Keeping Nata close

I think maybe my last post was a little bit optimistic. Don’t be fooled. I’m not okay. I’m a wreck. I am less wrecked today—maybe, nothing has happened yet, I only just got to school—but the morning at least was less weepy.

I don’t mind the weepiness really. It’s everything else. It’s being weepy and trying to remember everything I need to do to calm down. It’s not crying at school. It’s the little voices in my head when I feel tired screaming they want Nata while I’m trying to teach a class. It’s that, in the evening, Baby’s tummy hurts (mine does too), but she hasn’t yet fully connected to the fact that we have the same body and the medicine is in the cupboard and if she wants to feel better, we need to get up and get it. And it is my job to figure out how to calm down enough that these things happen. That we can stay “warm” and cognition does not totally fall apart.

It’s the juggling that is just so hard. Lately, it has been really, really, really, really hard.

Yesterday morning, Anna gave me another bit of memory. It’s of the last seconds I spent with Natalya. It is after she took that last shivering breath and after I felt the life leave her body.

She says the memory is important and that I need to have it, and I do need it. I didn’t really have time to think about it much then, but in the evening when I came home again, I did have time. And I knew that I do need it. I need the goodbye.

After Natalya died, I kissed her on the lips the way I always had. I never kissed anyone else on the lips as a child—only her. Her lips were bloody. I suppose her lips were bleeding too. But they still felt like her lips to me. They didn’t feel alive, but they felt like her.

What the memory has in it is a bit of peace for me. I kissed her and I arranged her clothes again so that she was decent and I folded her arms over her chest.

There was very little I could do, but I did it. And there’s something in that for me. There is a memory of an emotion–closure and acceptance. That’s not the only emotion I had at the time. It’s only one of them, but it’s an important one.

The girls have been digesting the idea of choices and limits. Recently, there was an evening when they wanted to chat with a friend they like, and she was sleeping still. They were mad about this. They got melty brain and wouldn’t eat dinner. I didn’t push this very hard, because sometimes children learn that way.

So no one got dinner and we were all very hungry in the morning, and it’s true the friend eventually came online to chat, but they still didn’t get dinner because then we were all too tired to eat and fell asleep instead.

The lesson learned was about choices. You don’t get to choose some things. They are the way they are, and no amount of heel drumming or holding your breath or screaming or refusing dinner will change that.

I didn’t have a choice about Natalya’s death, and no amount of guilt or self-harming or suicidal ideation will change the fact of it. I have two choices: I can live without her miserably or I can live without her and find a way to be happy, and those are the only two choices.

So this is starting to sink in. Not eating did nothing to make my friend wake up from sleep and punishing myself will not make Natalya come to life again. She is dead and I can’t change it. I don’t need to find a way to change it. I just need to find a way to cope with it. I’m still wrestling this, but it’s getting there. A bit.

It simplifies things, because then it means I am not simultaneously reaching for comfort and pushing it away. I am not fighting myself in trying to get to “warm.” Because, in reality, almost everything that comforts me is a Nata-thing. She was the most powerful source of safety and nurturing I ever had and so things connected to her calm me down in a very strong way nothing else comes close to. But if I am fighting those memories because I want to make her not die, it’s all just a lot harder.

Since yesterday, the girls have been saying, “We have keep Nata close. We keep Nata close, we not feel so sad. We feel only little sad.” The earring had to be within sight as I did my chores today. We didn’t have to touch it, but we needed to be able to see it and to see that we could touch if we needed to.

And we weren’t so sad.


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