Children die everyday. It is, when you pause to consider it, a terrifyingly ordinary fact. Ordinary. Except that she was our daughter, and grief, as much as love, is resistant to reason.
I wish this date would not hold us captive. Tears line up like soldiers, poised to sweep straight through the sorrow. Except it's never really straight. Grief is, apparently, also resistant to anything remotely linear. The conveyor belt that moves us away from her twists and lurches and stalls. I let the boys watch too many cartoons and feed them too many marshmallows and dispense too many I don't cares. And, during a day filled with what might otherwise be emotionally neutral activities, I find myself thinking she would have been six and a half.
Five Januarys ago we sat in a hospital room inhaling horror. Our daughter had Batten Disease, and Batten Disease would have her. When I realized my ebullient little girl was terminally ill, I contemplated dual death. How could we leave her alone, traveling to whatever unknown territory she was headed without us? I looked in dazed terror at the darkness of her destiny and wondered how we’d ever live without her.
It does, finally, feel less like we've been run over by a combine. Her voice, long absent, still fills my ears and I can almost feel the way her fingers held my own. I remember her skin, so thin, hinting at bone underneath, collar, shoulders, ribs all forcing their way to prominence. I need only close my eyes to conjure her face, to recall the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled. Two years later, though, I do struggle to bring to mind how all those elements of her being alive fit together.
Her heart stopped for good, and ours, even with fair warning, were left stunned. We wondered, still, how we'd ever live without her. It did not come quickly, but two years removed, I believe it to be true: We don’t have to.
She is here, faded, further away, on a different frequency. She is in the sky, in the falling sun and the rising temperature. She is in my heart. She is in Tucker's head and in Tolliver's hair. She is in the flowers. She is in her daddy's dreams. She is with this world and apart from it all at once. She is everywhere.