It's enough that I miss her every single moment of every single day, that I live with a hundred different versions of her face flashing through my mind, that a piece of me will always be standing over her in that room screaming.
I could do without the nightmares. And the drive to check everyone's breathing several times a night. The moments when I look down on one of my remaining children while they sleep and feel my heart drop to my knees because I can no longer tell the difference between what "asleep" looks like and what "dead" looks like. I could do without the sudden panic every time someone doesn't answer my call right away, or I hear one of my kids crying.
And while I'm at it, I'd love to have my brain back. The one that can remember things sharply other than the startling clarity I have around the day I found my daughter dead in her bed. The one that can process through a chain of cognitive somersaults without misfiring or losing all sense of focus. The one that can watch a single episode of a single show from beginning to end.
I'd like to see the world in color again, to give a shit, to connect with the who and what around me. I'd like to remember what meaning feels like, and fulfillment, and blessing. I'd like to blanket myself in the kind of audacious certainty I once had that allows you to function without crippling fear, even if it is naive.
You'd think the pain would be payment enough. That losing a child would be payment enough. But this loss asks everything of you and takes more still.
I know other bereaved parents will know exactly what I'm talking about. And unbereaved parents will thankfully, innocently, happily have no idea. Don't ever be sorry that you can't relate to me. Hug everything and everyone you love about your life close and hope against hope you aren't asked to surrender it all.