Yesterday I mentioned the stages of grief. I can safely say I'm at the end of my journey because I have choosen to share my story.
I never realised the impact my Sister had on others in her short life. But over the many years I have found out that even for a short life lived.... she lived it and made an impact.
Memories of that awful time seem to drift like clouds passing overhead, some forming recognisable shape – others more fleeting. Happier times include playing in the square with My Little Ponies, Michelle’s utter devotion to Michael Jackson. The both of you, walking everywhere with your hoods up; Anne of Green Gables and early Jackie Chan movies. Michelle sitting at the bottom of your Dad’s stairs getting ready to go out and finding a bra up her sleeve!
Then I remember the Saturday morning, my parents sitting me down and asking questions about whether I had seen Michelle the previous day. I don’t remember exactly how they told me she had died. It still baffles me that it happened; still doesn’t seem real, even after all this time. I remember very confusing feelings at the time – complete shock, sadness and, I suppose, feelings of guilt. She had been just a few houses away. Could I have knocked for her? Could I have stopped it? To have been so close by but not known anything about it seemed so wrong.
I don’t remember the first few days at school afterwards, other than an announcement to the year group in the hall. Then I remember the funeral. I remember where I sat, what I wore, where we went afterwards. The service made it real for me. I have a feeling I avoided you. I don’t think I even looked at you or your family. I felt sure I couldn’t even begin to understand what you were going through. What could I say that could bring any comfort after such an enormous loss? Who was I to talk to you? I regret that. I regret not just saying sorry and taking the lead from you. It just seemed so BIG. So big I didn’t have the emotional skills to deal with it, or rather how to deal with YOU. I wish I could rewind and hold you tightly. Tell you how sorry I was. Tell you that I could only imagine the pain you were in. Offer anything I could that you might have needed.
Something I DO remember very well was the most beautiful dream I had some time after the funeral. In my dream, my Mom called up to me that someone was at the door. I came down the stairs to see Michelle and your Mum in our hallway. Michelle said she just wanted to say goodbye. We hugged. Then she left with your Mum. When I woke up, I felt so peaceful, so calm. It felt wonderful and comforting.
I have been teaching for about 16 years, and a year hasn’t passed when I haven’t talked to students about losing Michelle in such a tragic manner. Something good can come from something so devastating.
So, without the benefit of time travel, Trudge, I will just have to live with saying this NOW,…..….
“I am REALLY sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how painful it has been (and still is) and if there is anything I can do to help – you just need to ask.”....................................................................................................................................................