Tonight we set up our Christmas tree. Chad strung the lights. Linley hung the few ornaments we have pulled together from friends and family and small budgets. Beck attempted to eat everything in his quick little path...and I watched. I watched through fogginess...through deliberate gratefulness and such large doses of sadness that my bones feel weak and my chest will pull unaturally. If you were to sit with me now on my couch in the dark hours, curled up and sobbing, you would see no evidence of the girl I gave birth to. No ornaments. No stockings. No artwork...simply nothing. She is gone in every sense of the word.
Sweet eternity...she is there. I am not.
I miss my daughter.
This is the second tree we have chosen without her help. The second year where I have no need to look at what little girls would desire to see under the tree and no need to buy matching nightgowns for sisters who are both similar as well as vastly unique. No need...I miss that need. This year I am slyly being passed Christmas lists filled with rainbow looms and kindles and tiaras and I am prepared to walk through the little fellow section at Target...a few short aisles from the ones I once wandered. She is gone. She no longer has desires that this mommy can fulfill. She dances and is whole and waits for me.
In the light of the day, I can categorize my grief. I can chant in my mind all the truths that I lean on so. I can read the encouragement of friends and scholars and preachers and be reminded that others have carried this and that I too, can. In the day I can have busy hands and hurried feet and plans and schedules and little ones with needs and spouses who are grieving and giving in and in those moments I have no space for myself. There is no compartment...I deliberately fill each up.
But then the night comes and I am not so much tired as I am weary and my mind cannot block the memories that can both draw a smile and a sob. Over the rumbles of the man on the other side of my bed and yet miles away, I fight the noises that begin to rise in me and I swiftly find my way to the quiet couch. All the words and phrases my mind presses away in the day will come tumbling out and I will feel them pour down my cheeks. I will feel the enormity of what this life will feel like sans Piper. And I will taste these tears and I will write the words that both choke and free and I will allow myself this.
I have learned quickly that grief is both what you feel and what you feel you must not give time to.