First off, I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read/liked/commented/shared/called and or texted to tell me that my writing about Natalie is helping them deal with her death. Tonight my God brother, Ryan, asked if the blog was helping me. I had to smile. That’s why I’m writing it. I so happy(?), grateful, relieved etc. that other people are even just not offended! I need to write about it. I think it’d probably kill me to keep it all inside. Why I have the need to work through my own shit in a public forum is a little beyond me at this point but as long as people are reading? Why not keep on, keeping on? Moving along…
I woke up today to a phone call from Jessica. I answered (I know, right?!) and she said “I just needed to hear your voice.” Oh my God. That meant the world to me. Of course I’ll never replace Natalie, no one can. Nat was SO outgoing, adventurous, fun, energetic -not really my specialty, that to think I’d even be considered a runner up to her kinda blows my mind.
“How are you?” one of us asked. Such an automatic question. All throughout the visitation I heard it. Always followed by “sorry, that was stupid. I just don’t know what else to say…”
“I’m scared shitless that after Wednesday, after the funeral, people will go back to their everyday lives and she will start to fade” I confessed.
Jess burst into tears. “I know. Me too. I’m trying to grab onto anyone who knew her because I’m not ready to let go yet.”
“Me either” I said through my own tears.
It occurred to me that at some point in time, I’m going to say something along the lines of “has she been gone five years already?” and it made me sick. I don’t want to forget about her. Not the slightest length of distance between us and time. I know it’ll happen. It can’t help but happen, it’s just the way life is… so my anger flares again.
After talking to Jess, Tayla and I watched some Golden Girls before going to lunch to celebrate her 13th birthday. I apologized repeatedly and told her how shitty it was that all this was going on today. She waved me off, telling me it was ok. Silly me, I thought maybe she was ok with it.
Then it was time to get ready to go. She wouldn’t brush her hair or change into her dress. Her shoes were lost. “Why do I have to go? I don’t want to go” she whined.
“Nobody wants to go!” I snapped back.
I walked back into the bedroom for a bag to put some clothes into for later. I picked up the bag and a card fell out. It was a Mother’s Day card. From Natalie. Addressed to me, using the name only she had for me. I lost my shit. I collapsed onto the bed and cried. I was also kinda screaming. I don’t even know what the fuck I was doing but I was doing it a long time and it was loud.
Once we got to the visitation, to set up, I’d calmed down. More like I just wore myself out. Until I heard her voice. Her music was playing on a loop and it was like another shock. Another realization of something I’ll never hear again. I cracked. Justin and Sean (her ex husband) were there and I pulled up a chair to chat with them.
People started to trickle in and I was amazed at some of the people who showed up. Not because Natalie didn’t have hundreds of friends, she did. Big wink. (Sorry, movie reference) but because of how long it’d been since we’d been in touch with some of these people. There were former employees of my dads that came. Friends who lived out of state. Kids we grew up with in the neighborhood. It was pretty incredible.
I am truly blessed to have so many wonderfully supportive people in my life. A really good, long term friend of mine called and said “I’m debating on flying down there and holding your hand right now and also thinking maybe you want me to come later, after things have quieted down…”
“Thank you for asking. You know I’m a hugger. I’m big on affection AND I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the people/hugs/condolences…”
“Yeah, I remember when my dad died, it was a sea of casseroles and strangers wanting a hug. Right now it’s about Natalie. Later, when everyone’s gone home, it’ll be about you.” That was perfect. I didn’t have to feel like an asshole by telling her not to come because I don’t have time to be consoled, I need to stay busy, I’m going moment to moment here. I have a sense of relief and comfort knowing that she’ll be there for me when I’m ready. I know self care is important and right now I’m working on self preservation. I know tomorrow will be even more difficult to get through… but after tomorrow.
I left the visitation about an hour and a half in. Shar took Tayla to have SOME fun and made her a cake while I went to my support group. The hours for the visit were the same hours and day of the week as my group. She (Natalie) picked the worst possible time, on the worst possible day to have it. I know she didn’t personally schedule it but I’m blaming her anyway.
It was a very strange feeling to almost physically need my group. I had to be around people who didn’t know Natalie. People who were not grieving her loss as well. Some sort of normalcy. I was super late and I was welcomed in. “We’re glad to have ya” Kathie said and a wave of relief washed over me. I dropped myself into a chair and almost went an hour without thinking about Nat.
I feel like I’m contradicting myself. I don’t want to forget about her, I have to get away from the obsessive “what ifs” and the “if only”.
Tomorrow is the funeral. I don’t know what to expect nor if I’ll be able to withstand it.