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Magical Thinking + Goodbye, Daisy

Updated: Mar 23


After I got sick, I'd wake up every morning thinking that maybe I'd feel better. That maybe my body would just up and start working again. At night I dreamt of dancing, playing my saxophone and marching in the band. I did this for years. I've heard many chronically ill people talk about the moment upon waking before reality sets in and we realize our bodies still don't work.


Monday March 18th marked three months since Ellie's passing. I spent much of these three months in a similar state of "magical thinking", as Joan Didion would call it. I kept thinking it was just a bad dream, that it couldn't be real. I kept thinking Ellie would show up on the weekends to be with us.


Now, I just miss her. So much.


At first, I needed to use all of my energy to care for Chris (role-reversal!) and manage the household. Now that I'm in a rhythm and Chris is able to do more, I have more time.


More time to think. More time to feel sad. Time to grieve both the life we lost and the life we had planned for all of us.


The time of magical thinking is over. Now, when I see the fairy lights twinkling underneath Ellie's closed bedroom door, I feel my stomach flip and think I might vomit. The reality of her absence makes me feel sick, angry and sad.


Ellie is at the forefront of my thoughts. Any time I feel a spark of joy, a little string tugs at my heart, reminding me that she's not here. While logically I know that feeling joy is okay, that Ellie would want that, my brain and heart still tell me to pull back. Ellie and I were so similar that I think of her every time I pet a dog, work in the kitchen, listen to music, paint my nails, go to a concert, hear an interesting news story, read a book.


In addition, Chris and I are grieving all of the dreams we had for us as a family and for Ellie herself. For me, Ellie was the 'Daisy' I had been waiting for. I spent over two decades aching and longing to be a mom. It physically hurt. In 2008 I wrote a blog post about "Waiting for Daisy", in 2016 I wrote a series of three posts as I explored the possibility of having a child, and in 2017 I wrote a post entitled "Gutted" when the dream of having my own child ended.


Just as I had given up the dream of being a mother in any way, I met Chris and in turn, Ellie and Hank. Two daisies! Ellie was the absolute dream of a stepdaughter and I couldn't wait to be in her life more.


I struggle to make sense of it all. Each time I have come to the precipice of being a mother either biologically or through a relationship, it has been taken away. Why did I finally find a family and we lost our beloved Ellie? Why did I finally find a stepdaughter only to lose her? Why did that motherly role for a young woman get taken away from me? At first I was angry for Ellie and for myself. Now, I'm just sad.


It's impossible to make sense of this new grief. Chris and I had found such incredible happiness and each felt that in middle-age we had found our happily ever after. We are lost, confused, angry and sad. We hold on tight to one another as we try to find a way to live without the bright light that was Ellie and I, again, say goodbye to a version of motherhood I had longed for.


Now, I give my all my love to Hank. Ellie would have wanted that. He is our remaining and my only ‘Daisy’.


Blessings,


Emily

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