As I think back on the worst moments of child loss and the loss of my sister, the one thing that stands out the most is the silence. The “absence” of the child that was loved so much leaves a silence that is deafening. Everything about the silence is a reminder that our child is no longer with us.
No more waking up to the cries of a little one needing his diaper changed. No more giggles following a splishy-splashy bubble bath. No more hearing the words “mommy or daddy” fifty or more times in a row.
No excited talk at the dinner table about the soccer game. No noise from the vacant bedroom. No more dirty clothes laying on the bathroom floor or yelling about the toys that are left strewn all of the livingroom floor.
I held him in my arms. His little body was perfect. I pulled him up close to me and we sat cheek to cheek. I kissed his tiny little head a thousand times and more. I held his tiny little fingers and just kept touching them lightly against my lips. I took his precious little feet and fit them into the palm of my hand and ever so gently closed my fingers around each tiny toe counting to make sure there were five on each small foot.
And, then I felt my body fold into a million broken pieces as I rocked back and forth, my body shaking in pain knowing my son would never open his eyes and look into mine.
Many of you have been following the story about my sister’s death. If you’re new to this blog, I’d suggest you begin here. Child loss is such a complex grief that we could spend hours discussing this pain every day and still come up with the same conclusion: “Child loss is the worst pain that anyone will ever go through. It can’t fully be explained in words — ever. Losing a child is like having your heart broken into a million pieces!”
Carmella was diagnosed with asthma when she was six years old. She had severe asthma — her attacks were brutal. At that time, there weren’t as many medications available to help as we now have, so an asthma attack often meant a trip to the hospital to get immediate help. Any number of things could trigger an attack — even exerting a little too much energy would bring on wheezing and a tightening of the chest making it so hard to get air into the lungs. Of course catching a cold usually meant staying in the hospital for a week or more. A cold often went into bronchitis, and bronchitis went into pneumonia. Asthma is a word that my family grew to hate. We hated it because we saw what it did to this little girl. It ruled her life! She either lived by the rules or she couldn’t breathe.
This hasn’t happened to me in a long time, but I’m going to share it anyway. I hope I’m not alone in this, but you know what? I’m going to share because I know that grief does really strange things to the way a person thinks.
I just watched a video of a man and his significant other being interviewed about winning the big Powerball. Millions and millions of dollars. They were happy. They were teasing. They were laughing. And, they made the statement, “No more worries. Life is going to be so different now. We can live out our dreams, take care of ourkids and families. We’ll never work again. We’re ecstatic!”
And, you know what? I felt mad. I felt jealous. I felt angry. Really, really angry at the unfairness of life! I didn’t at all feel happy for him. And, I guess I’m here to say that I don’t really care that I feel this way. Grief has a way of changing your heart. It really does. We try so hard to be happy for others, but deep down inside there is always this gnawing that says, “Why? Why did this have to happen? I didn’t ask for the moon. I only wanted a regular life. Just everyday, normal life. Why this?”
This blog isn’t so much a personal story as it is a pouring out of my thoughts, sharing my pain, and giving some insights about child loss so that as we gather here together we can get some much-needed support and encouragement. This is a place where we can be who we are and not be judged for it. It’s a place where we can say, “You know what? I’m mad at everybody and everything right now!” and we know that we’ll still receive the support we need.
When my sister Carmella, or “Mellie” as we called her, died we weren’t at all prepared for the way our family as we once knew it would change. Who is ever prepared? How can you ever even imagine what losing a child will be like?
When my sister died, nobody in the house knew how to act.
I’m not exacly sure when it happened, but somewhere around age twelve I became a photo nut. There was hardly ever an occasion when I didn’t have a camera in my hands. I’m still that way today. I have taken thousands and thousands of photos, and now that digital photography is available, I’m always snapping photos. It’s irritating to some people, but I love to have a photo to remind me of time spent together with family and friends.
This week while having a rare, but necessary, meltdown, I was sobbing in bed one evening and decided to look through some of the thousands of photos stored on my computer. It wasn’t until then that the light came on. I finally understood why photos are so important to me. Pictures aren’t just pictures — they really and trulyare “important” to me!
If you’ve been following a little bit of my story, you know that my sister Carmella died when she was thirteen years old. And, one of the most sad things I live with every day is the lack of pictures I have of her. Not only do I lack pictures of her, but I don’t have any family pictures except the one posted here.
Please listen to my story, and I’d love to hear your comments on this.