As I stumble my way through this week, I find myself reflecting on repetition and cycles. We discovered I was pregnant with Ellie on July 4th weekend, 2009. This past Sunday, July 8, Ellie would have been 2 ½ years old…followed by this coming Saturday commemorating 2 ½ years since she has been gone. I have been here before. I remember being hopeful for healing in July 2010 and then sorrowful in July 2011 as she felt further and further away from me. Will it always be this way? Will every January, March, and July – not to mention the holidays – affect me like this…like it just happened and I can hardly catch my breath? Is this what a bereaved parent’s life is: waiting for the next painful milestone, thinking about the what-ifs and my child’s should-bes?
Cycles are a part of life and death. I used to see their beauty; the animal dying in the woods, breaking down into food and compost, and then becoming the foundation of new life and growth. It’s nature at her finest. But what is natural about the cycle being disrupted? This isn’t the way it is supposed to happen. And every day I am caught in a new cycle of happiness for my surviving children, fear that they will be hurt, sadness for Ellie’s absence, exhaustion from fighting to cope, and anger that I now know about this world of loss.
In my office at work and on my check book, I force myself every new page to place a small, red heart on the 8th and 14th of the month. Not like I would ever forget these days. But it has become repetition. It is something I have to do, like brushing my teeth or reading a book to my son at night.