Fair Weather Friends And The Loss Of A ChildWe lost our Emmy when she was twenty two years old. She was in her third year of college. She died of brain cancer, in nine months. She and I were very close, she was dearer to me than life. She still lived at home. She and I shared many of the same beliefs. We understood one another. She was very gentle and very kind. She loved animals more than human beings, she was oh so tender and compassionate. She was an artist and she was breathtakingly beautiful to look at, she was tall, and had flowing auburn hair, long legs, long arms, she ran like a deer with her head even and her pretty feet ever graceful upon the path. She was soft spoken and delicate in her ways. Her eyes were river water green and her lips were bee stung and pink.
Her spirit is never far from me, she is always there when I feel sad and defeated. Sometimes my sorrow is overwhelming, but I don't let it control me. I honor her laughing heart by still embracing the humor and the joy in the world around me. I live my life differently, I live with robust wonder and with deeper feeling for nature and for animals. I live life to the maximum at all times. I live without shame, I live with purpose, I live for both my daughter and for myself. I live in awe of every dawn, every storm, every snow flake, every tender butterfly that lights on a flower makes me grateful for what time I have here on earth. I am passionate and I make no apologies for my utter childishness.
I am not the same as I was before I lost her. I am only part of who I once was. It's been nearly five years and I've never figured out how to be in the world without her, not really. I get angry at holiday time, I feel bitter that she isn't here to run from her bed at five in the morning calling for everyone to get up and open their packages, even after she was sick, she loved Christmas morning.
We did not have a funeral, I couldn't face the crowds, the chatter, the irreverence that people show at such public events, I've done it myself, I never meant disrespect, everyone does it, they gossip and talk, they giggle under their breath with bright, amused eyes, but, I knew that I couldn't have handled any of it. Emmy was my baby, my youngest child, she was my life, the last one at home, if one person would have chuckled during a private conversation, I would have hit them with my fists and I wouldn't have been able to stop. I think people talked about us because we did not funeralize our daughter, I don't really care, she was ours, and we loved her deeply, too deeply for such a trivial display. To each their own, it was our decision to grieve privately, to honor her in our own way. Emmy was very private, she wouldn't have wanted a public ritual. She was bright and complex, deeply spiritual and profoundly private about this. I understood this, I knew her better than anyone.
Life goes on, we have a precious grandchild now, we have two other (just as wonderful children) to live for, and, of course, there are holidays that roll around. Recently, I decided that during each family gathering of significant importance, one of us would read her favorite poem by Oriah, The Invitation. It says everything about who Emmy was during her brief life on earth, it is so lovely, if you have time, please goggle it.
I know that I am not alone in my sorrow, that many people in the world are the same as I, many have broken hearts, hearts that bleed out again and again especially during the holidays.
I have been disappointed to find that my most beloved friends, the very ones I felt closest to, turned away from me during my most sorrowful time, the pain was too much to deal with I suppose, perhaps they thought it was contagious? I feel betrayed and I am sometimes bitter about this. I would never wish them this level of sadness, but sometimes, I do wish they knew how I missed their support and encouragement in the darkest of the longest nights at my daughters bedside and in the the years since. I see them out in stores sometimes, people that I knew as well as my own family, one I knew better than my own sister, and loved more than she will ever know. I have noticed that for the last few years, she diverts her eyes and looks away when she sees me, if I corner her, she makes nervous small talk and is glad when I let her go. There are others that just haven't bothered to maintain a relationship with me, it's too sad, who wants to hang around with someone who has lost a child, it's depressing, right? I never realized that grief causes discrimination, that it causes friends to harden their hearts in fear or dread, but, it does. The loss of a child either makes a couple stronger than ever or rips the foundation out from under them. I am thankful that my husband and I are closer than ever, we understand one anothers loss like no one else on earth ever will. We can cry together and we often do, still, regularly we weep together in private and it makes both of us feel understood and loved. We laugh too, our daughter was funny, and witty, and we remember our child with love and joy, with sweetness and with gratitude for her dear life and for our years with her. She couldn't have had a more loving Daddy, and I am eternally grateful for that. No one but the two of us understand how it was for us, how horrifying it was to see her lose her mind, her sight, go to sleep and not wake up. We share the joy and the sorrow together and we love one another more deeply than ever because we honor each others sorrow and loss.
When my friends turned away, at least I had my husband.