So Demanding

Grief (n): deep sorrow; misery; anguish; distress; heartbreak.

It’s been almost 8 months now since we said goodbye to Catherine. And I feel like I’m just now coming to understand how grief works in myself, and how it truly is different for everyone.

I questioned myself as I began writing this. I typed out the above definition and the first half of my first sentence. And then I paused. For the first time since losing Cate, I wondered what people would think if they saw I was writing about her. Again. Will people roll their eyes and sigh in exasperation? Will they immediately think, “Just get over it already!” and scroll past without reading? Will they wonder if I’m okay, if I’m too focused on Cate and not focused enough on moving forward with my life?
But like I said, I’m finally starting to get a feel for what my grief demands of me. And it demands to be felt. It demands to be acknowledged. It demands that I speak her name, tell people about her, tell her sister about her. It demands that I tell our story again and again to whoever will listen.
I got this tattoo recently as a way to feel my grief (in that specific moment), and to acknowledge my babies always.
I don’t write about Olivia much. But joy, happiness, elation, contentment – all the emotions that I feel for my baby girl when I hold her, snuggle her, feed her, bathe her, watch her sleep peacefully – they don’t demand that I write them down in order to process them. I live in the moment with those emotions; I soak them up every second that I can. I don’t want or need to get those emotions out and send them out into the universe to figure out how I’m feeling. I just feel.
My grief, however? Like the definition calls it, my sorrow, misery, anguish, distress, heartbreak? I don’t want to live in the moment with those emotions. I want to bury them. I don’t want to soak them up; I want to scrub them off me. I don’t want to be sad while my baby is giggling happily in my arms.
But sometimes I am. And when I am, I write about it. I write about her. Because if I shove the thoughts and feelings down deep, who am I helping? Am I helping myself get through the pain? The buried pain is just going to grow until it has nowhere to go but out of me. Am I helping Olivia know how truly loved she is, how much of a miracle she is, how much her daddy and I loved her? If she doesn’t know her whole story, she can’t know any of these things. And Cate is part of her story.
Honestly, I don’t ever want to stop talking about Cate. Not to Peter, not to Olivia, not in general. I want to give her to legacy she wasn’t allowed to build for herself, so on those special days that we would have celebrated “our girls,” I will always honor her memory.
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