6 Years Strong

It’s 4:30 am and I’m awake, feeling anxiety in my chest. Is it morbid that I am looking forward to today? In 5 hours, it will have been 6 years ago that your Nonna tried to wake you up and ran you downstairs to me. 6 long, agonizing years without you. It’s an emptiness no one can ever fill, nor would I want them to. I look forward to today because I love to honour your life. It’s not that I need an excuse but when I feel good and don’t focus on what is missing, it makes me feel human to mourn you all over again.

I was a mess last year. We lost your Nonna Bis, then a few days before the anniversary of the day you got your wings, her house was sold. This devastated me all over again. Nonna’s house was a part of her that I was able to hold on to, until I no longer could. Grief is funny like that; sometimes we tie objects to our deceased loved ones and when we lose those objects, or they get damaged, it can re-trigger intense grief.

We also can’t forget the opening of your memorial Splash Pad just a few days before the 5 year mark of losing you. I expected it to be a difficult day but I was not prepared to relive your funeral. That’s what it felt like to me. In a sense, I guess it was a second celebration of life for you as we unleashed this beautiful little water park for all the kids in our community to enjoy. As wonderful as this was, it left me wounded. You would have loved to play at this splash pad, my little water baby. Whenever I visit, I always see a rainbow in the water!

So one year ago, I was an absolute mess on your Angelversary. But I got through it. And in the process, my deepest fears revealed themselves. From the moment I lost you, I have been terrified of forgetting you. I have been trying to hang on to every memory I have of you, but it’s humanly impossible to store all those memories forever. They have been trickling out ever so slowly over the last 6 years, left to rely on photos and home movies. I know I could never forget you– you can’t forget your child. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Yet, with every year that passes, I feel you become more distant from me as the time that separates me from the last time I held you grows. This is painful. It’s what tears me apart the most at this stage on my journey through grief.

It’s hard to imagine what you would be like if you were still here with us. With every year that passes, it becomes even more challenging to imagine it. You would be 7 years old now, and I’m certain you would be just as independent as ever. I see you in your baby sister and often think you would be just like her at “this” age, no matter how old she is. I SEE you in her, I FEEL you in her. You surround her, I KNOW this! Thank you remaining close this way.

For a year, I have been grieving the 5 year mark of losing you. Grief continually changes and keeps changing me along the long twisted path. I lost myself last year on this day and I am finally starting to feel like myself again; a new self is emerging once more. A grieving parent is like a Phoenix– we die and come back as new versions of ourselves. Like an ever growing onion, there is always another layer to peel off and you become different each time you shed a layer. You gain experience of loss each time, insight into yourself, and possibly even wisdom you can share with others on similar paths. At least, that is what the experience has been like for me. That is why I feel compelled to share my experiences, hoping another grieving parent can take something away from my journey to help them in their own. It is my hope to eventually make helping grieving parents my focus, which I call my “soul work.” In this way, I will ensure that your life and loss will serve a purpose and we can do our part to help others navigating the most devastating of losses. This is my mission!

I never plan your Angelversary day. I always take each moment as it comes and give myself permission to do what I need to. Often, the days leading up to difficult days like this are harder as I am sensitive and fragile. I become deeply upset about minor things which seems irrational to those around me, but these little releases help make the hardest days a little more bearable. It’s like shaking a bottle of soda and allowing some of the pressure to release before opening the bottle– it still bubbles over but leaves less of a mess. The amount of pressure created is the same, but by releasing it a little at a time, the explosion is more manageable.

It’s time to sleep now until I’m ready to start this day. Please be with me today. I love you baby girl, forever and always.