It has been 5 months of navigating this grief thing. The weird path that has no directions, instructions, or ANY clearly marked route for that matter. Screw that. Screw grief.
I've realized, that I, like any momma thrust into the loss of a child, am blazing my own unique trail through the grief process. My path has looked a little bit like this:
* Suck it up buttercup days. I rock, I'm cool, I got this.
* Sleep all day...I'm a terrible mom....hours of cartoons.
* I will make Piper's life mean something! "Let's sell Tshirts!!!!"
* I'm uplifted by love and support, always.
* I miss the scary place. I miss the hospital. I miss those people.
* I'm awesome! "Let's create a non-profit!" "Let's meet Paul Rudd!"
* I can look through pictures...I still can't watch videos. This sucks.
* Xanax and wine?...Don't mind if I do! Cheers!
* I share Piper's story multiple times a day. I am meant to be her storyteller.
* I love doing family things we didn't get to do last year. Am I happy or guilty?
(REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT.)
Grief is no joke. Most days I am happy and sarcastic and silly, and I have made it a point to TRY to not feel guilty about that. Others, though, I am stopped dead in my tracks by missing Pipes. Little things will sneak up on me, like the smell of Noodle & Boo lotion, a picture a nurse texts me, or seeing a specific blanket. The sneaky things stab my heart a little; but I wouldn't have it any other way.
The latest little sneak up of emotion happened when my brother, aka "Uncle Whiskey," made it home from Iraq. I had been in a text loop with my mom all day, being updated on his ETA. His homecoming. I breezed through the day, happy for mom & dad to be able to see him, excited for his fiance to get him back home! Excitement - the emotion of the day. Easy.
It was the text "His plane just landed!" that caused a stir of emotions I didn't see coming. My excitement for my brother being home, sneakily morphed into a dumping of grief emotions. I realized, all day, that I was so happy for our family to all be on American soil again...that everyone was home and accounted for. That night, I discovered that my heart didn't feel the same way. Someone will always be missing. And it will always hurt.
I sobbed the night Drew came home. I wished I could be there to welcome him. I grieved at remembering all we went through during his deployment. All he missed, the good and the bad, came roaring back. I had grieved for Piper with our family; but I hadn't gotten to grieve Piper with my brother...and my body felt that on a primal level. So. darn. weird.
For those who don't know: Drew had been on a night watch when he got the news that Piper was cue-ing her exit from this earth. He was allowed to stop, call me, and was the last family member I spoke with just minutes before Piper passed. I was heartbroken for him to be so far away. He was heartbroken for me to be to saying goodbye to my baby. Two hearts, a world away from each other, both shattered by her tiny sweet soul.
With the holiday season upon us, I am reminded of the way I felt when Drew came home. With family living their lives miles apart, we rejoice in the fact that we get to spend these holidays together, but no, we are NOT all here and accounted for. There's a teeny tiny person that will always be missing.
Piper has scarred by heart.
We will always notice that she is the little heart tug we feel when celebrating as a family, and I choose to be thankful for that empty feeling in my stomach. She made her mark on all of us, we miss her, and there will always be a void.
For those who have lost a child, or a loved one recently....I see you. I acknowledge their absence. I know they are missing from your celebration.
It hurts like hell; but I love that we've loved so much.
Last year, I smiled through Thanksgiving lunch, then headed to the hospital to see Pipes. We were all "here," just not all at home.
This year, I will be still, look around the table, and be thankful to celebrate with family. I will be thankful that, although not what we expected, this year, Piper Grace is home.