From the time Maggie died, I heard quite often that the second year of grief is much worse than the first. I heard that the full reality of my daughter’s death would suddenly hit me and I would be in a worse place then I was in that first year. This was really hard for me to hear because I was suffering so deeply and so intensely. I did not want to imagine things going from this to even worse.
I am now 19 months into my grief journey. My suffering is not worse. The void that exists without Maggie here to fill is ever looming over me. See, the loss of her body did not hit me differently in the second year because I realized and embraced the full acceptance of it as her body died in my arms all those months ago. The full agony of watching her pass from my arms into that other world has always been a reality for me. I have never been in denial despite what the “stages of grief” claim. I knew from that moment on that on a very deep and intimate level I would never be the same again. This has held true all of these months.
There are some things that are more difficult in this second year. See, as I held Maggie’s dying body I felt every stab to the heart that came my way. And yet, I knew that my pain was birthing her into a new and beautiful world. A world where she would always and forever be protected from suffering. A world where her mission would continue in its purest form. A world where she could be exactly who she was always destined to be. Magdalene Thérèse Ramirez, a saint. I followed her as far as I could to that world but I was not allowed to yet cross over. For the first year, I wandered in a place that I find hard to describe. Unless you have been there you may not understand this. Every time I closed my eyes I was there. It was quiet. Filled with unimaginable silence. There was nothing but trees there and as I wandered through the leaves on the trees filtered the gentle light of the sun onto my face. There were no birds. No forest animals. The only sound was the leaves as they crunched under my feet. I did not feel pain in this place. Only a sense of longing. A sense that this was a place I could go to rest and be rejuvenated. This was the place between heaven and earth and I was on the edge of both. One foot here. One foot there. I was so very close to her and yet so far away. In the second year, I have had to come back from that “edge”. I miss it so deeply. I dislike worrying about bills, getting an oil change, new tires, cleaning the house, moving, grocery shopping, and all of the other small, mundane tasks that we each must perform. I want to be close to Heaven and earth again. This, for me, is what makes the second year so very difficult. I have to come back. I have to live my life performing all of these tasks that in the greater scheme of things just don’t seem to matter. Obviously, they do. We have to live. We have to provide for our children. Oh, but I feel that I waste so many hours when those hours could be our very last!
For now, I try to remember what it was like to hover on the edge of earth and Heaven. I remember what it feels like to be so close to God that I reached out and tangibly felt Him. I know what it feels like when the Holy Spirit overcomes. I felt what it was like for David to dance before the Ark of the Covenant. And I remember these things as I kneel before the Eucharist with all of the saints and angels. I cling to these memories and to the hope of a promised future that I will again feel this tangible presence when my time on this earth has ended. Then, I will no longer be on the edge. I will be in full communion with my beautiful girl and the One I love so deeply.
Until then, Maggie. Mommy loves you. I am so proud of you. And I am so glad you are my daughter.
Maggie, pray for us.