Six Months Later

Today is six months since our daughter Olivia died. It is still so hard to comprehend, staring at this grave, that her body is just a few feet beneath the new grass now growing. Waves of sadness still hit me like a wall when I see a picture of her.

I still feel an irresistible urge to touch my phone screen when a photo of her pops up. I still feel the dull ache of loss, the emptiness she left, and it physically hurts. It destroys our bodies. We are walking through these days with feet made of cement. It is just really hard. Much harder than anyone could have prepared us for.

But I would not trade this time. This pain and suffering connects us to Olivia.

Continuing Life with Daughter

In the same way that avoiding the pain during her life would have meant missing her life, I think avoiding the pain now means missing the possibility of continuing life with Olivia.

That is a possibility I didn’t know existed six months ago: continuing life with Olivia. Not the memory of her—memories fade. Not the idea of her—ideas distort over time. But actually continuing life with her, actually her.

My biggest fear six months ago was that Olivia would fade over time – a dream we had once. Six months in, I feel like I have faded. I feel like everything I knew before has faded. Olivia’s smell has completely faded from her clothes. My memories of her have faded. But her, Olivia the person, Olivia our daughter… she has not faded.

Fear of Fading

She can’t fade because we are still here. We are completely different people, changed by our time with her.

The only way for Olivia to fade is for us to resume life as the people we used to be— something we can only do by pretending.

It is tempting to pretend. The “new us” is damaged goods, broken pieces of people from the past, in a pile on the floor. But we are real. And we are beautiful, even we are not functional. And that is very much a manifestation of Olivia the person.

Not her memory, but her. She can’t fade. She is right here, in my hands as I write these words.

Continuing life with Olivia. It isn’t possible apart from the pain and suffering we are experiencing. So we accept the pain and suffering as a gift.

We would not trade this.

This is excerpted from Nathan’s book, Dance Again, available here:

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Nathan Peterson

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Nathan Peterson has been creating music as Hello Industry for two decades. After four album releases and numerous iterations of Hello Industry’s live show, including their fully classical Black and White concert, Nathan has stripped everything down to only a guitar, his voice, and a song. Nathan is currently celebrating the release of two solo albums and two books — So Am I: Life, Living, and Letting Go and Dance Again: Grief is Healing — about the life and passing of his daughter, Olivia, as well as his latest Single Release, Masks: a song about finding togetherness in the midst of covid. During Nathan’s 20 years of writing, recording, and performing, he has created a body of work which invites our culture to rest, here and now, in the midst of the storms of life. Nathan’s words and voice invite us inward, toward our own Center, where our fear is the loudest; where our strength and hope are their brightest. Born in Chicago and raised in Germany, Colorado, and the cornfields of Sycamore Illinois, Nathan now lives with his wife and 5 children in Chicago.

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