I don’t think I have written in a few days now. I haven’t put any holes in the wall since then so no matter what, that’s good news to report. I can see where it can get hard for someone to write about their experience of losing a child every single day. Unless I were to walk you through every little thing that I do, there wouldn’t be much difference in the things that I write. There’s no rule anywhere written that says things are supposed to change into something different. Sometimes you just wonder if it ever will.
It was only six weeks ago or around there that we lost Ava. It has felt like six years and on top of that it has also felt like it just happened yesterday. My mind is trapped in this completely surreal dream that doesn’t feel quite like a nightmare but it also doesn’t feel real. I have my moments where I can be very sad or upset about something. Much of the time it feels like I am progressing through life because life forces this to happen. I am going through the motions getting things done but there is this clear numbness in my mind. It’s like Ava is gone but she really isn’t. It’s like this thing happened, but it doesn’t quite seem like it happened to me. If I just stumble into a random thought where I think about the fact that my daughter died recently, it feels like I am not talking about myself.
I remember there was a passage in the book that I finished last week (Grieving Dads) where someone mentioned the same thing I am talking about right now. It really does feel like I am just living another life. It’s like reality has shifted ever so slightly so that I recognize everyone and everything but all events about Ava are just not real. It’s only when I stop and put myself in a place where I think about her and the insane amount of emotions that have flowed out of me do I ever really get it. It’s exhausting to feel numb to the world. I thought that Leah struggled with this more than I did, but I am starting to feel the same things she is but in my own way.
When it came to acceptance or understanding Ava could not come back, I believed that I had a full grasp on this concept. There has never been a piece of me no matter how desperate I felt that ever said she was going to come back. Where my rationality is flawed is that by just accepting that she isn’t coming back, I am not immune to this numbness I have been feeling. I know she isn’t coming back. But now I feel as though I am somewhat only existing in life. I am not really here. I am just doing what it seems like I should be doing. It’s this dream I am stuck in that I haven’t woken up from yet.
The further insanity that gets blended into this is that I don’t always feel like this. Leah was saying how much her emotions have just jumped all over the place at a much faster rate over the last few days. My emotions have done the same but maybe just not as clearly as hers. I don’t nearly cry as I did before. Much of my emotional response comes in the form of my talkativeness, my motivation, the occasional desire to cry… I tend to turn inward. I can wonder if this is a “bad” way to process emotions but in this case I know it is my typical response. Leah is always there for me to talk to about everything that happens and that’s all I could ever ask for.
I spent about four hours working outside yesterday. Leah wanted to work on a project for Ava and I had been neglecting my man duties for a while. The shrubs were a mess and for the first time in a while I needed to mow the lawn. Our neighbor was generous enough to mow our lawn twice after Leah and I got home from the hospital. They did this without being asked, just to be helpful. That’s the kind of neighbors we have. I dug into all the work outside and was happy to finally have the outside of the house looking a little better. I mowed for a while and after I finished I felt relieved that much work had been done. With that sense of relief comes my questioning of how much the things I do on a daily basis really matter. Does it matter whether or not the yard looks nice? Does it matter if the house is clean? What in the grand scheme of things really does matter anymore?
You almost catch yourself like you have done something wrong. Should you really even be concerned with the daily grind of life? Should I even want a newer car? The answer to all of those things really is the affirmative, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I know I have to take care of our home. That means keeping it in good order inside and out. There would be no purpose in making our home a place to honor our daughter if we didn’t take care of it. I certainly wouldn’t want Ava to see it in disrepair with both of us just laying on the couch doing nothing with our lives. These things are important, they just don’t seem that way because they don’t necessarily directly relate to Ava. That’s equally true with my car. It’s 15 years old, it has a ton of miles, it burns oil and it isn’t in great shape. I do need a new one, it’s just whether that really matters. It’s the all important question popping into my mind every day since all this happened. How much crap really does matter anymore? What’s worth my time?
There is one over-arching them to everything I do these days. That theme involves me doing everything I can to be the father I am supposed to be, the man I want to be and the husband I know Leah deserves. Those motives were never ranked the way they are now. I am sad to admit those priorities did not shift until after Ava entered and left this world. It was one gift she gave me, I just hate the fact that I learned things from her by experiencing her birth and her death, way way way way way too close together. Nonetheless, it does not take away from the fact that my priorities in life are much more clear now. I guess all the other stuff that seems like it doesn’t matter is just an added bonus. If these three things are not in order, my life is not okay. This encompasses my own personal health as well. I need to take care of myself and my sobriety too.
Leah is always looking out for me and she has certainly noticed how much I have let meetings slip. I used to attend a minimum of 4 meetings per week for as long as I could remember. Unless I was on vacation, for well over 2 1/2 years I have averaged 4 per week. Now that Ava passed away, I have barely went to any. It isn’t that my sobriety isn’t important. I just quite honestly haven’t cared about meetings. This can only last so long though. I have no desire to live the life I used to and I don’t believe I will just fall off the wagon for no explainable reason right now. Too much is at stake. I do have to be cognizant of my history. I make really bad life choices when I go down the road of drinking again. I know it wouldn’t be anything bad the first time or maybe the second time or the third time, but eventually I would be right back in the deep hole again, only I would be letting Ava down in one of the worst ways possible. So, Leah’s reminder is an important one.
Much of what I have experienced so far from the second we rushed to the hospital in that ambulance has been completely unexpected and in many ways unpleasant. That’s putting it lightly into as few words as possible. I can only hope that whatever the surreal nature of my life is right now, is transitions into something more tolerable. Truth be told, I only want it to be tolerable if it means Ava remains as much a part of my life as she is right now. I miss her to the point of unyielding pain and there is no possible way I can describe the true love I feel for her. I wish she could be here but I know she can’t be. I can only continue to hope that I will see her again someday.