Grief (n) deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.
--Merriam Webster Dictionary
Grieving is exhausting work. Most of my casual acquaintances would be shocked to think that I'm still in the whirlwind of grief. It's been two years since the accident.
My life is completely defined by grief. Mine. The girls. The boys. My family. Sometimes I feel like it's similar to being in really rough surf at the beach. I work hard treading water to keep my head above the choppy, swirling ocean. When needed, I hold my breath and dive under the waves, quickly popping my head up waiting for the next set of waves to crash my way. But sometimes, I let go and let the waves crash on top of me and envelope my body and carry me towards the shore.
Last night was one of those times. But it wasn't about Jeanne. Yes, I miss my sister terribly and think about her every day. I'm still not ready to directly deal with that grief yet. I don't have time and it hurts too much. I have too many people depending on me to indulge. I think if I really accepted it, I'd stay in my bed under the covers and not be able to get up. I like to think about that grief as a little jar that I keep on a back shelf, a little out of reach, but always within my sight.
Many different triggers this week steadily increased my feelings of being overwhelmed, culminating with me sobbing in my bathroom and bed last night. It all comes down to one simple fact...
... I miss my family. I miss my life with my three little boys and funny, energetic husband. I miss the mom, wife and friend I used to be. I'm grieving the future I was hoping for my children. I'm grieving the life I want for them in the present. I have come to accept that my level of work and responsibility with the girls, but what I still struggle with is seeing my children suffer.
D has had a really bad week (bad sleeping, eating and anger). As an adult, I have a hard time keeping my feelings about the changes in check. His little, 9 year old body just has had enough. He wants his own room back. He wants more time with me. He wants to be able to be a silly boy without getting eye rolls and comments from at 15 year old girl. He is already complaining about swimming this summer because the girls' swim team may disrupt our family vacation traditions. He doesn't understand why everyone gives E and M special treatment. As his mommy, it is hard to see him so upset.
L has also had a tough week. His talk about death and his "family dying" has been on an upward swing since we had the little girls with us. He has had to be physically attached to me at all times. My patience has not been perfect and his constant "under foot" status and made me snap at him way too much. This is not what I want for my little boy. Even without the girls living with us, I'm sure he'd be confused about death with his aunt and uncle dying, but the girls living with us makes it present in our family life on a daily basis.
The girls have been difficult this week. Their demands for attention are exhausting. The boys get lost in their needs. A hides in his room drawing and reading. D hangs out in the basement shooting hoops. L clings to me until I snap at him to give me a break and then hides on the couch playing Angry Birds on my Nook.
Anytime one or both of the girls are out of the house, the level of tension in our house drops noticeably. Sometimes the four of us try hiding in my room with the door closed to physically separate ourselves from the girls. We all just need a break. We toss the nerf football (our room is huge), watch shows the girls wouldn't like or just curl up in my bad telling fart jokes and letting them be silly little boys. Sometimes it's only for 15 minutes and that is enough. Lately, I crave these moments. Tears are pooling in my eyes as I type this.
This makes me feel incredibly guilty. It is not the girls' fault that this happened. I know in my heart we are doing the right thing as a family by taking them in. Sometimes its hard to ignore, though, how their presence in our family has been disruptive, difficult and at times painful.
So last night I cried for what we've lost. I know I should be thankful for what I have (we have), but the physical and emotional toll of 2+ years of grieving has worn my resolve. Sometimes its just all too much to bear without screaming. Sometimes it's easier to let the waves carry me along for a bit and wallow.