How long do we live?


Today, I start 16 weeks of long service leave. Last week, Clea’s brothers turned 12 years old. In 10 days’ time, we will leave for Chile, Bolivia and Peru. And in about five weeks time, I will be 50 years old (somewhere in Chile).

Today, a milestone has been reached which I was hoping never to reach. I have been dreading this time for a very long time.

I now know how long a life is or can be. I have been counting the weeks since Clea’s death. About now, possibly from today, Clea will start being dead longer than she was alive. She lived for six and three-quarter years, less a few days, and she has been dead for that same amount of time.

Six and three-quarter years is 351 weeks which is about 2,460 days (give or take a leap year).

It seems very unfair that once I get to 50 I will have lived for 2,600 weeks (more weeks than Clea’s days); it makes 351 weeks look short indeed.

Many things have happened in the past 351 weeks but I have missed my daughter every single day. Missing her is an indescribable ache, hole, pain, whatever deep in my psyche. It grabs my throat and wakes me in the night with a fear that I have done something so terrible that I can’t even bring my mind to contemplate what that may be.

I used to be so scared of losing my memories of Clea. I would wake each morning going over the details of her skin, her face, her body. I would try to remember the details of her short life. I have accepted that my memories have changed and that I will lose some of the detail but the pain remains vivid.

Many people we mix with and know now did not know Clea. They ask what she was like. She was a beautiful, happy, loving and intelligent child. She had a lot of potential. She is my daughter and she deserved a life longer than the one she had. And I have to live the remainder of my life without her.

I am not  brave. I am not amazing. I know exactly what I am. I am very pissed off and very sad. I have no choice.

As my husband wrote in one of his poems, ‘never is a fucking too long time’. It’s a long time to be sad but there is no other way of feeling. There are fleeting moments of happiness but there is always a profound sadness within. It is the way it is

The two photos illustrate how short one life can be. Maybe, just maybe, I will stop counting the weeks …

Cropped photo for plaque

About huntersoledad

Mother of three. Bereaved mother of one. Survivor and victim of 2009 Samoan tsunami. Could be if would be writer.
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3 Responses to How long do we live?

  1. jenncouttas says:

    This is a devastating milestone to have reached. If only words could offer comfort I would give you all the right ones but you have my thoughts and my strong desire that you wake less often with that terrible fear. Much love to you all.

  2. Susan says:

    I can barely scratch the surface of understanding the depth of your sadness. The best I can do is hope that you can embrace & draw strength from those fleeting moments of happiness.

  3. I have not reached that day – the day when Jason will have been gone longer than he lived. He was 19 when he died, so we have a ways to go. It crosses my mind with each of Jason birthdays and death days. I hate the thought of it. I hate the fact that he is gone.

    Hugs to you. I think of all of you often and your precious Clea.

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