If I’ve ever doubted the mind body connection I am reminded of it at several key points throughout the year. Today marks the anniversary of Charlotte’s death. In the span of 3 hours on a hot summer day in late August of 2004 my world, my gut, my family was irreparably split open. While our family has healed and grown in the last 11 years we are forever changed by that loss on many fronts and the pain hits me fresh most clearly on the anniversary of the day she became an angel and on the day of her birthday in this earthly life.
Her birthday is of deep personal significance and sorrow to me as a mother and I think about it and honor it mostly in private. However, the date that she died I’d rather just sleep through. We all react to loss and anniversaries differently, but for me her ‘angel day’ is one I’d love nothing more than to forget and find myself glancing at my calendar on the 19th with the realization that yesterday was the day. My life will be forever defined as a mother and as a soul in terms of time before Charlotte died and after Charlotte died. Forever.
But the body remembers even when the head wants to forget. We store our history, our love, our pain, our deepest highs and lows, passions and problems at the core of our body. They are in our cells and imbedded in our DNA. With each beat of the heart and breath they are nourished and fed. If we give them too much life they overtake our ability to function. If we give them too little they do the same. But they are inside of us. All of our life experience resides within the confines of our body and with certain triggers it surfaces. Have you noticed that?
August 18th is one of those triggers. Driving along yesterday out of the blue I was overcome and began to weep for no reason that I was immediately aware of. Having steeped in more loss and challenge than the average soul I’ve gotten used to sitting with it. Within a few breaths and a quick checklist of running through my body mentally it was clear. It’s late August. August 18th marks the day that we went from a 5 to a 4. The day I watched the sun set in horror knowing that when it rose the following morning it would be a day that she no longer would spend physically here. She no longer would be making memories in the same way.
One thing I do know? Around mid-August my ribs get tighter. My breath comes with less ease. My muscles ache and my heart feels heavy. I sometimes feel my throat closing. When I sit with it I am reminded of the power of thought and the power of our own bodies to hang on to these memories.
With these physical symptoms I am reminded that I miss Charlotte with every fiber of my being. I am also reminded that she resides inside of me. Just as she grew safely inside my womb I now feel her coursing through my veins. Some essence of her is stored inside of me and serves as a reminder that she was here for a short time as my daughter. I know we will see each other again. Until then, these anniversaries and noteworthy dates serve as reminders that I still carry her inside of me with perhaps even less distinction of seperate body and soul than when she was my daughter.
11 years out it is a strong reminder to stay attentive to that space. Don’t feed it too much but do not neglect it. Keep breathing. Keep moving. Keep feeling. The anguish never does go away, nor do I want to fully release it, but the exquisite tenderness becomes less palpable with the passage of time.
The gutting ache is a reminder. Like much of life’s most precious experiences, the sensation of being reminded is bittersweet. I miss my daughter not one shred less than on the day she died. But time and distance have softened many of the hard edges of that grief and allowed me to sink in to the embrace of her memory. I still feel her.