The grief feels different than it did last week, last month, six months ago. Different, but not easier. Like a virus adapting to its host, the loss has changed shape to retain its hold over me, one which can be maintained through the exhaustion. Where its symptoms had been incessant tears and shaking, it now comes in waves of fear, fatigue, numb. In the darkest days after Peyton died, I wondered about the day my eyes would stop flowing, wondered through the stinging and burning how many tears could be left before I ran dry. When I imagined the end of tears I didn't imagine it like this, stuck in a place where the rawness of that emotion, the deep connectedness to how I was feeling, would be replaced with an internal pain unable to be set free. I understood tears, felt the relief that came with each drop down my cheek, the emptying of some of the weight of this rolling off my chin. Now the tears come less frequently and I find myself in fits of panic, anger, exhaustion, numb, the overflow quelled and kept below a boil like water for chocolate. I feel so much below the surface, a constant reminder of all that is wrong, but lack the energy to set that pain free. The weight of this grief is like a poison to my system, it slows my movements, dulls my mind, makes even the most simple of tasks exhausting. I think I hate the numb the most.
I woke up this morning fixated on time. How much time seperates us now from Peyton, how much longer I will be so broken. The months have melted together, seemingly all one long reoccuring day, and I can't believe that nine months have passed since I held her dying in my arms, since that last struggled breath. In nine months last year I made her, brought her into this world, became a mother. Now nine more months have passed and I have accomplished nothing. This morning the response of numb and exhaustion came when I thought of her stone. As her parents, we want desperately to get this important memorial just right, to choose the perfect picture of our child to be engraved where she rests. When we first started this process in the beginning of spring, we were told it would take eight weeks to complete once they received our picture and wording. Each attempt at finding the right picture had knocked the wind out of us with the cruel re-realization of what this task is, and how much it hurts us to complete. Months have passed, many discussions on the subject of her picture have taken place, and we are no closer. It seems an impossible task, picking the right image, the one that will represent Peyton. Not Peyton swollen with chemo, not Peyton bruised from Leukemia, not Peyton fighting the infection that took her life... just my sweet little Peyton. I have scanned through the hundreds of shots of her, each bringing that swell of emotion to just below the surface, my mind screaming to let it out, my body unwilling. I hate the numb.