One year ago I woke early not knowing what to do.
I suppose I paused outside Elena’s room to see if it had all been a dream. Last night I talked to my father-in-law about this. Tom says he sometimes still wakes hoping it’s all been a nightmare and that she’ll be returned to us.
It’s been a year. I’m ready to wake up.
Kim and I hadn’t slept much that night a year ago. We were in a bit of a fog that would last for weeks. From the time Elena started to turn blue and we knew we had to rush her somewhere life was a bit of a blur.
I went up to my computer and started this blog. I’m not sure what moved me to do it. Maybe nothing more than therapy for myself. Maybe a way of telling friends and family some of the details they would need to know. I started the blog and wrote the initial post. For the next few days I would wander back up to the keyboard and add a thought or two.
I had to tell someone and I didn’t know who or how.
The doorbell rang. It wasn’t yet seven and Kim and I both headed downstairs to see who it was. We’d called a few people the night before. We didn’t yet know that the story had been on the news and that Boulevard teachers had been calling families late the night before.
It was Patti with coffee for us and bagels. For most of the week we only ate when someone reminded us to. For Kim the reminder had to be strong and persistent.
We lived in a weird state of living through that week and watching it like we weren’t even in the room. Who were these people with so much loss? It was us – but there was also a numbness as one person after another came to visit us.
Do you know that trust exercise where you close your eyes and fall back and trust that someone will catch you? That’s what we did for the next few weeks. As we fell backwards and forwards people caught us and helped us back up.
I don’t know what we could have done without them. Without you.
People flew in from thousands of miles away. People wrote to us, called us, or just stayed where they were and said a prayer or thought good thoughts. People linked to the blog and soon people we’d never known were leaving comments of support.
Catching us as we fell backwards.
There were details. So many details to attend to. When? Where? In what? How? Who? So many details.
People are still catching us when we falter and helping us back up. You are. Wednesday the people who came to our house to remind us that they understand this isn’t over for us.
There was something unexpectedly difficult about a year. We had gotten to the point where we could get through our days still remembering Elena but also living our lives as they now are and then bam. A disconnect.
I don’t know what Kim saw this week. I saw images from Elena’s last day. Our conversations while she lay on the couch watching tv. Her calling me on the phone whenever she wanted me. Me helping her to the bathroom and her feeling better. Kim coming home. Kim telling me Elena’s color didn’t look right. Me carrying Elena to the car to go to the hospital. Kim driving off with her. Me driving Maggie to the ambulance and standing with Kim as our baby died in the back of the ambulance – neither of us knowing that that’s what happened. Kim riding off with Elena in the ambulance. Me dropping Maggie at Mary Kays and frantically calling anyone I could think of who might help. Me rushing into the room to see how she was doing and finding Elena dead on the table. Me sitting with Kim in the room watching our dead daughter.
That made the anniversary tough.
What made it tougher was all of the things Elena didn’t do in the year since her death. I don’t have the strength to list those. From soccer, to second grade, to a trip to Disney.
And so Kim and I spent the week falling backwards and people appeared out of nowhere to catch us.
I trust they always will. You will. And for that I am grateful.