I told myself I wouldn’t get hung up on dates, except for the ones that meant something when Ana was alive — her birthday, the holidays she loved, her first Rock Academy show…but it’s hard not to wake up on the one month anniversary of the day she died and not remember that last day, those last hours. I feel heartsick all over again. I barely slept. I have an odd virus which is making me slightly feverish and causing malaise and a sore throat, but it’s like there’s something stuck in my throat. When I lie down, I feel like it’s hard to catch my breath (it’s not strep – I got a test yesterday).
I spent the night tossing and turning so much that my Fitbit didn’t even register it as sleeping. My chest hurt. I couldn’t breath well and I kept having to sit up and cough. And this made me remember that Ana went through much worse than this for weeks before she died. Pressure, pain, gasping for breath, fear, that awful cough the last few days of her life — these were her realities when she was awake. It’s why we increased her pain meds so much, a desperate attempt to bring her relief. I woke up last night, hour after hour, feeling ill, worried about the pressure in my chest, and hating myself for being so weak. It’s just a damn cold. Ana was so strong to have endured what she did with very little complaint. She was scared. She was heartsick. She was lonely, but she rarely complained about any of this.
It’s all still so raw.
I’m extremely grateful for the many ways people continue to reach out – cards, gifts, emails, texts, Facebook messages that consist of nothing but hearts or words of love – all of this is so needed and so appreciated, particularly since I’ve become a bit of a recluse in the last few months. I often feel alone, bereft. Thank you for these reminders that you are still out there thinking of Ana, hoping, and praying for all of us.
I received two gifts last week from friends who I’ve never met, but have been following Ana’s journey for a long time. They were both necklaces — one a wire-wrapped beaded tree filled with stones (malachite, amethyst, emerald & diamond chips, among others). Emerald and Diamond are the girls’ birth stones. One of Ana’s favorite stones was malachite. The other necklace is a simple silver chain with two charms on it – A and E. Both are perfect.
I continue to look for signs of Ana. They always seem to come when I’m overwhelmed with worry as opposed to grief (Ana was a worrier too). The card that came with the initial necklace had a hummingbird on it. This is my favorite bird and also had some meaning for Ana. She wanted to get a hummingbird tattoo, but we never got around to doing it. It’s illegal for kids under 16 to get a tattoo in New York State. I considered bringing her to New Jersey for the tattoo, but her white counts were always so low, I was afraid it would get infected. So, I put it off and she stopped asking about it. We’re having a custom urn designed by a local potter and we used the hummingbird tattoo that she wanted as part of the urn design (it’s a tattoo design I’d found online and she really liked). That’s the extent of it – a hummingbird would’ve been on her skin forever and now it’s going to be on her urn forever. So, when I opened yesterday’s mail (feeling worried and sick and lonely), I practically gasped when I saw this card from my friend Marsha:
I never told Marsha about the hummingbirds. She didn’t know about Ana’s urn or the tattoo, but Marsha’s son Will died from cancer at age 18. Will is one of the kids I imagined was there to greet Ana on that sunny beach in the place where her spirit is free. The card felt like a nod from Ana, a small hello. My worry disappeared (at least, temporarily). I was able to take a nap for a while and get some much needed rest.