Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weep with Those Who Weep

So I'm writing this because I think it might help.  Or that it would be good for me, or something.  Maybe it's part of the grieving process, I don't know.

My 3 year old niece died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound almost two months ago.  I think of her at least once a day.  Sometimes I don't want to.  Sometimes it feels like a total lie, like the next time we visit her family we'll see her and she'll laugh and smile and give us a big hug.  Sometimes I know on a very visceral level that it's real.  That she's gone.  And sometimes my brain doesn't want to process that and so I just sort of shut down my emotions and it's all very hard logic and facts.

She was three.
She found a gun.
She's gone.

I say these words with a heavy heart, but I am not crying.  I am not holding it back.  I don't really feel anything, because these are just facts that I am relaying.

I'm 29 years old.
I live in Wyoming.
I like cheesecake.

And then there was tonight, when I was standing over my crockpot, shredding chicken, and I couldn't stop thinking of what she wanted to be for Halloween.  She was Minnie Mouse last year.  I saw the pictures when I went through her parents' computer.  She looked so grown up, my little niece.  She looked beautiful.

It's then that I remember her at the funeral.  She looked lovely, but so still.  So doll-like.  It was obvious that everything that made that little girl real was gone. 

I recently read an article on that spoke of grief.  In the Bible, Paul says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those that weep.

My husband and I (and our son) were the first family members on the scene.  We were in the car when we got the phone call that she didn't make it.  I can't even explain how those long minutes felt.  I wanted to pull over.  I wanted to throw up.  My husband was beside himself, grief I've never seen, but he said we had to keep driving.  We had to get there.

We had to be strong.  We had to be rocks, stable.  We tried not to cry in front of her parents.  We held them close and we told them we love them but we didn't break down.

And now I think that maybe we should have.  Maybe we should have cracked like glass.  Maybe we should have wept with those who weep. 

Instead, we jumped right in.  My husband took over the phones.  He became the primary contact over the next week for everyone - the coroner, the bishop, the family and friends and mourners.  I took on the task of going through everyone's computers, cell phones, and tablets.  I collected pictures - hundreds of photographs of a three year old girl. 

Even ten years ago, there wouldn't have been this many pictures.  Technology means we capture so much more for posterity than we have ever done before.  My niece was so beautiful.  There were so many photos to choose from.  I put together a slideshow.  I had photos printed and put onto display boards for the viewing and the funeral.

The whole week I went through the motions of what needed to be done.  And when we got home the next week, I cried and cried.  But more than that, I was angry.  I can't even say exactly who I was angry at, most of the time.  But I was really, really angry.

I don't always deal with pain in a positive way.  There is a part of me that wants to escape, either literally or figuratively.  I want to run away into distraction or meds or a variety of vices.  I want to ignore the discomfort.

I miss her.  So, so much.  I am afraid that I will forget about her.  I wish we spent more time with her.  It hurts so much that my son won't know her.  That her own brother is too young to remember her.  That she'll never meet the sister who is due to join this world in February.

There is no good way to end this post.  I can't give advice, or platitudes.  It has been almost two months and I am hurting.  Tonight I am letting myself feel it.