I don’t know how to come to terms with the fact that Noelle is not moving into her dorm when all of her friends are. I can’t handle the fact that we didn’t get to go shopping for dorm bedding and furniture. Or I will never get a texted “selfie” of her sitting in the middle of that messy dorm, bed unmade, sheets crumpled in a corner instead of on the mattress.
I don’t know how to be “normal” again. I think to most people, on the outside, I appear to be, but I don’t know if that’s true. Yes, I get up each morning and go to work, take care of my other kids, and (sometimes) clean and do laundry. I hang out with my friends and laugh and enjoy myself. All the things I did before she died, but it’s not the same. There is a sadness inside of me with each of these actions that never completely goes away. I see her pictures on my desk at work and have to look away to keep the tears at bay. I find articles of her clothing in the laundry and in my mind remember what she looked like in THAT shirt. I talk to my friends about Noelle. We share memories and we cry or we laugh.
At night, I pray not to God, but to Noelle. This might be kind of sacrilegious, but I think God understands. And she is with Him, so I know she is delivering my messages. I ask her for her strength, for her compassion, for her ability to forgive, for her grace, and to protect her brothers and sister. Although I know God can answer those prayers and He will, I have never held God in my arms and right now I just feel more comfortable asking her for those things instead of Him. Before Noelle died, I was feeling very listless and felt I needed a bigger purpose in life. I wanted to be able to help people in a big way and make a difference in the world. There were some other more personal things I’m not ready to share yet that I prayed for. After her death, my purpose became clear. That is why I started the Noelle Nicole New Scholarship Foundation. To help people, to impact people’s lives. I’m not saying that God took Noelle from me to give me a purpose, but there is a guilt ridden part of me that on some level thinks that. On my bad days at least. And that is why I have difficulty praying right now. But me and the big man are working through that.
I don’t know how to respond to people who ask, ‘How are you doing?’ So I smile and say, “I’m OK, thanks for asking.”, if they are an acquaintance. If they know me better, I might say, “I’m doing shitty today.” If I responded with how I am really doing, people would be uncomfortable and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable because they are only trying to be polite and thoughtful. If I am honest with myself when I check my inner radar, I know that I am a fucking basket case. I can’t eat, can only sleep with the help of medication, my hair is falling out, I have daily panic attacks, and sometimes I can’t leave the house by myself. Getting out of bed to go to work every day is a huge task and my hands shake the whole drive.
I have to sleep with something of Noelle’s either on my body or lying next to me. When she first died, it was one of her hoodies. Recently, it is the baby blanket that my Granny made for her while I was pregnant.
I now weigh 85 pounds. I know this is not a healthy weight, but I have no appetite and when I do eat all I can think is Noelle will never eat again. How can I eat when my baby no longer can? Would she want me to feel that way? Of course not, she would say, “Mommy go to B-Dubs and eat a shit load of wings…please for me.” (Actually, she wouldn’t say shit load…that’s my potty mouth talking, not hers) And I am trying for you, Noelle. I promise. I am trying to eat, but the food sticks in my throat and feels like lead in my stomach. And it will never be Buffalo Wild Wings because for one, I really don’t like their food and two, that was her last meal. But I did eat at Chic Fil A on Wednesday, which was another of her favorites. With every bite, I fought back tears. And Starbucks, I had Starbucks last weekend. A Caramel Frappuccino. The last time we had Starbucks together, she tried mine and said, “I like that, the next time I come here I will get one of those.” But there wasn’t a next time. She was killed before she got another chance to go to Starbucks. There is not a food that I can eat that doesn’t remind me that my daughter is dead. So maybe that is another one of my problems with food right now. Whatever the case, I am trying to eat and am getting better with it because last week when I checked the scale I was down to 81 pounds.
But I can’t tell you all of this when you ask me how I’m doing. So I think I’m just going to stick to, “I’m OK, but not really.”