Darkness - Months In

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I wrote what you see below in September of 2016, five months into dealing with my nieces death and my battle with breast cancer. Though, no conclusions were drawn at that time, no happy ending in sight, I feel it might be important to share for those who may have similar feelings. 

I have developed quite the knack for re-booting my life. If you are keeping score in this sort of thing, I feel obliged to tell you that my record of address changes, career moves and general twists of fate is longer than my mental list of reasons that Donald Trump should not be elected president. I'm a damned reluctant expert on starting over. 

But this time, this time it's harder. This time I feel something brewing that I can't quite put a finger on. 

I think it's the fact that I have been shit kicked into cold reality in these last five months with the death of my niece and my mastectomy. I have been forced to see things through a different lens. Forced. And this brutal truth has changed me. Again.

I've had some rough changes before. April 19, 1995 and Sept 11, 2001 come to mind. I bet many of you reading this can relate to that. 9/11drew a dark line down the middle of our lives. There's a Before and an After; those two sides of our lives being drastically different. It's rough.

Now I have another dark line running over the timeline of my life, one that feels more like a wound, a slice. It's the Before 2016 and the After 2016. 2016 isn't over. I'm not even on the other side. 

I'm not even on the other side of this. I don't think there is "another side" to get to. 

Crisis, for me, has always had a beginning, middle and end. Or, if not an end, then a great deal of reasoning on my part as to how I will emerge from the ground, stronger, smarter. I find peace. It may take a while, but I find a way to live with the change that occurred, mostly believing that some mystery has been solved and that I am better for it. But here's the thing about McKenzie taking her own life: I will never solve this. I can never make it better - not for my sister and her family, not for myself. I have found the first thing in my life that no one and nothing can fix.

It's like learning to breathe with a collapsed lung. Like trying to walk without legs. And while I know I am loved, I am prayed for and I can even find ways to laugh again, I am acutely aware of this trauma, this loss and my guilt surrounding it. See, she will never come back. And I can't wrap my head around that no matter how I try.

I have this friend whose husband died a few years ago. She writes about her loss on Facebook and she holds nothing back. I imagine it is too much for some of our friends to read. It's heartbreaking. But I read what she says and I feel grateful that she is honest. Her honesty lets me know that I am not losing my mind, or if I am, I am not alone.

Shortly after Kenzie died I wrote about my struggles with depression, particularly in my youth. What I didn't know at the time was that her suicide flipped a switch in me, from light to dark. I would find myself awake at night, my thoughts spiraling out of control, shaking my head "no', trying to rid my mind of images of her and fighting off sadness like I was fighting for my own life. I was never a drug user, but I must say that in those nights, I was reminded of stories I have heard about people being sober for years, but then they take one hit of something and it all comes back to them - the memory of the high and the crash. The body reacts. That's what I have felt happening to me. I had forgotten some of what I used to feel. But now. I know. It's clear. My body remembers that feeling of hopelessness and I have felt like a victim of my own memories. 

I so much want her to be home, you see. That will never change. I want her prom photos that will never be taken, the football homecoming corsage that will not be worn, the videos of her cheering that my sister will now not send. I dreamt of visiting her at university, the tears that would roll on her graduation from UCLA.  Worse still, I want those years after high school and college when I was sure we would have been closer as she grew into an adult and came to see all of us in a new light. She would have looked back and known that the time of darkness could be merely a season. We would have the shared knowledge that time brings to people like us who see it all but live anyway.

I'm at a turning point in my life. My kids are finally both in school - secure enough in themselves that I don't worry about them all day like I used to. I have a home that I like. (The view is so nice, please visit!) My husband doesn't have to travel nearly as much as he did in the beginning of his career, so I actually get to enjoy his company when we are not arguing over current affairs or education. And, for the first time in 10 years or more, I don't feel over scheduled and stressed every day. 

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