I was journaling upstairs in my office.
My phone rang.
My sister’s husband.
News I couldn’t fully comprehend.
I asked to speak to my sister.
She couldn’t talk.
I couldn’t talk.
We hung up.
My body turned inside out.
I sat at my desk knowing I needed to move but unable to do anything.
How does one move?
How do you take a step in any direction?
A life has ended.
My sister’s son.
I heard my husband Greg waking up downstairs.
I just needed to make it down the stairs and he would help me.
Would take on some of this grief.
He would know what to do.
I walked down the steps.
Choking on my grief.
My sister’s pain.
Trying not to wake my own child still asleep in her bed.
I fell into Greg’s arms.
Sobbing so hard I could not speak.
Later, I would remember his face.
How he shook me and said, “What?! Dusty?!”
I can only guess at his fear.
The kind of fear reserved for a parent.
How he must’ve later thanked God that our daughter was still safely asleep in her bed.
How I did too.
It’s been more than a year now.
My grief as Rylee’s aunt is a mix of missing his sweet smiling face…unbelievable pain for my sister who lost her child…and sheer terror over the thought of losing my own child. I feel all three, and they all carry different weight at different times.
I used to journal.
I’d wake up early and jump out of bed and write down my big dreams with unabashed and childlike enthusiasm – never mind my 40-some years. Rules and limits and obstacles couldn’t touch me when I journaled. I just dreamed big and soared – and then soared even higher – and wrote it all down, fiercely believing I’d make it all happen.
It was what I was doing when I got the call.
5:55 has since become a trauma trigger for me. When I see it on the clock I brace myself for tragedy. I send up a silent prayer for my loved ones. I survey my surroundings in anticipation of something horrific about to strike. At times, I’m paralyzed with fear, unable to move, praying my phone doesn’t ring until the clock changes to the next minute.
There’s always fear.
I don’t journal anymore.
It’s hard to grieve and dream.
I’m scared to wake up early like I used to, to write down my big goals and dreams for the future, knowing that as I do so the clock will turn to 5:55 and I’ll be back in that moment when I learned Rylee’s precious and beloved life had ended far too soon.
Lately I’ve felt an itching at my soul telling me I need to return to this practice of putting pen to paper, and writing out my hopes and goals, and calling my shots, and declaring that THIS is what my future will look like, and then making it so.
Logically, I know living and dreaming is the greatest way we can honor our loved ones.
Also, I’m afraid.
I don’t journal anymore.
But maybe tomorrow I’ll try again.