A day or so had passed, since Faye had died and I couldn’t sleep. I got up in the middle of the night, grabbed my car keys and went for a drive. I instinctively drove to her preschool and once there, outside the locked gates, I turned off the engine and sobbed. She wasn’t there.
Faye had become poorly on the way to school and seemingly, for that reason, preschool, in the middle of the night, was where I decided to start my search.
Where was she? Where had she gone? She obviously wasn’t at school but where was she? My deep desire to find her, to see her again and to hold her in my arms had lead me to this place – the start of my constant soul searching.
It began with looking for her. My arms felt like stretched pieces of elastic, dangling aimlessly beside me with nothing to hold on to. I was desperate to find her, to fill the physical void and emptiness I was experiencing. Deep down, I suppose I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold her again, but my head, my heart, my arms, my whole self was finding it difficult to accept. So, after a time, when I couldn’t find her no matter how hard I looked, I began searching for answers. Why? Why? Why?
In my quest for answers, I asked to see the deacon of my local church. I hadn’t met him before as I wasn’t a church-goer, but the moment he sat down, before his first sip of the tea I had made, before I had even said a word – let alone asked him anything, he stated that he didn’t have the answers!
You’re a man of God. Aren’t you supposed to know these things? I silently tutted.
Once again, I felt I was back at the school’s locked gates and that my search was futile. But what he did say, has stuck with me ever since. He described the time, immediately before we are born, as a time of light and joy, when angels dance around us, and then, at the precise moment of our birth, we are plunged into darkness. He went on to describe our deaths as being the time when we are welcomed back into the light. I listened to his beliefs without really knowing what to think, but I was comforted to picture Faye in a beautiful place, surrounded by angels, love and light. I shared my image of ‘heaven’ and eternal life with him.
Being a student of both Latin and theology, he explained that the word ‘eternity’ loosely means ‘no time,’ so in other words, when I meet Faye again, in eternal life, it will be as if no time has passed – as if we had never been parted from each other. Those, have been the kindest words spoken to me throughout my 16 years of mourning. You see, I had been searching for Faye because I missed her, but, I was also worried that Faye needed her mummy and was missing me too. The deacon’s kind words took away all that anguish, and all these years later, I am still comforted by them.
Although, as for me, I still miss her and as the years have passed, I have been painfully, all too aware of the time I spend in the ‘darkness’ without my daughter. I still constantly question why it happened; why she had to be taken from me and all the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve ruminations have kept me a prisoner – forever chained to my grief.
Then recently, in an attempt to cure a physical ailment, I saw an acupuncturist. Wishing to treat me holistically (with recent studies suggesting that pain could be a physical manifestation of trauma), she asked about any upsetting life events. I listed them and inevitably, cried as I told her about Faye. She attentively acknowledged my sorrow and surprisingly, said that I had already proved myself. She went on to say that the greatest purpose in life is to serve and here I was, still standing; still raising my other daughters and still being of service to my family. Wow! That was powerful, as just a couple of days previously, I had been complaining that I was a servant to my family, doing nothing but chores, with a life that lacked any meaning! I guess, feeling more confident, she went on to share her belief that Faye had agreed her death before her birth and that I had been chosen as her mother because I was strong enough to bear it!
What? I hated that. People used to say that to me when Faye was diagnosed with learning difficulties … that I had been chosen because I was strong enough to help her. back then, I never questioned it because I used to think that they meant well.
But this time, I was aghast. Inside, I screamed in rage but on the surface, I managed to compose myself enough to say, that I thought it was a cruel concept; that no-one would think me strong if they could see my suffering and, how cruel was it to think that I had been chosen to bear such pain. Or was it?
Over the last week, there has been a lot of soul searching and on reflection, those words have given me some comfort. You might not concur, but here’s where I’m at: I have gleamed that, if Faye’s passing was all agreed, in some kind of pre-birth plan, then I am not responsible for her death. For sixteen years I have felt guilty that I couldn’t save her; that perhaps there was more I could have done to protect her; that maybe I had made a mistake when I switched off the life support machine. But these spoken words, uneasy as they were to hear, made me feel that I could finally stop all the blaming and shaming and accept that I, like every body else, am only human; that some things are out of our control; that we do not have super powers to see into the future; that all we can do, is act upon the information we have, at that moment in time.
Perhaps, after sixteen years, it is time for me to stop thinking that life is cruel and to stop wallowing in the, Why me? Perhaps it is time to ask, Why not me? Perhaps, I can start to see Faye’s passing as a challenge to help me discover a more meaningful and purposeful life – a life full of lessons and learning and a life where the darkness, helps me truly appreciate the light.
My final food for thought, comes from psychologist Edith Eger, in her book, The Choice. She says that time is not the healer, it is what we do in that time, that heals. So, I am going to spend my remaining time on earth wisely. I am going to keep soul searching in order to keep learning and growing. Hopefully, I can help others along the way and hopefully, I’ll make a little girl in heaven very proud.
And I shall continue to look for her… because now, I often find her – a small white feather, a song on the radio, a doorbell that rings when no-one is there, the TV that turns itself on – all little messages, intuitively received from my girl, to let me know she’s not gone anywhere: she’s still with me … and that she isn’t missing me at all!
What kind words have encouraged your soul?