I started this post about how time soothes the worst of the grief and wound up with six miles of text. There is so much to say, and many topics have multiple aspects; I realize I’m going to have to stay very focused on a topic, knowing that I’ll have to revisit certain themes more than once. I’ll try not to be redundant.
To be perfectly blunt, during those early weeks and months after Izzy left us, I wanted out. I wanted to be where Izzy is now. I wanted to run out the front door and not stop until…? Didn’t matter. Away from the pain. I could not, for the life of me, imagine having to live the rest of my life without her. And not only without her, but with this new life. The life in which I would never fully know joy again. Where even the best times would be tainted by loss. Where I’d have year after year to contend with, living with the new me whose heart is torn in half, the new family that has a huge hole in it, the new reality in which one of my children has gone ahead of me. We’re supposed to outlive our children. That’s the agreement we think we’ve made when coming into these physical bodies. But it’s not real. What was suddenly very real was having to endure another 20, 30, 40 years without her. Wading through this fog of pain for decades? I couldn’t imagine it. I didn’t want those years.
I never sincerely considered ending it all, but it those early, dark days, it was a comfort to me to know that I could. In case of emergency, break glass. I wasn’t suicidal, but I spoke the language. I got it. To escape the pain and to be with her seemed like the best option.
But I clung to the words “It will get better.” A grieving mom, 20 years in, told me that it will get better. Another friend who’d recently lost her husband said the flipside, “It won’t get worse.” I was sure it would. I was sure the pent up, compartmentalized grief would explode and I’d go crazy or wind up in the hospital. But it did get better. It is getting better.
Over time, the comforting thought of joining Izzy slowly morphed into the knowledge that I had only 30 years or so left (maybe) and I’d be done with this life. Not exactly the most optimistic way to view life, but it was the next best thing.
But that changed too. The thoughts of just ‘putting up’ with the time I had left on this earth morphed into living a life for Talia. For Bill. For not giving up on the people I still have and love just as much. Izzy, I know, wouldn’t want me to take one second for granted. It took months, but I have gotten myself back on track to create a beautiful life for Talia. She deserves to have a mother who isn’t just trying to get this business of living over with, but who lives it fully with her. For Bill and my family.
And even for me.
Time and again, my grief counselor told me “Just get through the day” and I see why. Early in grief, your only job is to make it through one day. Then another. Until you have a stack of days to look back on, and realize you made it. Merely surviving slowly morphs into something more than just barely living. For me, that’s to dive into the refuge of my writing, and toward the hope that I can do something meaningful in Izzy’s name and carve out a little bit of happiness for myself.
I’m only seven months into a life without Isabel. I don’t have any answers, only suggestions for those hurting too about what has worked for us to survive. IT WILL GET BETTER. Better, but not the way it was. Easier, but not easy. Never easy. Those were the words I went back to again and again in the worst of the pain, and they helped to pull me through.
To anyone listening (or reading) I say them to you now, with my best hope and love for you in your journey. ❤