names have been omitted in this post
I gently pick up the bundle of bright green stems off the tan leather seat and exit the SUV. Slamming the door shut and clicking the key fob the doors lock and I turn to see my daughter's small hand reaching out for mine. I slip my hand in hers and my son joins me as we walk along the December grass... our vision colliding with wreaths gracing burial plots... spots of Christmas red, metallics and ribbon adorning them.
Pockets of dry leaves crunch under our feet like a rhythmic marching band of three.
We walk in silence.
There under the giant tree is the spot.
The three of us stand there fixed to the spot, silent…
huddled together in the cold wind…
freezing, despite the sun beaming down…
It had been five years.
Five years and no marker.
names have been omitted
My phone ringing on my bedside table…
Groggy, I answer. It's my dad telling me to go to the front door. Confused... was I dreaming? It was almost midnight. Nudging my husband beside me in bed to wake up... "Wake up! Mom and dad are at the door, I don't know what's going on." Stumbling... bare feet on carpet then hardwood. Throwing on a turquoise terry robe over pajamas. Sticking dirty fogged over contacts in my eyes quickly. Headed to the front door, him following close behind me. Opening it. Parents huddled on the front porch. My mother's forlorn expression...
The news that she had died.
"No, Mommy, no… " I gasped.
I hadn't uttered "Mommy" in two decades.
Shock. No. No. No. NO! Denial.
Pinch me. This can't be real. Shaking... make. it. stop.
Physically shaking... like I have a cold, my are teeth chattering.
Talking to one of the officers on the scene… there was a video of the altercation between my sister and her boyfriend outside the gas station… minutes before he gunned the truck and sped off onto the highway… right into an SUV head on. His truck had burst into flames trapping my sister. Someone managed to pull him out but not her… not her... why not her? Why him? It infuriated me. It made me see red. When he died the following morning I didn't care… in my hurting heart that next morning I saw justice of some sort.
All the hell that had happened… his abuse toward her… six years of hell… her bruises… my talking with her, my pleading with her to leave him… the strained phone calls… she died because of him… because he chose to drink too much and get behind the wheel… I wondered if she had been yelling at him… if the altercation was her attempting to get his keys from him.
The officer on the scene uttered phrases no one wants to hear... the words "toxicology report" and "dental records"... infiltrated my mind and made it scream to please wake up… going to the funeral home to choose a coffin… the flowers, white gladiolus, the card… tears, sobs… heaving shoulders, the kind of drippy runny nose that won't stop... wet upper lips... Kleenex. Lots of Kleenex.
the nightmares began… and then more nightmares…
THIS IS THE REALITY
OF A LOSS
FROM A DRUNK DRIVER
My mother's birthday… now my sister's burial day despite her protestations…
my vocal outrage…how insensitive… how un-empathetic… how horrible…
met with my father's indifference, coldness and detachment.
My complete and utter disgust at him…
How is this possible? How can someone behave this way?
Questions… questions… questions… racing thoughts…
wracking my brain for answers…
"Personality disorder" the therapist told me like she was telling me the weather.
Everything began clicking and the answers I'd needed
for the whole length of a childhood.
The answers stared me down. It was a mute point.
Answers that came too late…it was all too little too late.
I sat across from her sobbing in the midst of stark reality.
Dismal gray day, rain in the forecast…
her dismal gray coffin that matched the sky….
Hymn of Promise by Natalie Sleeth…
birds chirping and suddenly taking flight overhead as the service came to an end…
I wanted to sit there all day and into the night with her…
I didn't want to leave.
But I got snapped at like a child to get in the car…
"Let's go!" came the angry words.
I had never seen my mother look so frail.
My heart ached for her.
For my sister, the horror of it all…
it ached for all of us.
I got in the limo and looked back at the coffin…
thinking this must be just a nightmare.
I would wake up….
Our couch at home, I took up residency on it… masses of crumpled tissues did too… pajamas… dirty hair, dirty sweatshirt… month by month... seasons changed from winter to spring... staring listlessly as The Today Show airs and Matt Lauer babbles on about crap that doesn't even matter… why were they so happy, anyway?… feeling no motivation… I notice a "Life Is Good" t-shirt magazine ad and want to scream and cry "Like hell!"… grabbing the remote control, flipping, flipping, flipping channels… nap after nap… I change from pajamas to jeans to pick up my kids from school… homework… dinner… bed… tomorrow... next week… repeat of this depression….
repeat tomorrow and the next day and the next…
Repeat of this cycle I want off and yet don't know how to remove myself from….
nightmares… more nightmares… make. them. stop.
riding in the car was debilitating and sent me into a panic
"panic disorder" my therapist told me
Reaching out… angry and sad… crying out for God.
It was like that song… it was like He went off for a cigarette break…
and was off the job… like He wasn't watching out for her.
Why? Why? Why?
Where were You when everything was falling apart?
Needing comfort. Needing strength.
Needing something or someone good to believe in.
No one tells you grief is so exhausting, that it's comparable to a full time job... tiny steps, zig zagging through the stages of grief… therapy… talking about a loss helps so much as it helps propel you in healing… growing stronger… and as you muddle through the grief the "Why? Why did this happen?" nags at you like a hangnail or snagged sweater… trying to wrack our brain and figure out why God allowed this destruction to happen can drive us crazy. It's chasing something that we never can catch. This chase never ends well, it simply keeps us running in circles… like a little terrier after his tail, fraught in the circle of dissatisfaction. At some point we have to stop chasing and simply stand still… trust Him to bring beauty out of ashes, out of hurt, pain, loss and destruction.
keep. pressing. on.
Little reminders of my sister are always bittersweet... hearing her name always gives me pause... wishing for one more day... one more moment... yet thankful for having the time I had…I think of her every day and I'm so thankful the last words I told her were "I love you". I'm so thankful for God.
He was there all along.
names have been omitted in this post
Wearing brown boots standing in the bright green grass beside the spot that is hers… with two little ones huddled beside me… an unmarked spot… and yet she's there… the unmarked spot my father still hasn't placed her name on…. her unmarked spot that bears no sign of someone there except for our little bundle of flowers from the store.
The first words he spat toward her
once buried were:
"Well, you won't be causing anymore trouble!"
The unmarked spot that is his daughter...
brought here at the hands and wheels of a drunk driver.
Unmarked spot that to others may appear to be empty,
to hold no significance… yet it's the spot I visit her…
it's a spot of grief, loss and also... eternal hope.
One day I will see her again.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014