I wrote this a few nights ago in preparation for Monday, December twelfth. I wasn’t sure I could handle getting the words out that day, and so I decided to tackle it early. Turns out I’m sharing it even earlier, and on a Thursday, because I’m taking part in a blogfest about this very subject…to help promote the launch of The Golden Sky by E C Stilson…
Normally I write about things having to do with romance on Monday’s, but not today. Because today marks an anniversary I’ve been dreading for the past few months. Exactly one year ago, my oldest daughter passed away during the night from complications following surgery. She had just graduated from college that spring, had her whole life ahead of her, and it was just not something I expected to happen.
It’s been a difficult year full of ‘firsts.’ First year that I only have two kids instead of three since my youngest was born. First holidays knowing that she wouldn’t be here for the big suppers I cooked, or to call me if she couldn’t come. That first birthday that she hasn’t been on this earth.
It’s also been a year when I see three threes every time I turn around. On such a regular basis it’s almost unbelievable. I see 3:33 on my computer clock several times every week. And when I want to waste time playing my favorite game (Mah Jongg Dark 3-D), those numbers come up all the time. Even the price on the marquee at the gas station was $3.33 a gallon one recent morning.
Why is that significant? Because she was born at 3:33 p.m. It’s like life is conspiring to remind me that she was here…even when I’m trying really hard to put it out of my mind.
I’ve literally been on the emotional roller coaster from hell, starting with acute depression the first few months, which included the most horrible, frightening nightmares I’ve ever had. When it got to the point where I was nervous about going to bed, I made an appointment with my doctor for antidepressants. Fortunately, as I learned to deal with the situation a little better, my need for them went away. Not that I don’t still struggle some days, but it’s getting easier to distract myself.
One things that was really hard for me was getting to the place where I could say, “My daughter died.” Sometimes it was almost as though I was saying it on purpose, like testing it out to see how it felt. And it never felt good. Why is it that saying, ‘passed away,’ sounds nicer? Like it isn’t quite as bad as dying? She died.
I still can’t really listen to this song, but Mr. Clapton clearly knows what this is like.
Another thing that’s been hard is trying to break the habit of referring to my youngest daughter as…well…my youngest daughter. There’s no longer any need to make that distinction. If I say my daughter is going to see a movie with me, it’s pretty obvious which one I’m referring to. Yet I still am unable to stop myself from qualifying which one I’m talking about much of the time. And I won’t even get into how much you worry about your other kids when something like this happens.
Want to hear something really bizarre? The night before it happened I’d actually thought, as I’ve done periodically through the years, that three kids out of seven was better than it could have been. And less than twelve hours later, I got the call. Then I only had two out of seven. To explain, I lost three other children at various stages during my pregnancies, and one died shortly after he was born.
I really wish I still had three kids…
Now I guess it’s time to stop dwelling on this first anniversary. I just needed to acknowledge it in some way, and here it is.
One more thing though. This is a poem my mother wrote for her when she was about four years old:
My Momma calls me Baby,
she loves me quite a lot,
I’m Grandpa’s Palsey Walsey,
the best one that he’s got.
To Grandma I am Pumpkin,
that is what she’s always called me,
I’m Uncle Jefrey’s Buddy
and hope I always will be.
Aunt Kelly calls me Sweetie Bear,
she’s always called me that,
Now I’m Uncle Justin’s Girl Friend,
except when I’m still his brat!
She was the only grandchild/niece until she was nearly seven years old. Clearly very much loved…and just a little bit spoiled. It’s really hard to know that she’s not here anymore.