Pieces and More Pieces
There’s a part of me that’s fundamentally broken. I haven’t been operating on all cylinders for at least a year, probably much longer. During the last few months of Ana’s life, I focused on keeping her comfortable and content (as much as I could). But it was an impossible task. She was so sad. She felt trapped. Her body had completely betrayed her. Jim and I were desperate to help her. We had tunnel vision. Everything else faded away as the realization of what was happening sunk in. She was dying. Our time was running out.
And now? I’m still broken. Jim’s broken. Emily’s broken. Now what? Now what? Now what?
I realize that I was kind of broken even before Ana got sick–prone to anxiety and impatience, fits of explosive temper, followed by deep remorse. It’s easy to hide these things about myself when I write, but they’re there, as much a part of me as my brown eyes and size 7 feet.
Ana and I didn’t have the perfect relationship. Neither do Emily and I. But with Emily, I can continue to work on these issues, talk with her about them, and strive to be a better parent. I’ll never have the chance to be a better mother to Ana. We worked through some things in the last year. In the last week of her life she said, “You’re a good mom. Thank you.” But there was so much work left to be done. I feel overwhelming remorse for the relationship we’ll never get to have. One day, she would’ve been my best friend.
I’m not writing this to get reassurances about how I’m an amazing parent. Really, I’m not.
Okay, maybe I am a little bit.
The thing is, I know I’ve had my amazing-mom moments. But those aren’t the moments I’m dwelling on. Those aren’t the moments that kept me awake tossing and turning last night, feeling the same anxiety I felt the night that Ana died–the relentless, dark despair that comes from chances lost forever. The depth of my regret isn’t something I fully anticipated. I think part of how I managed to stay (somewhat) sane and positive for Ana was by not dwelling too much on the “after.” It was a kind of denial. I couldn’t imagine life without Ana, so it never seemed like it would really happen. That her disease would eventually kill her never seemed real when she was just one room away.
But now it’s so very real and I am not exaggerating at all when I say I would happily sacrifice a limb or two just to have one last conversation with Ana. I know that sounds desperate. The truth is that sometimes I am desperate–desperate for a little more of her. It’s why I couldn’t bear to throw out a tin of lip balm that I found in her purse yesterday. It has the indentation of her fingers in it.
It’s why I love to see her friends’ photos of her–moments captured that I’ve never seen before except for a rare glimpse on social media. Thank you, Marissa, for sharing these with me. These glimpses (pieces…) of Ana being happy with you and Evi mean everything to me.