A journey filled with memories and tears
I was listening to the news recently while getting dressed in the morning to go to work when I heard a woman sobbing about the loss of her 6-year-old daughter during the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
She had been calmly talking about her daughter’s love of horses and how she hoped to have one someday. There was a pause, and tears welled up in her eyes and she said it all had not sunk in yet about her daughter being gone. Holding on tightly to her husband’s hands she began to sob and laid her head on his shoulder.
I sat down on the edge of the bed not able to move as I thought back to the day when I lost my daughter too. Jessica was 21-years-old and died not from a crazed gunman, but because of neglect from doctors who were worried about the bottom dollar instead of her life. She died as a result of complications from gallstones. Just so you will know too, they can kill you. I didn’t know this until it was too late to save my baby girl.
Jessica was a young woman with a whole life ahead of her. She loved children and wanted one of her own someday. My life is filled with things that will never be. I wanted to see her in her wedding dress and get married. Then for her to become pregnant where I could offer motherly advice and she would have babies of her own. I could laugh as she would explain to me that she could not believe her own child would roll their eyes at her, just like she had once done to me. These are all things taken from me when the doctors allowed her life to be taken from her.
I know of the feeling of it not all sinking in and even though I knew she was not coming home again, I couldn’t help but look to see if she was there. During Jessica’s funeral, I told a friend, that it wasn’t really her since it didn’t even look like her. I knew that it was, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. I went the entire funeral not wanting to get close enough to the coffin to say goodbye because in my mind, the whole thing simply did not exist. I managed to get through it with the help of some friends whom I can never thank enough.
Several months later after her death, I was watching her car being towed away when it hit me. Jessica would never drive up in my driveway with the music filling the air and a smile on her face. It wasn’t much of a car, but she bought it herself and she was proud of it. She would come through the door and always made her presence known either with a laugh or by just being Jessica. I miss hearing her laugh.
But, she would never be doing that again. Once I finally accepted the facts, it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried like never before and just let it all go. My entire body shook with exhaustion when I finally could not cry another tear. Although, since then there have been other times when it hit me again. There was her birthday and all the holidays since she loved each of them. But, I refuse to acknowlege the day she died as one I will recognize. But, I know the mothers who lost their children during the shooting will not have that luxury since it is on the minds of many and will be for years to come.
There is another question these mothers in Connecticut will be forced to answer at one time or another. At some point someone who doesn’t know them will ask how many children they have. When people asked me I didn’t know what to say. Jessica was indeed my child but sometimes I didn’t want to go into where she was or how she got there. So, I carefully worded I had three sons at home. On good days, I said I had four and told them about Jessica. After all she is my child and I cannot deny her — ever.
At one point the families of the children will also have to decide what to do with their belongings. I still have most of Jessica’s stuff and I can’t let go of it. I have her cheerleading uniform, prom dress and many trophies collected during her years of playing softball. I don’t keep them nearby since it still hurts to look at them, but I know where they are kept. They are priceless to me. When I get to that point and I will know when, I will get rid of a lot of things, but I am not there yet.
Finally, they will think and ask themselves when will my life move on? My answer is never. Jessica was a part of my life and always will be. I can stil hear her laugh in my head and every time I hear about the Dallas Cowboys losing a football game I remember not being able to talk to her for the rest of the day. Thinking of the look on her face brings a smile to my face. I remember her love for her brothers and how much of a thrill it was for her when she made people laugh. There are so many triggers on a daily basis to remind me of her. Sometimes it as simple as a song on the radio which can brings it all back to me that she is no longer here.
Many times I have said a prayer for all mothers who have lost a child. It is a pain like none other which goes straight to the heart and I would not wish it on anyone. Losing a child is a heavy burden to bear, but I am told it gets better with time and obviously many tears along the way.
I hope this will shed some light on what a grieving parent goes through and a little understanding on why they behave the way they do. I am grateful for my friends who have always been there when I needed them and provided a shoulder to cry on. For the one special person who never had the opportunity to meet her but treats her like part of his family, words cannot express my deep admiration and thanks to you.