I attended a symposium on writing and grief and about the only pointed I noted was that people hold memory within their bodies. This is true.
Clea lies deep within my chest. She lies heavy behind my breasts, weighing down my heart and strangling my throat. My daughter lies there. Her memory lies within my body and within my mind. I can feel her. She is not asleep. She is not still. She is smiling. She is laughing. She is straining to escape. I can feel her arms reach out through my throat in an attempt to escape; in an attempt to have the life she deserves.
My breasts are hard and swollen. ‘Do they feel like cement yet?’ my sister asked. ‘Has your milk come down?’ the nurses asked. That is how I feel now. I am waiting for the release of the milk, waiting for the release of my daughter. I am waiting for her return. There is no release; no return. My breasts are heavy with longing and waiting. There is no let up, or let down.
I gulp the panic down my neck into my chest. I don’t want the panic. I don’t want the pain anymore. Her arms are grappling up my throat. She wants to get out. The panic is surging. The pain of her death is surging from my stomach to my heart. I feel the pain deep within my broken heart.
Sometimes I can’t breathe. Sometimes I cannot stop the tears. I don’t want to cry every day. I don’t want to be like this. But I do cry and I am like this. Tears flood my eyes and trickle down my cheeks, fogging up my glasses. I have to live like this. I have no choice. My child has died. I wipe the tears from my face.
I don’t want to remember the race against the waves. I don’t want to remember my husband yelling at us to run. I don’t want to remember the moment I realised that I could not see my daughter. I don’t want to remember that I survived a tsunami but my daughter did not. My body remembers even if my mind blocks out the pain emanating from the gaping hole in my heart.
She is there, within my body. She calls me. ‘Mummy’, I hear her call. I jump out of my bed in the middle of the night and run to her bedroom. There is no one there. It is dark, still, quiet. Not even her bed is there, anymore. I took it apart after saying good night to an empty bed for more than a year. I couldn’t bear to look at it any longer and I didn’t want anyone else to sleep in her bed. It is her bed. I wipe my tears, put my glasses back on; continue with this life which I do not want.