Today is Monday. I hate Monday’s. Only six weeks ago at this very moment my daughter was still alive. I could have called her and heard her voice, my husband was still in California, he could have driven over to see her and held her. Only six weeks ago.
If only we had some tiny prompting that something was not going to be ok. He could have grabbed her and taken her with him. I could have called and told her, even begged her to STAY OFF that tractor no matter what anyone else said. I would have stayed on the phone with her until one of us physically reached her and I knew she was safe. But if I want to go that far, I would have never let her go in the first place and she would have stayed here with us.
I didn’t talk to her on the phone that Monday. We texted through out the day like we do. I remember everything we had talked about but I still can’t bring myself to go back on my phone and actually look at what we were saying to each other. It is entirely to painful to even think about. I do know one of the last things she messaged me was asking “how are the littles doing?” because she always checked on them, and loved them so much.
Paige, Tucker, Emma first day of school
The days are a blur of numbness. It is very difficult to feel anything but sorrow. Yes we smile, and laugh with our other children, but is feels very manufactured and brief. It is terrible sadness. Then there is the fog. It is a thick fog that hangs over you, making it hard to hear and see other people. Yes, I am sure it seems like I am listening, and I really am trying, but people are hard to understand in this thick fog. Or maybe it is just a fog in my brain, because I know you told me something or asked me a question. I can’t remember what I told you or what information you gave me after you walk away.
Then there is still the physical pain. Every joint in my body still hurts. It feels like the morning after a really good workout, except you didn’t work out. Your chest hurts like someone is sitting on it. All day long. An exam would not show a HUGE hole in your heart and what is left of it shattered into a million pieces. But I promise you, that is exactly what it looks like, and hurts like.
I believe we are in a way blessed with shock and denial. I didn’t actually think I was in shock, but I look back and know with absolute certainty that I was. Shock and denial allowed me to travel back home to my children, to clean my house and have people come over. It helped us to plan a funeral, to find somewhere for us to bury Emma, to find people to speak and sing and play the piano. It helped Paul and I go to the mall a few times to try and find something, anything that was right for her to wear. It helped us through people invading our home, to clean up after them and to make them food without coming unglued. Our body has a way of protecting us, and I believe that is exactly what it did.
But when the shock and denial wear off, it is really even more terrible then you can imagine. Because the reality starts to become clear and it is inconceivable. There is no scenario that Emma is not with us. There is nothing in the plan that she will not be here to see us when we are old. It is not possible that I will not see her graduate, get married, have children, and grow old. I refuse to accept that I will have no more pictures of her. That the other kids school pictures hanging in the house will all be changed out over the years and hers will remain the same. I need someone to fix this NOW. Then you realize that no one can.
The hole in our home is enormous. Emma is one of our more quiet children, and you would think it would be easy to imagine that she is at school or practice, but you can only tell yourself that or imagine that for so long. Over the past six weeks what my husband and I realized is that each of our children have a very integral role in the dynamics of our family. Our oldest and #3 are very loud and have a wicked sense of humor. They joke, make fun, and are loud most of the time. Emma, always loved to joke and even made all kinds of animal sounds in part annoy her Dad and I, but also to entertain the little kids, but she wasn’t necessarily loud in comparison. Although her friends might disagree, she wasn’t compared to her siblings! What her role was, much like mine, was to laugh at their jokes, and bring some balance.
Emma was the the ring leader. You don’t have to be the loudest to have this calling, but that is exactly what she was. She had the ability to bring everyone together. We have literally hundreds of hours of video that the kids make on my big iMac in the office. They would sit for hours and talk to each other and tell stores all on camera. Emma was the one who bought them together to do this. She got them together every day to play cards for hours at the kitchen table. She rounded up the cousins when they were here to play games, she organized teams of kids to play nerf wars, she took groups of kids on bike rides to the store to make pancakes on Saturday mornings.
If you can imagine a teenage girl with a line of children following her everywhere, doing everything she asked because they loved her and hung on every word she said, that was Emma. She loved them and they knew she loved them. She was fun. She “got” little kids, how to get them to play together and have fun. You didn’t have to tell her, or show her what to do, she just knew. Emma did this same thing with her siblings. She entertained them, and helped them play together. If you have a lot of kids you know how valuable this is to a parent. How valuable to your kids to learn to play with each other and love one another.
I could count on her. She was not flaky. She knew what needed to be done and did it. She had the thought to also look ahead and see what would need to be done in the future. She didn’t always wait to be told. I called her my human calendar for a while. I noticed she was reminding me of a lot of things that she had just overheard and filed away in her brain somewhere but was recalling to help me make sure that they got done. Most importantly, I knew that my little children were safe with her. I could count on her to watch them and not get distracted. They were safe with her. There is nothing more a Mother could want then to know that your child is safe with the person who they are with.
Emma, Garner State Park
Emma LOVED the outdoors. She loved to camp and swim the river. She was fearless. She climbed the highest rope swings and the tallest trees to jump out of. Emma was my right hand. She helped me pack, organize the camping gear, find the camping gear, pack the little kids stuff, make the meals ahead of time, and get everyone out the door. Then she entertained them in the car while we drove.
After a long day on the river while I would make dinner, she would run the littles up to the shower to wash off all the sand and river water, wash their hair and get them in clean clothes. She could rotate kids through a shower like a drill sergeant. But always careful not to get shampoo in their eyes when she rinsed their hair. My little kids adored her. I adored her. Her Dad adored her. She was fun. Emma balanced our family perfectly and brought us together, without even knowing she was doing it. She just cared and was kind.
We have noticed that is what it takes to bring people together. You need to care and be kind. You don’t have to be loud or the most popular to be the glue. You need to show people you love them not just tell them. Emma mastered this at only 15.
You can read more about Emma by clicking the links below.