reality where I belong. I have hurt beyond manageable limits and pull around baggage that is unhealthy, yet here I am, almost nine years later, not at all pain free but functioning, and I am grateful. Grace is deserving of my healing, so is my family, and somewhere in that broken heart of mine I should feel deserving too, but that's a hard emotion to ask for. Baby steps. Put one foot in front of the other. Slide your weight forward. Balance. And before long, that inch turns into a mile, and as you glance over your shoulder to look behind, you see the distance you have covered is what you never thought possible.
|The sky looked similar to this on the day she passed, so now, to our family, these are known as a "Vanessa Sky."|