Strangely, in the earliest of days, I missed so much of myself that wasn't even really gone yet, or maybe that I never really had. Things like my confidence, and my security, and my innocence. And now, I really don't miss any of those things anymore. What right did I have as a thirty-seven year old woman to still have innocence? And my confidence? Nothing but a thin veneer between who I was and who I thought I was, smashed at the first five pounds to get tacked on to my hips. And security, an illusion I should never have mistaken for truth in the first place.
But the things I miss now are people. Lucia Paz. Then the list of friends from childhood on up to and including the ones I have met since Lucy's death who fell away in my lost years after my daughter's death.
Sure, people change. Paths diverge. Friends grow apart. Perhaps we would have grown apart whether Lucia died or not, maybe her death just sped up that process. All I know is that my daughter died, and I lost most of my friends. It is like there is this exotic city of my past lives. Every dude I made out with, every friend who I traded clothes with, every person who made me laugh while we shared a beer, and every one who I ever thought would be there if the shit ever really hit the fan all took up residence in this mysterious city of the past. Daughter death is like the neutron bomb that went off in that city. It looks untouched, and pristine from above, but no one is left. My memory of those people are lovely and beautiful, but our friendships died with my daughter.
That first year after her death, I was too mean. Too angry. Too self-righteous. Too afraid of the phone. Too sad. Too needy. Too selfish. Too integrated in the blog world. Too everything. And one right after the other told me I was too much. I believed them.
Darkness and anger bubbled under my skin. I was a monster. A damaged soul. People say you must be a friend to have a friend, but I was incapable of being a friend. Ironically, the only two people who remained my friends were my ex-boyfriend and my ex-husband. Perhaps it is because they saw me angry, self-righteous, afraid, sad, needy, selfish and jealous before. Ugly Angry Angie, or as my sister calls me Angsty, was the Angie with whom they were already acquainted. It didn't shock or disturb them. Sometimes the words right before someone walked away still haunt me. A friend's parting email was so disturbing, I still think about it and try to do the opposite of what she accused me of. I guess it has become my new ethos: Do opposite of what she thinks of me.
This is the thing. I get it. Who wants to be friends with someone so sad, who is easily hurt, who takes things so personally and so seriously, who finds society at large to be largely unbearable? Even if it is just for a year? I suspect most people couldn't bear the relentlessness of it all. Because sadness was fine. Most people can abide sadness, and justified sadness at that. But what about the hypersensitivity? Or the sarcasm? Or the anger? Or the nasty streak of jealousy? Or the quick temper? Those people walked away from our friendship for self-preservation. I get it. I can't blame them. It was okay to not want to be part of this grief and death and messiness or part of my dark complicated life. I didn't want to be part of it either.
I wish I had known just how long that would last, so I could send a memo around.
I am sorry for being an absolute fucking bitch. I forgot your birthday, didn't ask about your son/daughter's party/first day of school/recent head cold/psychological examination, or your mother/father's illness. It was wrong of me. Grief has invaded my body. I am incapable of even the most benign of human activities and the most base of all human compassion. I will emerge in precisely eighteen months, three weeks and two days and be able to call/hang out/attend your baby shower/have a drink/be a friend. Just hang in there.
I am not that person anymore. And I don't know how to bridge that gap between then and now. I don't know how to deal with the wreckage of the first year after my daughter died. I just don't. I remember getting a letter six months after Lucy died. It was a letter of condolence and apology from someone I knew for fifteen years. Apology for the lateness of condolences. It was honest and beautiful and made me cry. It was comforting to receive the letter, and yet I had no idea what to do after I read it. I still have never really talked to that person again. Not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't know how to reach out afterward. Was that my duty or his? I can see now it was probably mine.
Grief is insidious for those confusions. I sat paralyzed by uncertainty and confusion of protocol, knowing what you would and should do with all things being equal. But nothing is equal. My kid died, so I just sat and waited for someone stronger than me to help figure out what I was supposed to do. And no one did. Grief and death and fear of everything made it abundantly clear that I knew nothing about living. That my entire theological and emotional basis was contingent of everything working out in my favor.
I have no resolution to this post. Just missing, so much missing.