Monday, January 23, 2012

Year Two....

“The first year is the worst.”  That’s what you hear them say while you are going through the first year.  You think it has to be true, because you’d hate to think it gets worse than that.  And by believing it you are blessed with hope, always keeping an eye out for the light at the end of the tunnel that just has to be coming. 

They wait until the end of the first year to let you in on a little secret.  Or maybe it had been said earlier but you are too busy focusing on making it through the horribleness of year one. “Oh, by the way, the second year is harder than the first.” 

I really wanted to believe that it would be better after a year.  Doesn’t it seem like a year is a long time?  Wouldn’t you think that in 365 days you could make the necessary adjustments to live comfortably in a changed life, even a drastically changed life? 

Truthfully, I didn’t believe it would get better.  Could I possibly wake up one day and not miss my little girl as much anymore?  Could my life suddenly feel complete once again, the hole in my heart healed?

In short, I’m living with the difficulty of having entered the second year.  But what makes the second year harder? 

In some ways, I might seem “better.”  I don’t fall apart in public as often as I used to.  I have mostly adjusted, at least physically, to our life as a family of four.  I have been able to let go of some of Anna’s things.  I think that my mind is a little clearer-thinking these days, at least some days, and most of the time I don’t become massively overwhelmed by the little stuff. 

But I feel the expectation, whether internal or external, that I should be healed by now, that my time of mourning should be over, or at least publicly over.  Understanding from others lessens over time when I just don’t feel up to doing something, when I hesitate to make a commitment, when I just need some alone time.  Suddenly I get the impression that grief is now just a lame excuse. 

And I might be guilty of trying too hard to meet those expectations I perceive from others.  I’m afraid to be accused of “playing the grief card.” 

Plus, there’s a big part of me that is just so very tired of being the bereaved mother.  I don’t want to be the one people pity. 

I just don’t want to be the mom whose little girl died of cancer! 

But a year, or two, or ten, or a lifetime of days can’t change that about me.  The insulating shock of much of the first year has mostly worn off, and the reality remains that after two years and three and four, and each year I have left on this earth, I will wake up and continue to miss Anna, and continue to love her just as much as I love my other children, and continue to ache that I can no longer hold her in my arms.  

But always with sure hope, I look for the light at the end of the tunnel, the light from heaven, where I will be reunited with my daughter.   

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Growing Up

"Mom, are you Santa?"

This question, asked of me shortly after we finished opening gifts this year, wasn't completely unexpected.  I was aware of the talk that was going on at school, aware that my kids had heard from others that Santa wasn't real.  At first, such rumblings were met with shock:  "Mom, can you believe that there are some kids that don't believe in Santa?"  A note was written to Santa on Christmas Eve asking for proof for the friends at school that Santa is indeed real. 

In my young adult years, I had decided that I would not do the Santa Thing with my kids. For several reasons I thought it would be best to avoid Santa, mainly because I intended to make sure their attention was undividedly focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

Then I got married and had kids.  Both of us had grown up with Santa, and somehow it just got started with our kids.  Of course it is not our main emphasis of the holiday, but our kids have enjoyed the magic and wonder of it all as they eagerly anticipated what treasures would be left beneath the tree.

I think this is the first year that they started hearing some "Santa's not real" mumblings.  Third grade is about when I learned the truth, so I was expecting it was coming.  But still it was sad to see the disappointment when I truthfully answered that Christmas question. 

I am not overly sad about leaving Santa behind, but I do feel those sad twinges that my boys are growing up, and that some of that wonder, magic and eager anticipation is left behind.