Today is 6 months since Olivia died. It’s still so hard to comprehend, staring at her grave, that my daughter’s body is just a few feet beneath the new grass now growing. Waves of sadness and feelings of loss still hit me like a wall when I see a picture of her. I still feel an irresistible urge to touch my phone screen when a photo of her pops up. I still feel the dull ache of loss, the emptiness she left - it physically hurts. It destroys our immune systems. We’re walking through our days with feet made of cement. It’s just really hard. Much harder than anyone could have prepared us for.
But I wouldn’t trade this time.
This pain and suffering connects us to Olivia. In the same way avoiding the pain during her life would have meant missing her life, I think avoiding the pain now means missing the possibility of continuing life with Olivia.
That’s a possibility I didn’t know existed six months ago: Life, continuing, with Olivia. Not the memory of her, because those fade. Not the idea of her, because that distorts over time. But actually continuing life with her, actually her.
My biggest fear six months ago was that Olivia would fade over time - a dream we had once. Six months in, I do feel like I’ve faded. I feel like everything I knew before has faded. Olivia’s smell has completely faded from her clothes. My memories of her have faded some too. But her - Olivia the person, Olivia our daughter - she hasn’t faded.
She can’t fade, because we’re still here. As basic as that sounds, “still being here” has been a very difficult and intentional decision on our part, constantly. We’re completely different people, changed by our time with her. The only way for Olivia to fade is for us to resume life as the people we used to be- something we can only do by pretending. Very tempting. The “new us” is damaged goods - broken pieces of people from the past, in a pile on the floor. But it’s 100% real. And it’s beautiful, even if it’s not “functional”. And it’s very much a manifestation of Olivia the person.
Not her memory, but her. She can’t fade. She’s right here, in my hands as I write these words.
Continuing life with Olivia. It isn’t possible apart from the pain and suffering we’re experiencing. So we accept the pain and suffering, gladly. We wouldn’t trade this.