I love looking at pictures of faces; especially when they capture feelings so perfectly.
So this is me. This is me one year and two months after my Chloe died. Dazed, wonky, befuddled, muddled, deeply vulnerable, and a bit of a funny old mess.
Before Chloe died I would never ever have admitted to such vulnerability. Now, well, who cares. It's almost like I live in a separate world anyhow. Hard to explain, but with pain this deep, I seem to have floated up to a different plain. It's not especially unpleasant; it's just a little less connected to earth.
Self protection I'm guessing. Part of the process? Who knows? It just feels kind of weird really.
But there's a certain relief too in giving over to vulnerability. (btw check out the Ted lecture on vulnerability. Wonderful!) In my earlier years I tried so damn hard to craft the image of the tough professional woman - unflappable, cope with anything, full control .. you know the type. Awful! Miserable! Never really worked; but I worked it all the same.
Almost believed my own hype for a while. Thought I could completely control life just by working harder, trying harder.
Boy did that one blow up in my face. None of us really have any control. And ill health teaches you that pretty quickly. Great equaliser.
I tried very very hard to save my daughter. I really did. I fought every day for three years. I'd challenge any parent not to glue themselves to the internet, night after night, in the hopeless quest that just somewhere they will find the information they want to hear. Something different from the information they've been given.
I had so much information - drowning in the stuff - but no control really. That is in God, or whoever's, hands: not ours. I'm sure I'd score top marks in a Mastermind episode though. Specialist subject: Ewing's Sarcoma. Jesus - never invite this woman to a dinner party:)
I never found what I wanted. But I guess I'm glad I tried. If nothing else Chloe knew the ferocity of my love for her. She knew how much she mattered. In my brighter days I feel maybe I was tested; and at the end of the day I came through ok. Not brilliantly; but good enough It's important to capture this because when you lose a child like this, it's difficult not feel that you failed them in some way. And I don't think that's a helpful feeling and I have never witnessed a parent who didn't fight like a tiger for the child they knew they were losing. It's love in it's most pure form.
In my darker moments I feel the most overwhelming sadness for what Chloe has lost. Those heady days of university; first love; holding her first baby; exciting career; growing old with somebody she loves; family dinners - and all the rest of the wonderful thing we call "normal"life. We had her for 18 wonderful years; but she's lost all those years ahead. It is so sad; nobody can deny that.
Everything is changed. That's for sure.
But there are good things too. I got such pleasure today from calling a friend who's struggled with depression. I know how important those calls are. And I know now when depression has you in its grip one also has no control. "cheer up" "pull yourself together" - totally meaningless. You can't and you just have to let it play out. I know that now.
I've made new friends by opening up and I see that these people will become very precious in my life. I'm so much more of a mess than I was before; but I kind of think we're all a bit of mess anyway and if we all admit that a bit more we may all connect that little bit more. And connecting is the one thing that makes me feel that tiny bit better. So a win win situation I feel.
People need people. That's for sure.
Thank you so much to the bereaved who write to me and share your stories. I hope that my honesty helps you a little tiny bit. You are magnificent. To lose a child/or that special person and to just get up in the morning and make breakfast. That's what I call guts. Write to me any time. I read everything and will always try and reply firstname.lastname@example.org.