There is a blue ink pen in a corner on the floor of the kitchen. It has been there since Mabel died and I can't bring myself to pick it up. I sweep around it day after day, noticing it but never bending forward to move it. Likely someone will do it for me now that I've mentioned it and it won't bother me when they do. It's just something I haven't been able to do myself.
I walk in and out of her room constantly.
At first I thought I may keep the doors closed on hard days but I quickly realized that every day is hard so that seemed foolish. The doors have windows on them; a true gift when she was alive, but now they only seem to taunt me as I open and close them to vacuum. At some point in every day the cat lays on her bed in the place where she used to sleep. Surprisingly, it brings me some comfort but I find myself eager to straighten the bed once he has moved. I find myself doing it nonchalantly many times throughout the day.
We haven't moved a thing. In fact, Chris made it very clear that he's more than fine with her room staying exactly the same forever. Both kids have expressed the same. So half a package of size 3 diapers still lay stacked in the tidy bin next to her bed, along with extension sets and syringes that my friends left behind after making their sweep through the house to purge medical supplies quickly after she died.
I remember making it clear that I wanted her food and medications gone from the house quickly. I couldn't stand the thought of having to see them, and honestly I would have wanted it all gone sooner if that had been an option. To me her food did the opposite of nourish her in the last few months of her life and her medicine was always ineffectual. But I can't lie and say that I haven't wanted to smell her grape flavored formula or that I haven't opened the cabinet where her medicine used to be and stood quietly, blankly staring into the empty space that now stares back at me.
Again with the mocking.
God, what I wouldn't give to sit and write a frivolous blog post about the morning fragrance of my home in the fall or the vibrancy of a simplistic life.
Rather, I sit to type and can't help but recall the smell of death on my baby's breath just three short months ago and the way it felt to hold her hot, feverish body just hours before her last breath escaped her.
What I wouldn't give to be able to go to my yoga class and not spend the entire time that should be dedicated to quiet and meditation sobbing hot tears. Because instead of appreciating my body for all of it's capabilities and being grateful and accepting of where I am, I feel sorry for the suffering she endured in hers. I have yet to feel anything other than ache and anguish deep within me physically.
I had to pick Braden up from school today because of a belly ache. He called from his teacher's phone...again. The teachers are being incredibly patient and I'm so grateful but there is just no one who can understand what it looks like in our home from day to day. I can almost visibly see the edge that we're all walking on; missing her, longing for her, coming out of shock, leaning into a new normal because we sort of have to, but not at all wanting to.
It's nauseating for me to look at their faces and yet not be able to remotely comprehend their pain.
I, her mother; they, her siblings.
None of it makes sense without her here and they know it.
I did manage to pull out of fall decorations last week and Braden seemed excited. It was mindless, like everything lately, but I felt accomplished in trying. As I was going through boxes I came across several crocheted bonnets that granny had made for Mabel that she always wore in the early fall. I smelled them, but nothing smells like her. I inhale deep, almost holding my breath just for the scent of her but it's useless.
She's not here, I constantly have to remind myself.
Chris has been gone all week and I've done my best to stay away from the house as well. I had no idea how hard it would be to be here alone without him. I don't know what I expected but it has been completely overwhelming. Emotionally I did really well. I kept myself busy and have been distracted and just plugged through. Today, though, I feel exhausted from just trying and am relieved he'll soon be home. We're clearly grieving with one another more than I even realized.
I sat down at my computer last week when I was up late alone and tried to begin writing Mabel's story.
I started from twelve weeks before her death because that is when we had a distinct moment that changed everything for all of us. A seizure like Chris and I had never seen overtook our girl for several minutes and honestly, it was horrific. I would rather live the day of her beautiful, peaceful death a thousand times over than even one more second of something like that.
It was terrifying and life changing and we both knew it.
But as I sat to write, the details consumed me and I couldn't put it all together and nothing made sense. I was unnerved and distraught and I let it overtake my mind.
"It's too soon," I reassured myself, "and that's ok."
I gave myself a few days and let my spirit settle.
I have to remind myself that people do not just become writers. Being a writer is exactly like being a musician, an artist, or even an athlete.
You either train and practice all of your life with all of your heart to become one, or you are born one; with the natural talent, gifts and capabilities to see it through.
Since the time I was old enough to hold a pen, I have been a writer.
And then God gave me a story.
It is one that I know is meant to be told and heard.
It's gritty, tenacious, sad, joyful, victorious, beautiful, messy, true, and perfect.
And also, it is ours.
I am truly the only one who can write it because I am the only one who lived it.
So I just keep praying that God would give me not only the wisdom, courage, and strength to write the words but that I would be sensitive to myself in doing so. That I would be patient and gracious with myself in this grief and that when life carves out time for me to devote only to writing her story; His story, I would be in tune to that and set my focus on it.
But not until then. Not until I'm ready.
For now, I can't even pick up the blue pen in the kitchen...and that is ok.
I cry fast and hard through yoga class and that is ok.
I straighten her bed and smell her hats and stare into empty cabinets and am just surviving and that has to be ok.
The human that I am at this point is very robotic. My new schedule is helping and I find myself mostly looking forward to the predictability of each new day. I think this is all very normal and I'm proud of myself in the moments when I feel true joy and even when I feel complete and utter despair. This helps me remember that I'm alive and surviving. This helps me know that sometimes getting through the day is all I can do and though I often feel like the shell of my former self, there are still many moments of authentic emotion.
This is grief.
Jumbled, disarranged, and often consuming.
To read other stories of life, hope, and grief, please visit my friend Michaela's blog series, titled "This is Motherhood too."