I was off to what was supposed to be a great distraction...
The trip started out fine. My mom dropped me off at the airport and I gave sammers a kiss attack and I was off to Washington to spend the weekend with all of the girls on John's side of the fam. The TSA employee was a hoot... he treated the security check like a ride at an amusement park. He was so entertaining and made me laugh just by being around him. Sometimes I feel like I should fill out a comment card when people go above and beyond. This guy definitely went above and beyond. He was so happy and it was contagious. I gathered my things repeating in my head the things he had said to me. I was suddenly in a good mood despite being exhausted from no sleep the night before.
I made my way up the escalator and then it hit me. A huge blast of sadness overcame me as I thought about the last time I was walking down this terminal 7 months ago.
"Hurry kids we don't want to be late!" I said to my children as we walked briskly down to gate b7. We were cutting it close and I didn't want to miss our flight for Mia's Make a Wish trip. We made it in time and the flight attendant arranged for Mia to sit up in the pilots seat. She looked back at me with her million dollar smile and I snapped a picture. We were finally on our way to the happiest place on earth with our little girl who had endured so much during her life time. She was going go get some much deserved one on one time with Minnie. We made it to our seats and settled in for the flight. My mind raced with all of the things we were about to experience and life truly could not have been better at that moment. It was going to be a trip of a lifetime.
As my legs carried me closer and closer to gate b7 my heart began to beat quickly and I felt like I might fall over.
I was just here I thought to myself. I was here with my girl. We were all together. We were whole.
The closer I got to b7 the more my eyes could not contain my sadness. I began to cry... right there in the middle of the airport. My heart is so broken. I miss her terribly and I just had her here... barely in this very airport.
I felt the weight of her absence crush through me like a ton of bricks, and thought for a moment that I was going to faint. I kept walking and made my way to a restroom. Once inside a stall I allowed myself to cry. Intense grief somehow removes social boundaries. I would never dream of crying loudly in a bathroom stall, but sometimes you don't have a choice. The sadness can strike at any time and I knew the chances were slim that anyone would try to console me. I cried and cried until the tears stopped coming. All of the memories I had suppressed about the days leading up to her going to heaven surfaced I was able to recall her sweet little personality and it transformed me into a sobbing lunatic in the women's bathroom near gate b7.
Mia is so loved and every little move she made was adored. Our family tries (really really hard) to keep our chins up and carry on with life, but sometimes I truly can't handle the strain of not having her here. She is our Mia, and I am not the mom I am meant to be without her.
I was plenty early for my flight so I wasn't concerned with time. Once I managed to reign in the sorrow I left the restroom and the evidence of my sadness was apparent from the red eyes staring back at me in the mirror. A woman standing next to me gave me a quick glance and then a half smile not quite sure what to make of the woman standing there with devastation written all over her face. I haven't really had any public breakdowns before, besides a few at church. My mind began to wander with what thoughts she was having about me. Maybe she thought I missed my flight... no, that wouldn't warrant a complete meltdown. As I went through the possibilities of what she might think is the cause for my face looking tragically sad I realized that if she hadn't had a child go to heaven she would never understand pain like this.
I recognize that everyone experiences trials and grief and pain in their life time. After all that is why we are here, but this pain... the pain that was written all over my face can only be understood by a mother who was gifted the most precious little person and then found herself living her life without her. My life is a series of forcing myself to try and be the old Mimi, when she in fact does not exist. My brain immediately goes to Mia. The last time I was in the airport she was with me. My brain has to deal with a constant yo yo of emotions. Rarely do I get a break and I have to usually distract myself so I don't have a breakdown.
I had flashbacks of her face in various places in the airport. I can see her sitting in the pilots seat. I can see her watching a "show" in the head rest of the seat in front of her. I see her snuggled on her sisters lap. I see her in a wheelchair with all of our stuff as we meet the greeter. So many flashes of the last time I was traveling. The memories were vivid and it made me ache to see her little face and have her talk to me. I just need to talk to her and hear her sweet voice.
Much of my days are filled with thoughts about the past and how it relates to right now and what happened in relation to Mia's life. For example, when I pick something up I relate it to the last time it was used or purchased and if Mia was still here.
"The last time I wore this shirt Mia was still here"
"I bought this when Mia was _____ years old"
"I wish I could go back to when I first had this because Mia would still be here."
"The can of food (food storage) lasted longer than my daughter."
"This box of pasta in the pantry was purchased with mia in Mind."
"This chocolate milk "chockit" powder is Mia's."
"This syringe still has medicine in it from Mia's meds."
" Sammers and Mia rolled around like two monkeys singing this song."
"That is Mia's favorite tubby toy"
"This is Mia's towel that my mom monogrammed for her... she only got to use it a few times."
"I haven't touched this since Mia was here."
"Mia has the same shirt as that little girl."
"I brushed Mia's hair with this brush all the time."
"This candy is Mia's."
"The last time I went in this store Mia was still here."
"I want to go back to the last time I ate here, or stepped foot inside _____'s home."
"Mia never got to use this."
"That is Mia's toy"
"I wish I could go back to the last time she drove her little pink car."
The list goes on and on and it is almost like my brain is developing a crazy attachment to how objects related to Mia's life. It's not something I can turn off. My brain just does it and once I recognize where in the timeline it relates I can generally carry on. Some items however, a hair bow or shirt, or toy, or empty syringe will send me right into a crying fit. I just want her here... for more time. I had big plans for her life! We all did.
Once I sat down in my seat, I sat there and tried not to think too much because I didn't want to end up back in the restroom losing my mind. I was facing the neighboring terminal and a couple caught my eye. A woman had her arms wrapped around a man in an army uniform and one could assume he was being deployed. I was far enough away that I kept watching their interaction. They talked to each other with their foreheads touching and would pause and then kiss each other. My emotions were already in full swing so of course I began to cry again. I was so touched by their love and I immediately was able to step out of my grief to concentrate on theirs. The next few minutes could have easily been a grammy winning scene in a movie. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my eyes were locked on them the whole time and I tried unsuccessfully to contain my tears.
I didn't look for a ring, but it was clear they were in love and in my mind I chose to believe this young bride was sending her husband overseas. They hugged and hugged and talked and kissed each other for five minutes and then the inevitable came. It was time to say goodbye. He walked away slowly with arms extended gripping her until their fingertips released. He turned to walk through the gate and she called after him running back to him hugging and kissing him again. It was evident that she would give anything to keep him with her. She asked a stranger to take their picture and as they held each other close. Once the picture was completed he whispered in her ear and kissed and hugged her one last time. He handed his ticket to the attendant and he walked backward up the ramp with his eyes glued to her, reaching for her as he walked slowly backward. My heart was ready to give up at that point. I couldn't handle it and by this time some other passengers who had noticed were commenting on what they were witnessing.
All of my concern and love went to his wife. It took everything in me not to explode from my chair and go give her a hug after he was out of sight. He was gone... and she was left there without someone that she loved tremendously. Her pain shot through me and I thought about what her future held. I feel like in order to carry on I must know what happens to this couple. When does he come home? Will he come home.? The unknown is so painful. I said a prayer that he could return to her and that her life would not be forever altered like mine was. Their love inspired me and somehow the woman was able to stand there as her husband walked backward up the ramp reaching for her. People do really difficult things, and today I witnessed one. I am not alone in grief and pain despite sometimes feeling that I am. I pray he returns safely to her arms and that they can continue their lives together. I want that for everyone. I know it is not up to me or my choice but I don't want anyone to have to live with what I do. It's just too too sad.
I immediately missed my husband. When I left that morning he was leaving for work right when I pulled in the drive way to grab my suitcase. He hugged me for a long time and told me to have fun. I was on assignment to have fun.
The trip was not off to a good start. I was supposed to be having fun, but my grief interfered and said, "not so fast!"
To be continued...