Today marks 20 years since my oldest officially left us, declared legally brain dead after brain bleed. It was amongst the most anguishing 24 hours of my entire life thus far, and unforgettable because it is so much part of who she was to me and to us. I remember the day she was born, I remember the day she died. It’s just how it is, and I have no regrets or sorrow about the way my mind processes this particular chapter. I am grateful to remember her and our history realistically; it keeps her human and the daughter I love.
In the present day, life continues. Gym this morning. Text meltdown from M over potentially lost keys, only I had found them at home where he left them in the gate lock. RD appointment this afternoon. Work, work, more work.
Between all that, random thoughts sneak in. There are texts and emails from old friends, checking up and checking in, sharing little remembrances, funny stories and memories. People are so kind. Family, I decided long ago, has less to do with the blood in your veins than the depth of emotion and attachment we feel toward one another. I am truly blessed to have a large and diverse family tree with strong and solid roots.
I am super proud of my son and daughter; I wanted them to grow up to be independent, kind, compassionate people, and they have exceeded my hopes for them on all fronts. The death of a 12 year old child and older sibling could be something that rips families apart, but for us it bound us closer together. Where I had been a good mother when I have 3 living children, I improved and got better when I lost my oldest. I became more patient and present in the time we were together. I redoubled my commitment to prioritizing the work and family balance. I let them continue to be kids and fail when necessary and appropriate. In spite of my fear and instinctive, irrational desire to try and protect them from any failure or harm, I let them fail and let them fall down when it was appropriate. I bit my tongue when they made choices I questioned or disagreed with,and I held back any hint of parental condemnation or judgment when they made mistakes and had to experience negative consequences.
While I like to believe I would have learned this had B not passed away when she did, I know the dramatic changes that overwhelmed me right after her death. I was so scared and fearful that something would swoop down and steal my surviving daughter and son. Looking back, talking with my kids over the course of the last year, I realize that stepping back and just letting them be and grown up like normal kids was the best thing I could have done for them at that time. They are both wonderful young adults. I genuinely like them a people as well as love them fiercely because they are my children.
So today we are all a little sad. And the day, while a sad one, is part of what makes us a unique and close family.
The spirit that was my beautiful girl lives forever in our memories and the memories of others that knew her. Once upon a time it seemed inadequate, but as they years have passed it became enough. If necessity is the mother of invention, is it also the parent of acceptance. I cannot bring her back, and I had to accept that. But I can remember her honestly, with her human weakness and flaws, and in my dreams I still hear her voice and see that amazing smile.
Rest in peace, my sweet Sugarbear. I miss you terribly and wish you were here with us, alive and thriving with us.