My daughter was born on September 4th. Today is October 4th. Yesterday, we said our goodbyes beneath the sheltering oak. I still have an incredibly hard time saying her name out loud.
My aunt and uncle’s land is expansive and I could not quite remember how to get to the tree, so while out on a morning walk while my aunt tended to her chickens and sheep, she pointed out the path to me. The tree is part of land that will eventually be donated to the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, so it will always be there. She later took the boys for a walk of their own while Ger and I made our journey to the tree.
After scattering her ashes, we just sat there on the bench. I couldn’t get up – I felt like getting up was walking away and it felt all too final. I brought back a small acorn from the ground. The weather was so beautiful – crisp, sunny, and shining on us. I knew that was where she was meant to be. The coulee will always be home.
The rest of the day, I felt a heavy weight. Like maybe I was underwater and trying to swim back to the surface for air. We took the kids to a corn maze and then had an evening cookout and I swam through. By the time I was alone and lying in bed, I wanted to scream with grief. I cried and cried. Then I suddenly felt calm. I stopped crying and was able to take a breath. I believe that Nelle and my grandfather reached out to me. The tears will not be over – writing her name has made me stop and shudder with sobs – but at least for a moment last night, I could look around and say “Ok – it won’t always be this way. I will not always feel so much pain.”
We left early this morning to drive home, and then everyone took naps. Sleep is still elusive for me. The past two nights I have been plagued yet again by reliving the worst moments from the hospital like a nightmare – it prevents me from falling asleep and staying asleep. I have to keep telling myself, like everything else, that this too will not last forever.
So I survived. Now if I can climb out of this feeling of being underwater, where I cannot see or hear anything clearly, maybe I can put one foot in front of the other tomorrow. And the next day.