Today marks two months since we lost Frannie. Matt and I were talking last night about how it feels like ages ago in some ways, while in other ways it feels like time has been standing still. My mind so readily returns to the vivid, awful memories of being in the hospital as the news just got worse and worse. And then being with Frannie in those last hours, saying goodbye to her with our family and close friends, and finally returning home on that Friday morning with empty arms. Remembering the details of those days is excruciating, but it feels so important. Yes, it’s painful, but if the alternative is forgetting, then I choose the pain.
Today is also when I would’ve been teaching my first class at Hofstra. Days like this make my head spin and my heart hurt more than usual. Brought into sharp relief is the fact that this is SO not the way my life was supposed to be. I had similar feelings when we moved out of our house last month; while we would’ve been moving on the very same day, our destination should’ve been very different. Instead of being a family of three moving 20 minutes down the road, we should have been a family of four on the way to our new home in Hempstead, NY. I had envisioned what a challenging yet exciting adventure it would be to drive across the country with a four-year-old and a newborn; thinking back on those visions now, I can’t believe how much I took for granted.
It’s clear to me that I’m a new person in many ways. I seem to have developed new, highly sensitive receptors for human suffering. I see it and feel it everywhere, all the time. When I read the news, when I hear a story from a friend, when I sit in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, when I walk through the grocery store. I mean I really feel it. A fountain of emotion has opened up within me that may never fully close, and I suspect that this will be both a blessing and a curse.
But it would be inaccurate to describe this time in our lives as defined wholly by loss and pain. On the contrary, Matt and I have marveled at and been humbled by the compassion we’ve witnessed. So many people, sometimes in the midst of their own grief, have reached out to us with love and support. To everyone who has sent us cards, provided meals, pointed us to resources, listened to us when we needed to talk, checked on us with calls or emails, prayed and meditated on our behalf, and given us shelter (literally or figuratively), please know what a gift you are in our lives. We feel you all holding us in the light, and we’re so, so grateful.
What’s more is that we understand in a very real way the double-edged sword of loving deeply. We couldn’t have been any more joyful when Frannie was born. Seeing Ellie hold her for the first time, with so much tenderness, will forever be the highlight of my life. It’s only because of the depth and intensity of our love and joy that we now feel such intense pain. Therein lies the rub, of course. The possibility of loss is a risk we take when we love. But as awful as I feel on days like this, I know that the love is worth it.