Almost One Year

Easter will be the last of our “first” major holidays without Lucy. It is also the only major holiday she had a chance to experience twice.
I don’t know if this will make it more painful. I doubt we will be attending any public Easter egg hunts. Halloween showed me that it is just too painful to be around hordes of small children during these firsts. We couldn’t avoid trick-or-treating, but we can hunt for eggs in our own backyard and Max will be just as happy. We did that last year, because Lucy had a fever at Easter and we had to be careful about exposing her to infection in big crowds.

After Easter, there will be one big milestone left – the one year anniversary of her death. That one year anniversary encompasses my birthday and Mother’s Day. I am unsure what we will do about those occasions or about the one year anniversary. I really don’t want to hear anything about my birthday or Mother’s Day this year. I am going to sedulously avoid Facebook right around Mother’s Day, because I just don’t want to hear about it. If people want to wish me “Happy Birthday”, I truly appreciate it, but I’m not really sure how much I want to celebrate. I am feeling more open to it than I was right after Lucy died, but I will just have to see how I feel as the day approaches.

Although I am sure there will be benefits to moving forward, I don’t want it to be one year, or two, or ten. I don’t want to get further away from her. I don’t want her to be gone longer than she lived. (Thanks goodness, Scarlett will be born right around the time we hit 15 months since Lucy’s death.)

I’m an adult. I understand that death is permanent. I lost plenty of loved ones before Lucy. I found her that day, planned her funeral, and wrote the eulogy, obituary, and epitaph. (Chris assisted some with all three.) I was at her funeral. I’ve been to her grave. I live without her every day.

Yet, the longer she is gone, the more permanent it will be. She’s really gone. She’s really never coming back. Somehow I feel like part of me does not realize that. I don’t know if other parents who have lost a child feel that way or if it’s some kind of denial. I don’t remember feeling that way when my grandparents, uncles, and cousins died.

I don’t want to get to the point where all but our closest friends and family have forgotten her. That just seems like the final injustice to my baby girl. She went through so much and didn’t even get the chance to live. She was cheated of so much that, dammit, she deserves to be remembered. God, I don’t want her to be forgotten.

For instance, we have been to see Max’s ENT several times already this year for a recurring ear infection. Lucy went to that office with us a couple of times. She was at the hospital when Max received his ear tubes. I think she even had her own hearing checked there. The last time she was ever there was right before her diagnosis. She died before Max went back for his next checkup.

No one in that office has asked about or mentioned her. I don’t think they remember her at all. Maybe they are afraid to ask, but most people do and then are shocked to find out she died. A poor server at Kerbey Lane fell into that trap once.

The fact is, I’m certain they’ve forgotten that Max even had a little sister. That’s understandable. They have a big, busy practice. But it hurts every time we go there and I feel that they don’t remember her.

 When I talk about Lucy being forgotten, I don’t mean the curated bits and pieces you get to know about her life through photos, videos, and my blog. I mean the real Lucy. I want the real Lucy to be remembered by those who actually knew her in life. I don’t want that to ever be lost. Those 15 months, the real Lucy, seem like such a precious, ephemeral entity. They are getting further away. I hope that everyone who was a part of those precious 15 months can hold them in their heart for me and never let them go. You all hold a part of the dearest person I have ever lost.

I experienced one brief, shining moment with the real Lucy about a month ago. I was in the master bathroom getting ready and I thought about all those mornings she spent with me up there, first in the bouncy seat, later sitting or lying on the floor playing with toys. For one brief moment there, I could really feel what it was like again. I could feel HER, her essence. It is so strange to say, but it is hard for me to remember what daily life was like with her here sometimes. However, in this moment, I wasn’t actually remembering any specific incident or listing traits of hers. She was just there.

The moment passed too soon. I haven’t had another since. Sometimes I am afraid my memories are being corrupted by photos and videos, even though I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Sometimes I reach for her in my mind and all I can find is frozen images from the photos I have looked at countless times. Some of the photos of Lucy have become “iconic” to me, like the ones we used for the Heart Walk publicity. I love it when I find normal, everyday photos I haven’t seen in awhile. When I stumble upon a new photo, it’s like she breaks free of the frozen image and lives again. (Have you ever noticed how a person’s photos look different after they’ve died? Even Lucy’s name on a page looks different to me now. Her name just looks, well, still to me now.) I know I will run out of photos at some point, but it will take awhile, thanks to IPhones.

Sometimes I look at her photos and feel nothing. My grief counselor says that I might be doing some numbing, but I think I want too much from those photos. I want everything from them, because they are all I have left of her. It’s similar to what C.S. Lewis said in “A Grief Observed” about his dead wife. I don’t have the exact quote at hand, but he said the very force of his initial grief kept him from the very thing he wanted – the real her. Intense grief and longing can block out the very thing you are searching for. They can block out everything. His example was that if you are banging on the door to God too loudly, you are not going to hear His answer.

If I, as Lucy’s mother, have a hard time remembering the real her, I’m sure it must be hard for the rest of you, too. Maybe it is easier in some ways, though, because you don’t have the intense longing to block out the memories you are trying to access. Whatever you can remember of her, please hold on to it and think of her from time to time. Share it with me some time. Keep it fresh and hold it in your heart. Scarlett will be depending on us to help her know her sister. Max might need some help remembering sometimes. I feel this is the best way we can honor her at one year and in the years to come.

I can’t believe we’ve almost made it through one year. I feel so proud and sad.

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