You'd think that with all of my writing, I would have worked through the more difficult moments. You'd think I would have written everything I need to write and sorted through what I need to sort by now, but that's not true. It's not even close to true. There are moments I can't bring myself to think about for more than a few seconds. There are moments that hurt so badly that I have to keep them in an armored box, far away from my conscious mind, or they will break me.
Writing and talking about her has certainly helped keep that armored box free of clutter. I've been able to move many memories out into the open that way. Some memories that used to stab merely prickle now, but there is still quite a bit of darkness in that box. There are still several memories that hulk inside there, powerful and frightening and covered in pain. Memories I keep trying to bring out into the light, but just can't. They are too heavy, too sharp, too painful. The moment my hand clasps around them, their spikes shoot through me, tearing me to ribbons.
I know people want me to be finished with grieving, and that they don't want to know about the armored box. They want to think the worst is behind me, and that there is only growth and light in my future. But the truth is, the box exists. It exists deep within me and it contains pain I am not brave enough to feel or strong enough to sort through. How it felt to sit in a hospital for hours, knowing she was gone, yet was still inside me. How it felt wondering what it was going to be like to give birth to my dead daughter. How it felt to walk into the delivery room swollen with death. How it felt to wake up empty. How it felt to hold her in my arms that night, so still and pale and silent. How the sound of my own anguish still echoes in my ears and reverberates within my soul. What it was like to roll over in my bed, knowing I had just seen her for the last time. How it felt to reach over the railing of my bed for my husband's hand in the middle of the night, knowing I would find him desperately searching for me too. How it felt to go from two to three over the course of 8 months and then back to two in less than 8 seconds. How the world seemed to fall away from us in a gray and foggy swirl, and how the two of us just continued to spin as we clung to each other in sorrow and fear. How I don't know the color of her eyes because I never saw them open. How I only know what her feet look like in photographs, but how, every day, I still see her face, her beautiful face, white and slack-jawed. How I will only ever know her face as a face of death, and how that breaks my heart more than anyone can ever imagine. What can you do with memories like these? You certainly can't live with them on a daily basis. It's just too much. It's why we all have a box.
The box stores them for me. It keeps these memories from pulling me into the darkness. It protects my heart from the onslaught of pain these memories hold. It's simply impossible to feel all of this all of the time. It would kill me.
I know I need to get them out of the box. For the past several months, I have felt the need to talk about them, to share them, to bring them out into the open. But, there are no words for them. They are so primally painful, there are no words. There is only pain and dark. There is only brokeness. There is no way I can communicate how they feel without being misunderstood, without people thinking I have succumbed to the darkness, without people seeing me as irrevocably broken. There is no way I can revisit them without bathing myself in their agony. To deal with them, I have to feel them. And I just can't. Even two years later, I am not strong enough. Even just dipping my big toe into their icy, black waters sends me reeling backwards in pain. And so I leave them there. Closed up in that armored box. I can feel them stomping around. I can hear their screams. They want out. And I can't release them. I don't know how, and even if I did, I am not sure I would want to.
Maybe one day, I'll be strong enough for what lies inside that box. Maybe one day, I'll be able to work through the blackness beneath the lid. Today is not that day. I don't expect tomorrow to be that day either. I expect that box to always exist, to always shield me from the harshest memories in one way or another.
I wish I was stronger. Better yet, I wish she was here.