by Ruqayya Gibson
One day at a time.
Easy for you to say when you are greeted by the beauty of the sun each morning.
For me, the sun is a seething reminder of the missing pieces of my life and it forces my eyes to open though I’d prefer they stay closed.
For some, one day at a time is a simplified way of getting through life making it easier as you look forward to tucking all your children in safely at night. For me, one day at a time is an endless day of watching each grain of sand descend in slow motion through the hourglass.
One day at a time is a rehearsed soliloquy. A pre-programmed mantra meant to keep me focused on the present.
For you, the present is a gift. For me, the present is filled with the unfathomable absence of my child.
Take it one step at a time? Easy for you to say when your path is paved.
For me, every step I take is rocky and painful- as I take steps on rocks that are pointy and piercing my skin. I’m weighed down by the weight of grief.
And some days it’s just too heavy to carry.
I’m following this path, trying not to look back even though everything I wanted was in my past and now my future holds uncertainty.
One breath at a time. It sounds nice and positive like I’m making progress but I look up and can’t believe I’m still repeating this dismal phrase. This lie!
It is not one day at a time – it is one step at a time…
One moment at a time…
One breath at a time…
and I can’t breathe.
My heart hurts and I just wish it would stop.
Some days my heart hurts so much that I think it will stop, but it never does.
When COVID-19 first hit, I thought to myself maybe this was my time and God would have mercy on me and let me go be with my son.
Then I got sick and got better and was still stuck here.
Really?! 56,000 deaths from COVID-19 and I’m still here?
I wish I could just wake up from this nightmare I have been forced to live. Yesterday one day at a time was a liberating phrase…today it is torture.
Grief is crazy like that- the moment to moment emotional embodiment of polar opposites. I am so tired of giving myself pep talks just to get out of bed. I tell myself “be intentional” and “work on healing.”
I am so tired of how much effort and intention I must put into making it through a single day!
One day should not be this hard! One day should not be so long! I go one day without intentional effort and I’m paralyzed.
In the world of grieving, one day can be gentle or one day can feel like you’re experiencing death all over again. It’s been 411 days of living one day at a time and I honestly don’t know how many more days I can make it one step at a time.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I was up well after the birds started to sing. Sleep is the only thing that I look forward to because when I’m asleep my brain finally takes a break from the haunting thoughts that invade my head. It allows me to forget all the things I could have done to possibly change the outcome.
But ever since the quarantine sleep evades me. I was sleeping ok before the pandemic but isolation and anxiety are a dangerous combination. Some nights are restful and others are relentless.
Either way, I usually wake up with intense pain in my soul. The missing part starts aching and the longing never stops.
I worked so hard yesterday to get to feeling ok at night and now here I am sinking into the darkness again. I hate the darkness because I never know exactly how deep the hole will go when I lean in.
But I learned that fighting it only pulls me under more violently so I just let myself go and float on the waves until they take me ashore.
I am tired. Tired of healing but never being healed.
Tired of taking 2 steps forward just to stay in the same place.
One day at a time is exhausting and some days I just don’t want to do it. I just can’t get out of bed. I lay there real still hoping to just disappear.
Waiting for it to be night again so I can go to sleep with the hope of seeing you in my dream.
All the while, wishing this was a dream that I could wake up from.
Why won’t God let me wake up? People always say have faith. My faith is not the problem. I have faith that you are with our Creator – but is it so wrong for me to want you here with me? Or for me to want to be there with you?
If to be with the Lord is to be at peace, why is it so wrong for me to want peace? I’m trying to faithfully fulfill my purpose. But I just want to be reunited with you.
I want to be who I was. I want to hold you once again. I want to smile and really mean it… I want to smile without it hurting.
I want to forget that this ever happened but still remember that you lived. I’m doing time. Time is the only thing that separates me from you.
One day at a time is also one day closer to being with you again. Soon all the days that I must serve without you will have passed and the last sand keeping me from you will have descended.
Until then, I will do my best, one day at a time. Though it’s not comforting, it is the only way I can maneuver through this. One day at a time.
The thought of a week or a month or a year is just too overwhelming. I don’t know if I can get through another year without you.
But I know I can get through the day. I can make it through today.
So as cliche as it is… one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time is all I can handle and that’s ok.
I move forward with you in my heart, in my soul, in every crevice of my being.
I carry you with me with every breath, every step, every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruqayya Gibson suddenly lost her 17-year-old son Damani in March 2019. She is learning to live again after the unexpected tragedy. She resigned from her job as a teacher and coach and started the Damani Gibson Foundation in his honor and founded the podcast Healing Hearts to document the journey parents go through after childloss. Ruqayya is a public speaker and a life coach. She lives with her husband and her living son in Texas. Find her on Instagram @ruqayyagibson