THE BEREAVED – May Williams Ward

In the next room, in the low chair,

In the soft dark, are you there?

I do not ask it when sun is laid

Through the checkered window in yellow plaid-

Then love this is past seems rich enough

And having had that, I can give you up,

But in the deep dark…In the low chair

In the next room, are you there?

I want you there….

This morning, while trying to rinse dried oats off Peter’s breakfast bowl, I looked over at Dempsey who was lost in a TV program. She was sitting on our sofa, munching on dry vegemite toast, in her jammies, her school clothes waiting to be slipped into, piled neatly next to her.

“Darling, you’re going to be late if you don’t get organized,” I whined at her.

“Mummy, come sit with me and watch,”  she said, patting the cushion next to her.

I filled the sink with the dirty breakfast dishes, dried my hands on a tea-towel and decided we had half an hour before we had to leave. I hate saying no to a simple request of spending a bit of time with her.  So I snuggled up on the couch beside her to see what had caught her attention so deeply.

She was watching “American Idol,” which I had TIVO’d for her last Wednesday night.

I had no idea watching this talent show would reduce me to tears….at 7.30 in the morning!  After all, it’s just a TV show right?  But it was soooooooooo moving.

And I find now, after experiencing grief, that these moments of unpredictable reactions to other peoples’ stories can transform me into a blubbering mess!  It’s that gift of compassion grief brings into your world, mixed and stirred with the craving for what my child who’s missing would have wanted out of life.

Watching some of the contestants live out their dream, and being told, “You’re going to Hollywood, Baby!”  had such a powerful effect on me.  You see, it’s the longing for Savannah that prompts the tears, the wondering, and the reflecting, and the not knowing what my little girl’s dreams were — that’s what constricts my throat with pain.

When she was alive, Savannah would say, “I want to be a dolphin trainer, Mummy!”  That was her dream, but I will forever wonder now what her dreams are, whether she would’ve been a dancer or a singer, a writer or a teacher, or just anything!  It’s that mystery and unfairness that I don’t get to know, or see, or experience WHAT she would’ve been, even how she would’ve enjoyed sitting with Demps and me watching bloody “American Idol”!

And I feel ripped off when these emotions hit.

The simple fact is I miss my child.  I miss the little things I can’t do anymore, like get a tight hug or even a smile from her.   I can say with confidence and conviction that I’ll feel like this until I die.  I can’t watch movies where they show little girls being reunited into their mother’s arms, or “Gray’s Anatomy” when they depict a storyline about curing a child’s disease.  It’s heart-wrenching, as I know my little girl will never be returned to me and will never escape what happened to her.

And I know I can’t change my circumstances. I will always be saddened sometimes, and curious, and that will always be part of being the mother of a child who died, that was stolen and that I’ll never see again.  But I can still dream.

You see, every night before I go to bed, I check in on Dempsey.  I stack up the scattered books she’s read that are laying on the carpet.  I gently pull the blanket up over her shoulders and tap off her touch light.

I gaze at Dempsey’s innocence, lost in dreamland, tucked up safe under the blankets. She will always be my miracle, and I know I’ll enjoy watching her live out her ambitions in this life.

However, some nights I see Savannah as she sleeps, the similarities to Dempsey are comforting. On those nights, I linger alone for just a bit longer and imagine.

Diana Doyle 2011

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Diana Doyle

Diana Doyle lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Peter, and her six-year-old daughter Dempsey. Their daughter Savannah was born in 1999. She was diagnosed with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, which is similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of two-and-a-half. She died at age four. Since then, Diana has been speaking and writing in hopes of helping others who are dealing with losses of all kinds.

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