People think the day my Amelie died is the worst day of my life. It isn't.
The day Amelie stopped being "Amelie" is the worst day of my life. The day she had a stroke. or an infarction. or whatever term the doctors like to use to describe her brain shutting down. That's the worst day of my life. and it was two years ago today that it happened. on my niece's birthday, no less.
It was a fantastic lovely day. We had wrapped up her first week of Kindergarten. It was a Saturday. my friends were in town and meeting at Crown Point Park. So Amelie and I made our way to meet them, where she swung on the swing, crying, "weeee!", sat in my friend Kim's lap, Snapchatting, eating ice cream. We were there for hours. Easily fatigued, we made our way home and Amelie fell asleep in the car right around 2:30pm, her usual nap time (chemo ravaged her body and made her exhausted, even months after a break in treatment).
I distinctly remember something unusual...when pushing her on the swing, her body sort of jolted, went limp, and she almost fell off. I was holding her little rib cage in my hands, so that was the only way I noticed it. it was subtle but DEFINITELY real. it was a precursor. But she was finally being a normal kid, around normal kids, doing what normal kids do on a weekend. We were happy.
Hours later, relaxing at the house, I heard her frustrated and whining in her room. Annoyed, I got up wondering what she needed. Yes, I was annoyed. I was tired and needed a break, Amelie was prone to getting frustrated very easily, so I was less sensitive about it, and I had just laid down for some quiet time while Brave and Ben played outside. She was whining and I said, "what Amelie?" I noticed she couldn't climb into her bed. I went into her room to help her. and her legs stopped working. She was terrified. I swiftly picked her up, took her to Ben in the garage. He's normally one to tell me I overreact with the kids, and that's the reaction I was expecting, but, rather, he held her and calmly said, "her body is failing. we need to go ER. NOW." we left Brave with a neighbor, a move that caused him trauma for quite some time. I remember going back into the house to grab her things and Ben yelled at me bc I went to get her Ipad--a motion of habit from all the times we desperately relied on it for long hospital appointments. I was a fool. she wouldn't need her fuckin ipad. she was dying. and just moments before I got annoyed b/c I had to get my lazy ass up to tend to her yet again. an emotion that will, to this day and forever more, haunt me with shame, guilt and total regret. I was a fool.
She screamed in an incoherent moaning-like-fashion the entire way. I had never heard a sound like that before. unable to make eye contact, but her eyes were wide open, scanning her environment, searching, her big brown eyes saying, "what the fuck is happening to me mommy?!"
When we got to the ER, there was a moment. I'll never forget it. Ben held her, he's very tall. Her moaning ceased and she was calm. I looked up at her just as the doors to the back ER room were opening, and she, with a face as calm and as beautifully peaceful as one could possibly fathom, she smiled at me. Her eyes softened, squinted, her head tilted to the side, her hand reached out to touch my face, cup my cheek in her tiny palm, and she smiled. It was the face of GOD. He spoke to me through her. "Be calm, mommy. I happy." "Be calm, child, I am with you in the darkness that lies ahead." all at one moment. It was my goodbye and hello in one moment. Goodbye to the Amelie we knew, hello to the new life. The life that made cancer look like a welcome sunny day. The life wherein our baby girl started to leave us. and she was smiling at me.
We made our way back to the ER rooms and the rest is traumatic shit that I wish I could forget. I am, quite expectedly, fucked up over it. I'm sure I have some sort of PTS from that night. From the next few days were a total blur. I couldn't recall it even if I tried, and i dont want to. In the weeks following, however, I felt a sort of indescribable hope and elation that many probably thought I was on drugs. I was just so focused on that smile, I felt it a sign. Hope was flowing like a river through every part of my being like never before. I was convinced she'd walk, talk, and be AMELIE again. Nothing could convince me otherwise. I was still a fool.
Year TWO has begun. From what I've been told in my grief-sharing meetings that years 2-3 are the worst. The first year you sort of coast through in a haze, shock protecting you like a space suit, keeping you alive and thriving. Year 2-3 it wears off. Reality sets in. Anger and depression take over. God I really do NOT want that to be me. But I can feel it already. I couldn't really believe just how SAD I was today, unlike last year.
I'm having a hard time understanding why God allows children to suffer. I just don't understand why she had to suffer so immensely, and it tears my psyche in two. Yet, only God's forgiveness can wipe away that moment I had, in that fateful night of hell, that moment where I felt annoyed. God forgives completely and permanently. My work now is to accept it.
This day two years ago created a brokenness, a wound deeper than Challenger Deep and all the ocean's trenches. In the eloquent words of Ann Voskamp, it created a brokenness that feels like a tomb I can't crawl my way out of. Yet, her smile in that moment, is all that affords my grief solace. It's the re-membering of the bright unity of souls between a mother and child. My work now is to turn my brokenness into something that's not about blame or shame. To make my brokenness a canvas for God's light to be lavishly splashed across the darkness. To reveal myself. To allow the brokenness to carve a window straight into my soul for others to be illuminated by. "Brokenness cracks open a soul so the power of God can crack the darkness in the world." I am a Brokenhearted Thriver.