A year and four months following my daughter’s accident and passing, my mind is still easily consumed by the most traumatic memories of that evening. The smells, physical sensations, the taste of my tears, even the sounds are all gone but for a few: The sound of the EMT, “Get her out of here!” The doctor’s voice, “There’s no easy way to say it she’s dead.” My son’s cry, “No! No.. No…no…no. Even when I try, I don’t get it all back. But the images. The images are bright and clear and vivid and silent across the dome of my mind. I am standing right there under the dome. I see everything over and over and over and over again bigger than anything I’ve ever seen but the night sky. It is no wonder I am exhausted still. The physical, conscious effort it takes to push my mind in any other direction seems to me a superhuman one. It might be easier to bend steel or stop trains. If only there really were a Superman to reverse the spin of the planet until my Dannica was alive again where I could hold her tight and, this time, keep her safe.
November 14th 2013, one year. We lit candles. Many, many candles. I don’t seem to be able to recall more. Remember, I’ve only just dragged my mind and spirit up from the sea floor. It’s rusty now and full of silt and reluctant to try. The part of me that once obsessed with documenting everything doesn’t care about that now. So I’m losing details at four months out and I’m sorry about that. Ask me anything you want about sixteen months ago, though, and I can give you everything.
November 20th 2013, we had our dear German Shepherd, Teva, put down. It was horrible. It wasn’t a peaceful passing and it was devastating. I could see it in her eyes as her sweet spirit left her body, “Why do you want me to go away? I would NEVER leave you!” … she didn’t understand. How could she? The next day was my birthday. The year before, that day was the day of Dannica’s memorial service and the day after that, Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving a year later I cooked. I like to cook once in a while. It was always Dannica’s gift to set the table. She starched and artfully twisted cloth napkins into fans or candles or bishop’s hats and added flowers or glittering leaves and made the table so beautiful. I tried. My napkins wouldn’t cooperate. This year they were frustrated rectangles. I bought fresh flowers but couldn’t make myself glitter anything. Dannica’s place was set with the flowers, candles, her photo… it was okay until it was time to eat. It was quiet. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t eat. I tried not to, really hard I tried not to but then just cried. Of course, I’m so grateful for my husband and for my son. Of course I am.
For a minute I wanted to do Christmas the way Dannica would have done Christmas. I wanted to deck every hall and light up the place, every space. For her. But my heart and mind were giving each other the silent treatment and trying to get me to take sides. My heart won… my heart wasn’t in it and we did the best we could to find a little joy and I think we did. A little. It will never be the same; any of it, ever. How could it be?
Happy New Year. Yes, happy new year. I was happy to see the last one go, anyway.