The other day I was thinking about Ella, and the song Tears in Heaven came to mind. I remembered that is was about Eric Claptons son, but I couldn’t remember exactly what had happened and where the song came from. My curiosity led me to his wiki page, and I read the tragic story of a sweet little boy gone too soon. At the end of my reading I came across a quote from Clapton–and his explanation for not playing that song anymore. He said too much time had past and he didn’t feel he could convey the song in the same spirit in which he wrote it. He was devastated back then, and he wasn’t so much now. Loss of a child thirty years later…He also said he didn’t want to go back to that place.
I’ve thought about this a lot recently. The two songs I’ve written about Ella are now played far and few between. They bring me back to a very dark and sad place, a place that I don’t really have the luxury of living in now that I have another child to care for. The other night I got a request to play climbing clouds, and I actually turned it down, I said it was too sad and I didn’t want to go there. Its very strange to me that we can choose to “go there” when it comes to grief. The mind can lock things away and put walls up around certain memories and thoughts that are too painful to feel constantly. My grief for Ella is always there, but I do not always choose to dwell on it.
Recently I had a heart-to-heart with a very close family member, during which she told me that she was confused by my appearance of being ok, and this blog where I continually confess I am not. She didn’t understand how I could feel both. How I can function and smile, and be in so much pain underneath the surface. I am a complete paradox. If you have not experienced a life-shattering death…I can understand your confusion. To put things bluntly, sometimes I don’t want to think of my daughter and be sad. Sometimes I don’t want to think about what happened at all….but I do think about it all the time. I am resentful of my grief at times, while at the same time thankful for the opportunity to love. What I am struggling with is the definitions. I don’t want my daughter to always make me cry. I don’t want her name to illicit tears of sorrow and remorse. I don’t want to think about her helpless precious body….
I wish I had funny stories about her. I wish I could say “remember how she always used to do this…” I wish that there were other ways of feeling close to her. That is what I am struggling with currently. How do I love her and honor her and think about her and smile? I want to. There was a time that I would’ve slapped myself silly for thinking such a thing…but I am realizing that I don’t want Ellas life to just be something sad that happened in my past. How do I carry her on with me in life? Not only death…
Even when I smile, even when I laugh, even when I see pink tutus and hear a little girls voice speak momma–there is a current of unfulfilled desire. Sometimes I can handle it, other times I can’t. But she is always here with me in my heart. This is new territory for me…and it’s scary. It’s acceptance in a lot of ways. It’s faith. Faith that this is not the end of the story. I haven’t been ready for that faith or perspective until now. I am desperate for it. I will never understand why she is not here, but I am thankful that she wasn’t taken from me in a brutal way. Ellas gift to me has always been compassion…I know there are FAR worse ways to lose a child.
My words aren’t exactly coherent or graceful now, but I feel the need to begin to unpack some of these realizations, and fears. Not a lot of time has passed, not even two years since her death. But so much has changed. Our family has changed. Seasons have changed, and I have changed. Ever since her death I’ve not only mourned for her, but for myself. I mourn for the person I used to be. The woman who didn’t lay in bed every night playing out every scenario you can fathom of all the horrible things that could happen. I miss the old me so much. I miss my carefree spirit. I miss how oblivious I was. I miss not worrying. I miss being able to live in the moment. Mentally I haven’t occupied a single moment in the present…I’m bound to look behind and wonder why, and bound to look ahead in fear. I can’t go on like this, missing out on the joys of the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. I see this about me, but I don’t know how to change. I just know that I need to. Because time is flying….and I don’t want to look back and realize that I spent my whole life living in my past, and worrying about my future.
So I’m navigating. Learning to be grateful. Learning that love is always constant, but does not always surface in the same ways. I am realizing how very human I am, and how my need for a great big God is the all encompassing desire of my heart.
I am missing you always Ella, and I am learning to celebrate your life in joy and seasons. I still miss you terribly. You are the tear and sigh behind every smile, but I want you to be the smile behind every tear and sigh…You are both my sweet darling daughter. I love you, and I am learning that I don’t need to prove that anymore…