The change of the month, from July 31 to August 1, marks the beginning of the end of my girl. I walk a little heavier, I speak a little softer and my days of seemingly untainted joy start spreading further apart. August brings some of my most favourite days, but it is also the prologue to watching my daughter leave this earth.
So as July comes to a close, I prepare myself for what the next few months will hold. But this year, my ever changing, reliably inconsistent grief has decided to make an early appearance.
I guess July is now the new August.
This year, July has brought trouble to my already complicated mind. I remember, with astounding clarity, the organized chaos of living out a bucket list with a two year old cancer patient.
event, bloodwork, event, chemo, more chemo, more bloodwork, event, event, sleep, bloodwork, chemo, over and over.
It was normal for life to be hectic, day in and out, but it was the urgency, the lack of being able to just not for a moment, that’s what fueled those days. There may not have been an expiry date stamped on her forehead, but with every morning snuggle, every item crossed of the list, every time we went to clinic and had to make one more decision for end of life care, death dug its asshole little claws deeper and deeper into my skin.
We were in clinic (Oncology Out Patient at BCCH) one day for chemo and while she was busy playing with some toys, I signed two things that I’ll never forget I had to sign; her official documents into the palliative care program and a DNR.
She’s going to die, I thought to myself, and I am choosing to let her.
Bile sat at the top of my esophagus until I could quietly slip away to the bathroom and throw it up.
The sun shining through the clinic windows mocked my devastation; the laughter of my sweet girl playing in the play kitchen dug the knife deeper into my heart with a wretched twist.
That night, as I sat in my bed planning Halloween and Christmas, It all came crashing down on me.
This wasn’t just in case she didn’t make it (we lived every day since diagnosis that way), this was because she wouldn’t. I knew it then, regardless of never losing hope, that she would never make it to 3.
I got up and looked in the mirror, eyes red and swollen, and there, on my forehead, was my very own expiry date.
Her time was almost up, which meant mine was too.
Last year, in the moments I felt like I wanted to scream, I didn’t; in the moments I felt like I needed to run, I stood still.
I toughed it out.
I held in the tears and put on a smile.
I made it through because I felt like I had to, so I could prove to myself that it was possible.
Now, with July deciding it’s going to be a challenge, with August around the corner and September close behind, I can hear grief tell anxiety to suit up. Because it’s the build up that kills me every single morning when I wake up and realize it’s not a nightmare. And its the build up that kills me every single night that I close my eyes wondering If I have to wake up the next morning at all.
But this year I am going to try and be brave in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been. For longer than just September 1st to September 7th, this year I am going to scream when I need to scream and I am going to run when I need to run. This year I am going to be vulnerable both to the people that surround me with love and to myself (after-all, I’m the one I try to trick the most).
This year I am going to let myself be overwhelmed and I will move through it.
I will let myself be angry and I will move through it.
I will let myself be whatever ugliness consumes me, and I. Will. Move. Through It.
Then maybe, come September, it won’t feel so built up. Maybe The day can just be the day. Or, at the very least, maybe I’ll be so damn tired from the clusterfuck of feelings being purged from my body over the last couple of months that the beginning of September will at least see some sleep (which is a step up from the years that have passed).
I am uncomfortable letting go of the control I have mastered over my emotional state; it makes me feel exposed. But as my grief changes it’s needs, I have to listen; as it demands, I must oblige.
Because I would rather walk this journey hand-in-hand with it, than be dragged by it with a chain around my neck.
and after an unintentional writing hiatus (which is so incredibly atypical of me… *insert sarcasm emoji here*) due to an actual bout of real life happiness, I have found myself drawn back to the clicks of the keyboard to bring some solace to my soul.
I bring these challenges to screen because they make me feel like this unseen pain is tangible, and, as always, with those of you who reach out, it makes me feel like I am not alone inside of this strange little head of mine.
clicking one key, taking one step, and shedding one piece of armor at a time…