Studies show we lose our ability to effectively measure speed while driving through fog. We’re not able to use landmarks as reference and if we don’t pay extra attention to the speedometer we can drive much faster than safe or intended.
Driving through fog is also exhausting. It takes an abundance of caution and focus to safely navigate in such conditions. This hypervigilance is tiring.
Grief, to me, is like driving in fog. There’s no reference points for traversing through such an experience. Life passes by much quicker than you expect, much of it going unnoticed. Grief is exhausting too. Wading through the dense fog of grief takes a mental, physical and emotional toll. Before you know it, you’ve lost your way and time has gotten away from you.
The days following David's passing fused together into an indistinguishable mess. I kept fairly busy taxiing the girls around, coaching their basketball team and preparing for David's memorial but mostly I spent a lot of time doing menial things thinking of David. It was hard to take my mind off of anything but him. As a result, sleep was difficult. Well sleep itself wasn't difficult. I fell asleep, eventually, and slept for a good amount of time but it wasn’t restful.
The "firsts" for everything after arriving home were hard. Going to the girls’ school, seeing friends and family, going to church - all things I thought I'd do with David in tow. No amount of preparation helps with the firsts.
Day in and day out, you put one foot in front of the other and trudge on.
I was told people grieve in different ways and it’s normal to feel angry, depressed, guilty and sad. I didn’t feel angry. I think anger comes with the question, "Why?" Why did he have to suffer only to die? Why did he have to die? Why did this happen to me?
To me, I knew the answer to the question, "Why?" and that was because God said so. For a lot of people that's not a good enough answer.
I didn’t have many thoughts of why. I guess I was lucky in that way.
I wasn’t depressed. I found peace in what happened to David. Some semblance of closure was given to me before he even passed away. Another blessing.
I didn’t have guilt either. Even though we removed the breathing tube I felt David made the decision and we carried out the process. Plus, I believed God was big enough to overcome any of our mistakes. If David was meant to live he would have.
I suffered from jealousy though. I was jealous of others who got to take their babies home. Jealous of people with healthy babies. In no way did I wish them any ill will, that's the last thing I'd ever want for another family. I guess I felt sorry for myself.
The thing I felt the most was sadness mixed with longing. You know the feeling you get when someone you love is away for a long time and you miss them desperately? That's how I felt. I really missed David and the feeling was exacerbated by the fact I’d never see him again, not on earth anyhow. That could be 50 plus years! Such a long time.
The preparation for the memorial was anxiety provoking. I wanted it to be a certain way but had no experience in the planning of such a thing. The church, and the Pastor and his wife helped us navigate our way through the process. I was glad we organized it because it allowed me to be a part of the whole process. I liked being able to pick out the guest book, the candles, the pictures, etc. It was more time engrossed in all things David.
We chose the 21st of January for the memorial, in part, to give the crematorium a chance to deliver David's urn.
Finding out David had been cremated was intensely difficult for me. I have a story that highlights where I was at the time, mentally.
One day I came home and saw there were some messages on the answering machine. I scrolled through the call display and saw BC Women’s Hospital had called. My heart raced. I quickly pressed play on the answering machine and there was a voice stating they were calling from the hospital. My heart leapt. In my mind, I was fully expecting to hear one of the doctors had gone down to the morgue and found David was alive. Instead, I listened as they voice stated the body had been released to the crematorium and he’d been cremated. I knelt down on the ground and played the message over a few times as I cried. His death had been truly finalized in that moment. He was gone for good.
When we lose someone or something, we don’t always accept reality fully.
The voicemail was a blow hitting me so hard it knocked me out of my fog for long enough to experience a re-breaking of my heart.
Days later, we came home to find a box from Canada Post waiting for us. It was David's remains. His urn. I opened the package. It was like unwrapping one of those Matryoshka dolls. A large box filled with decreasingly smaller boxes with bubble wrap layered in between. Then there it was! The most perfect little urn. It was silver with white doves on it. I started to bawl. It was so tiny. Only a bit longer than my thumb. I don't know what I expected but that wasn't it. I guess I thought it would be bigger but it was truly David size! The girls started to cry too. They just couldn't believe he was "in there." Reuben held onto it for a while just staring at it. I had to walk away. It was all too much. Within a few minutes I composed myself and then quickly became so grateful it had arrived. He’d made it in time for his memorial.
Having him there and the memorial on the horizon acted to lift some of the fog. As the healing started, the gloom and mist cleared.