I have never liked to think of myself as an anxious person - perhaps a bit of snobbery, as I've always suspected overtly anxious types. As a dear friend's mother once said, "Those who can't cope don't have to."
However, I will confess to a tendency to fret. I have let this habit steal hours of sleep and days that could have been passably placid. Since marrying Clay, I have allowed myself a small comfort to this bad habit. I will sidle up to him, worm my way into his arms, then say in a voice that I hope is light enough to just skirt pitifulness, "Is everything going to be okay?"
He always hugs me tight and says, "Oh, sure," or even better, "No, not everything, because Max still needs some new shorts," or some such triviality. I love that one, because it suggests all problems are totally fixable.
When Eva died, I stopped asking. The only thing I could see was that this thing, this immovable fact that insisted upon being true, it was not ever going to be okay.
It isn't okay. It won't ever be.
For months now I have felt like I was a mile underwater, with this grief pressing down on me from every side, with its distorting waves between me and everyone else. I could not breathe, I could not move, I could not even see the light.
Until, somehow in the last few weeks, my vision has somehow shifted. I blink, and look around me, and see these people, this abundance of love with skin on it, on every side of me. They drive me insane some days, but here they are, and they love me and - my breath catches on this - I love them too, more than life. The sun shines again, and things are growing in the yard and now we have eight chickens.
That grief, it still sometimes overwhelms me. Saturday we were at church for a spaghetti dinner. I took the second trip from the table to take Sophia to the bathroom. On our way we passed a baby, a bald, luminous, big-eyed baby girl sitting on the floor between her parents. Sophia dropped to her knees and reached out for the baby, who gurgled and reached back. The mom moved to intercept, but Sophia waved her off and said, quite emphatically, "We were supposed to have a baby, too!" I guess she thinks it gives her leave, somehow, with all babies. I scooped her up and carried her off, but I wanted to drop to the floor next to her and weep. We were. We were supposed to.
Moments like that, in the middle of a perfectly fine evening, still clamp down on my chest. It takes a labor-like effort to turn away again, to fix my sight on what I still have.
I won't ever again be able to ask that it all be okay. It won't ever all be okay. But there is enough, and it's good to breathe again.