It feels like it has been ages and ages since I last held Rayella in my arms, but at the same time, it really only has been about a month and half. Learning to live without my baby girl is going to be a life-long process. They say, “the journey of grief has no destination and no end,” and in all relativity, I just got on the highway with an indefinite amount of miles to travel. The journey feels so daunting, and if let myself think too hard about it, that is when I start withering back into the darkness. It has become apparent to myself that I am coming out of the shock and denial stage of grief, and every day is becoming harder and harder as I let myself face the reality. I can assure you that I am not feeling hopeless, but if there is a cave of hope, pretty sure I am only a couple levels above that. Hopeless that my baby girl is REALLY gone? Yes. I get that. But hopeless that I cannot continue with my life, certainly moments can be far worse than others, but in general there IS hope. The main source of that hope comes from the fact that I hold on to the love I had for her, and because of her, I must continue, even it if means tip-toeing through life some days, I will.
Lately I have a few people reach out to make sure I was okay, which certain people do on a regular basis, but the past couple days have been especially concerning to some. My main response, and the only honest answer is that this is just a day by day process. Their main concern was that I have not written a blog post in, wow, 11 days apparently. I knew it had been a while, but I did not think that an entire 11 days have gone by without doing THIS, my writing therapy. Many friends and family have told me that is their way of “checking up on me”. Interesting. This writing experience has been, in a way, my way of checking up on myself as well. Not only can I really examine my feelings while I put them into words, it is a way of self-monitoring and being self-accountable to my emotions, mental state, and, no doubt the present reality. It does feel “right” to be sitting back at my computer again, doing what has really helped me the most, writing. Writing is my sustenance through this never-ending journey of bereavement.
Saturday and Sunday were spent down in “The Cities” (a term I loathe, if anyone says “The Cities” while they are actually in “The Cities”, chances are they are not from “The Cities) (& yep, sometimes I can come off as a stuck-up city bitch, but growing up on Fremont and Dowling and a number of other Northside residences for a number of impressionable years of my youth, then as an adult, SE Minneapolis/U of MN campus, Powderhorn, Whittier, and Longfellow neighborhoods- will do that to a girl.) People often ask me if I feel “safer” where I am living now, versus the inner-city, but quite honestly, I feel much more anxious and scared out here in Farmville, ND. My closest neighbors are, I dunno, maybe half mile on either direction of us. If something happened, god forbid, and I scream, “HELP”, chances are no one will hear me. In all of my Minneapolis “dive” apartments, I felt very comfortable knowing at least 100+ people reside in each square block of those dense neighborhoods. Someone would hear me and save me. For the love of all logic, low and behold, the worst nightmare of my life happened up here in the little “safe” small town. My point beins is that the fact of the matter is that you just never know WHEN, or WHERE, the most fucked up shit of your life will happen.
Since Rayella passed, I have taken 3 trips out-of-town, 2 of them back home to, “The Cities”. Leaving our home, Rayella’s home, has been really difficult each time. The dread of leaving her stuff, her nursery (which, yes, is still 100% intact from the last day she was here), her ashes, her unwashed clothes that still linger of her delicious smell of spit-up and breast milk, and every material thing she has left behind to keep her spirit present in our home. Every other trip out-of-town has felt okay, in other words, not entirely right, nothing feels right, but I have managed to keep composure when it has been socially acceptable. This past weekend was not awful, but not enough to keep that god-forsaken faucet that is my tear ducts, under control. Being someone with a history of depression and anxiety, I have had a good amount of practice keeping those melt downs private and in my own time. This trip I even had Parker with me, and knowing his presence is like a godsend when it comes to keeping my emotions “in-check” with his amazing little zest for life and lively spirit, I still just could not really shake the deep sadness.
The first stop on my 2 day trip was my nephew’s 1st birthday party. Honestly, I was really excited to see my entire immediate family under a celebratory occasion versus the last time we were all together, the weekend of Rayella’s funeral. We arrived, and without even really thinking about it at all, all I could see was my niece Brooke, her beauty, her beautiful big blue eyes that remind me of RayRay’s, long blonde hair that RayRay was almost certain to have, her amazingly adorable little girl laugh. Her collection of pink and everything “little girl”- clothes, toys, you name it. Honestly, I did not prepare myself for that, for anything really. Triggers come, almost every other second, but these days- usually- I can just smile and push the pain aside until a more “appropriate” opportunity to let it out. Then, really again, without thinking twice, I scooped up my little nephew to give him big birthday hugs and kisses. His little body, his baby soft skin, and those big kissable cheeks, his little smile…
It only took a few moments and I lost it. I had to have someone take him from me, quickly, so I could go hide in the bathroom and sob. On the inside I really just wanted to run, to drive off, leave the party, to be pissed off that RayRay will never have a 1st birthday, that she will never have the chance to be that little girl, have a loud little girl giggle, have long beautiful hair, and have all that oh-so-feminine little girl stuff. The stuff that used to make me cringe, all the pink and princesses, but the stuff that I had grown to love and appreciate, because there is just something absolutely precious about a baby girl. Not that baby boys are not as precious or lovable, and I am not even sure how to describe it, but to be a woman, who used to be one of those little girls, brings some sort of special bond to her own baby girl like no other.
I went back out to the crowd, reluctant to look anyone with my glazed red swollen eyes of mine, feeling down and a bit guilty about being such a downer. But, really, I got hugs from everyone and I think everyone really understood. I just had to be very mindful to just keep breathing. I stayed at the party for Parker, for RayRay, and for my family. I did my best to remember that RayRay was there in spirit, in my heart, in all of my family’s hearts, and I was not the only one hurting. It occurred to me that at that moment I was among the inner-circle of RayRay’s “circle of love,” the place where the Universe meant for me to be. I allowed myself to receive and give love and joy, to smile and to laugh. Of course, once again, I decided to choose the light over the darkness, because that is what my beloved baby girl RayRay would have wanted.