Forays into the After World

How can I begin to write of what it’s like to live without Jasmine? Today Gabrielle went back to school. She came home and told us it was “okay,” but then tonight, after bedtime, she cried and told me how much she missed her, how it was so hard to walk home from school without her, how walking to the cafeteria was hard because it required her to pass the hallway to Jasmine’s classroom. She spoke of missing her roommate, her best friend, of missing the person who would cuddle with her in bed at night if she watched a scary tv show. If she could just have one more day, she told me, she would take Jasmine swimming, spend the day doing fun things, and, at the end of the day, she would give her a long hug and say good-bye. If she just had one more day.

Jasmine never got to swim after her transplant. For a long time she had an IV line called a broviac, which prevented her from swimming due to the risk of infection. Then, she had an infection in that line, and it was removed, but it was too late in the year (which means too cold here in the Midwest) and she never got that chance. I know that’s part of why she wanted to go to the Caribbean. When we were in the hospital, she spoke of wanting to bask in the sun, free of all the trappings of her medicated world, with her toes in the sand and a palm tree overhead. When she had her steroid burst and got me to promise her a trip to the Caribbean, I led her on a guided meditation to that place. I reminded her of that meditation in her last days and invited her to go there, especially on that last day. I like to think she’s still there, in some way. Like heaven is as portrayed in “What Dreams May Come” and that is the heaven she created for herself.

I feel like a limb is missing from our family body, like there’s just a hole where there should be something. I push at the wound and it screams. If I let it alone, it throbs or sometimes, is simply numb.

Sometimes I am glad to think of her at peace, glad she is no longer struggling. Othertimes, I am so angry at her body for not being able to fight this, angry at the CF for causing the problems in the first place, angry at myself for passing my half of the gene to her. Mostly I miss her like I’ve never missed anything else in my life. Like Gabrielle, I wish I had just one more day. One more day to do the things we loved to do, one more day to feel sure she knew how much we loved her and how much genuine delight she brought to my life.

I feel like grieving is a journey, though not one I wanted to take. I don’t know what the next days, weeks and months will bring. I know I’m strong enough to make the journey, but still I dread it. I just want my little girl back.

So we’re still discovering life in the After world. It’s so different, and there are so many changes ahead of us. We have lived a life dictated by medical concerns for the past 10 years. It has influenced what we did to put food on the table (and insurance on our health), where we’ve lived and what we do in our home. It has eaten our time, our money and our peace. There are things I am glad are gone. There is a sense of unreality that I still cannot shake. Gabrielle keeps asking why Jasmine had to go now. I don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe I never will. Maybe that’s part of the journey and discovery in our After world.

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