Monday, July 6, 2009

What should have been

Day 3 of our beach vacation and we both already feel relaxed and refreshed. And as we expected, our time here is met with grief. Just two years ago our dreams for Cara began. A year later, just months after Cara’s death, we came back to the beach but in many ways it didn’t feel like much of a vacation. We were still in a state of shock over Cara’s death and just beginning to start trying to figure out how in the world the rest of our lives would look without her.

I was remembering today that last year much of time here was spent quietly together. Cynthia and I took quite a few walks alone, talking about how we were doing. We’d also spend time with our family over dinner then as the night wore on quickly retreat back to our rooms to read and eventually fall asleep. In a way, we were pretty much in a cocoon at times during the week.

This year it’s definitely easier to be here, which gives me mixed emotions to say. I don’t want it to be inferred that because it’s easier that I’m somehow used to life without my daughter. I suppose we’re just in a slightly better place this year, and I’ll take that reprieve since at other times this road has been an awfully hard one to travel.

There have still been several moments that have been hard. Walking into the beach house again this year without Cara. Walking into our bedroom thinking that we should be setting up Cara’s crib in the room too. And then today. A family with little baby girl toddler pulled up and sat right next to us at the beach. The baby was the age that Cara would have been this summer. There the baby sat, in her baby pool, under a beach umbrella. Cynthia and I didn’t have to say a thing. The look we gave each other said it all.

Cynthia and I walked down to the edge of the water and tears started streaming down Cynthia’s face. What could have been. What should have been. That’s all we could think about.

I can’t think of another way to say it, but these painful reminders of what should have been, especially today’s at the beach, just suck. And there was just something extra hard about seeing that baby girl at the beach today. It was a tangible reminder of what should have been right there before us.

My heart hurts for Cynthia, because I know in the midst of the heavy grief of not having Cara here, she also has another little baby growing in her womb to tend to. I know it’s a lot to carry. I can clearly see the love in her eyes for Cara as the tears come pouring out. I can see a Mother’s heart breaking, and longing for her child that is gone.

I wish I had a solution to heal the pain that these moments bring to us and to all of those who have lost someone they loved in their lives. I would be naïve to think there is one. In fact, moments no different than what we experienced today will only continue to occur throughout the rest of our lives. I think the only thing we can do is be patient and gracious through the hard times, treasure the moments of peace and joy that also come in this life, and look ahead out on the horizon to the days of reunion with all those who have gone to a place of eternal peace.


Mirne said...

That's the thing isn't it? When everything thinks we're finally "getting over it" ... we're not really. I mean, how can you get "over" it when you see children and families everywhere who are a clear reminder of what should have been? I see what should have been all around me all the time.

Leslie Parkins said...

In college, my humanities professor shared with us "no pain is greater than that of a parent losing a child." I imagine the pain of losing Cara will never go away, nor should it. She's your precious daughter.

I'm not sure how to articulate my prayer for you...if each of us has a cup that measures our happiness, I know your cup will always be difficult to fill completely. Cara's life and death represents some of what has filled that cup and some of what keeps the cup from being completely filled. My prayer for you is some days your cup will be less full and other days a bit more full. My prayer is your cup can continue to be filled, to help carry you through those particularly difficult days as you mentioned in your post. I can't image a parent who has lost a child will ever have a sense that their cup is completely full, but I imagine as you said, some days are more difficult than others. I hope the cup you continue to fill will carry you through.
I hope this all came out right...

Tim said...

Your analogy of the cup is such a good one, and a very helpful way for me to think of how I'm feeling when my cup feels empty or not totally full. I think you're right that our cups will never be completely full, which is probably true for many of us since this world is such a broken place. But maybe there's some grace and peace in recognizing our cups will never be totally full. Thanks for your comment and for this new picture of what grief is like.