This year, as September approaches, I am once again facing the two hardest days of the year for me and my family. Our beloved Marley was killed on September 11 when a drunk driver hit our car and only nine days later, on September 20 is her birthday. This will be my fourth September 11th and my fifth September 20th without her sweet breath in the air. Writing this seems insane. How can it feel like a breath ago and simultaneously one million years ago that I held her in my arms? The hard fact is that learning to live life without my child has been the most grueling and heartbreaking experience life can offer. This year feels different though. This year I feel anticipated grief and sadness but the fear has subsided. It’s as if my spirit and body know how to do it this time…I remember considering this notion last year but didn’t feel confident about the fear part. It IS scary to enter into such knowingly dark days. It IS scary to wonder HOW will I get through these monumental dates? For those who feel the fear, I encourage you to think about how to most deeply replenish yourself leading up to the dates, to think about how to protect yourself amidst the dark days, and how to limit the expectations you may face when your heart is most lonely for the one you miss.
What does it mean to fear it less for me? Over the last few years I would start with deep anxiety around June. I am not oblivious to the approaching end of summer and it is marked heavily by the start of school and a lot of “she should be doing…”. We walk our son to school among his friends and hers, feeling her piercing absence more than usual as we share strides with happy and excited and whole families. It is so painful. Now, though, I know it. I know to prepare myself and I know how it feels in a more familiar and predictable experience. I challenge myself not to compare. I know in my deepest parts that this time of year, or any day, if I live in the land of comparison I will lose. Losing comes with resentment, bitterness and jealousy. I will never have what “they” have. She is not here and therefore I lose the biggest and most important part of who I am. Knowing this is among the most valuable information I have gathered. Knowing that my course will always be “only mine” and never a reflection of the have and have nots has freed me from the competitive nature that can tug at my weakened heart strings.