When You’re Gone

My strongest urge right now is to clam up. This rarely leads to anything good, and so I’m writing.

Today is my daughter Sarah’s sixth birthday. How does one celebrate (commemorate?) the birthday of a dead person? When people have children, they usually spend a decent amount of time planning birthday parties. What you do, you do for the kid. I assume you do what you think your kid will enjoy most. Birthday cake with trucks, cake shaped like a doll, colorful streamers, games, friends. If they are really young, you invite whoever will come and everyone sits and watches this dexterously inept human smear frosting from ear to ear, and from nose to toes.

But does a person who has stopped living continue to age? And what do you do on their birthday every year?

I have been asking those questions on this day for the last six years…

I don’t mean to be all dramatic, but my mood is pretty low. Lower than I expected. Here’s what it comes down to; many lovely people have asked me, “is there anything I can do?” I can’t think of one thing that would not just make me cry. A cake? Aside from the fact that I don’t eat gluten, all the trappings of a birthday involve the reality that she is not here to celebrate.

Here’s how I feel today and the real reason that I’ve wanted to clam up. What do I want today? I want Sarah to be here.

I don’t always feel this way. Usually my feelings about the whole thing are kept somewhere safe. I wouldn’t call them repressed, they are just not going to contribute much to most days of my life. Nothing can be changed, no hours can be added, no more things are to be known about her. It would be debilitating to, more than occasionally feel how much I miss her. But I do miss her. More than anyone I’ve ever missed in my whole life.

And I guess today is the day I allow myself to feel this.

I’m not sharing this to get sympathy. To be honest, I will probably take a nap after I post this and do my best to avoid people until tomorrow. I don’t love being with people when they are inconsolable and I don’t love it when I find myself in that state, either. This is not the whole of grief, but it is a part.

Maybe posting this will be so cathartic that something else I don’t expect will happen today. I’m optimistic that God is still good and no matter how I feel, life has meaning.¬†We were going through Revelation in class this morning and I couldn’t help but feel awed and grateful for God’s faithfulness, creativity and love. It’s not yet time for him to make everything right, but that time will come and someday there will be no more reason for me to cry. Knowing this helps me a lot on days like today.

6 thoughts on “When You’re Gone”

  1. I have been thinking of you and Sarah today. I grieve with you. I think that as your mother and the mother of lost children, I can say that. I don’t how we will know them in Heaven, but God is so perfectly wonderful He will make it clear to us.

    “Janie, these were your sons and your granddaughter. See how beautiful they are and how happy they have been. They’ve been waiting to meet you.” “Peggy, here is Sarah. Isn’t she beautiful? I’ve been keeping her safe for you. She and I have spent many happy hours together and now you can also.”

    Anyway, that’s how I imagine it. It will probably be so much better.

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