Perhaps it's fitting that the very final moral to the story I have for you will post during Eating Disorder Awareness Week, but that was purely coincidental. It does illustrate perhaps that for all us there are some things we'll never move past. For my family, we'll never get to the last week in February and not know what significance it carries for us. We'll never treat June 20th like any other day. We'll never, I know now, have significant life events (graduations, weddings, births and even deaths), and not have the fact that my oldest daughter isn't there with us heavy on our minds. But, the thing I can tell you now, more than four years into this brave new world is that there is life after loss. And it's important to leave you with that. And it's important that all of you know that.
I would guess that for some who might read this immediately after losing a loved one, that statement will seem like a betrayal. I've been accused of that actually: betraying Kelsey's memory by attempting to move on past the loss. Here's the thing I need you - and all my own critics if they care to listen - to know: don't confuse moving past the shock of the loss and continuing to live the one life you've been given with not loving and missing your loved one. They are NOT the same at all.
Think of the rest of your life. More importantly, think of the people in your life. I was accused this very morning of not caring about those people actually. But, really, nothing could be further from the truth. I care about them very much and, maybe for that reason above all others, I had to finally pick myself up, dust myself off and learn to carry on. Do I have fun sometimes as a result? Yes, I freely admit to you that I do. Do I sometimes get pinged by guilt when I do? I do sometimes still, yes. Not as much as I used to, but I think there will be times when I feel a little unworthy of any kind of life because I lost a child and that will always seem like such an unnatural thing. But I have always held on to the belief that Fate plays into all our lives and there is a reason I am left behind. If it's just to be a parent to Marissa and then maybe a grandparent to her children someday, or if it's something more global, I'm not sure. But, if I'm a shell of a person, then I cheat that purpose. So, yes, I go to Rush concerts, I go to hockey, football and baseball games. I go to the symphony. I am a member at the Pittsburgh Zoo. I love this town and indulge in the many wonderful things it has to offer as much as I can. And I've seen and experienced some truly amazing things as a result. In many ways I am blessed. That may seem truly obscene to have me say if you're still new to the journey that grief is taking you, and I understand, but here's how I reconciled it:
In the history of mankind, mine is a small sorrow in a deep ocean of sorrows. Think of all the heartache humans have endured through history. Whether it's been at the hands of nature, like the leveling of Pompeii to the cruelty of other humans, like the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust, we've had to rise from the ashes of some true horrors and move forward. And we've done it. We've shown that we're stronger than the things that attempt to destroy us. I am as well.
I miss my daughter every day. Granted, there are things I don't miss. She could be a total pain in the ass: opinionated and rude about it. She saw things in very black and white hues, she never got the chance to mellow with time and learn that the world is all shades of gray. She was human, so she was flawed. I am human as well, so our relationship was flawed, but that didn't and doesn't diminish what she means to me. But I have learned that I carry her in my heart, and as long as I do she lives there a little. So, at the end of the day, after a lot of time and a lot of work, I can go forward and have some sense of a true life, knowing that she is with me as I do.
So, in closing, if you are wondering if you can ever experience any emotion besides grief again, please trust me that you can. Allow yourself to. It's okay to do that. I believe in my heart of hearts that your loved one wants you to. It doesn't mean that you've forgotten them.