I slump in front of my laptop, straining at the screen through tear-swollen eyes, sipping a strong mug of tea. It’s an important work day, but the aftermath of a crying session the night before numbs me like a hangover.
You’d think I’d be used to this ‘wailing woman’ stuff. But I’m not one to cry easily. I’m still not used to crying because of grief. I loathe how much energy it demands.
Despite my sore eyes and foggy head, I have to get on with the day. The children have places to be. I have deadlines to meet. The cupboards are bare, again, but I won’t be going shopping. Today is not a ‘people-facing’ day.
It was the leavers’ prom that set me off. Seeing photos of Abi’s friends, who had seemingly overnight become young adults, shocked me. My memories of Abi are stuck at 12, the age she died. I remember them too, that age. Like a distant relative who always buys presents for your younger self, I heard myself saying ‘Wow, haven’t they grown up!’ and felt the spear piercing my heart reminding me that she hadn’t grown up with them.
I cry, to process that she’s dead. She should be here experiencing the dramas of life as a teen; she should have been stressing about her dress and hair. But we cremated her beautiful body. What was her is now dust. What was her is now apart from us. I believe she is more glorious than I could ever know on earth. Yet my earthly view is still all I can see.
Things had been going well. My anxiety was improving, my mind stronger. I was daring to make plans for the future. Life was busy once again and the house was full of voices, laughter and calls of ‘Muuum’…
Just as soon as I felt I’d found ‘a place’ for the grief, my heart shattered with renewed pain. The doubts, fears, despair crept back in and I couldn’t help but let it. Sleep, solitude and silence were the only things that soothed me, until the cloud lifted.
Yet, I realised something. When I’m feeling my weakest, I am amazing!
Yes, that’s me, singing my praises, something I rarely do and not since Abi died. After all, I wasn’t able to save her, I could no longer claim to be any kind of wonderful. Anxiety is a thief that robs the best of you and turns your mind into a jibbering wreck. Doubt. Lack of confidence. Low self-esteem. A constantly negative voice telling me ‘no, you’ll get hurt, again’.
But I fight it, albeit weakly. I am amazing!
I care for my four other children. They are happy, fed, loved.
I get myself washed and dressed, presentable to the outside world.
I do my work with as much professionalism and enthusiasm as I can muster.
I take my son to his swimming class on time. I don’t forget appointments (well, not many).
I get food in and dinner made, of sorts, but we never go hungry.
I go through the motions of living.
Now that is surviving!
I’m surviving even though my heart aches, my eyes sting and endless sleep beckons….
But before my cheeks have had time to dry, I’m pulled back to the present, my inbox pings another job to do, a text from a friend keeps me grounded, I whisper a quick prayer to Him who is right there with me. The moment is now, and I must keep on living it. For all of us.
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