It shocks me that there are moments when Brian and I are truly and genuinely happy. It seemed so impossible that we would find joy a few months ago, yet here we are. These little bursts of happiness are so delicately sprinkled between the most intense feelings of sadness. It’s a sacred balance, and it stops the pain from completely swallowing us.
The smiles, the laughter, it’s all so beautiful. I cling to those moments because I have felt the desperation of a joyless life. I was living one for the first few weeks after our daughter died.
But the grief still exists. It always does. No matter how hard I try to fight it, or tell myself I’m healing, the ache remains.
This evening, Brian and I decided to grill up some watermelon, peaches, pineapple and shrimp. It was a spur of the moment decision after a great day of browsing at the local farmer’s market and shopping. We laughed and joked as we prepared the food. I glanced out the window as Brian was getting the coals going on the grill, he looked so content and peaceful. It made my heart swell to see him like that.
Today had been such a good day. Brian and I were in a really great place. It was really wonderful, but I couldn’t block out the ache I was feeling. Something was missing.
As Brian came in to grab the plate of peaches, I looked up at him with misty eyes and said, “You know, Aria would have had so much fun with us.” We stood there for a moment, our eyes locked on each other. The emptiness swirled around us as we longed for our little girl.
No matter how well we seem to be coping, the emptiness that exists where our daughter should be is ever present and the ache is constant. Sometimes we try to tiptoe around it, so we don’t fall apart in front of everyone. We agree when people tell us we look great, or sound happy. But when it’s just the two of us, we feel our grief freely. We embrace the void because it comes from a place of great love for our little girl. We ebb and flow with all of our emotions because blocking them out only intensifies the pain. So we took a few moments in the middle of preparing dinner to grieve, then gathered ourselves and kept going. We ate, went for a walk, and the laughter returned.
Through the months, we have learned that the key to survival is learning how to dance between each emotion, and always welcoming joy when it comes.