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Why Should I Cry For You?

"Sometimes I see your face,
The stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you?
Why must I?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?
Why would you want me to?
And what would it mean to say,
That, "I loved you in my fashion"?
What would be true?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?"
-- Sting 

It's been a while, hasn't it? But it's that time of year again. 

Sometimes I regret that I'm not writing on my blog nearly as much as I used to. It seems that my posts center around special family events and dates and I'm certainly not as prolific as I used to be. I write lots of things in my head or in my journals that just don't make it to social media and I hope those of you who continue to read my ramblings will accept my apologies for the long pauses in between my thoughts. 

I suppose I'm saving it all for my next memoirs. When I'm rich and famous. 

[pause for laughter]

If I were to sum up my feelings right now about Charlotte in one word, I think that word would be bittersweet. The ratio of bitter to sweet can vary from day to day and week to week. 

Those of you on Facebook know that there is this feature where they share some of your "most popular" posts from previous years on that particular day. Often, it's one of the first things you see when you open your feed (your option to share it again with anyone). The memories of Charlotte or of our cancer/grief journey tend to jump out at me with no warning and give me a nice sucker punch. 

I saw this one today and here is what really hit home: those first years (and especially THE first year) grieving Charlotte's death were so difficult. It was hard to see the light at the end of that long tunnel. I have never been more heartbroken. 

In those days, anything could send me over the edge. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a mother whose daughter was facing a similar circumstance with a terminal diagnosis of cancer. We were connected through the hospital social worker. What started as a brief meetup on my lunch break turned into in emotionally draining but incredibly meaningful afternoon. We laughed. We cried. My heart ached for this mama because I saw so much of our journey in hers. I knew that her road had already been so difficult and that the immediate road ahead would be hard as well. Her daughter died a few days later. 

The day after I received the news, I was driving to work with my ipod on shuffle. This can be a dangerous thing because you never know what song might come up or what it might trigger. Of all the songs to appear, it was Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. I almost had to pull over on the side of the road because of my tears.  

One of the hardest things to manage in our grief journey is the survivor guilt. It's hard to let yourself be happy. I know that there's nothing rational about it. It doesn't always make sense. But it's there. It's one of the things I had to come to terms with before we were ready to adopt and expand our family.

Another mom who lost her daughter within a year of Charlotte's death has been on a similar journey. She has struggled with her grief as I have and has experienced both the joy and sorrow in moving forward with her other child (also adopted like our Kiddo). I was delighted to see her Caring Bridge post this week in which she proclaimed genuine joy. It can be such a struggle to get to the next mile marker, the next normal. 

Notice that I don't say "the other side". That implies that the journey is over. It implies that there is an end to our grief.  

This year, I watched as many of the kids who are Charlotte's age finished fifth grade. My eldest daughter would be a rising middle schooler this year. I think often of the conversations we would be having now. What would her interests be? What would she be doing with her time this summer? In my mind, she is still a preschooler who loves princesses and Frosty the Bad-Ass. She is forever four.

Over the next few days, I will have a few ugly cries. It's ok. There's definitely something therapeutic about it. Roger and I find a way every year to mark the day/week of her birth and it always works out for us (it's always different).  This year, I ended up scheduling my vacation this week and I think that's a very good thing. 

To my friends and family: I know I have said it before, but thank you (again) for the never-ending love. A special public thank you to Roger, who knows me better than just about anyone. It only takes a word or a glance and we know what the other is thinking. He's always there for me and I try to always be there for him as well. I couldn't make it this far without him. 

Happy 11th Birthday, baby girl. 
Charlotte Jennie
July 9, 2005-January 7, 2010



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