In an updated version of my last post I thought it might be curious to write a similar letter, one which reflects more accurately how I am doing in these days.  The last one was written 40 days after Marley had been killed.  Today I am 3 years and 7 months out from that Dark Day.  

The pain I feel is something different than the burning shock and sickness of the first days, weeks, months and even years.  I’ve learned not to be so scared without you, Marley.

The panic of wondering how in the world I would survive, continue to live, take care of our son or be with others has softened.  I see how I have done these things and how these exact things have been the source for moments of joy.  The grief is still deep and searing.  The longing I feel to hold you in my arms still causes my whole body to deeply ache.   I am not scared though.  

Integrate, by definition, means to fully combine one thing with another so they can be one.  Although there are days when I certainly feel fragmented and incomplete without Sweet Marley at my side; there are also days when the integrated grief offers enough reprieve from the fight against the truth and I feel like a real person.  To be integrated in my grief is to hold the joy of my living children right along side the grief of losing Marley.  It is not easy.  It requires a constant inner dialogue to convince my spirit that it isn’t one or the other…and even a silent battle against the thought that I would not have our youngest daughter should Marley not have died.  I am not quite at the place where this algorithm feels authentic.  Mostly, it feels a bit tragic.  I like to think there is no way of knowing whether or not we would have decided to have another child…I just can’t reason her death with the birth of another child.  

So, back to the fear.  There is less fear now.  There is less uncertainty about how in the hell I will make it.  There is more predictability in my grief and more strategy in how I come together with others for support.  The shock that takes my breath away has been replaced with something more reasonable.  I can’t quite pin point what that something is, I just know it’s not based in fear, but in love.