Guilt is an ugly five letter word that eats me up and spits me out. Guilt sits on my chest heavier than the proverbial elephant so many speak of. Guilt is grief’s friend that I did not invite to the gathering…I’d say party but this is a shitty party…and he won’t leave. Guilt darkens the sunniest of skies. Guilt awakens in the quiet and stillness of the night. Guilt forces me to shut others out because guilt tells me that they feel the same about me as I feel about me…and I know if I could, I’d run as far away from me as I could, but there is no running away from yourself…so I run away from other people. Guilt lights up the movie roll…the one that plays with a dim glow in my mind every second of every day…the one that replays that afternoon…every step we took…every chance I had to stay home…Guilt lights that movie up in the stillness of the night with such a fiery light I am certain the world will be dark forever because all of the sun’s energy is being used to project the movie roll into my eyes…Guilt tells me that every time something goes wrong that it has gone wrong because I have been given what I deserve. Guilt melts away happy dreams and twists them into nightmares….so that even as I sleep I am terrorized. Never allowed a moments peace.
“You have to let it go,” they say. “They”….they are well intentioned, well meaning friends and family and counselors…who just…cannot comprehend. It is an impossible feat you are asking of me. “You have to forgive yourself,” they say. Absurd. I have let go of so many would haves and should haves and could haves. But there is one. One that will not fade away. One that resides in my bones. One that chips away at my soul. For I know. Beyond a shadow of a doubt….that ONE choice… that ONE moment… is one that would have allowed my daughter to live. Would have stopped death in it’s tracks. Guilt shows me this moment every day. When I am quiet. When I am talking. When I am playing with my child. When I am reading. When I am eating. When I am taking in a sunset. That moment replays over and over and over. And nothing I have done thus far silences it. Softens it. Releases me of it. No matter what I am doing or thinking of ….guilt sits beside it… those moments play on and on and on.
Guilt lives inside of me. Guilt stabs my heart as I hold my six year old daughter while she weeps for the sister she feels like she is forgetting. Guilt wrenches my mind as I watch all of her friends grow up and make memories and live life….and she is not there.
Grief is love with no place to go. And guilt is the enemy within…trying to stomp out the love…the happy memories… the connections. I wish I could let it go…forgive myself. But how? How do you look at an empty room….look at your youngest child growing older than your oldest child…look at her dusty toys and the empty backseat….and just… let it go? How do you forgive yourself for the ultimate choice…your god damn choice… that led to the death of your precious child? How do you live with the fact that all you have are fucking videos and pictures and memories? How?
I do not write this in an attempt to hear how it’s not my fault….because no matter how many times I hear that or read that….it will not change how I feel. It just won’t. I write this to get it out… for the words that sit in my mind….threaten me… so I put them on paper….or well, on the computer…. and hope that they resonate with someone… or help someone….it’s all I know how to do.