This new year is like none before. There’s still a wish that I will wake up tomorrow morning to find that the second half of the 2010 never happened. I am sure we are recovering in some ways but they say a child’s death changes you. How much have we changed? I have lost all my fears and worries. What bothers most people (and me earlier) doesn’t matter anymore. And somethings which others might find trivial have become a matter of survival.
Festivities are a painful time. A child’s birthday is now a day both cherished and dreaded. New year eve has no meaning. And one wakes up every morning hoping this day begins easier. I have learnt it helps to avoid whatever and whoever causes pain. This too has become a matter of survival.
Avoiding triggers is not always easy. The biggest trauma triggers are claims that another hospital, a different treatment or another set of doctors could have saved Tejaswee’s life. One near stranger asked questions and although I knew where I was treading, I talked about the treatment and symptoms and illness. And then relived it all that evening.
A friend said that she tried but could not imagine herself in my position. She said even thinking about something happening to her child was just too horrible. Why did it hurt me? It was (and still is) unimaginable for me too. If it wasn’t I would have said goodbye to her when doctors said only a miracle could save her…
Sometimes some people are only expressing how they feel, but I am pushed into days of unbearable lows.
My sister says sometimes I look and sound so ‘normal‘ that it is difficult to remember how fragile the normalcy is. She says it is difficult to know what the right thing to say is. (The answer to this is, when in doubt, just be a good listener and give no unasked for advice. This requires another post.). She remembered how she had called me this September and upon hearing my “Hello” burst into tears saying the emptiness in my voice reminded her of a friend who had lost her daughter five years ago. She said death of a child did that to mothers. I didn’t want to live for five years if what she said was true.
I had reminded her (and myself) that I hoped to remember my daughter with a smile and although I am learning this is not always easy, I am still working on it. Our life has changed and happiness, as we saw it earlier, is no longer a part of this new life.
And yet something happened that brought peaceful joy and happy-sad tears at the same time.
At around 5 am on 3rd Jan, I dreamt of my daughter. She wore her gray sweater and she was smiling. I saw myself holding her close and telling her I had missed her so much because I never got to tell her how much I loved her (and hear the same from her) one last time before she died. No hugs. No reassurances. No idea how she was feeling or if she was feeling anything at all. No idea, even that we were not going to be walking out together from that ICU. And she smiled with sweet (no other word describes it) understanding, held my face and said she loved us very much and I hugged her tight and we sat and talked and I think (this bit is hazy) took photographs together.
It was a long dreamlike dream. I told her, after this time spent with her, I could now live with her dying and going away forever. And she smiled sweetly, half teasingly, at my comfortable mention of her death. (I didn’t discuss their death with my kids, fearing, sort of, that talking about death might make it happen. She always thought it was okay to talk about our loved ones dying.) As it happens in dreams, I could hear her thoughts, and she thought (conveyed) she was going nowhere. And I knew in this dream that she had died. And yet the feeling of peace stayed.
I woke up and fearing I might forget parts of this precious dream, shared every detail with my husband. He still relives her time in the ICU when trying to sleep, but for two nights after this dream, he has slept peacefully.
This is another way in which we have changed, …or maybe not changed. Her smile, even in a dream, doesn’t fail to provide hope and strength. And a reason to remember her always with a proud, loving smile.