It doesn’t get better, it just gets different.
It has been over a year since my sweet Brittney passed away. It was hard…no torturous… to inch toward the one year anniversary of her death. But in the same way, it was such intense relief to see that milestone slip behind me. On November 9th, a year and a day after the accident, I took a deep breath and moved on...again.
I have to admit that today I do function; a year ago I faked my way through participation in life. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. The biggest challenge now is the frequent appearance of “pop-up” memories of the night she died. Out of nowhere, in the middle of a pleasant experience or a casual conversation, I often have a flashback to one of many moments I would prefer to forget…being woken up by Britt’s boyfriend to “Brittney’s been in an accident, we have to go to the hospital”…or the drive to the hospital during which Sean had the courage to NOT tell me how bad it was…or arriving at the emergency room door and asking the ambulance crew if this was the entrance, at which point they asked me if I was Brittney’s mom. When I said yes, they surrounded me and told me that she fought the whole way there…and I suddenly realized how bad it was. Or the point when I was escorted into the emergency room, barely standing on my own. I saw the gurney…surrounded by trauma center personnel, but just then a doctor turned to see me and said, “NO!”…a second person turned and said, “Get a priest.” How did they know we were catholic was my first thought. I was ushered to a private room. Stunned and numb, I barely remember the calls I made to family or what I said. I authorized surgery, threw up in the hospital restroom, and prayed.
Or the point at which the surgeon emerged to tell me that they had done everything they could, and I responded with, “but she is my only child…” I guess I thought that might make a difference, he might go back in and try one more time…but he didn’t.
Some of these “pop-up” memories aren’t even real, but perceived. I flash back to what I imagine it felt like for Brittney to be thrown 40 feet from the vehicle. What the ride in the ambulance was like for her…did she think of me; want me there? Her time in surgery…was she scared or at peace? Did she choose to go?
While I miss my Brittney terribly, my faith tells me that the pain I feel is not in vain. As difficult as this process is, I know there is light…and Brittney…at the end of the tunnel.