When your child dies, you no longer fit into the normal world. There is now an enormous disconnect between my outward self and my inward, or true self. I believe many, if not most people maintain a disconnect between the outward and inward self, but for me, the disconnect is magnified now to a degree that I could never have envisioned before Kai died.
I am convinced that a large part of the intense physical exhaustion of grief comes from the sheer effort of living, essentially, as two people. How many times a day am I asked the usual question we casually ask each other, “How are you?” How many times do I respond as expected, “Fine?” How many times do I lie?
I am not fine, not at all. What kind of person would be fine after burying their child, their own flesh and blood, their future? Yet I keep up the façade, the image, the glossy airbrushed version of myself that I present to the world.
A few people have penetrated the shell and refuse to let me disappear, and were it not for them, I would not be surviving this new life. These people know who they are. They are family and friends alike… their emails and texts arrive consistently and often mysteriously at the right moment, their cards appear in the mailbox and their gifts appear on the doorstep or at the gravesite when least expected and when most needed, their flowers are left on the kitchen table when I come home to an empty house, yet again.
Yes, grief is a solitary journey, perhaps the most solitary journey one can take in this life. But I am not walking this path alone, and I am eternally thankful to those who are quietly walking beside me.