I’m so tired of waking up tired. Great song.. Dreadful lifestyle. As you’ll know if you read A humbling experience I have been having trouble sleeping and on Monday night when I finally dozed off at 3.30am (needing to be awake at 5am) I was plagued with a nightmare about my daughter and trying to organise her funeral.
The dream has stayed with me and now here we are at Wednesday night (our time) and I’m still feeling overwhelmed with the feelings in that dream. Why do we dream like that? Oh I know it’s the brain processing stuff and I guess over the last week I have had a lot to deal with. I have had to bury my little old canine best friend. I also made a slideshow last week for a little girl’s funeral. She was buried last Thursday and would have turned just 4 this Tuesday. My heart just broke for her parents. As I looked at her photos I thought about how in so many ways I was lucky that I never had to see my daughter suffer. I never got to say goodbye and that really hurts but I never had to see her poor little body go through the agony of cancer like this little girls parents had to do. Put all this together with the fact that I’m writing a book about my own beautiful girl, I guess my dream wasn’t really unexpected.
I know I should be able to let the dream go but let me tell you why I can’t. I had forgotten how far I’ve come and that comes with mixed feelings. It’s coming up to 18 years since I lost Aimee and that seems just unthinkable as she is still so fresh in my mind. It feels like only a few years ago that I was given the news that she had been killed while on an access visit. Her freckled face, gorgeous strawberry blonde hair and huge white smile is still so clear in my mind I struggle to realise it’s that long ago. I still get shocked to think that my 10 year old daughter is actually turning 28 in a few weeks. Our perception of time can be very unclear depending on whether a situation is good or bad.
I know when it all first happened that the grief was overwhelming. I walked around with a physical ache for ages. Every step I took hurt not just my heart but my body too. Noone ever told me that grief was such a physical thing. When I was first told….. the very first moment… I remember the pain in my chest was unbearable. I understand why people call it a heart break. Something inside me seriously did break and it was in my chest. I’m not imagining it or making it seem more dramatic than it was. The pain was a physical agony that I have never experienced before and hopefully never will again. The pain and the grief was the most overwhelming thing a human can experience in my view. I don’t know how a person can feel that sort of pain and still live. It’s THAT bad. People think they can understand how you feel and no matter how much you think you can… you need to multiply it by 1000 and then add some.
That is probably why this dream affected me so badly. I had forgotten… Not Aimee.. I could never forget her. But I had forgotten the depth of grief. Time really does heal. It never takes away the pain completely and, as a bereaved parent, you don’t want it to. If you didn’t feel some pain, you would think there was something wrong with you. No, as crazy as it may sound, that pain becomes part of you and it is something you hold on to as you no longer have your child’s arms to hold. I thought the everyday pain was a bit lighter than the initial pain but I had completely forgotten just how bad the first reaction really was. No wonder the brain uses time as it’s best medicine. If we had to endure that sort of pain for the rest of our lives, we could not survive. I’m sorry but that’s the truth. The brain allows you to forget a bit to protect you and thank God that it does.
In my dream I was trying to organise her funeral and the funeral parlour were not showing the respect they should have and were stuffing everything up. I was so upset with them…. but it didn’t compare to the grief. I kept wanting to pass out.. a luxury I couldn’t allow myself at the actual time of her death as I had other children to look after. In my dream I stood up in the middle of the funeral and screamed at the people around me who weren’t doing their job. In reality, I stifled my screams as they lowered her coffin into the ground because I didn’t want to upset the large throng of schoolkids who surrounded me and had come to farewell her. In my dream, I had a good idea of what I wanted her funeral to be and the funeral parlour were not doing what I wanted. In reality, I had no idea what I wanted and the funeral parlour held my hand at every turn and helped me make her final farewell a sendoff fit for the princess she was.
It seems the dream was in stark contrast to the reality yet the one thing that was spot on was the feeling of grief. I am still shocked by the how awful it was. I’m stunned that I lived through that and am here to tell the story. I don’t know how I kept standing on the day when all I wanted to do was lay down in her grave with her and sleep forever. I remember asking my doctor for tablets to see me through the day and she refused. She knew I had to experience it and feel every raw moment of it if I ever stood a chance of healing. She knew me well though I resented her for it at the time. I can’t believe that I held myself upright all day, stifling my screams (though not my tears) and actually spoke to people. I went through the motions and I have no idea how I did it. Actually, I do. The love I feel for my sons was every bit as strong as the love I feel for my daughter. Their lives are every bit as important as hers and I kept going for them, knowing they needed me more than I needed myself at the time.
I have come so far in nearly 18 years. I carry the pain with me on a daily basis still but it’s not the major part of my day. Today when I smile, I mean it. I love to laugh. I want to live for a very long time and hold, not only my grandchildren in my arms, but maybe my great and great great granchildren. I’m not a royalist but I’d love to get a telegram from Prince William (or his heir if I outlive him too lol) just to say I lived till 100. I love life. I will miss Aimee until the day I die but I thank God everyday that my two sons who I love more than life itself were spared. I want to see as much of their lives as I can before I return to her arms. Life is definitely worth living.
I think the dream has made me take stock again of my life. It’s made me realise how far I’ve come in that time. The downside of it (and I know you’ll all think I’m mad here) is that it has made me long for that grief to some degree again as it meant she was closer to me. I know that doesn’t make sense with all I’ve said but that grief became my comfort zone. While I guess it was really a nightmare.. it felt comfortable enough for me to call it a dream. When I was able to feel that amount of grief, she was completely at the forefront of my mind. She’s always there still, but not in the same way she once was and I miss her. In my dream, as overwhelming as that grief was, it was like going home. I felt comfortable in that much pain. I seriously never want to relive it but for that brief moment in my dream, I felt very at ease with that astronomical amount of pain.
I think only those of you who have actually had to go through the pain I”m describing will really understand my ramblings today. It makes sense to me in my head yet reading it back again, I sound deranged. I do believe, however, that there are some of you out there who have lived it, who will understand where I’m coming from.
I read this on facebook a while ago.. and I think it’s appropriate… If a husband dies, the wife is called a widow.. If a wife dies, the husband is called a widower, if a child’s parents die, the child is called an orphan… Why isn’t there a word for a parent that loses their child? I think the word would probably be heartbroken.. but even that doesn’t completely describe the indescribable.
I need to go to bed as I have an other early morning tomorrow and I don’t want to wake up tired again. I’m willing myself to sleep an unbroken sleep and to dream only of nice things so I’m refreshed in the morning. For those of you who are still suffering a newer grief, please be assured, time really does heal and life really is worth living again… but you will never forget or stop loving.
Happy dreaming… Livvy 🙂