Days like this, they haunt me. Blue skies, unseasonable warm, leaves of gold glittering in the breeze. I remember this weather. The same as six years ago. How unfair is it that loved ones must die? How unbelievably cruel when the day is picture perfect? Shouldn't the skies mimic the complete and utter despair? Shouldn't the earth darken when the heart does, too?
Today is Halloween and everyone is giddy with excitement. My son carefully coordinated his "nerd costume" and made sure his candy bag had no holes in it. I passed the duties of trick or treating off to Matt.
I just can't do it. I cannot keep it together a moment longer.
October is so very hard for me to navigate. Avery's birthday starts it off, we end with her death. In between is a balancing act - one that I'm getting better at, but I'm still such a novice. Some people want to talk about Avery, others have moved on. Some still can't quite swallow around the sorrow in their throat, others forget there was an accident at all. I can't seem to figure out who is who until it's awkwardly too late.
It's at the point where there are more and more new families at school who never knew Avery existed at all. They just assume Brody has always been an only child. I still don't know how to answer seemingly benign questions like how many children do you have?
I find myself wondering so much - would Airheads candy still be her favorite? Or would her palate matured along with her age? Would she still like school? Would she have a job? The 11-year old would study her tookus off and get a job at Starbucks. But I only know my 11-year old daughter. My 17-year old daughter will always be a stranger; she will never be revealed to me.
I balance between grieving a child lost and celebrating the child living, constantly filled with guilt because I always fall short with one of them. Today, I am not in a good place to see swarms of happy children laughing together.
Six years ago today I felt everything catch up with me. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think. I needed to escape but I didn't know to where. Brody, then 3, kept asking when Mimi (the name he gave Avery) was coming home. She had been gone for a week. Jadrian, then 17, was so burdened with guilt and pain I couldn't comfort her. Matt had no idea how to talk to me, much less comfort me. Everywhere I turned someone needed me to hold them up and I just couldn't anymore. So I ran away.
Technically, I hopped in my car and started driving. I got exactly two blocks away when I was met with more children than I could count. So much joy! How dare they. How dare they live their lives as if tragedy hadn't touched them yet!
How dare I judge their joy.
This living with loss is so much like walking a tightrope. Some days you know there is a crowd beneath you cheering you on; but at other times everyone has left to go to dinner and it starts to drizzle. Sometimes I feel confident striding across, other times I barely inch forward. Sometimes I mess up so bad that my balancing stick falls miles below me and shatters.
There are days when I will be the mother I'm supposed to be to my living son, laughing during a game of Yahtzee or watching another episode of The Worst Witch cuddled up together.
And then there are days like today when he really wants me to come with but I just don't have it in me. When I know I won't be able to stop the tears. When I have no more strength left.
Today, Brody went trick or treating with his Dad while I took a super hot shower and cried because the day is hard. I yelled out to God just so I could tell Him one more time how angry I am with Him. How I am still mad and hurt and sad because I miss Avery so very, very much, and I don't think that was fair and it just really sucks and I'm tired of it sucking. And then I asked Him to strengthen me, because that's His promise to me: never to leave me, to be my rock and my foundation, my source of strength. And because I was able to do all that, when Brody gets home I'll be able to ooh and ahh over all the loot he collected in his cute nerd costume and beg him to give up all the red Starbursts to his mom.