“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.