I lay in bed and I toss and turn. I’m tired but I can’t sleep. I know what it is that is keeping me up so I go out and grab my computer. I need to empty my brain so I can just let it go.
It’s our annual Memorial Day weekend at the beach. We bought this little beach shack when Isabella was in my belly. Hopes and dream of bringing our kids here to run in the sand and build memories. But instead of happy thoughts, the beach has been a source of frustration for me for years. I beg Stuart year after year to sell the house. I didn’t enjoy coming here. I was always fighting kids with fists full of sand in their mouths, diapers, naps, complaints of when we can go home, medicines, bald heads that burn easy.. you name it. I would spend hours packing medicines and latex gloves and clinical trial bottles and accutane pills that warn you to stay out of the sun. Some years would be better than others, but last year was the worst.
We came down with Isabella on a DFMO trial. A clinical trial that was doing nothing for her but making her sick. The cancer was spreading and she couldn’t get out of bed for more than an hour without throwing up. She just laid in this spot that I’m laying in now, begging to stay in bed. I knew the cancer was eating her up and I didn’t want to scan her because I already knew. She always fought so hard and here at the beach she started giving up. I would lay next to her in bed and fill the pillow with tears.. trying not to wake her as I sniffed the running snot from my nose. It frustrated Stuart and I remember him saying that if she were going to die, she wasn’t going to die this way… at least not giving up in bed. Get out of bed he would tell her. She would have moments where she was herself and she would play on the beach, but the blackness inside her would swallow her and she would fade quickly.
I remember that she wanted to go shopping with my Mom and I one day and I begged for her not to come, I just needed some alone time.. some space. But she tagged along anyway and I remember being so pissed about her coming. She just slowed us down and I didn’t want to deal with her for a small period of time. What a horrible day in Mommy history. She found the strength to go the entire time without getting sick just to prove me wrong too. One of the many times she wanted to prove me wrong.
She died one month later.
And now here were are at the beach. We packed no medicines. And as Sophia tells me EVERY SINGLE DAY.. we have one missing. Bella. I try not to think about it as we go about our vacation. It seems to work for awhile. But then it happens.. I find myself being happy. My Mom and walk hand in hand with Sophia down to the pier, which for years felt like miles away because Ib could never walk it. When in fact it is probably 1/4 mile away. Sophia walks it with ease.. better yet she could run it. I have my moment where I think.. I’m happy right now. The vacation is easier, less stressful, the kids are just having fun, I am relaxed, Stuart and I aren’t fighting. It’s the first time I have actually enjoyed being here.. maybe since we bought this shack 9 years ago. And then there it is.. I feel like shit for feeling happy.
It’s funny how that happens after you lose someone. You feel like crap all the time and then one day you feel happy and then you feel like crap for feeling happy. What an awful thing to know that your good moments will forever be tainted with guilt that they are good. I tell myself.. I’m not happy because she is not with us here. I’m just happy that for once things are easier. My ultimate wish is that she were here, healthy. But we weren’t that lucky. It seemed that we were always being chased or pushing a weight uphill or lying to ourselves and saying that one day this will all be a distant memory for us and for her. Lies.
So now do I prepare myself for years of never fully allowing myself to be happy? Even today my Mom, Sophia and I walked through our local cheeseball Christmas Shop. I’m in such a good mood watching Sophia look at Mermaids and wave “hi” to the gigantic Santa by the front door… then I hear it. Christmas music. Ugh. And I actually said to myself.. I hate Christmas music. WTF? Who hates Christmas music? Apparently me now. Because Christmas which once brought me so much joy is now the worst time of the year apparently because I lost a child.
Something is going to have to change inside me.
For everyone’s well being, I’m going to have to start to learn how to allow myself to experience happiness. Being happy is good and I know everyone will say, “She will have wanted you to be happy!”. Yes, yes.. this I know. But it is hard. Maybe I will just try to have happy with a LITTLE less guilt. That will be my baby step. Not a shit-ton of guilt.. just a small ziploc bag of guilt on top of every tiny happy moment I have in my life.
I want to listen to my kids singing Christmas music or decorating a tree and smile. I want to walk on the beach and collect seashells and laugh and have that memory. I want to have times that are genuinely amazing and not always say, this is less amazing because she isn’t here. That is not how I want to live my life.. always beating myself up for doing things in my life that are wonderful. I would hate to think that I will never experience another “best day in my entire life” because she is not here. I have to try to not have that happen.
But God do I wish she were here..
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