This coming Friday, February 10th should have been Rachel’s 6th wedding anniversary.
I have to take a deep breath and compose myself every time my mind starts to go down the should, could, would have been path. Of course, I don’t know what her life would be like now any more than I know what mine will be like in six years. But, we all have plans and dreams. Rachel certainly did. She and her husband pondered fostering and perhaps adopting children. They talked about traveling to his home country of South Africa. They planned to buy a house. She hoped to progress in her career. She wanted to learn to play the cello and buy a vintage VW beetle.
They got to have the simple, sweet wedding they wanted and a honeymoon in a place that had snow. She started a new job at a large company where there was a career path for her. They had two months of marriage to talk about the rest of their lives together. They made each other happy for the total of 14 months that they knew each other.
Should that have been enough?
From the perspective of those of us on this side of Heaven who loved her, the answer is a resounding NO.
How do we reconcile the should have beens with the what was? How do we fill out the story of who our child would have been and what she would be doing when the gap between “she was” and now gets bigger and bigger? I know I can’t just let her go. I can’t not talk about her.
A friend who lost her husband said that in her Grief Share group they talked about people who are the “keepers of the stories.” The ones who can trace family history and recount an anecdote about any second-cousin-once-removed mentioned in conversation. In our family, that’s me. Granted, those tales are sometimes much more than twice-told. Some of them make us laugh every time. Some of them probably elicit an eyeroll and a “there she goes again.” Frankly I wish I had more stories and memories and anecdotes of those who’ve run ahead. I should have been paying more attention.
Because when someone leaves this world too soon . . . and especially when that someone is your child . . . the stories of how she was and of how she should, could, would have been are what sustains us until the gap is closed.
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