Here at Terri’s, cleaning up the kitchen, and the silence is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I feel as if it is choking me. My throat aches as it fights to temper the tears.
I’m standing where Terri should be standing. Where Terri should be washing her own dishes. With two working arms. Swaying to the rhythms of Jay Z. Reviewing her day. Planning her tomorrow.
But instead it is me standing here at her sink. Feeling the incredibly heavy, seemingly insurmountable weight of grief. Of anger. Of silence.
I hate fucking cancer.
I hate that it has taken away Miss M’s mother. Heron’s wife. Spider’s daughter. My niece. Jamie’s “big sister”. I hate that Marisa’s eyes were swollen tonight from crying this afternoon for her Mamãe. That Heron was exhausted from trying to balance housework, laundry, and grocery shopping with entertaining his little girl. That Terri isn’t here to take Marisa school shopping tomorrow for just the right back pack. Just the right lunch box. Just the right sassy outfit for the first day of first grade this week.
Grief is a many layered phenomenon. Just when you think you have taken it by the horns, it sneaks up and pierces your heart.
But tonight, for one incredibly powerful moment, we regained our hold. As Heron, Marisa, Jamie and I sat around the table after dinner, Heron noticed the humidity monitor read 77 three times; simultaneously.
“Quick, make a wish! All the numbers are the same. You are supposed to make a wish!” exclaimed Papai.
I squeezed my eyes tight, wishing for happiness for Heron and Miss M. I cried, “I hope mine comes true!”
“Mine will probably take a long time,” Marisa said somewhat solemnly.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it’s so far away and there’s two.”
“Which two?” Papai asked.
She looked at each of us, hesitated for the briefest of moments and said, “Mamãe and Nana.”
“I thought that’s who you were wishing about,” I said, smiling conspiratorially. She smiled back. “Why will it take so long?”
“Because I have to go to heaven. And it’s far away.”
“Ahhh,” Papai said, “Maybe you will see them tonight in your dreams,” he coaxed, with that loving twinkle in his eyes.
“Will there be lots of candy in your heaven?” Jamie asked, giving Miss M that Jamie look that always elicits a smile.
Sure enough, a huge smile spread across Marisa’s face. “Yup!” she gleefully exclaimed.
She grabbed hold of the wooden centerpiece, “FAMILY”.
“That’s right Miss M, we are family. I got all my nieces, daughters, son-in-law’s with me!” I sang, Jamie rolling her eyes at her zany mother.
And with that, we filled the silence. With our love. With our connection. With our shared pain. And tomorrow Jamie and I will fill Miss M’s silence with the best shopping spree ever. And in two weeks, Jamie will fill the silence by taking Miss M to her second, count them, second concert. This time it’s One Direction. Time will tell if they beat out Miss M’s first concert, Taylor Swift! And we will continue to do our best to fill the silence. To take it by its horns.
I invite you to do the same. Here on Terri’s blog. With each other.
And most importantly, with Heron and Marisa, who need our help filling their silence the most.