It has been over two years since my oh so deeply loved daughter died and was born.
I have treaded the path of mourning, healing, camaraderie in grief. I have grown and written and photographed. I have cried and choked on crying. Quietly sobbed.
I have missed her in the most everyday, common moments, when there suddenly she was- Luna, forever absent, missing. Yet, somehow, so fully present.
My now 5-year-old explained to me the other day, in his gorgeous lispy Spanish, full of invented verb tenses, how if Luna hadn’t died, he wouldn’t have to think about her so much.
Ah, yes, my sweet son, the work of grief, of remembrance and love. It is hard and it sucks.
We are a little family, the six of us. We learn how to make space for each of our kids. I think because my partner and I were initially so concerned about how Luna’s death would affect them, how it would shape and influence their young lives, that we have been very mindful about grieving and loving each other through it, with patience and respect for what they need.
Then there’s him. Her dad.
I haven’t wanted to look at my partner’s grief very much. In a way, it was easy: we grieve differently. It was a lot of work to care for each other through grief. We have different needs. I learned to honor his silence, to stand by him giving him space. He understood the urgency of dropping everything to hang Luna’s prayer flag right this very minute, right now, of days in bed and sudden fits of crying.
But I don’t pause very much in the thought that he lost his little girl.
He was making dinner not too long ago. Something about the way he stood in front of the oven, about the warm light in our kitchen, the dark night shinning outside, it might have been the music he had chosen or the smell of home cooking… maybe it was the surprise moment of our sons playing peacefully… but suddenly I looked at him and saw a dad that didn’t have his little girl. I saw her absence. I saw her missing from his side and it broke my heart. My already broken, re-patched heart that pulls at times and reopens, it shattered in an altogether different way.
I am embarrassed to say I shut it down. I think I hugged him. Asking for comfort on his wide chest. I said words and he knew. He is missing his daughter. We clung to each other for a while.
And then we let go. Because the quiet playing in the other room grew louder, the table had to be set and the food in the oven was ready.
I am still scared of going in there, of seeing the enormity of his loss.
I can barely cope with my own.
And I write this rather freely because he doesn’t read my posts unless I specifically show him. His grief is private, without community and sharing.
We talk about partners grieving differently. A difference in ways that is sometimes lovely, and often very hard. We speak of patience and love, and hope they will outweigh the difference. For us, it does. Two years in, we have learned to hold space for each other’s grief. But I am still to scared to understand it. Because my heart can’t take on the knowledge that he missed out on holding hands with his little girl.