It is too warm to be her birthday. The sun didn't rise and set the sky into otherworldly pinks and oranges. It didn't humble me at God's grace. It was just suddenly bright grey at 7:17 am.
We didn't light candles, or tell stories, or feast last night as I had imagined. No one but me wanted to remember her in that way. Everyone seemed worn down and emotional. I don't want to force grief rituals on the kids, or my husband. That is what I want our grief to be--a rhythm we follow as a family. Every year is different. Rather than candles and solstice, Bea climbed on my lap and asked me to tell her the story of when she was born. And then I told her the story of Lucy's birth and death, and then Thor's birth. My husband cried gently as I told them the stories of our family.
After they went to sleep, I wrapped gifts for five hours. Everyone's gifts, even my own. I wrapped gifts from everyone--us, Santa, my mother, my father, my husband's family. I just wrapped and wrapped until it was her birthday. Then I cleaned up my workspace, and walked outside.
The clouds covered most of the sky, but there was one star I noticed. Maybe it was Lyra's star. It was so bright. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I sat on the steps and tried to meditate, but I kept thinking about how much of a failure I have been at this grief thing. How exacting it was. Someone told me that that is what being an alcoholic is about, and now that I am not drinking, I will heal from her death. I thought about how someone I loved told me that I disturbed them with my grief, that I had made her death a cottage industry. I thought about how much I failed at that friendship, and how much that friendship failed me.* I try to accept that sometimes people don't like me, and I fail at things. Like I failed at bringing her into the world. And civilians think grief is something you heal from, like it is the goal of my life, or a comfort to think I am ailing now with something temporary. I thought about all the lovely words everyone said to us on Facebook, in
emails, on my Glow post. That warmed me. Then I felt like a failure for focusing on all the negative emotions, rather than just that. What is wrong with me that I can't just focus on all I have? Why can I not be filled with gratitude? Communing with my daughter
wasn't exactly working. I was thinking of everything but her.
I didn't even want to sit there in nature, in the dark, and think about
her. I just wanted to run out of my skin, away from those words, and
that feeling of shame and guilt and failure. The feelings of not being
gracious enough, or thankful enough. Someone said to me yesterday that
my kids needed me, and I needed to hug the ones that were here. I do hug
them. Every day. Lucy gets this one moment these days where the grief is hers, where I am wholly hers.
She never belonged to me. But I always belonged to her and Beezus and Thor. Lucia belonged to the sky and the fire and the wind. I don't know her. I never knew her. I miss everything I didn't know about her. I miss everything I did know about her. I hear her in the chimes in the Spring, feel her warmth in the wood fire that heats our house, smell her in the nag champa that we light to remember her.
I prayed a small thank you for the sky and went inside. Then I prayed to feel her, or have a dream of her.
Please, God, I just want to feel her again. Not in the wind, or the trees, but her. The weight of her in my arms. I want her to nuzzle, to open her eyes. I want to see her live.
I woke up four hours later. Unrested. Sad. The children were awake and wanting to play. I had no dreams. I just shuffled my way downstairs, poured coffee. The kids and I painted in the studio. We watched the sky turn brighter. No sunrise, just brighter.
I haven't cried about her death in a long time. This space is where I come to grieve, like a small sitting room in the gigantic hypothetical farmhouse where we can afford rooms to dedicate to a single emotion. The joy room. The meditation room. The grief room. That room has with a shrine to her, a large leather chair with a broken-in quilt. There is a table with enough room for a book and a cup of coffee, maybe my reading glasses. A box of tissue. The light is soft and a picture window with a seat facing east, overlooking trees and a lake, mountains in the background. That is where the sun rises. There is a sketch pad there. A zafu, a Buddha and a jizo. Windchimes that move indiscriminately. A fireplace.
I don't think we ever heal from our children's death. I will always be sad that Lucia died. That seems more normal than trying to heal. Healing is not even my fucking goal. I just want to have a day like I am having, I suppose. Solemn with pockets of joy and sadness and a feeling of her, or the feeling of a lack of her, all around me.
Thank you for being present with the anniversary of our daughter's death, and her birthday. Thank you for the notes, emails, wall posts, comments. I don't have to space to express the full depth of my gratitude. Your love warms me, holds me, makes me feel loved. Thank you.
* I am not sharing these things because I want you to tell me how good I am, or how wrong anyone else is. I
don't think any of this is an abnormal part of grief. This is grief for
me. It is guilt and shame and fear and nonacceptance and anger and
sadness and restlessness. All the emotions and obsessions from feeling
the weight of her death, they are all little emotional avoidances. Maybe you can relate to that too.