Saturday, June 30, 2018

The funny thing about grief....

The funny thing about grief is it’s not so funny.

Nineteen years ago today, on a cold winters day, in the freezing air of an operating room, I became a mother.

The doctor held up a screaming red baby, my baby, and told me with a smile we had a daughter. The little girl I’d always dreamed of.

We named her Savannah Beverley, and in that moment, I knew I was the luckiest mum alive.

Fast forward to today--today is Savannah’s 19th birthday. But she’s not here.

I haven’t seen her sweet smile or almost violet blue eyes since she was four and a half. 

Today, like every birthday, it seems grief is my nemesis.

Every year I watch the date creep up on the calendar. When I book in appointments or see advertisements on tv. Its one of the only days of the year I know my nemesis awaits. But every year I am optimistic. “Maybe I’ll be okay this year,” “Maybe the tears won’t arrive.”

Its confusing and exhausting to have to wonder and worry how I’ll feel on her day as I don’t like being sad.

Who likes crying?

Who wants to feel sad?


But this morning, I woke to rain on our tin roof. I turned on my phone to see Peter had text me a photo of the sunrise in Darwin where he is. No words, just the beautiful image of a dawning day. Our daughter’s day.

I started sobbing and couldn’t stop.

Why does grief invade like a parasite on these days like none others?

The solid ground I usually have turned into quicksand today. I cried like I didn’t last year, or the year before. And I let it sit with me to try and analyse why? Why couldn’t I put my sadness aside? Why couldn’t I stop? But I just couldn’t.

This isn’t my first rodeo with grief. Every year I think I know what to expect, but every year it surprises me. And I have no control over it, which is one of the worst bits.

How do you control a feeling that mirrors the love you had for someone?

How do you control the wishing that Savannah was tucked in her bed, waiting for Dempsey and I to bring her presents in?

Well you don’t. You just let it work you over like a punching bag, in hope the feelings may lessen. And today, as the day went on they did.

Lessened because of beautiful friends who remembered my baby girl, with texts and messages. Lessened by Dempsey’s hug. Lessened by love I’m lucky to have from my people. It’s a simple and as complicated as that I believe.

Mid morning the dog barked to a knock at the door. My beautiful friend Carol sent 19 delicate, baby pink roses for Savannah. But when I thanked her she said she didn’t plan the 19 roses—coincidence?

And that’s where the little things that aren’t little things started to open me up to see the beauty inside the grief. That maybe today my baby girl is still around. Reminding me to smile and to be grateful for all I have. There is a force in friendship. A healing hand, an invisible hug.

At lunchtime, Dempsey chose where we’d eat out. As we strolled in the door, a smiling waitress touched my arm and led us over to – Table 19. Coincidence?

Dempsey was a bit weirded out by this. She found it strange that we were seated at a table with her sister’s birthday number on it. But I didn’t!  It brought me comfort and made me wonder….

When we got home I felt a little better – no tears. Was it the sugar hit from the coca cola or does the day get better as it goes on?

I still couldn’t anaylise it. But I did notice the rain had stopped. And a rainbow was staring at me across our lake. Again, I had to wonder--was this another sign from Savannah?

As I stared at the rainbow, I scrolled through the emails on my phone, and there, staring at me was an email from Savannah’s little BFF Amber, when she was three years old—who doesn’t know today is Savvy’s birthday.

In Amber’s words; “ Hi Dee, this is Amber! I just got my tattoo and it came out amazing, I am so happy I was finally able to get it for Savannah. I just wanted to show you how it came out! I hope all is well. Love Amber."

And the funny thing about grief is, it can be funny, weird, unusual, and surprising, but as much as it’s my enemy, it’s also my teacher. Teaching me I’ve survived another birthday missing my little girl with curls. That Dempsey helps heal my heart and that friends and my people hold my hand on days like today with their messages of love and encouragement that Savannah was here, that she was loved and that they will always remember.

Without the grief you wouldn’t see the gratitude--and like a bruise, my consuming hurt today will disappear—until next time--until next time.

Happy birthday Bubby! I miss you. x