Three years ago January 4, I buried two of my three beautiful daughters. The day before the funeral my sister-in-law, Sandy, took me shopping for widows weeds. What an appropriate name for the clothes you never wanted to grace your closet! And David and I prepared to leave our sole surviving child in a hospital three plus hours from home to celebrate the lives of our oldest and youngest daughters. Not our oldest child, no, he’d been buried twenty some years by that time.
And one remained.
We arrived at the motel late that night after having driven in the dark for many hours. We were tired . . . worried . . . and broken. The motel sat less than a mile from our home, but I couldn’t stomach spending the night there without any of my children. And family was staying at our home already and I just wanted to be alone with my husband. We hadn’t spent many nights together since the accident.
That night, as we lay together in that unfamiliar room we talked about our girls, our fears for tomorrow, the difficulty of leaving Gracen behind, and the concern over her missing the memorial service.
I was nervous about the service the next day. The news coverage left me fearful that cameras and strangers might greet me in my worst moments. What lay before me was a small-talk nightmare. And so David and I agreed to spilt a pill prescribed for each of us at the ER. I can’t even tell you what it was. A sedative—an anti-anxiety medication? I don’t know. We just knew it was supposed to help. I didn’t want to miss the memorial service because I was too tired to pay attention, but I didn’t want to be filled with anxiety either.
So on the day we buried our daughters, we split a pill and swallowed it down before we left the motel. And then we stepped outside, took the elevator down to the lobby, and found family gathered there. We had no idea they were staying in the same place we were. After hugs and stilted conversation David and I left for the church . . . left to do what no parent ever dreams of doing.
And later that day we would turn our backs and leave the bodies of our children in that cold cemetery. We would drive away – abandoning them there in order to do the next thing. Had it not been for Gracen I think I would have curled up on that cold mounded dirt and cried out my misery until spent. There I’d sleep until I joined my children on the other side of the veil. Instead, I did the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and that’s all I’ve been doing ever since.
Maybe that’s all life was meant to be. One long line of doing the next thing . . .
until you are no more.
Yes, three years have passed and all I do is the next thing.
Believe me, that’s a victory.