I am a list maker and a planner. Unfortunately for our contractor, I like projects with an end date. It doesn't bother me too much if I miss a deadline or two, as long as I can look at my list and see that I am making progress.
When Virginia was about six weeks old, I remember asking Dad when things were going to get easier. I was exhausted from the heartbreak and wanted to know when my life would be happy again.
Even at that early date I was already looking for a game plan, an exit strategy- something to give me direction on the tumultuous path I found myself headed down.
"It may not ever get any easier than this, Ab. In fact, it may get harder," Dad said, choking back tears.
It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but even then my mother's intuition told me it was the truth. Findley and I had just embarked on a journey of suffering and the duration of the trip would be lifelong.
Seven years later I will admit that in some ways the journey does get more difficult with time. Years of no sleep has certainly taken its toll on us. As Virginia gets bigger, it becomes much more difficult to physically care for her and see that she is included in life.
Yet in some ways the journey has gradually become a little easier. Time has helped lessen the shock and anger that I felt so intensely in the beginning and I have learned to enjoy life again even in the midst of great sorrow. The emotional weight of what happened to Virginia is much harder to carry than the burden of physically caring for her, and it is this area that I have received the most healing.
But unfortunately for this list maker, the task of letting go of anger and facing tremendous grief is not one that can be planned or enumerated. If I am looking for a date when this will no longer hurt anymore, there isn't going to be one. Certainly I am in a better place than I was seven years ago, but the injustice and magnitude of what happened to Virginia can still suck the wind out of my sails at any moment.
I will feel like I am doing really well. Checking things off my list, moving in the right direction. And then WHAM! I am unexpectedly reminded of all that she (and we) face everyday, and I want to crawl into a hole and never come out.
Yesterday afternoon Virginia, Eliza and I helped host (not at my house, obviously) a shower for a friend from church who is getting married. It was a mother/daughter recipe and kitchen shower. Virginia had been awake since midnight, so I didn't even think about taking her tired self to the party. I didn't think it would bother me, but it did.
As I watched the other little girls her age run around the party, I was sad. I watched as they snuck a second cupcake from the table and tried to keep handfuls of gummy bears and M&Ms from falling off their plates. I watched as they went outside to jump on the trampoline and then huddled on the floor to watch the bride open her gifts. I watched real friendships beginning to form and witnessed a depth to their relationships that wasn't there even a year ago.
And where was Virginia? She was at home, struggling to swallow her pureed snack. Fighting to keep it together because she is just so tired. And then bedtime comes, and she is still struggling and fighting. Struggling to hold her body still so she can sleep, fighting against all the demons that come in the night.
There is no way to identify all that was taken from Virginia on October 3, 2003. Almost all was lost. I have written about this before, but if I didn't live in some type of denial, I wouldn't even be able to get out of bed in the morning.
Up until Virginia's birth, all the trials in my life had an end point. This one does not. Navigating this swamp of sorrows is hard, tiring work. I will think I have made great strides emotionally only to realize I have circled back through ground I thought I did not need to revisit.
Most of the time, Virginia and I can tolerate trudging through the mud for one more day. But today, oh how I wish for new scenery. How I wish that for just one moment she could be free from pain, able to rest, able to communicate. I guess what I long for is heaven.