I’ve used a lot of adjectives to describe how I feel lately. Drowning, dying, hopeless, fearful, crumbling, useless…they fall under an umbrella of terms hopelessness that all on the surface seem to be red flags for a real downward spiral. I don’t feel the need to preface my statements, conversations, my writing or my posts with a ‘don’t-worry-I’m-not-going-to-kill-myself-but…’ because I think that anyone who really listens to what I write or say somehow understands that hopelessness doesn’t necessarily mean suicide. It seems to be a trigger word for the high school or college level psychology classes that most of us have breezed through, but in real life, it isn’t as simple as a lack of hope equals impending suicide. I also wouldn’t categorize myself as ‘depressed’ in the way that modern medicine has lumped it together. While I imagine a great deal of parents and families suffer from a clinical depression following the loss of a child that has not been my experience. I am however, quite hopeless. And for some reason, more twisted than I can seem to rationalize, there is a big difference.
I have been very, very down for several weeks, I have been fairly open about that. It has always seemed like a weird fog but now its like a settled fog, denser somehow and with no foreseeable clearing. And honestly, I don’t want it to clear. I have mentioned before that my grief has become like a new friend. Its here, next to me always, trotting around like Peter Pan’s shadow. Connected, but not really…me, but also with its own creative mind. If I were to draw it, I don’t think I would draw it like a sad, little slumped over person, hands in pockets, barely able to lift their head, taking slow, heavy steps, like some one might imagine. No, I imagine it would be really similar to Peter Pan’s shadow. Bouncing along, close always, but sometimes slightly disconnected, a character that you can’t really figure out its intentions, but you know you don’t fear it. I imagine it looking over my shoulder often, perched next to be rather than behind me when I sit, poking me in the ribs when it needs to remind me of something. It whispers thoughts and memories into my ear with a cupped hand but it certainly never talks out loud. Its shy and sympathetic. Its timid but trusting. Its comforting and forgiving. It might get curious about a detail that we walk past in our day, so it stops to examine it as I continue forward and realizing the distance that is increasing, it chases after me, panicked to catch up. It leans its head against me when I cry and wipes its own tears as it catches mine, nodding in a knowing manner. It understands and it mourns with me. It has replaced my child as a very real character in my story. I imagine from a psychological standpoint it is some sort of manifestation or projection of Sylvia. My brain is throwing it at me, creating physicality when we were robbed of it. Here take this! Protect this! Have this as your future! Remember everything you ever planned to do with your daughter? Is this okay? Can you take this little shadow thing instead? We here inside your brain created it because we thought it might help you! Did it work? I would say its the worst consolidation prize ever but that isn’t true. Inside this little comforting companion are all my memories, a lot of my thoughts and emotions and a whole lot of pain and love. I am nearly hopeless, but I have this thing, this shadow, this sidekick, this grief, whatever it is…I have it.