I have tried to sit down and write countless times since Rachel passed [eight weeks ago tomorrow] … but with my heart not in it and attempting a fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude (not to mention parenting two wild and crazy kids) words on
paper screen just didn’t happen.
Like the gym and taking care of myself (enough sleep, healthy food choices) … in spite of knowing what to do and doing it (even in small increments)… writing has fallen to the wayside.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve uttered that phrase (and surely not the last), but nonetheless it saddens me … mostly because she and I both had writing/blogging in common, and our writing styles were even similar — long before we knew one another.
Life is funny like that, isn’t it?
This weekend, I had one of those moments of clarity. Following an amazing visit with my sister, I intended to take a cheesy selfie for her, showing her how sad I was that she had left (because I was! I missed her already!).
The kids were napping and Luis was out running an errand. So I stood huddled in a corner of our playroom and looked down, clicked a shot … and figured that would be that.
But when I actually looked at the photo I’d snapped (below), it told a completely different story. I was taken aback by the raw, genuine emotion displayed on my face; emotion I had been feeling but haven’t truly expressed to anyone except my husband, mom, sister and best friend.
Typically, I hate selfies and think they are ridiculous; a deep dive into our narcissistic society is a blog post in and of itself.
But in this case … it wasn’t ridiculous at all. I’d somehow managed to capture the essence of my own grief and sadness … a reflection of exactly how I’d been feeling these past nearly eight weeks. This photo somehow evokes far more than I could ever explain.
Upon seeing it, I teared up … angry and sad and confused, all at once. Because that’s grief. It comes in fits and bursts, sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes a tornado of several emotions at once and sometimes it lingers, even when everyone around me seems “normal”. And then sometimes it dissipates, as life goes on.
And life has gone on … as it should. There have been parties and work functions and date nights and visitors and delicious meals and laughs.
But there have also been moments when I burst into tears out of nowhere. There was her Celebration of Life with hundreds of people, and our big Pitch Perfect 2 viewing party [on her birthday] I organized that she should have been at … There was the lulu coat her husband gave to me that still smells like her sweet laundry soap — impossible to miss. And of course there are the lunch dates/gossip fests at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange that I am longing for (“Agent Henriquez and Agent Doxey reporting for duty!” we’d tease). Those precious lunch dates broke up the work day and left me feeling rejuvenated before heading back to the office for the afternoon; her energy was contagious.
And though she isn’t here, she’s still everywhere — and there’s comfort in that.
When I type “R” into Outlook, her email address still pops up first. (We were regular email buddies).
Photos of her appear in my newsfeed as family and friends continue to tag her on Facebook. (This is how we mourn in 2015).
Maya has had a lot of questions about Rachel that appear out of nowhere — like today on the way to school — but I’ll save that for a future post. (I will say, kids are very intuitive and both Luis and I have been shocked by some of her questions and her the maturity of her thought process).
One of the things my mom instilled in me at a young age (she lost her dad at 9; my uncle — her brother — died when I was 3) is to speak their name; talk about those we have loved and lost. It keeps their memory alive and helps us grieve and also carry on. It helped me cope when Jason died and he’s still someone I talk about and think about regularly. Like Rach, he was unforgettable … one of those special people who we will always hold close.
Whose name we will always speak … through laughter and tears.