Death ends a lot of things, but not everything.
Today marks fourteen months since our sweet Aria made her grand entrance into the world. It also marks fourteen months since she entered heaven’s gates and began an eternity of joy.
These monthly milestones are always very momentous for me. So much change occurs between the 2nd day of every month. So I try to take time to reflect on how I have changed, how my grief has changed, and how my relationship with Aria has changed.
The fourteen month anniversary has been the most gentle by far. The guilt over not being able to save her still remains, but I have to go searching for it. It no longer sits in the front of my mind, constantly tormenting me with its presence. I’ve been dreaming of this place since my first day of grief, and have finally found the rest that my counselor promised I would find.
When I tell people about Aria, which I wish I had the opportunity to do more often, I feel joy well up inside of me. It’s a stark contrast to the pain and sadness that would bubble up and overflow in the form of hot tears and guttural cries. Of course, because grief is not linear this does still happen, but I now have the opportunity to catch my breath between those moments.
It’s funny though how grief works, because as I’m sitting here typing away about how things have gotten lighter for me, the guilt is setting in. Guilt because I fear that healing means forgetting. Guilt because I couldn’t possibly be ok when my daughter isn’t here. Guilt because I shouldn’t be moving forward without her.
Thank God for rationale, which quickly brings me back to a gentler place as I remember that while death ends a lot of things, it does not end everything.
I truly believe the ones who have gone before us do not fully leave us. Each time Brian and I embark on a new journey, we feel Aria right beside us. She coaches me through the hardest of days, and celebrates with me during the good ones. Sometimes I swear I can feel her laughing. It is incredible how my relationship and perception of my daughter has continued over the last fourteen months. Sometimes I look at her newborn face in photos and marvel at how much she has grown, not physically, but in spirit.
As I wrap up this reflection, I want to make one thing clear, grief doesn’t end. There is healing, but it doesn’t ever stop being a wound. I can’t say that grief gets any easier right now, which I know must sound absolutely terrible to the newly bereaved. But I tend to look at grief as a heavy weight in my hands. At first the weight was incredible, and my hands were so unaccustomed to carrying it that it ached with every step. Fourteen months later, the weight is still the same, but my hands have calloused and my arms have strengthened. I have simply learned to carry my grief in a way that no longer prevents me from thriving while on this earth.
Finally, to my sweet fourteen month old daughter in heaven, I love you. I love you. I love you. You are forever the light of my life, and I miss you dearly sweet girl.