For the past two weeks, I have been feeling like my brain just doesn’t get it. I have been utterly unable to grasp the idea that Hudson is gone. As in forever. As in never coming back. As in all that is left of her physical body are the ashes sitting in a ceramic lidded pot on the memorial table where we have all of her pictures, drawings, and favorite books and toys. My brain keeps replaying all those ordinary moments with her—watching her read her books, getting her in and out of the car seat, waking her up in the morning, letting her turn off the hallway light before she goes to bed, turning on her favorite songs—and it’s like I just cannot comprehend that no more of these ordinary moments will ever be. Something up there just can’t, or won’t, accept it. My brain still imagines new moments as if by doing so, they might somehow become reality.
This despite the endless string of subtle reminders: instinctively closing the basement door before remembering there is no longer a need; remembering that I no longer have to keep the “good” dishtowels in a high cabinet rather than in a Hudson-level drawer to avoid having to wash them every other day; turning down a lunch date on a day we’re heading out of town before remembering that it will no longer take me several hours to plan and then pack our bags and the car; automatically pressing the passenger-side door button on the van’s key fob when I head out of the gate before realizing that no one is getting in on that side.
This despite the endless string of not-so-subtle reminders: a cabinet and freezer still full of toddler food; a basement full of toddler gear; a crib perpetually empty; our dear friends’ children who keep growing up while Hudson never will. And worst of all, the intense and persistent ache in my chest.
But for the past two weeks, while my brain continues to deny, I think my heart is starting to get it. My heart has been feeling the weight of the slow realization that we could live many, many more decades and yet this sadness will never disappear. It will recede and lessen, but it will never go away. There will always be a hole in our lives that Hudson once occupied. The hole is cavernous now, as we have no other children and our lives and identities as we knew them have been shredded irreparably. As we labor forward, as we have more children, as we continue to try to find joy where it exists, the hole will grow smaller and smaller until the pain just becomes part of the fabric of our existence. But it will never vanish. It will always be there in the empty chair at the table, in the spaces inside family moments and photos where a big sister should be, in the anguished pause after the question, “How many children do you have?”
Yes, I think my heart is getting it. And it is breaking all over again.