Tomorrow is one month since Maddie passed away. It is still as inexplicable and impossible to comprehend as it was four weeks ago, but I have learned to hide my grieving in ways I couldn’t initially. I can hold conversations, smile ocassionally, even tell a joke or two, but it is just a facade. The only difference between now and four weeks ago is that I am learning to hide my pain. I now can grieve like a ninja. If one isn’t paying attention they may not even notice.
I try to distract myself and sometimes succeed in doing so. For twenty minutes or so I can lose myself in a book or the like, but then, all of a sudden, the realization washes over me like a kick to the head. “Oh my God,” I think. “My daughter is dead. My baby is dead.” Images flash in my head…Maddie smiling and alive…then lifeless in the hospital…and I have to fight not to throw up.
People tell Heather and me to lean on each other, which we do, but it is hard. Often I will be in a place when I am okay for a few minutes but Heather is not. To comfort her I have to go to her dark place. The same goes for Heather. For her to comfort me when I am hurting she has to leave any peace she has found at that moment. We will continue to lean on each other, but it isn’t always easy as people may imagine.
This last weekend Heather and I went to San Francisco to support one of our best friends at a walk for Brain Cancer. On Sunday I stayed in the Bay Area to go to the Giants game with my family while Heather and her parents returned to Los Angeles. After the game the Giants had a promotion where kids twelve and under could go on the field and run the bases. Since my nephew wanted to do it, I waited in the stands for him to head on down to the field and make his way to home plate. For the next twenty minutes I watched as an endless stream of children – one after the other like water from a faucet – run around the bases. I couldn’t help but think how every one of them was so full of life…and there were so many of them. The second one stepped off the field two more stepped onto it. It was hard to watch so many children alive and well when mine is dead and gone.
People have told me that Maddie is in a better place, that she is now with one who can love her more than Heather and I could, but that is easy to say when your child is alive and there for you to love and kiss. Personally I can’t imagine any place better for Maddie than in our arms, or anywhere she could be loved more than here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. She is gone and nothing will change that.