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Grieving Frankie

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Frankie’s Loving Parents

Grief is something that hits everyone differently. Sometimes, it takes you over immediately assaulting all your sensibilities. Other times, it is a slow burn that you feel incrementally stronger as time passes. But however it strikes, there is no going around – you must go through the fire.

Grief is something everyone handles differently. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Some people need to isolate themselves in solitude. Others reach out to their community. And some prefer to allow only their most intimate friends and family members be a part of the process. And some need to do it all, at different times, in different orders.

There is nothing orderly about grief. Some say there are “stages” to it. Others believe those stages exist, but don’t always occur in order. And others think it is all utter bollocks. When it comes to my personal grief over the loss of this child I lovingly carried for approximately twelve weeks, “chaos” is the word that comes to mind.

Chaos is defined as “complete disorder and confusion” which is a fitting definition for my context. To the Greeks, chaos refers to the void state preceding the creation of the universe. It translates to words like emptiness, chasm, and abyss. It is nothingness.

My favorite childhood book “A Wrinkle in Time” calls this place the “in between.” It is a place the characters go when traveling between worlds. The protagonist describes it as being cold or perhaps the sensation of being both flattened and expanded at the same time. What she is describing is the state of nothingness – the Void.

It’s difficult to describe the Void. If you can imagine being deprived of all your senses, that isn’t even a start. You not only loose all sight and hearing, but you loose any sensations of your skin. You no longer have skin. You don’t even have the memory of skin. No heartbeat. No breath. No memories. And no time.

Some may think this is the definition of hell, but they would be mistaken. There is no suffering in the Void. There is only nothingness – no up or down, no black or white, no good or evil. Nothing. The human mind cannot imagine it. We cannot come anywhere near imagining the Void.

As I reflect upon my manner of grieving Frankie, I recall having been forced to face my own mortality. Whoever inhabited this body before Frankie died also passed. Together, mother and child crossed over. When I woke up in the recovery room at the hospital, I was an intruder. As Frankie’s mother moved on with her into the afterlife, I was left to occupy the shell she left behind.

It has been a struggle picking up someone else’s life – being someone else’s daughter, someone else’s sister, and someone else’s wife. I was a poor player. Frankie’s mother was loving and kind, nurturing and loyal, fiercely independent, and incredibly brave. She cared little for what others thought of her and cared very deeply for her family, her husband, and the life growing inside of her. It was not for lack of love and life that she departed. Frankly, she had no choice in the matter.

If she had her way, she would still be here as would Frankie. Their family would remain in-tact and their home unbroken. By now, there would surely be at least one or two other siblings on the way. By now, they would have purchased a house and with love transformed four walls and a roof into a true home. Richard always said that she gave him that feeling of home. It didn’t matter if they lived in a hut on a hill or a house on the prairie, he told her that she was his “home.”

It’s a tricky thing dredging up her memories. I’ve written before that nobody seemed to notice when she died, but I think Richard was the first to realize his wife was gone. Sadly, it took years for him to come to that realization. When he did, it cut him more deeply than any knife or blade. Adding to the confusion is the fact that her ghost still lingers on the fringes of this mind, whispering her thoughts in moments of stillness. Unsummoned and unbidden, she occasionally tries to regain control over her former body – still attached not to it, but to the people she loved while alive.

I suppose in some ways she is still living, but not fully. She watches my every move, feels the things I feel, and hears every word I say. It must be some kind of torment to see your life overtaken by someone you’re just getting to know and to see them play it poorly. I am not the same doting wife she was. Nor am I the obedient daughter she strived to be. I lack her compassionate heart with a seemingly limitless end to patience. But I’ve been learning by listening to her whispers and think I am the better for it.

When Frankie left this corporeal plane of existence, the person I was died too.

I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

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