Filling a Bottomless Cup
Nothing will ever be enough again.
There is a hole inside of me where everything drains out. Time. Energy. Memories. Joy. The hole bears a name—Evelyn. It was made the day she died. I've only really become aware of it in recent years, the farther we get from that terrible day.
I think at first I thought it would close naturally with time. But now, five years later, I have doubts. I am beginning to think this is permanent, this state of perpetual filling and emptying, this never-ending cycle.
We hear a lot about people running from things they don't want to face and trying to fill the hole inside them with drugs or shoes or cupcakes. But this hole isn't like those. I've filled it with many things—good and bad—to the same end. It's not something I'm avoiding or ignoring or trying to patch over with bad habits, too much of one substance or another, though I've certainly done a little of that and don't fault anyone for it, not in this brutal experience of living without your beloved child. But I'm very aware of this hole. I stare down it all the time. I call out and listen to the echo, toss the occasional rock and wait for the sound of it landing. That sound never comes.
I don't try to fill the hole, as much as I tire of it emptying. I tire of the feeling of hollowing out, becoming vacant. I tire of the constant trickle, the dribble of what is becoming what was becoming nothing at all. Sometimes, I want to hold things a little longer. Laugh a little longer. Work a little longer. Think a little longer. Feel a little longer. Where do all the things go when they fall out of me? Are they with her?
In the Before, the hole was not there. I was a cup overflowing, bathing in the goodness of my life. My life is full of goodness now too. I want to soak it in, bob along the surface of that blessing and feel it buoying me. But I don't float anymore. I don't fill. I don't know what to do about that.
Now, as my tank nears empty, I must rush to refill it in order to keep going. If I tire, I must eat more fruit and take more vitamins, cultivate more healthy routines like yoga and drinking mushroom tea. If I stop smiling, I must connect with friends, watch comedy, coo at babies, pet my dogs. If I stop creating, I must read another book, find more inspiration, draw that blood from that stone one more time. It's like being a toy you have to wind up over and over and over again. I just want to plug into one of those Tesla charging stations and tell the world to piss off.
I am no longer a cup overflowing. Nothing lasts. I am bottomless now. Grateful, sure, for the things that qualify. But even that runs out and must be replenished. I don't think there's a cure. And that's okay, I guess. I can live with it. I have been. But it's not how I imagined moving through the rest of my life. Because how could I ever have imagined losing her?
Nothing prepares you for your child's death. Nothing. Or for the life you must live in the After. Of all the suffering I have endured since that day, this is truly the least of it. That I can feel happy again is a greater victory than the loss that inevitably follows. I remember the days when time, energy, memories, and joy weren't even possible yet, when work and laughter and creating were some misty-eyed dream I thought I'd never taste again. I count my blessings as they come and watch them as they fade. I revel in the good and even the just-okay, drink it deep, and sigh as it disappears down the way that she did. And I take consolation in knowing there is always more where they came from.
But there was only one of Evelyn.