I was doing pretty well for a typical day in my life since losing my daughter. Busying myself with pouring milks and mixing chicken salad while my children climbed anxiously into their favorite seats at the table.
I made my rounds, handing out sippy cups and a rainbow of plastic silverware as my son asked what was a simple question, to his three year-old mind.
Mommy, can we invite Hadley to our birthday?
And my world came crashing in.
I know I should have given him some heartfelt answer about how his sister will always be in our hearts or about the fact that he and Hadley already share their birthday in their own special way but the pain of grief was running rapidly through me, and I could only swallow its searing burn enough to ruffle his hair and say sorry buddy.
In that moment, my day was completely knocked off the carefully balanced axis I had created for myself in an effort to move forward with life after loss. In an effort to survive.
I was done. I left the phone ringing, no one who called could possibly understand. I decided against our shopping trip, I had no interest in casual conversation with a cashier or anyone else who happened to pass us in the aisles. I dove into the monotony of my life, safe at home, choking back pain while playing “house” with children who had moved on from our lunchtime conversation long ago, their needs as persistent and loud as the grief ringing in my ears.
As the hours passed the fresh pain of considering another birthday without her and knowing that my children are growing with a feeling of her absence too still ate at my heart but I slowly returned to the land of the living one step at a time. I found the remains of our lunch in the trash, bowls, spoons and all. I located my phone in a basket full of laundry and threw out the carton of milk I had left on the counter to spoil.
Piece by piece I picked up the remnants of another day shattered by grief.