Well, the day is here. Seven years. It hasn’t always been this hard, but hard enough. Today I think of my children, and what might have been. I think of how quiet my house is. How empty. How large. Perhaps that is why each year at this time it becomes really hard to live here.
Last night I fought my way to sleep through tears, hopelessness, and an overwhelming sense of how broken the world is, and how broken my life is. I feel every loss, and every failure. Each and every one.
I see my daughter at four, leaning in for a hug before she left for preschool with my husband. Achingly I hear my self deny her. I know why – I didn’t want her leaning across her sister, who had been sent from school despite spending the weekend treating her lice at home. I was overwhelmed. I would see her in a couple of hours, but was anxious about the appointment we were about to go into. I had my reasons. None of them good enough. I wish I had taken my baby in my arms – for three days later, when they let me see her for the last time, she had already been turned against me and wouldn’t come close.
“It is okay, Mommy,” she said. “They will let me come home.”
But they never did.
I see my daughter at six. Happy and smiling despite all of her struggles. Allowing us to change her plans, and drag her to an appointment (because she wasn’t allowed to go to school) even though we knew how hard change was on her. I see her relax as I assured her we would pick her up from the play room at the ministry when our appointment was over – but we never did.
I see my son at ten. Afraid, and vulnerable, and wanting so much to believe he would never be moved again. Wanting so much to be liked, and to fit in, that he would do and say anything. I see this child, who always surrounded himself with people – yet always seemed so alone.
I see my son at thirteen. Bravely coming to a strange place to watch his sister, while we went into an appointment – and being told he wasn’t allowed to go in with her. Awkward, and uncomfortable, and trying so hard to do the right thing despite all of this. I see his face as I walked out, and told him she wouldn’t be coming home with us. None of them would be coming home with us ever again. And I hear his words, and see his response these past seven years. “Family doesn’t matter,” he says. “People don’t mater.” “I would rather be alone.” And he is. That is the moment he stopped wanting to visit people. That is the moment he started hiding in the basement.
And I hate them for what they did to my children. And I forgive them, and think, “Maybe they were right.” Because I am broken now. And I hate myself for losing them. And I hate myself for trying. And it is so much easier to forgive other people – even when they took my children away.
The tears flow. Seven years, and that is enough pain for a lifetime. Yet the memories don’t end there. Over and over again I see those moments:
- The last, struggled breaths of my dog – and how he looked lying dead on the table once he was gone… and the box that now takes his place.
- The last pained breaths of my cats, my rabbits, my guinea pigs – and the very tears I cried as I held them in the end.
- The last look at my Grandmother before I turned the corner in her apartment building, and left her for the last time.
- My Grandfather, two of my cousins, my father, my mother’s mom…
And I think, as the losses pile up, and the memories haunt me like ghosts – I don’t think I can take any more. My mind will break. My heart will break. I can’t. I can’t. And I remember that thing that people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is that biblical? I wonder. Can it possibly be? But what about those whose minds do break? What about those who snap, and take their lives, or take the lives of others – was it not too much for them?
I don’t know. Seven years. Seven years, and the pain remains. A hard, hard day.