So much has happened since I wrote consistently on this blog. The whole world shut down with Covid and in our personal life we experienced the tragic death of our daughter April 24, 2020. I feel like the fog is slowly lifting on both Covid and our grief. Grief is not something you ever fully “get over”, you just learn to carry it with you and over time it becomes lighter. One year later, we find ourselves coming out of the initial shock and pain and now find ourselves asking the question, “where do we go from here?” I find that between these two life altering events I’m not really sure who I am anymore. I think this pandemic has changed us all in various ways. Stuff I found normal a year ago no longer is. Riding in an elevator with strangers, eating at a buffet and even just going to the doctor’s office are all anxiety producing events now and they didn’t used to be. Added to that losing our only daughter in such a shocking and tragic way, I can’t go back to how it was before. There is life before 2020 and now there is life after.
Grief is one of those things that you think you have a handle on and then something sneaks up on you. Recently it was going to Carowinds (our local amusement park). Two summers ago we went to Carowinds frequently with our kids. On each visit, we would go to the water park and our daughter would want to swim which required me changing her in the bathroom nearby. She wasn’t potty trained and she was 17, so you can imagine what it all entailed to prepare for swimming. The other day we went back to Carowinds and I casually went into that same bathroom not even thinking about it until it hit me. I walked in and looked around and I was instantly hit with memories. I don’t think I will ever get to the place where those moments don’t happen, but now I’ve learned to pause and let the emotion wash over me and move forward.
I have found this past month to be harder than I would have expected. The final court date for the criminal trial involving our daughter’s death and also mothers day and my birthday all happened within a month. Added to that was my mom’s anniversary of her passing. It’s been emotionally trying. I was so ready for the court case to be over but at the same time now that it’s over, it feels like we are moving forward and that is hard. You feel guilty, when you have lost someone, to move forward with your life. I know it doesn’t help us to stay stagnant, it doesn’t honor Kaki’s memory and it’s not what the boys need, but it feels bad to move on. You look around and try to start making meaning of what has happened. What can we learn from this? Honestly, I still don’t see any meaning in any of it. Maybe in time. I know God can bring good from tragedy, but I can’t see it yet. I spent the Saturday before Mother’s Day visiting gravesides; my mom, my daughter, my uncle and my “other” mom. They are all together in one cemetery. It’s not supposed to be like that. I don’t like that I now have to “make rounds” at the cemetery because so many loved ones are there. I can’t wait to get to heaven and see all those people again. The more people we lose, the sweeter heaven gets.
I find that I don’t really know who I am anymore. I started counseling again because I need to work through this. When the dust settles on loss, it’s disorienting. My boys have struggled in different ways with the loss of their sister and it’s hard to watch. I wonder why God is allowing it. I know we will all grow and change for the better, but growing hurts. I look back and some of my Facebook posts last year and I realize how angry I was. The whole world was going crazy so there was lots to be frustrated about but this was deeper. Anger is always apart of grief and it has been a big part of mine. I feel like I’ve worked through most of that now. Anger isolates you. It seeks to push others away so you can avoid being hurt. I tend towards running away and isolation when I’m hurting and during a pandemic that is certainly easy to do. Now I have to fight anxiety to get back into the real world. Going back out in public was very challenging for me. I know it’s what I need to do but I rather like my little bubble. Having anxiety before the pandemic makes it all the worse now, I think. So many people are dealing with anxiety and depression now from being isolated and seeing all the news articles about the world coming to an end. And so many people lost loves ones due to this virus, it’s no wonder we are all anxious and depressed. But we don’t have to stay here. We can move forward. We can seek help and get back to life. It’s never going to be the world it was before 2020 but it can be a new and better life. I am doing the hard work of counseling and forcing myself to step outside of what is comfortable, challenging my old thought processes and boldly envisioning what the future could be.