I have been in a gut-wrenching funk the last couple of days. Life has continued, I have carried on, yet I feel as if my heart is being shredded and all my insides are melting steadily, like a taper candle steadily burning and the wax pooling at the bottom.

The backstory: my oldest child died at age 12 in 1996. She was bright, beautiful, funny, and sweet. Up until the day she collapsed at school, she had never had anything more serious than the occasional cold. Then the arterial venous malformation in her brain burst. In a blink we go from a happy family of 5 to a grieving family of 4.

A silver lining from this dark and stormy cloud: my daughter was an organ donor. Her kidneys went to two gentlemen, her liver and pancreas went to another young man, her corneas helped a very nice woman see again, her lungs aided in advancing the research of cystic fibrosis, and her heart went to heart valves.

One of the heart valve recipients was a 12 year old little girl in Texas. Unlike a lot of donor families, I was fortunate to have received letters and updates through the years from her recipients, including this young heart valve patient. Through the years I received letters and updates, cards at Thanksgiving. It is usually quite comforting and happy to know that we did something that renewed hope and life to others. Sometimes it breaks my heart all over again.

In 2008 M and I flew to Texas to attend our young heart valve recipient’s wedding. We had kept in touch through the years, received pictures and announcements of and invitations to all the significant milestones in her life. It has been an amazing relationship, one I truly cherish. Since her marriage there is a card every Thanksgiving along with the newsy letter of all that is/was happening in her life. From that we learned she was expecting her first child.

Tuesday morning I got a phone call … her healthy 8 lb., 6 oz. daughter was finally here, and she had named her after my daughter. I was moved, I was touched, I am so happy for her, and by the end of the phone conversation there was not a dry eye anywhere.

The sadness came an hour or so after I hung up the phone and has deteriorated into a depressed state that has left me in an awful frame of mind. The storm of negative emotions has engulfed me completely and it is difficult to decide if I am more sad, angry, jealous, or some soul-sucking hybrid of the three.

Despite the 19+ years that have passed since B died, my grief at times feels fresher than when it first happened. I have had 19+ years to grow accustomed to the emptiness and painful heartbreak, and consoling myself that I have learned to live with these scars is no consolation at all. The old anger of my child died and another lives because of it. Life is so unfair that way and yet I cannot seem to ever shed the burning pissed-off-ness that comes from thinking about it. The jealousy is possibly the worst. I have no anxiety about grandmother-hood. It may happen for me, it may not; I have always understood and accepted that the choice is not mine to make. As longs as G and C are healthy and happy with their own lives, I cannot and will not hope for more.

I miss her so much, and I hate the person I become when I lose myself this way, in this storm of negative emotions and overwhelming grief.

M understands, yet he does not. He has learned the hard way through the years that this is not a time to express the sincere platitudes of Christian faith that keep him sane no matter how applicable. The last thing any grieving person wants to hear is that their loved one is with God and knows only joy. I frankly do not want to hear it – I am still human enough, still faith-less enough to want her here, suffering and slogging through life with me and her brother and her sister. She should have gone through her teens with acne and angst and hormones and everything else. She was taken far too soon, because it’s morbidly unfair for a parent to outlive their child.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a therapist I have an established relationship with, because I am a mess and cannot see my way out of this on my own. I am working, I am functioning in a normal manner, but I am so angry and torn up and I cannot seem to gain mastery or control over my emotions. There is a new soul on this earth right now and it is a joyous event. Yet I don’t feel it. The tears I have shed the past few days are not tears of joy, but a sorrow that seems infinite. I need help, or I will be swept away without a life preserver.

I miss my B so very much.

14 thoughts on “Jubilant heartbreak

  1. I am without words.

    I am so incredibly sorry. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I cannot fathom your experiences.

    I think that a major loss stays with us forever. They say that time heals, but I think that time numbs the pain. There are times where the heartbreak seems so fresh even though many years have past.

    I think your feelings are entirely normal. Who wouldn’t feel jealous?

    I hope that you can find peace. Many peaceful thoughts to you.

  2. My heart is breaking for you.

    I think it may have been on your blog that I read ‘I’m not OK right now, and that’s OK”. (or something like it). Some things are senseless, and it doesn’t matter what amount of time passes, they still sometimes hurt like they’ve just happened.

    I’m sending positive thoughts your way.

    1. Andree, it does sound like me, but probably awhile back if it was. Still, positive energy is alwys a good and much appreciated thing. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  3. You have a way of reminding me of how fragile life and we as people are. Today you have reinforced for me that no man made stuff and thats everything is as important or takes the highest office of sanctity for ALL LIFE whether human or other. I too was at loss to truly and cohesively expensive my empathetic compassion to you. But congrats for courage to go and find someone who can give you some perspective on what your feeling.

    1. Char, thank you for your kindness and the thoughtful comment. Life is fragile – please handle it with care. I do not think I am courageous so much as I am human in knowing when to say when, please help me. I only wish there was not so much stigma attached.

  4. My heart aches for your sadness. I cannot imagine the pain you are going through. What a loving tribute to name her child after your daughter. It sounds like she has never taken for granted the beautiful and amazing gift you gave to her.

    1. This little girl grew up into an amazing young woman, and we simply adore her and her entire family. It’s painful, it’s difficult, and it’s wonderous to watch the circle of life continue. Yet it caught me off-guard how overwhelmed and crippled I would be by the flood of emotion. I am glad I wrote it out, because it helps more than I imagined. The kindness of readers should never be underestimated. Thank you for reading and for your support, OneFamily; I appreciate it so much.

  5. Oh sweetie I am so terribly sorry for your loss. But I am glad you are not hiding your feelings. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are.

    I cannot even begin to fathom the depth of your loss. Parents should never outlive their children. It is just unnatural. I’m glad M isn’t making it worse. I’m Catholic n very spiritual. My faith gives me strength. But when my Mom died, none of that mattered. She had over 400 people at her wake n funeral because she had touched so many people’s lives. At least half of them said idiotic, unhelpful things because they just had no clue lol.

    I am glad u are going back to the therapist for what I call a tuneup. I do the same every few years. It’s an act of self love and I hope it can help in some small way. It’s amazing all the good your daughter accomplished all these years. But I will say no more right now because she should be here with you. Just know there is nothing wrong with feeling as u do. I am sending u a big HUG xoxo

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