I think most people who have lost a child would tell you, that in those first days, one of the most painful things is that unrelenting march forward of the days. Each dawn after each sleepless or drugged oblivious night taking you one day further from the last day you heard your child laugh, looked into their eyes, watched their breath rise and fall while they slept (until it didn’t), held their warm body.
Perhaps it’s different for those with other children, but after a while I took comfort in the idea that each day was also one day closer to being with my daughter again, that each day could be endured on the basis that at the end of it, there was one less to slog through before I could look into her eyes again, hear that little chuckle. Each new wrinkle and each gray hair a sign that we would be together all the sooner. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
Eventually I did find some meaning to the days, began to live them a little more, find some happiness to counter the sadness that will always be there. Pursued it even, if a little hollowly at first.Moved in infinitesimally tiny steps towards change, towards something new.
Recently I read a post on Medium by someone who had lost a young brother-in-law and then an infant, both with the same name. Finding his way through, he formulated “Gavin’s law” Live to start, start to live. His premise is that if you start something, even something stupid, something small, through that you will start to live.
It was on my mind, particularly the quote in the picture above. I was thinking about what I needed to start in order to live, when I received a message from a friend telling me that another friend of his had been suddenly killed.
I started to think about this woman I never knew. I thought about the days she didn’t know she wouldn’t have, about the days none of us know whether we will have. About how there were probably things she wanted to start but hadn’t. Maybe she thought “tomorrow, tomorrow I will…” as we all have, as is only human.
I thought about all the things she had perhaps left unsaid, that were left unsaid to her, by those who loved her most, by those whose lives she had only briefly touched. Another thing we humans tend to do, we’ll see each other tomorrow after all, until we won’t.
One thing I am grateful for (ok I have a few improbable things I am grateful for) is that Zoe’s death was not sudden or traumatic. We don’t have to live with the regret of things being left unsaid, of the last goodbye being one perhaps we don’t even remember in its everydayness. I cannot imagine having to.
We who are left owe it to the ones who have left us, to live to start, to start to live, to speak our hearts to those we encounter as if tomorrow were a day we didn’t know we had use of, because perhaps we will not. Let this be the thing we start today.
Part of this post was published on Medium in response to Richie Norton’s post How My Child’s Death Made Me Realize I Can’t Wait Another Second To Live My Dreams.