How Nice to Still be Able to See You

 

The night I found out my sister and her husband took their lives, my daughter was four months old. My dad called my husband just as I had finished a night feed for her and I heard him say, "They took their lives.” I remember not wanting to cry because I would wake Sloan. I remember talking so quietly on the phone to my parents and brother thinking, "I have to go to my parents house, but I can't leave the baby.” Eventually my husband convinced me to go down to the living room so I wouldn't worry about waking her. She did wake again a few hours later, as babies do,  and I remember sitting in her room in the dark, holding her as she fell back asleep, paralyzed with grief thinking, “I can’t move. I can’t get out of this chair. How will I get her back into her crib? I literally can’t move." All I could do was tell myself I HAD to. I had to get up, I had to move, I had to carry her to her crib, put her down gently and hold it together.

In the coming days I didn't know how I would manage. How could I take care of this little one who depended on me so much when I was completely broken inside? My husband did everything he could to help, but he couldn't do it all. I found myself scared for bed time because it was dark, quiet and my mind would race thinking about everything. Eventually, I began to get confused about what was grief and what was hormones. Postpartum hormones are no joke, so I found myself questioning the genuineness of my thoughts and feelings. I would get lost in grief and then have to quickly pull myself out of it because I was needed. I would watch my husband with our daughter and my heart would break as I would picture my parents doing all the same things with my sister as a newborn. Having my little one was such a blessing, but made me grieve so deeply for my parents. I just couldn't imagine the heartbreak. I would look at her and my heart would swell and crumble all at once.

Everyone kept telling me what a blessing having a baby around for such a difficult time was, but all I could think was, "You aren't the ones up all night or not allowing yourself to feel what needs to be felt.” Part of me would think she was our angel sent to help us through it all, but then I would think how unfair it was to put that on her tiny shoulders. I would worry she was being robbed of a mom in her first year because I was so consumed by grief. I would panic that I was doing some type of damage to her that neither her or I could see.

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We just celebrated her first birthday and I can truly say she is the most amazing little girl. She is strong, happy, playful, and resilient. She loves her family and I know she feels loved. She has had more months of life with a family in the throes of grief than not, but she is still thriving. There are still times when I will be playing with her, or especially putting her to bed, where thoughts of my sister will stop me in my tracks. Where I feel paralyzed again, but she will give me a smile, or rest her hand on my chest, as if to tell me, "It's okay Momma, I'm here.” I take some deep breaths and we continue on, still taking our days minute by minute and second by second.

My sister is never far from my mind, and I make sure to tell Sloan about her whenever I can. I want her to grow up knowing it is okay if you are not always okay, but you are ALWAYS loved. I want her to know that even in the darkest places, she is never alone. I want her to know that even though her aunty and uncle are not here with us physically anymore, they are always with us in our hearts, and I hope she will carry them in hers as well. Sometimes when I look at my daughter I see my sister, and that can be hard, but then I think, "How nice to still be able to see you.”

-Megan Dereski

 
Callie KennedyComment