on coming alive: I will always choose you
This post is part of the #onComingAlive project at Scribbles and Crumbs. To read the full post, head here.
Once upon a time, I had a little girl. Her smile and curls and doe-brown eyes were a sight to behold. She was mine. My dream. And then, one summer day, Florence was given a terminal diagnosis for her weak muscles: Spinal Muscular Atrophy type one. I shook my head in disbelief. She would beat it. She had to. This was impossible. This was not how the story was supposed to unfold. This was my firstborn daughter. The one I had dreamed of since I, myself, was a little girl. I needed to see her grow up. I needed to see her thrive.
But nothing changed. Her disease weakened her over time. On a spring day, three years after her diagnosis, when the marigolds were in bloom, Florence Marigold took her last ragged breath and slipped into the arms of Jesus. She was surely welcomed with joy and glory as she took her first shaky steps. But in the dust, her mama and daddy sat holding the weight of her. She was gone forever from this world. The storybook ending was rubbed out, black ink oozing all over all that was good and pure.
My daughter died, and pieces of me that had been awakened over the years of her life slowly crumbled into ash. I felt the heat of heaven that day, so close was I to going with her. How could I go on?
I caved right into myself, slammed the bathroom door and felt the waves of shock curse through my body. I knelt down in the shower, feeling the need to cleanse myself and scream and shrivel right up. Perhaps the water would drown out my wailing. I’ll never know if others heard me sobbing in the shower at the hospice that night. But I remember thinking about it, trying to curtail the groans that escaped from my lips. Like labour, I heaved and moaned and let the waves pound me. Then I paused, looked at the tile wall and gasped. How normal everything appeared, and yet my entire body was in agony. I pictured everyone going about their happy lives, unaware of what was threatening to consume me. It felt terribly unfair and unjust.
When death greets you, hollow, gray and permanent, you are singed. These were not words I wanted to live with. Death. Grief. Hollow. Pain. As I entered into the grieving process, I felt like I would be swallowed whole.
But a few months later, I knew I needed to pick up what was left at my feet, however ugly these pieces appeared. I began to feel every breath that escaped from my lungs, easy and smooth like silk on skin. She struggled to breathe her whole life. I must carry weight with this breath of mine. I must use my words well.