On Life After Her Death
This is the third post in a series this week in honour of the three year anniversary of my sister Jocelyn's death. I'll share writing from a variety of places (old blog posts from here, from other personal blogs, writing never shared), but all things that I've written about her death and my grieving. While not the most cheerful stuff to read about, my writing about losing her has been pivotal in my healing process. Thanks for allowing me to share with you this week!
This was originally posted on our (now neglected) family blog just shy of a month after Jocelyn died.
Other posts in this series:
Stop and Take the Call
Dear Jocelyn (Six Months Later)
I have waffled on whether or not to write a post like this, one where I tell you how things are going with us since my sister Jocelyn passed away about a month ago. Sometimes it's really just easier to keep it close, pretend no one is wondering anyways, and march on. And how do I put it into words again? I don't really know. But I'm going to try... because SO many people have been SO perfectly available and aware and caring that I want to be able to answer your questions about how I am doing...answer them with more than the honest, but vague, "I'm okay."
So... just, thank you, whoever you may be, for being there for me and my family.
We got to say goodbye to Jocelyn, over the phone, before they unplugged the machines. She was sedated, but we knew she could hear us...and we each had a chance to tell her how much we loved her, how proud we were of her, and promise to take care of her hubby and babies.
When the call came that she was gone, it was the last thing I heard for days and days, and it felt the way movies portray the moments following an explosion; all I could hear, mentally and emotionally, was ringing, ringing, ringing. Everything else felt so far away, fuzzy and unclear. Everything was in slow-motion, with lots of stumbling and shock and not-enough and too-much.
The night before her funeral, I got to help my mom dress Jocelyn's body for burial. It was the most beautiful and brutal experience of my life. Jocelyn was there; I felt her so, so close. It was the first time I felt fully, intensely present since her death.
The funeral was surreal. People were there, and they loved her, and they loved our family, and I was so amazed at all of the love hanging in the air. I was feeling so, so many things that day. I have a hard time catching my breath thinking about it. Thank you for your presence and/or prayers that day.
And in the days since, we've been experiencing the fallout; we've been watching where the pieces have landed, the wounded shuffling around to the wounded, and trying to attend to the everyday needs that suddenly feel really, really exhausting.
Right now, it feels like I am a computer with a heavy program called Grieving running in the background, making everything else run slow and inefficiently, with frequent glitches and the occasional full-on crash. I can't really do anything to speed up Grieving or make it go away, so I just have to let it run its course.
And, really, things get a little better every day. We talk about her all the time. We talk about her like she's there with us, and like we're going to see her again soon (...just not soon enough!). And we cry together, leaking out of our new cracks and fissures, slowly coming to terms that things are different now; we are trying to heal our way to our new normal. It's slow and stumbly, but we're doing the best we can.
My kids have been so great. They stop at least once a day, mid-play, and tell me that they miss Auntie Jocelyn, and give me the chance to say the same, out loud. It's therapeutic. My sweet Darren has carried me and cared for me, taking care of all of us with strength and compassion.
And it's going to sound so cliche, but what these past few weeks have left me with, most of all, is an appreciation for the beautiful things in my life. I better savour moments like these ones that I have taken pictures of lately. It has forced me to the sidelines of my life for a while, and from here I have been able to see things a little differently. I feel like this is not only true of experiencing the death of a loved one, but for any tragedy...I want to let this change me.
I know I will feel her absence for the rest of my life; when I have clothes I want to pass on, when I want to sing with her, when I want to share recipes I know she'd appreciate, when I want to rejoice in a great deal on cloth diapering supplies, or a stellar find on Kijiji, when I want to hear her take on situations in my life, roll my eyes at her non-stop puns. This is losing my sister to cancer. This is what it means to have to go through this life without her.
I have faith in God and His perfect plan. I may not understand The Why, but I trust that He does, and that is enough for now. This doesn't take away the hurt. This does give me a place to go when I am hurting. I know He is there.
Plus, these sweet faces I see every day soothe my soul. I am so grateful to have them.