Disclaimer: You know those cooking shows where they stick something in the oven and almost simultaneously bring out the perfectly baked result? I hope that this doesn’t read like the blog equivalent of “the magic of television.” The last thing I want is to make grief look quick and easy. It’s the exact opposite.
Julianna has been gone for two months today, but I have been grieving for almost five years. It started when Julianna was one. I grieved for missed milestones, then lost milestones (infinitely harder)…and it just went on. Grief will be my constant companion, so I might as well get comfortable with it.
Sometimes, the rationalizations, responsibilities and remembrances aren’t enough.
I just miss her. In my marrow, in my heart, my mind, my soul, and in my gut. In the deepest part of me, I miss her.
They say life goes on, and so it does. The sun rises and sets each day (thank you for all the pink, God and Julianna…) and there are bills to pay. There are diseases to fight and legacies to shape. A family to love, friends with whom to reconnect, patients to help. It’s all important, and I am blessed – truly. I am grateful for all of this.
Sometimes, though, the horrible, glaring and massive void has to be acknowledged: I had a daughter, and she was pure joy. She’s gone now, and I will never see her again – not on this earth. It’s messed up and it’s wrong. I don’t like it.
There, I said it, and I feel better. I can spend the rest of the evening being semi-productive and appreciating life. I am, after all, Julianna’s mother. She would expect nothing less.
(But I reserve the right to come back to this place when I need. I miss her all the time. Sometimes, I have to take time – and just miss her. )
The remembrances do help.
A few days after Julianna died, my cousin sent me all the pictures she could find. I had asked for them, but I wasn’t ready to look at them until this week. (The remembrances hurt sometimes too, you see…).
When Julianna and Alex were almost two and four, they were asked to be in my cousin’s wedding. J was at the peak of her strength then, and had started using a walker. I hoped desperately that she’d be able to walk down the aisle with it.
It didn’t happen, but we made do. We decorated a wagon, and she sat in a cloud of white tulle and lavender petals like the princess she was, her beloved Alex leading the way.
She was proud and delighted. So was Alex.
For some reason, we don’t have pictures of this moment. No one I’ve asked has any either.
Among the pictures my cousin sent, though, was this — from the rehearsal dinner.
After the wedding, we went on one of those duck-boat tours. It was a perfect July day in Seattle.
I remember the joy and wonder in Julianna’s face as the bus became a boat and we came onto the sparkling water of Lake Stevens. It’s one of my happiest memories.
Do you have angels? I have angels…
When we went through the worst, there was always a light.
One of Julianna’s nurses told me to look for this light. Even if it was tiny, we needed to cling to it, and it would grow.
Sometimes she was our light. When she took care of Julianna, we felt safe. (Think about what that means when your child is in the ICU and struggling…). She was the kind of nurse who, if something happened to go wrong on her watch, we would have been at peace knowing that Julianna was in the best, most loving hands. We trusted her that much.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending her wedding.
Amidst the light and the love, Julianna was there. I was sure of it.