Today (October 31st) is Rachel’s birthday. Here on earth she would be turning 36 years old. In her Heavenly home she is timeless. Forever 31 ½? I don’t know. I’m not sure how age works in Heaven. I know how it works here – every day I get a little older. Farther away from the last time I heard my daughter’s lilting voice say “Hey Mommy!”. Farther away from the last time I saw her alive. Oh so alive and joyful at her wedding! Carefully reciting words of love in Afrikaans that she had memorized to surprise her groom. Beaming as she turned and took his hand to walk down the aisle as husband and wife.
Laughing as they cut the wedding pies (because pie is so much better than cake!). Her birthday, even more than my own, reminds me how much farther away I’ve traveled from the last time I hugged her and kissed the top of her head.
I miss my daughter.
A fellow bereaved mother and a wonderful writer in her own right, Melonie DeSimone *, mentioned in one of her posts that the French phrase for “I miss you” is tu me manques. Translated literally this says “you are missing from me.”
I pulled the following excerpt from my journal written five years ago on Rachel’s birthday, just 6 months after her fatal car accident and 8 months after her wedding.
When you know for sure that it’s true — that there is another human being developing inside you, it’s as profound as finding God, as recognizing your own mortality. It’s a part of you, but greater than you, and not fully within your control. And the pain of delivering this unique human being reminds you that she was a part of your own body, but owns her own place in this world away from you no matter how much it hurts.
My own mother came to realize that she was going to leave behind her children and her two grandchildren. And even though this is the natural course of life, it was sooner than any of us expected. But, we had time to say goodbye and we had some of our mourning on this side of mortality.
Mothers aren’t supposed to outlive their children. Whether we see it coming because of an incurable illness or it hits out of the blue, we cannot mourn ahead of time. It is unnatural. So, we give birth once again. We have this child ripped from us into a world that we cannot control.
My emotions were so raw early on in my grief. The pain of losing my daughter was searing. My tears scalded my face. My throat felt shredded from sobs. Five years down this path now I wouldn’t describe my pain as quite so gripping and acute. At least most of the time it’s not. The hurt and sadness are always with me. The part of me that is Rachel’s mother is still here, but not tangible, not active, empty. My daughter is missing from me.
Rachel, tu me manques.
* Follow Melanie DeSimone and her daily blog posts for bereaved parents at thelifeididntchoose.com.