a little bit of love left

sometimes it’s the innocent words that hurt us the most. the most harmless thoughts become real words that float out our mouths into the air, and cut the deepest. they have no motive behind them, no malice or aim to injure. but they are daggers to the heart.

“mama, are you still sad because tia angie is dead?”

the not so subtle reminder. the now-5-year-old easily senses i am dying inside, as i lay next to him in his bed, and try to get through our nightly rendition of “somewhere over the rainbow.” i can’t stop the tears as they pool under my eyes, my voice cracking. i beg the song to hurry up, but as i sing the words their meaning strikes my rawest nerve more than every before.

“someday i’ll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me”

my voice breaks, unable to finish the line. i look down at the sweetest face staring up at me… deep breaths… he asks me again. when Angie died i didn’t hide it from him. i couldn’t. i was woken from my sleep with the worst news imaginable, and instantly he knew something was seriously wrong. i filled every inch of the house with the sound of pure uncontrollable anguish, unable to control myself. he ran into my room, in tears, utterly confused and terrified as to what was happening. “mama what’s wrong? what’s wrong?” i laid on the floor, wailing until the breath stopped coming from my lungs. when i could make words i managed to tell him i was so very sad because tia angie died. and i hugged him tight, showering him with tears while i wailed. and he wouldn’t let me go. i’m fairly certain i scarred him for life.

yes sweetie, mama is still sad that tia angie died.

in the immediate week following her death we talked about death and dying a lot. he was coming with us to San Francisco for the week to get everything ready for her service, and to visit with family flying into town. it would be impossible to avoid talking about death when it would be surrounding him for the next week, so we ventured into unknown territory. i thought he would have so many questions but he really was most fixated on the $64,000 question… why did she die? i felt he was old enough to understand that death is a part of life, so i told him “at some point our body doesn’t work anymore and we go to be with God.” because that’s typically what happens to people, right? our physical body craps out on us and BOOM… do not pass Go, do not collect $200. but this was different. she wasn’t sick, her body wasn’t weak. and yet she left us regardless. so when he asked, i did what many parents do when they don’t have the answer: i lied to him. i lied to him to protect him from the terrifying reality at my mind’s forefront everyday: we may never know the why or the how. the reality is that i will have to find peace with the unknown, and i don’t know how to do that.

death terrifies me, that’s totally normal right? my fear comes mostly from selfish reasons: i am not ready to leave my loved ones, and i sure as hell don’t want to be separated from those i love. losing angie at such a young age has further emblazoned into my psyche the fear of dying. it terrifies me to know i will never know when my number is called until the moment is upon me. i agonize over her last moments that night… did she realize she was dying… please God, i hope not. did she suffer… i can’t believe i think these things. there is something seriously wrong with me. she was alone… was she scared… usually by this point i am sobbing hysterically, pleading with God that all these answers be “no.”i am seriously sick, i can’t help but feel these painful questions bubble up. my heart is so pained with the unknown because it leaves the door ajar for these unimaginable, tremendously awful thoughts. after drowning in that pain for  a while i manage to shove them down, out of sight, and remind myself that she would not want me to obsess like this, she wouldn’t want me to think these thoughts. it will just make me crazy. if i’m not already. but every now and again they return, uninvited.

i suppose i shouldn’t be surprised he keeps bringing up death, he had more exposure to it in 1 week than most do in years. exactly one week after angie passed away we lost my Oompa (my Dad’s dad) at the ripe age of 93. i loved my Oompa (and i know how bad this sounds) but i wasn’t sad over his death… mostly because i was incapable of grieving anything other than angie, but also because for years he had been telling us “i’m ready to go!” (as in, “upstairs”). he’d even not-so-subtly point to the sky when he said it. he had lived a long life, longer than he wished to live, and finally gone on hospice not even 2 weeks before angie’s death. we as a family chose not to tell him of her passing because we thought it would only hurt him (and he struggled with some mild dementia already, would he have to re-live that over and over?). looking at this picture now, i wonder what went through his mind when she was the one welcoming him into the party in the sky… i can imagine a good amount of confusion, then a chuckle under his breath, and a comment to the effect of “got any new tattoos since the last time i saw you?”

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we all had death on the mind. the weeks that followed were rough, with many nights spent sobbing and wandering the house aimlessly. no amount of effort could hide my own collapse into darkness, my son saw it. his little ears heard so much, more than i wished. as a parent you never want to burden your child with your own pain. your job in life is to protect them, not hurt them. to know i may have hurt him just adds to my heavy heart.he was reminded on a daily basis that his mama was more than sad, she was broken. maybe that explains why he continues to innocently cut me deep with the reminders that my beautiful sister is gone. maybe those painful memories are just as much in his brain as they are in mine. or maybe he doesn’t know how long i’ll be sad, so he keeps asking. i can’t bear to tell him “forever”.

he can tell i am struggling. i try to finish the song, having to whisper at the end because my voice is broken for good. he sits up in the bed, and turns to look at me with his big dark brown eyes. they have the same eyes, so full of expression. his plump little cheeks still make him look like my little baby boy but what comes out of his mouth is anything but…

“you know what mama? tia angie was young but her heart only had a little bit of love left in it and that’s why she had to die.”

he rolls over to snuggle his little teddy bear, wrapping his arm around mine in the process as if he is the one comforting me. the tears stream down my face like rivers. it was so matter-of-fact. it hits me… he is right, that is the answer. her heart only had a little bit of love left in it. she had given her heart to everyone else, and left nothing for herself. i may never have a tangible explanation for the loss of my angie, but i hope i may find a shred of peace with this one. at least for tonight.

particles

i am starting to see the dust settling… the particles fall slowly through the air, they appear weightless in the air… before they reach me they are harmless. they are the motions, actions, decisions of everyone else in the world moving on with the exception of me. i am still here, in this dark place. i am safe in this hole, nothing can touch me. i see the dust settling, and i blow it away, it cannot reach me. i am “moving on” and yet my feet go nowhere. i sit, emotionally stagnant in this place, even though my physical body navigates through the world. my heart sits in a place stuck in time, a place where life was how it used to be. before it was turned upside down, when things made sense. when angie lived. when i could hear her raucous laugh, feel her embrace. i want to stay here forever. i am living and reliving everything i can that brings her closer to me. i pull out all the photos, i spend all night wracking my brain for memories. i listen to her favorite bands, i even gently cradle her clothes in my hands, run my fingers over their threads and breathe her in. this is all i have left of her. and i see the dust settling. the world moving. and i refuse to move. i see the particles… they are weightless, harmless, and yet they come to rest like a suffocating film on my mouth.

nothing prepares you for this. i can’t breathe. how i’ve gone a day without crying is a miracle and out of nowhere comes the inevitable collapse and torrential downpour of tears. i am supposed to move along. how. sometime tell me how to do this. the day in and day out. i wake up. why, why am i allowed to wake up? why me? why not her. i have no answers for any of this. and perhaps even if i did, would it ease the pain? nothing will bring her back. answers will not give me any more precious time with her. and yet i agonize over not knowing the “why”.

ironically i create these particles. my physical body navigates the world. i go to work. i push papers around and send empty emails. i beg the clock to hurry up. i just want to be home, let me surround myself with amazing husband and son. those are the only things that matter. day in and day out, i go through motions. i move. i “move on” and yet i don’t. i create the particles that ironically try to suffocate me.

and i am not the only one suffering, i know this. i am reminded of it with every beat of my heart. this constant reality cuts nearly as bad as my own pain. at least with my infertility grief, the pain was in limited in some ways to just me and amazing husband. this is a whole new level of torment. everyone is wounded, everyone is cut deep, exsanguinating before me. i watch those i love the most crumble into heaps on the ground. i wish i had the strength to lift them up off the ground, but my own knees are untrustworthy. how can i help anyone, i can barely get out of bed myself. and so i watch it all fall apart. i watch the destruction ensue. there’s no stopping the aftermath of this. angie’s death has blown my family into pieces and all i can do it watch the particles float weightlessly down to the ground and create a damage far more excessive than you could ever imagine. how do you get through this?

i can’t move. i want to stay here forever. don’t uproot me from this place, i will blow away the dust until i am out of breath. i will. i cannot leave, i cannot leave her here. i need her. i need her close.

 

“the atlantic was born today and i’ll tell you how…

the clouds opened up and let it out.

i was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere

when the water filled every hole.

and thousands upon thousands made an ocean.

making islands where no island should go.

oh no.

those people were overjoyed; they took to their boats.

i thought it  less like a lake and more like a moat,

the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your door have been silenced forever more.

the distance is quite simply much too far for me to row

it seems farther than ever before

oh no.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer.

i need you so much closer

i need you so much closer.”

-death cab for cutie

transatlanticism

i love this photo. it’s angie just being angie, no intense makeup or silly expression.

just her and her little sonny boy.

just her day in and day out.

i miss her so much. words don’t even come close. i need her closer.

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there she comes

somehow another week has passed since angie died. i cringe writing that. the words “angie” and “died” should not be seen sitting adjacent to one another, it’s unnatural. it is much too painful, i cannot look at them together and yet i stare at the words. i stare until they look more like blurry pixels, begging them to shift their shape into different words… a different name, a different reality. a world without her. today i had to revisit some pictures of her, as i am prepping them for an upcoming slideshow to present at her celebration of life party. why i thought i was strong enough to go through them (again, first time was just before her funeral) is beyond me… it was a million times harder this time around. at one point i threw the laptop in the general direction of amazing husband and begged him to do it, i couldn’t bear another second of seeing her face so full of life. it was so incredibly painful to see this face so full of love and light and positivity, because my sick and twisted mind insisted on triggering the glaringly disparate image of the last time i laid eyes on her.

you guys, i had to see her at the memorial. i HAD to see her again, i couldn’t pass on the chance to gaze upon her face one last time. i was terrified, but called to do so. i knew it wasn’t “her” lying in front of me, this person before me was a shell of what she once was. i “knew” she was already gone, but that was all i had left at the moment, this person that looked like my angie but definitely wasn’t. it was my last chance to do all the things we should do every day with our most loved ones but we let life get in the way… i had to hold her hand again. i studied her fingers, she always complained she had ugly hands. i loved her hands because they were working hands, always busy knitting, or gardening, sewing… they reflected her, they represented everything she loved doing. i had to stroke her long beautiful hair, it didn’t feel the same but in that moment it was all that i had. i soaked her in. i stared at her face, bargaining with her and God to have her suddenly wake up. i begged her to stop this insanity. i knew it was useless and i knew i was temporarily crazy but i couldn’t stop pleading for it to be a cruel joke. i HAD to see her again. i had to tell her i loved her, a million times over. i know she knew that, because i had said that to her over the phone 4 days before she died. but it had to be said again because i would never have the chance to stand before her and tell her. i laid my head on her chest and told her over and over and over again, my tears dropping into her shirt, carrying with them everything i needed to tell her. i’m never going to see her again, and it kills me.

the tears are unstoppable. they sink into the cracks of my keyboard like salt creeps into the cracks of my gaping wounded heart. why is it so hard now. maybe the reality is sinking in that she’s really gone… maybe i was in a state of shock the first time. maybe i just couldn’t allow my brain to accept the truth and i blocked out the pain? the pain, the sinking hole in my heart that only she can fill. i cannot count the holes in this heart. i am reminded of her constantly. i have seemingly held it together these last couple of days, saving my breakdowns for the middle of the night, when i’m finally getting to bed.. when no one can see me lose control. i don’t want to cause undue stress on my family, we are all suffering and the last thing i wish is to burden anyone with my pain. but i can’t turn off my head. i keep replaying the events. i am sick. i am sick with hurt. broken.

and somehow i put one foot in front of the other. it’s been three weeks and somehow i am still breathing. i am still here, not present by any definition of the word, but i am here. i am showing up. i showered, and ate and even left the house a few times. and today went back to work. not sure how i did that, or if i did anything that contributed to society but it happened. and as i ask myself how the hell do i have the strength to do anything, i can only credit everyone BUT me. i would not be breathing without my family and my friends. i have suffered a great deal of pain these last few years with infertility and pregnancy losses, but as i have said before, the pain of losing angie trumps everything. my support group, my friends and family, have literally held me up when i could not stand, now more than ever before.

i cannot thank you enough for your love.

i am so very grateful to all of you who have reached out with letters, emails, texts, hugs… words cannot describe how important your support has been to keeping me from drowning these last few weeks. i’d especially like to thank a group of women, most of whom i’ve never met in real life… my potatoes. a tribe of kind souls who have suffered similar journeys of miscarriage and pregnancy losses, who welcomed me into their family and offered unconditional love and support while i navigated the roads of infertility. they have faithfully continued to wrap their arms around me despite almost all of their journeys taking them over the rainbow, while mine has left me in the perpetual storm. we may be at very different places in life now, but our hearts are alike. i received these engraved plates in the mail today, and bawled my eyes out the moment i held them in my hand. so thoughtful and touching. i will proudly wear them to honor her memory. the picture on the right is one of my favorite series of pictures with angie, just a reflection of her fun-loving wacky personality. i miss her so much.

Pic Jointer

i know i posted this poem already but i feel called to let it jumble around in my head again… i’d so much like to think of her arriving to welcoming arms.

the ship

“what is dying-

i am standing on the sea shore,
a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
she is an object of beauty and i stand watching her
till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
“she is gone.” gone! where?
gone from my sight that is all.
she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when i saw her
and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
the diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.

and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
“she is gone”,
there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
“there she comes”
– and that is dying. a horizon and just the limit of our sight.
lift us up, oh Lord, that we may see further.”

-bishop charles henry brent

#rememberangie