I was waiting in Von’s supermarket yesterday, standing in the magazine aisle, surrounded by gossipy rags, which I’ll admit I do peruse through occasionally as an escape.
I couldn’t see where Dempsey, my 7 year old daughter, was. For a second I looked, then looked again, she was leaning next to the card stand, picking out cards and reading them. I smiled to myself, thinking how lovely it was to see my daughter reading all the fun stuff in birthday cards, then I frowned… it wasn’t the birthday cards she was reading, it was the sympathy cards.
I automatically shook my head, thinking “NO!” I started questioning… has all the death, and grief, and loss in our family tainted her forever? Has grief changed her? Ruined her?
I wandered over to her, “What are you reading, Precious?” I asked, trying not to display any sort of emotion so as not to skew her answer.
“Look at all these cards Mommy, some of them are sad. I think we should buy this one and send it to Emmy and Charlotte.” Emmy and Charlotte are her cousins – my sister, who recently passed’s, twin daughters. She held in her hands a pale pink sympathy card with red roses and a rainbow on the front. It read, “For the loss of your Mother” in big bold letters.
I asked her why we should send it, and she said, “Because it’s so sad that they don’t have their Mommy with them like I do.” I put my arm around her and squeezed her tightly with tears in my eyes. In that instant, I knew that everything we’ve been through as a family, has changed her too. However, thanks to grief, and what she’s been exposed to, she will always be compassionate and thoughtful towards others who are suffering.
Sometimes I get lost in my own pity party. Within three years time I lost my sister, my mother, and my daughter. Sometimes I forget that Dempsey too has lost her Aunt, her Nannie, and of course her sister. Her sister, whom she asks about every few days, and who she wishes was here, and who she promises me she wouldn’t fight with if I could bring her back. Death and loss and grief rips parts out of your life that other people take for granted…I know I did before I lost my loved ones.
There was a time when Dempsey would beg me daily for a little brother or sister, increasing my pain and guilt that I couldn’t give her the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world. But over time, her requests have slowed down. She only mentions it occasionally now, which relieves my guilt just a fraction. We did try for her, for us, for Savannah, to bring another happy soul into our damaged family, but for some reason it wasn’t to be.
For three years Peter and I subjected ourselves to the invasive roller coaster ride of invitro fertilization pre genetic diagnosis testing (where they harvest only healthy embryo’s); but for us, for some reason, it wasn’t to be.
And I question why this path in life isn’t for our family. I go over and over potential answers to the question, “Why NOT us?” And I wonder if it’s so I can be there for my sister’s children, or if Dempsey is meant to have all the attention that she missed out on for the first 18 months of her life?
But, I have learnt, sometimes there are no answers, or none that make sense anyway; and I’m okay with that now after many soul searching, sleepless nights.
* * * *
By guest writer Diana Doyle. Read more of her writing at www.sunshineinabluecup.blogspot.com.