Life has moved in many directions and I have learned to look more towards the future then the past.
I think this is a good thing except... I never really allow myself time to grieve properly.
Grief is a strange thing. Five years in and I still find myself grieving in many different ways. Unfortunately I tend to push it to the side more often then I should. Never really allowing myself to be sad or ponder on her for too long in case it might get me too worked up but you can only hold it in for so long before grief swallows you hole and then tries to drown you too.
This 5th year anniversary has really bothered me. I don't know why this one is hitting me harder then 2, 3, and 4 but I just can't get over it, and honestly, I kind of don't want too.
I want to lay in it. I want to role in the dirty mud of grief. I want to cover myself from head to toe and let it over take me. I want to scream, cry, mourn. I want to stop time and let time go on forever. To numb this side is to numb myself and it's a hallowing feeling.
I've always been a person who loves holidays. I think I have mentioned in this blog before that I like to celebrate and acknowledge all holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Maybe that is why this 5th year bothers me. The 5th year of most things is a cause for celebration. Five years of marriage, five years in business, 5 years of anything is a notable one. It shows that you've put in some time, labor, and love into what you've done. You've worked hard and here is your reward. What once seemed like it would take forever to get there has now been accomplished. You can look back at your 5 years with so much more wisdom from where you started in that first overwhelming year and look forward to what the next 5 years have in store for you.
But this 5th year anniversary is all backwards. My heart aches a little more, time has betrayed me, and my arms long for something that I can never get back... not in this life at least. Instead of 5 years of love, pride, and accomplishments, I have experienced 5 years that have aged me more like 100 years. Most people have never lost a child, most people I associate with have never lost child, it's not something you usually hear about or have personally gone through yourself.
For this I am grateful but let me give you a little insight.
There are things that I will never forget about the day McKenna died: looking at my dead daughter laying on a hospital bed in a very white room, her body still had color but her skin was so cold. The shock is indescribable. Your brain understands the science but your heart cannot. We were in their for hours just staring at her. Petting her arm, grazing her face, putting our fingers through her hair. Someone tried to get me to eat, instead I threw up. I only left her once, I sat in the hallway with my sister trying to gather my thoughts on the hospital floor, I stayed out there for only a little while before I returned to her side once more.
It's amazing how you can be alive for 2.5 years... have a totally healthy and functioning body... but once your dead... it's all gone. All the functions you knew how to do only a few hours ago have vanished, all the life that was in you is gone, all the memories stored in your brain are washed away. Her body turned to rigamortis, she was so stiff, her belly was bloated from the water, her lips were blue, she looked swollen. Her eyes were closed, I didn't want to touch her anymore, the reality with every palpation was too much. Part of her face was turning purple from the lack of circulation so we switched to the other side of the bed and tilted her face to the side that didn't look... like that... so we could play pretend... just a little bit longer.
It was so hard to leave. I knew it was time to go but how could I leave. Only a few hours ago I NEVER would have left my child in a hospital NEVER to return. All motherly instincts were telling me I was abandoning her but all brain logic was telling me I had to go. I had to see the other children, the 9 month old and the 6 year old waiting at home... the children who did not know. I tried to walk out the door several times but couldn't do it. I told Zach I just wanted to say goodbye one more time, really I wanted to see her eyes one more time. I didn't want to tell anyone because I knew it would be weird, I knew it wouldn't look good, but I just had to do it. I quickly went by her side and gently opened one of her eyes. I heard Zach whisper "Oh Shannon, don't." He quickly grabbed my hand and we walked out the door, now my body felt like rigamortis. Her eyes were gone, that is probably the only part they do get right in the movies. They aren't looking anywhere in particular, there is no life in them, no joy, no nothing just a body. She really was gone.
I feel like it is harder to go through her pictures and videos now then it was a few years ago. Everyone said it would get easier but maybe I'm not far enough out yet or maybe it's different with kids, I don't know, I just know I miss her. I don't say it enough but I miss her so much. I wish I remembered more. I wish I had written more down, I wish I had more pictures, more of her home coloring's, videos, toys, clothes, I wish I had more of everything because only the physical things let me know she was really here. You may have forgotten her but I cannot.
So let me mourn, let me be sad, let me cry and be absolutely pitiful.
Don't distract me, don't try to make me laugh, don't take me out, just let me go...
If only for a moment.
I hate when people say "I hope you were able to keep yourself busy today." or "The day is almost over.".
It's not healthy. It's not healthy to keep myself so busy that I can't really grieve her for just a few pathetic days out of the year. Let it be the slowest day of my life! LET ME GRIEVE! LET US ALL GRIEVE! LET US TAKE A TIME OUT AND BE SAD! What does "The day is almost over" even mean? Is this the story of Cinderella? When the clock strikes 12am will all my grief just disappear? Is it like one magical day where Santa Claus delivers presents all over the world in just one night? No, it's not! It's still there whether you try to ignore it or not. I wish I grieved more but even after five years I have struggled to show my grief to others. I wait till no one is around, hide behind my computer, and cry my eyes out while I type away.
Grief doesn't mean depression.
Grief isn't ugly.
It's beautiful. It's love.
It's understanding what you've lost.
It's appreciating what you had.
It's giving time to honor those who are in heaven and ignoring the rules that hold you down on earth.
It's a sacrifice of time to just STOP!
STOP WORKING, STOP ENTERTAINING, STOP MOVING AND JUST GRIEVE. GIVE INTO IT! Let the sickness in your stomach take over, let the non-stop tears dry make your skin raw, let the trembling chin allow wailing to come out. Give up, surrender to it, IF ONLY FOR A MOMENT!
Let them know how vulnerable you are, how much you miss them, need them, want them! It will only make you better, it will only allow you to see how deep your love truly goes, how strong you really are, how far you have come and although you have so far to go, one day, you will have your reward. You'll have your soul back, your joy, your other half that has been dead for so long. They are watching you. They see you mourn and it's hard to believe but they mourn too. They love you, they would shower you in kisses if they could, they would hold you close and never let you go. They would tell you how much they have missed you and how they are so glad your back. You are there home and they have not forgotten.
When you have finally given yourself time to grieve take that first deep breath that sets you free. The one that your body says "finally we let it out", the one that makes you wonder why you waited so long to do it in the fist place. Then speak freely: I love you McKenna, I miss you so much. My memories of you are limited but the few I have are treasures. I remember impressions more then specific thoughts. I remember the way your hugs felt in my arms, your tiny ribs rested in the spaces between my fingers. I never knew I would remember that, who would have thought remembering what you breathed like would end up being so important to me. I remember you making me smile, and the love you managed to poor on me everyday. The way you loved your brother, your sister, and your daddy. I'll never forget you, I'll never move on, and I promise I will always try my very best to take the time to mourn you. I love you sweet angel, it's been so long, but I know your waiting for me. I'll be there as soon as God says I can go. Until then, keep holding my heart tight.
The next painting I will be adding to my collection of "McKenna Art"