Today is the first anniversary of my daughter’s death and we’re still in the fog of grief.
Today is the first anniversary of our daughter’s death. It feels like we have been preparing for this since her birthday just before Christmas, reliving every single day. The last Christmas, the last new year, the last time we saw her, the last time each of us spoke to her, the last text message to arrange to meet up a couple of days later…
The day before me and only son rang her to celebrate us finding a cheap tv screen at a charity shop which only son, “Mr Tech”, said he could link his Nintendo to so he could play on a big screen. I said we could put it in his room and watch films together if the teens were on Netflix. “It’s just like Cine Nish,” I told my daughter. When she was younger we bought an old VHS video player thing from another charity shop, set it up in her room and gave people tickets to watch films there. Only son, who was just a toddler at the time, would go in and plonk himself of the cushions with daughter one and they would cuddle up and watch old films together.
Daughter one was mighty impressed by his new screen and took the opportunity to consult only son about his tech knowledge. Her computer had finally packed in and she needed a replacement. Only son was only too happy to oblige. Now he says he is worried about forgetting daughter one. I’ve told him that we all feel the same – that we might forget the small things – her laugh, her dancing around the kitchen, her witty remarks, how it felt when she put her head on my shoulder, how she looked at only son…But I told him there is no need to worry. At the moment we are in the fog of early grief, completely disoriented and still just trying to get through the days, waking up every morning and having to relive the whole thing again and again and again, but still not quite believing it is real. These memories are deep-baked and they may even become sharper and more focused in time, sharper maybe than the things that happen in everyday reality; they may suddenly emerge when we see a gesture or hear a voice or a phrase or listen to a song and it brings everything back.
At the moment the memories that come back the most jarringly are the ones around the immediate aftermath of her death. I wake up with a jolt, for instance, because I hear the sound of the police knocking on the door at 2am. I went for a walk the other night, around the time the police came, and as I approached the house the light was on in the bathroom. I looked at the window, the same window daughter two and I looked out of to see the police standing there, and a sense of terror ran through me. So much of the time we are on automatic pilot, working and homeschooling and getting through the days, and then you suddenly get a glimpse of the horror of it all and it just overwhelms you.
People ask if I am sleeping. I have nights when I can’t, but mostly I am so very tired that I can hardly keep awake. I wake up tired. On the one hand I am glad to have a lot of work to do to numb my mind. On the other, I feel guilty that I am not devoting the time I should to my daughter. I am writing to her and about her, but the progress is slow. I don’t think I can go faster, though, and I don’t see the need to. All of this takes time – a lifetime in fact, if we are lucky enough to get a long one.
When she was little daughter one was worried that I would die and leave her. She asked what would happen when I died and how would she know my number to contact me. I said no-one knows what happens so what would she like to happen. That comforted her and she imagined a cottage in a field where we would find each other and live for ever. I am imagining that cottage every day.