I wrote this 3 years ago and it was featured in Still Standing magazine. They still post it and it still gets a lot of likes, shares and comments. I was not alone in my feelings, however, 3 years on I am not so angry and more forgiving, But I wasn't at the time, and that's ok.
I’ve been having a difficult time with letting go of people that have abandoned us. One thing I find hard is that in no time at all people had left us. We were such a centre of attention and then all of a sudden everyone was gone. And we were left with hardly anyone around us. The medical staff, friends and family, all gone in a blink of an eye. Or more precise upon Emma’s last breath. It started at the exact moment when she died. The hospice group came in and took all her meds away, the fentanyl and the morphine. The things that were keeping Emma out of pain, all gone like they never existed. Like she never existed. We were left alone in an empty room.
We felt like we were held in some kind of warmth and light to get through this horrible situation by everyone around us. And as soon as Emma died everyone left. Only wanting a Celebration of Life to pay tribute and say goodbye to our beautiful girl. We, her parents will never say goodbye. I hated planning and executing the Celebration of Life. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do and I have very little memory of it. I hardly remember who attended. I was numb. Not really there.
I know people are gone because they don’t know what to say. I wouldn’t know what to say. But I am tired of that excuse. It’s not good enough to just leave without a word. How do you expect me to feel? “Text me if you want to go for a walk.” It’s the easiest thing to say to someone knowing that they never will. I don’t even know what I would say to people if I bumped into them now. But, most of the time I avoid them. It has become too awkward and uncomfortable for me. I don’t want to start the conversation that will lead to this, the awkward and uncomfortable.
I was speaking with a neighbour yesterday. Someone very active on Emma’s FB page, I had never spoken to her before. She only lives down the road. It was a nice conversation and we talked about Emma and grieving. I got a little teary and she said. “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you cry” and I said “I want to cry, I want to talk about Emma. No one ever talks to me” and that surprised her. But, it’s not surprising to a bereaved parent. We have to work hard at maintaining friendships. We can’t be too sad or too angry or complain. We have to pretend we are happy when we are not. We have to sit and listen to the conversation that we don’t want to hear. We get told how we should feel. People say things like, “I couldn’t imagine”, “I don’t know what I would do”, “I don’t know how you do it.” Like we know some secret and as long as you don’t it will never happen to you. We feel like lepers. Like the death of our child will rub off on you. We didn’t love hard enough, pray hard enough, want our child to live hard enough. This is all crap. That is the hard part. That we are just like you. And that is the hard pill to swallow. We are just like you.
So where do I go from here? Do I leave Victoria? That could make it easy. Or maybe that would be really difficult. Moving to a place where I don’t know anyone and having to start all over again. That can’t be easy. Or is it. Is it easier to just pretend that you’ve had this amazing life and you only need to tell the people you want about Emma? Like it’s a precious little secret. But, that’s not who I am. I wake each morning to honour Emma. What will today bring to make her proud.
In movies, they always have the family that lost a child as the weird family. Like, old Mrs Smith lives in that house alone and went weird after her daughter died. The parent always has lost their mind. I get it. Understood. I am now part of that group. Well, it’s not right. I am here. I am still Emma’s mum. I am grieving, but I am also a person, I am also a parent, I have other feelings. It hurts that you have walked away. But, I forgive you. I know you don’t know how to do any better. I know we are all doing this without a manual.
This is my journey and I will take it with my daughter beside me with or without you.