I wake up every morning with this weight on my chest. It’s huge, dark, heavy, I can’t breathe.
The little ones are invariably cuddled against my sides in the (highly comfortable) pull out bed that we are inhabiting at Mom’s house now. I lie there, feel their small bodies against mine, stare up at the ceiling and let tears slip silently down my face.
I try to breathe against the huge, heavy weight on me, the darkness that surrounds.
I try to breathe.
Try to take that breath in through my nose that I tell my kids to take, out through my mouth.
Mom and I teeter forward, holding on to each other.
There is so much to do.
Death is full of business, cuts no slack.
It’s the impossible, the unimaginable, our world without Dana.
One or the other or both of us stop, think we just can’t do this. And somehow a foot will follow the other and numbly, we trudge on.
I laid down on the grass next to my mother at the cemetery.
We were on the grass that covered her parent’s graves.
Dana’s plot in which he will be buried was directly ahead of us.
I realized that Dana had been standing on his own grave only 6 months ago as we buried our Grandma. My face sank in the grass, my heart went down the tunnel of uncomprehending, soul-cell splinting sorrow.
I saw my mom’s face in the grass too, saw her shoulders shaking, and I couldn’t even imagine what she must be facing right now, what her tunnel is like.
The kids help us.
I’m pretty sure that Mom and I would be flying down our respective rabbit holes of grief if the kids were not grounding us, absolutely calling us to BE PRESENT.
I am resentful; I am deeply grateful.
I don’t want to tend to their needs; I would be lost without this.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.