Grief is a treacherous journey with countless obstacles to overcome. What were once joyful occasions, like birthdays and holidays, have now transformed into painful reminders of the anniversary of my daughter's passing. It is a constant struggle to ignore the heart-wrenching memories that flood my mind during these family celebrations.
To ease the pain, I have given away all the decorations that used to bring me joy during Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it is a feeble defense against the suffocating longing that engulfs me, triggered by the most mundane things.
When someone asks me about my daughter, my heart stops. I am left speechless, and before I can even begin to answer, I am reminded that she is in heaven, and I am still here. It is one of the most challenging realities I have had to accept.
I see posts from Texa's friends on social media celebrating their accomplishments and success. While I am proud of them, it is a painful reminder of what could have been. I always believed Texa was destined to change the world, but now her opportunities have been taken away. It is a dream shattered, hope disappeared, and anticipation left in pieces.
Jerry and I are both broken, and we cannot deny the reality of our experience. Once filled with laughter and love, our house feels empty and lonely, with a void that can never be filled. There will always be one empty chair at the breakfast bar.
Photos of Texa remind me that she will never grow older; she will forever remain fifteen. I will never be able to update her portrait or see her senior picture hanging over the mantle. Her swim bag still hangs in the laundry room, untouched for ten months.
The snacks Texa loved, Taki's and Hot Cheetos, still sit on my pantry shelf, but I know they will never be touched again. Driving by her favorite restaurant, Johnnie's, where she always ordered a Theta with extra cheese, a side of extra sauce, onion rings, and a Strawberry drink, is too much to bear. I cannot bring myself to go inside.
At swim meets, I sometimes see a dark-haired, dark-skinned, squared-shoulder swimmer, and for a moment, it is Texa. Hope rises in my heart, only to be crushed by reality, and I break down in tears.
People ask me how I am; while they mean well, they honestly do not want to know the answer. I want to scream that I am surviving and still walking, standing, and functioning, but how can I be, okay? How? All I have left is to be strong.
2 Corinthians 1:3-10 NLT says, "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others." I find comfort in Christ and hope to reach out to those with similar experiences. Even though I may not always feel His presence, I know that God always stands by me, saying, "Take courage."
I miss my daughter. I miss my old life before our family was shattered by tragedy. I miss the confidence I used to have in the answers I would give to those going through tough times. I miss the old me, who was not missing the old me.
But in God's infinite mercy, He understands my pain and is always there to comfort me.