Clea has been dead for 182 weeks (that is three and half years) and I am finding life very difficult. I spend a great deal of my time trying desperately to keep Clea alive. I do many, many small things each day to ensure her survival in the minds of others.
I talk about her as though she is not far away. I talk to her as though she can hear me. I write to her in my diary as though she will one day be able to read my letters. I say goodnight to her each night as though she is there in her bed waiting for me to kiss her goodnight. Her brothers wish her goodnight.
I do not look at Clea’s photos over and over again. Photos do not have the life of Clea. They do not hold her essence or her personality. They do, however, make me cry.
Sometimes, I can will myself to feel her against my skin as we cuddle. I can almost breathe her into my body. Sometimes, I can hear her voice or recall the way she sat on the lounge chair with her long languid legs draped over the armrest or strutted down the hallway pretending to be a model on the catwalk.
I have no belief in a god but like those who do believe in a god, I too have an invisible friend. Clea has become my invisible friend; one who I want walking beside me every day.
It may sound hypocritical to say that I talk to Clea. I stand above her grave and talk to her; I drive in the car and talk to her; I walk around the garden and talk to her; I sit in her bedroom and talk to her. But deep down I know that I am talking for my own benefit and although I would dearly love to believe that Clea is listening, I do not believe so.
We try to keep people alive so that we, those who are alive, can cope. It is a coping mechanism or strategy (as I am continually told). My strategies do not always work very well and facing up to the reality of her death can knock me back to those foggy months of after she died. I find that I cannot get off the beach or out of the morgue.
I have finally succumbed to having to decide whether to take anti-depressants or not. I do not want to take anti-depressants so I am searching for ways to calm my mind and find peace within. I have a prescription but I have not had it filled by a chemist yet. It sits in my handbag. I am not sure what I am waiting for, complete collapse or eventual peace. I can’t meditate because I can’t still my mind. I can’t even make a decision about taking anti-depressants!
I cried at work last week something which I have never done – not uncontrollably anyway. I know the woman did not understand my trauma. How can she understand? She knows my daughter died in a tsunami but she does not know that my daughter was holding my hand or that I was on the verge of death. Those are things that I would find hard to explain in person. She does not understand the relationship between the stress of work and the traumatic stress of my life. The connection is lost on her; which reminds me of a quote from TS Eliot:
You know nothing? Do you
I remember …
TS Eliot – The Waste Land, II A Game of Chess
As I have told others, this new job is doing horrible things to my brain. And as friends in trauma told me last week, my brain is not my friend; not anymore.
I visit Clea’s grave each week and it makes no difference but I have to look after Clea in some way. I have to keep her alive. That is my only coping strategy.
One day, maybe, I will make it off the beach or out of the morgue but in the meantime, I have to force myself to ask others for help (this is something I am definitely not good at doing) so if I ask you (and believe me, it will take all my energy to ask) please listen and try to help me.