I say goodbye again to my girls. Wave them off from the front door, blowing kisses, waving and laughing. They wave back, blowing precious kisses from beautiful pursed lips. Happy girls.
I close the door and the pain of it rips out of me with a noise I don’t recognise. Straight away I’m trying to choke it back, swallow down the tears and quiet the sobs by breathing deeply, gasping. A small voice in my head tells me to let it out, that it’s okay to grieve, more than that, it is necessary. But I don’t know how, it feels like it will tear my chest in two if I don’t fight it. The sobs die down and I reach for my laptop. If I can’t cry this out of me, maybe I can type it out.
Everything is fine. My daughters are off for a sleepover at their grandparents, the same as every week. Nothing is wrong, nothing to cry about, nothing to grieve. And yet every goodbye cuts into me and it hurts so much. Because as much as we all normalise how we live, it’s not normal. Yes, lots of kids stay at their grandparents’ house, but mine go because I’m sick and I need two whole days of nothing just to survive and not get sicker. Lots of dads take their kids out at the weekend for quality time, to give mum a break. But mine does it because I have to spend all weekend in bed and I need the house quiet for as much as possible because even distant noise makes me sicker.
I say goodbye to my kids almost every day, not because I want to but because I have to. And I tell them I love them and I’ll miss them, but I laugh and kiss and send them off with a cheery wave because I never want them to feel guilty for having health and fun and life away from me. And it hurts so very much and I can’t always keep it inside. So the cats stare and I sob unearthly sounds for a bit, and type for a bit and the pain doesn’t go but I manage to clamber back on top of it again for now so I can get a hold of myself.
This is why it’s hard to talk though, to anyone but especially to God. I’m sitting on top of this huge precarious mound of all of this and if I slip I might not make it back up again and I don’t know what happens to you if you get lost in there.
I’m so glad my girls have good and happy places to go. That they have a wonderful dad and wonderful grandparents, that I can care for them and mother them by making sure their world is safe and happy and good even if I’m not always physically there. Not everyone has what we have, what we are, and I am so grateful.
I’m so glad that when my little ones are finding this hard they can find their way to my bed and tell me their nightmares and I can calm their fears. That when they find a way to express the inexpressible inside them through drawing a picture, my mum is there and she sees and she hears and she listens, and the inexpressible isn’t so heavy now that she carries it for them. I’m so glad that we get to do life this way, where there is time and space to be and feel and it is allowed. It is hard, it is painful, it feels weak and broken and pointless sometimes, but it is a good way to live.
Maybe I have found a way to express the inexpressible inside me too, maybe it can feel a little less heavy for me too. I’m not quite as brave as I need to be yet, my girls are far braver than me and I am so proud of them for their courage and so glad that we get to nurture it and see it. I’m learning to be braver about everything that is bursting in my chest, but for now letting a little bit out is enough to calm the storm inside so I can breath, and a little bit is all I can manage. I think that’s okay. Little by little the battle is won.
Little by little. Today goodbye was painful, but there was a space for me to be and feel and it was allowed and a little step was taken that can’t be lost. Little by little, day by day. It’s a good way to live.