April and Easter have appeared again, without me feeling ready. I have not yet hung the pastel egg wreath on the door. I have not yet opened my heart to the warm air and indiscernible buds and blooms. I have been dragging my feet. Hoping my initial protest will be fruitful, healing is sometimes wrought with resistance.
I have been known to be optimistic at times, but I am not a poster child for innocence or pep. I speak for the contemplative set dressed in black, who just could not bring themselves to the pep rally. (Like Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club”). I think we all are made up of a range of personae. What is most important is how we love and tolerate others exactly where they stand, which starts with loving and tolerating our own selves. Easier said than done.
This has been a busy year. Part of my resistance has to do with moving forward in my life. When you have lost someone very close, the future is a big problem. It is hard to see past the gaping hole in the pictures. The future I can foresee has a looming hole shaped like Susanna. Immeasurable, unfillable. It is hard to open myself to the bright and rich things life has to offer, because I am afraid I will forget her, that she will disappear. I have been assured that this is normal. Fear does not have to stop anyone’s plans, but it needs to be acknowledged.
In my more peaceful dreams lately, I see open spaces, flat grassy meadows, empty rooms with the inviting expanse of wood floors and a walk-in closet. There is really no way to greet the future without leaving extra room for what is unknown. These dreams are not devoid of my daughter. She is present in all of them. Sometimes she has left a drawing, a single pair of sparkly shoes or a birthday card. I know she is present because I feel her, I hear her singing, and I know that she is the one inviting me. In the times when I can relax and allow peace, the line between here and there dissolves. This is the point where the separation is an illusion. This is the place where it gets real.
I will never forget Susanna. She is my daughter, and for me the sun rises and sets for my two children. She existed, and to me she still exists. She lived a wonderful life for five years and three months, and then she died. We all die someday, but Susanna died younger than most, calling attention to our mortality. None of us is perfect. Except for a tiny weak spot in an artery, which no one could have known about, she was closer to perfect than anyone I have known. Perhaps she only needed five years to get life right.
Others may avoid thinking about what happened to Susanna and my family, dismiss it as an unfortunate tragedy fading into the past, and this I understand. But that is not the truth for me. Even though the pain is sometimes so big that I feel too small to contain it, I go forward with open eyes and open heart to the very best of my ability. My hope is always to let the pain transform into something else, more to be revealed. And whatever the price for knowing her, I would choose my daughter again, a million times over, in the blink of an eye or a fraction of a heartbeat. Peace.