And Then She’s Gone

Not too long from now, I will drive my Bella back to Alabama to the same “almost half way” point between here and there and I will tell her goodbye. As we hug I will hold on a little longer, squeezing her a tad bit tighter, communicating without words that I will miss her.

It never gets easier. I thought it would. I thought the pain would lessen and I would become accustomed to telling my child that I will see her next month. If anything it has become more difficult.

I seldom open up about this part of my life. These are not feelings that I like to stir. As I sit here, darkness all around, centering in on meditation, I had this thought, “Has any holiday ever been without that gnawing feeling of loss?

Many of you know that anytime there is a child involved in a broken relationship, holidays are usually the most fought for time. Why is that? If there is anything that I have learned over the last several years it’s that everyday has its own unique meaning. Maybe we should start making up a holiday when we have great celebrations for no reason at all?

I remember when Chris bought me my first really nice, designer handbag. I had never owned anything like it. “Purses have their own bag to be stored in when not in use? Why wouldn’t I use it all the time?” He could not wait until the actual day set to give me the gift.

It was a Tuesday. I was in the kitchen when he came around the corner with the beautiful store bag in his hand, which proudly displayed the designer logo. I stared wide-eyed, wondering what this could possibly be.

“Open it!” he exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear.
It was so beautiful. Hand stitched, not one detail missed. It smelled like the finest leather one has ever seen, because it was. I ran my hand across the side and felt the newness and quality of this extravagant gift. “This is so beautiful.” I said. “So you like it?” he replied.
I responded, “Yes, I like it very much. Thank you! Why on this random day?”

“Why not on this random Tuesday? Now it’s no longer random.” he said.

I love that. Now it’s no longer random. I still love that purse and every time I use it he smiles and says, “Look, it’s the tootsie roll!” (that’s our nickname for it.) It instantly brings back a feeling of newness and surprise. I can close my eyes and still smell the leather.

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, don’t worry, I’m bringing it back around. I brought this into memory because today, when everyone is celebrating by eating too much, discussing arguing politics and lighting things on fire, I will be thinking about my beautiful Bella. Wondering where she is and if she’s having fun…Just as I do every “holiday” that we’re apart. I will eagerly await her return.

Hear me when I say that I have an amazing husband who I have been madly in love with since the day we met and two incredible little boys that could not be more full of life. I cannot and I will not imagine my life without them. As I look at each one of them and think of how immensely blessed I am there is an empty place at the table, a voice not heard in the halls, an absent presence that represents our family “complete.”

We will not wait for a holiday. It may be a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday, but when my Bella returns, it will be a day of celebration.

I think of the family of my beautiful friend, Elliot. Her children are entering a year of holidays without their mom. Her father so eloquently wrote that when the children and her husband, Chris were at the grandparents house for Father’s day, Bradford (her little girl) said, “Something is missing…it’s my mommy.” I’m imagining that little voice. Children are so literal. They almost never refrain from stating the obvious.

Well today, something will be missing in all of the festivities. It’s my Bella, but I will see her again in a little while. She is still very much alive and living her life. For many, their loved one will not come home again.

Maybe today, as we celebrate, we could remember this, for some it’s just a Wednesday. Not because they don’t want to celebrate freedom and all those who have so willingly sacrificed everything to provide it for us, but because the celebration occurs on a different day and in their own heart and mind. Let that be okay.

I guess what I’m asking is, instead of judgement over how someone is doing something or not doing it, choose understanding. Maybe they just lost someone they love and they are now trying to navigate a world without them. Maybe they are missing someone. Maybe they are the spouse of a deployed service member and while everyone is celebrating with food and beverages, their heart is heavy.

Maybe today, we can start living life to the fullest and learning what it means to embrace every day as if it were a day we knew we could sleep in and overeat. Maybe, going forward, Tuesday will become more than just a random Tuesday for you too.

I am more than thrilled to let you know that tomorrow’s post about body image and self-esteem is written by my daughter.

14 thoughts on “And Then She’s Gone

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  3. I relate to this post SO much. I actually said to Andy yesterday “you know, I think I really love the 4th of July, it’s like the one holiday where there is NOT any big family pressure to get together, no cards to buy which remind me of who I am NOT buying for, etc…”, which really eases things up for me from a grief perspective. I find I have no dread around this holiday, mostly because for me it’s about hanging out with neighbors. But even in that, my Mom loved the 4th, we would always have our Boston Pops CD going strong, we even went to Boston one year to hear their famous 4th of July concert…and so even though this is the “least emotional” holiday for me, there are still twinges of sad moments. She loved this city, loved the Peachtree Road race, all that. It’s interesting..having someone missing, whether by distance, death, whatever, it just changes the holidays. My coping mechanism has been to celebrate the heck out of the days AROUND the holidays (do fun Christmas traditions leading up to Christmas, etc.) but also have finally realized I have to give myself grace about the fact the usually the day of, is often just plain hard, as much as I want it to still be wonderful for those that I do celebrate with. It seem every holiday I just need space for just me to deal with the sadness too. Wow, this comment was long! Sorry! 😉

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  6. I do like making normal days special days. I like celebrating people and celebrating being together instead of days. I have been thinking about setting up a day for each of my children to just celebrate and let them know how much they mean to each other member of the family. An idea I have been chasing around the halls of my mind.
    You have a beautiful daughter and I look forward to her post.
    I am sure it is the same with you… those that you love dearly you want to be close enough to them to be in their shadow.

    • Mark,
      I love the idea of you doing special days for each of your children. What a wonderful idea and what a beautiful way to show through your actions how important they are to you.

  7. I love everything you write….. Today’s post made me think of so many people I know who WANT to celebrate and put in a happy face. However, inside, they are just trying to get through the day. Thanks for your beautiful words!!!!

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