Today I am thinking of family, of love and of loss.
I’ve shared this story before, and I guess I will keep sharing it – remembering is all we have left of those we love. And today is chock full of remembering.
Our grief is about love; a woeful love song, a heartrending lament.
Nieces and nephews
When I was a young woman, I could not bear children. Infertility had struck, wounded me. It left me gasping for breath and seared my soul with deep longing. My sister and two brothers had children, and I adored them, still do. They became my surrogate children.
I fed all that ravenous yearning with loving these nephews and nieces of mine. We talked, played, hugged, shared movies, popcorn and candy. They were dreams come true. The little girl who grew up loving babies, loved these babies, these precious gifts. I found so much joy in time spent with them.
When my niece Elisabeth died, she was only 5 years old. It was sudden, no warning. It was catastrophic, blindingly painful. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, brilliant blue skies, sunshine and golden. It was a lie; the day was black, suffocating, surreal.
I remember the tears streaming down my Dad’s face as he tried but failed to eat the soup we were having at my parent’s apartment that afternoon. I remember sitting in my brother’s living room later when the funeral home came for a dress to bury her in.
I remember my feeling of horror. How could they put that precious wee girl in a cold grave? I couldn’t stand it. I panicked and wept and wept. It wasn’t right, this ending. Too soon. Too soon. Too soon to lose this tiny sprite, this little girl with soft brown hair and big blue eyes hidden behind glasses. I miss the tea parties and the hugs. I miss her.
Years pass and then the fall before my mother died we get a call from my other brother. His daughter, Seana, has cancer. It turns out to be Ovarian Cancer, one of the most fatal of all female cancers.
Seana was in her late 20s and she died when she was 31.
Bleak and ravaged, we absorb this death too, this tragedy. Disconsolate, we to try make sense of another untimely loss. The world drenched in sorrow. What desolation there is in grief, and we are forever altered.
Seana was a lover of life, a risk taker, a fighter through and through. She was courageous and beautiful. Eight years ago this day, this very day – gone. I miss her smile, her brown michievious eyes. I miss her.
I remember sharing with my cousin how guilty I felt for suffering so much over the loss of my nieces. I remember her telling me; “they were yours too.” They belong to all of you who love them. I was so thankful for her consolation.
Grief is like the waves in the ocean, it comes and sweeps you off of your feet, almost drowns you. Other days you can walk, even play in the waves. Loving someone makes us alive, it makes us want to sing. Grieving the loss of those I love is the cadence to this song, this melancholy melody, this sighing, this sorrow.
I will not tie this up with a pretty bow, even though I believe in heaven.
They are gone, and we are here, and every day is a new lesson in living. Every day we exist in the tension between carrying on and curling up. Yes, we find joy and purpose again. And yet, the missing doesn’t go away.
Every day we miss those we have lost.