I planned my trip because I knew I didn't want to be home on the one year anniversary of her death. I absolutely could not wake up in my own bed on June 5th.
I had a wonderful vacation in a place I love surrounded by people I love. I came home to a place I love (my house) and people I love (my kids and friends) and all I wanted to do was get the fuck out.
Standing in my living room, I could feel the walls closing in on me. And the memories...memories I told Lilli we can't run from...caught up to me.
The stairs going up to her room, the EAT sign in the dining room that she had changed to read TEA the last time I was out of town, a cup in the sink she use to drink out of, her car still in the driveway...The worst part was the realization that the memory of Noelle is all I have left of her. She will never again greet me at the door. She will never again rearrange my décor, drink from a cup, or drive her car. The memories...oh my god, the memories!
I wanted to take a sledgehammer to the house and tear down the walls; burn the house to the ground, vanquish the memories that were tearing apart my soul. So I left again. I went to the lake, a place that usually brings me solace and comfort. The memories followed me, only now instead of just Noelle, Brett had invaded my mind. The lake house was a couple's retreat and there I was-alone. The "alone-ness" scared me. I don't want to be alone.
This not wanting to be alone is nothing new, I have always been more comfortable surrounded by people. Being alone frightens me.
When Noelle died, even though I was surrounded by people, I felt alone. When my husband left six weeks later, I was even more alone. Alone with my children, alone with my thoughts, alone with my grief...still surrounded by people-but alone. Alone with my memories.
It has taken me weeks to come to terms with this feeling of wanting to escape. I can't leave; I can't run from memories. I can only FEEL them.
Did you have "growing pains" as a child? You would wake up every morning and feel like you had spent the night on a stretching board? Your whole body ached? I have now lived through 365 plus days of "stretching", "growing", becoming use to my new normal...life after Noelle. It still hurts. I still wake up and my body aches...my heart aches.
I have been fighting memories for over a year. I stupidly told myself last year, 'A year from now, you will be in a better place.' But I'm not.
A year after her death, I am washed in memories of how I was struggling right after her death. I am experiencing all of those same emotions again. Only this year, I don't have the liberty of being numb. I am feeling EVERYTHING...and it is so much more real. I am still not ready to accept her death.
Some days I feel like I am surviving on auto-pilot. How do people deal with this kind of grief? How do I live when she is gone? Am I living? Really living? Besides waking up every day and going through the motions? Breathing?
Decisions of any sort are a huge burden. Do I get out of bed today? Do I pretend I am OK or wallow in grief? Do I cook? Do I eat? Because really, do I even care? Make-up, no make-up? Do laundry or let it continue to pile up? Where the fuck am I?
What stage of grief am I in? Because I thought I had been through them all, and now a year later I am starting the process over? No fucking fair!
Who is this person that controls grief? That takes any sane and rational part of my brain and twists and turns it for their pleasure; who wants me to hurt and feel sad; who makes me afraid to sometimes leave my house? Who is doing this? Why is this happening? Why am I regressing? Why am I not strong enough to fight these feelings? Why can't I dispel this sadness? I have said from the day of her death, I can do this. I refuse to be a victim. I refuse to let her death destroy me. So why am I not in a better place emotionally? A year later and still no answers.
Maybe I need to stop fighting the feelings. Stop running from the memories. Stop pretending I'm OK on those days that I'm really not. I don't know. I have no clue how to navigate this path.
A friend of mine presented me with this analogy: You can walk anywhere if you know where you were going, right? Like if you knew you had to walk ten miles to reach your destination, you would start walking and you wouldn't stop until you got there. Well, grief is an endless walk. You have no idea how far away your destination is, but you know you've gotta walk. So you put one foot in front of the other and you start fucking walking.
I'm walking, people. And for now, I'm taking the memories with me, because running from them just doesn't work.