I wrote this after waking up from a terrible nightmare around 2:30 this morning. I sobbed in bed, the kind of breathless sobs where your whole body shakes. David woke up just enough to turn over and hold me. After a while, I calmed down enough to get up and write.
I am posting this here, because this is what grief really looks like. It's ugly, it's terrifying, it's guttural.
And that's okay.
I want to take shame off the table. My family is suffering bone-deep loss, and trying to hide it, gloss over it, minimize it, or worst of all, "suck it up," doesn't help.
The only thing that helps is release.
I cannot express how terrifying it is to wake up from a horrific dream only to realize... it’s my reality.
I can’t cry hard enough or long enough to free this pain inside of me. I wail, my eyes clamped shut and my mouth wide open, trying so hard to release the pain, to push it out from my very depths—from every single cell it wants to leave my body, but it is here… it remains…
Why am I the one living? Why wasn’t I taken? I don’t have any small children relying on me… I don’t have anyone relying on me, truthfully… how can I still be alive? How can I still be left here to feel so much when every morning I wake up, and I’m just confused as to why—why I’m even here, why my body is somehow still working, why all the systems within continue propelling me from present moment to present moment…
When I was little, I used to wake up from nightmares about being in a car accident with my grandmother and me in the back seat, Daddy driving, and Mama in the front seat. We sat in those designated seats—Mur-Mur behind Daddy, and me behind Mama—every time the four of us went anywhere. And in my nightmare, there was a car accident, and I was the only survivor.
(If my sister hadn’t moved out on her own at that point, she would have been in that nightmare, too, and then that nightmare would be even closer to my current reality.)
Life keeps going… and all around me, people go to work, they sit in traffic, they wait in line, they text their friends, they scroll through Facebook—I know… I am existing in these moments too… I am doing these things too…
But it feels like my whole world has stopped, because it’s been turned utterly upside down and inside out, and I can’t do a damned thing about it.
Grief sucks, and right now it is really running me through the ringer. I have never, ever known this kind of pain before. I have never felt it… not until now… and of course looking at me from the outside in, of course I’m “strong enough to handle it,” etc… but right now I feel on the verge of a nervous breakdown… because that would be easier. It would be easier to just go completely nuts and totally lose my shit and end up at the asylum taking unlabeled pills to keep me sedated and numb. Right now, that kind of controlled environment is more appealing than the chaos of the outside world… this world I exist in which feels like a constant waking nightmare.
As I sit here, breathing in, breathing out, tears streaming down my face (and in moments like this, I am once again thankful that Mama made me take a typing class in ninth grade, because I can sit in total darkness and type fast), I wonder at the miracle of life and of living. It is truly a miracle, every day when I can open my eyes and get out of bed and live another day.
But right now? Right now it feels like a curse. Why were my mom and sister denied the miracle of life? Why?
Ironic—I offered comfort in my sister’s eulogy. I cautioned against asking why… because it will “make you crazy.” Yep, I said it, and that’s basically what I feel, because here I am, asking why, and most definitely feeling crazy.
What can I say—I was still in shock at that point.
Not in shock anymore.
This, I would say, is the darkest side of grief. When I’m sitting here vacillating between wishing I was dead, bargaining for trading places with my sister, and actually wishing to go crazy enough to be put into an asylum. All of those things seem easier than what I’m trying to cope with, the overpowering feelings I have, and the grief I feel.
The bargaining (oh wait, isn’t that a phase of grief?)—sounds like, please take me instead… take me instead… put me out of my misery and let my sister come back and raise her toddler and be here to shepherd her older kids fully into adulthood… No one truly needs me, but her kids and her husband need her. I need her. My dad needs her.
To be honest, I am barely functioning. I have to “check out” to a certain extent just to get through the day. When I am fully present, the feelings flood in—feelings that don’t have words or even need words.
I don’t feel like I can handle anything right now. I feel on the edge of tipping over… like one more little thing, one more little bump in the road, and there I’ll go—careening off the edge of the tiny winding highway, plunging down into the depths of rocky cliffs to my imminent death.
I am clinging to sanity by mere threads, and those threads are thin and weary and stretched to their max.
I have prayed and prayed… I have begged God to please take this from me, because I can’t handle it at all. I am totally at His mercy, and yet I am finding no comfort in that.
I find no comfort in anything…