Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.
—Faulkner, The Wild Palms
I remember in profoundly painful detail the reactions of others during the few months after Chey's death.
"Are you still feeling so sad?"
"Why don't you try having another baby?"
"You need to trust in God's will."
"She wouldn't want you to be so sad."
"All things happen for a reason."
"At least it wasn't one of your older children."
"You should be over it by now."
"Oh, really?" I thought to myself with outraged skepticism. "How could I possibly be over it? Over what precisely? The death of a child? And who set the time limits on my grief? And who says what losses are harder than others? In what book does it outline the commensurate nature of grief's reactions? And, oh, have you spoken to God lately about His will? How can I ever be over it?"
Those words, as if spoken into a deep, dark cave, reverberated through my mind, filling me with self-doubt, despair, and questioning. Then, I had an epiphanic moment, and I wrote these words in my journal:
"Sometimes just being is the only way that I can be at all."
Sometimes, in other words, being in grief or being in despair, or being sad, or being desperate, or being encased in a womb of pain was the only way I could continue to exist. If that moment of being were somehow removed or rejected or repressed or relinquished, then I would most certainly have ceased to exist.
I would have become my own emptiness. Nothing. Utter nothingness.
This prospect was the only thing more frightening to me than my grief.
So, instead, just being became my savior. And now, almost 15 years later, I'm just becoming.