I would like to think that this will be the hardest post to write, but I can’t say where I’ll be emotionally in the coming weeks/months/years and I don’t know what topics will come up. I can, with confidence, say that this post will be the hardest one to write as of this moment.
This is about the day I thought I was gonna drown in grief.
Drown (verb, /droun/)
1 : to suffocate by submersion especially in water
2 : to engage (oneself) deeply and strenuously
3 : to cause (a sound) not to be heard by making a loud noise — usually used with out
4 : to drive out (something such as a sensation or idea), OVERWHELM
**Sorry about the English lesson, but I hope it’ll be worth it in the long run.**
I used to teach early education. I did it for several years, and I was good at it (my infant class was my favorite). I loved my kids, my families, my coworkers, and my school. I loved snuggling babies. I loved reading to toddlers. I loved the imagination of preschoolers. But I was on my lunch break at work when they went to pull me from my class to tell me that we had lost Marriah just a few hours earlier. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Have you ever walked in to a room and instantly knew “something”. You knew someone had a surprise to share. You knew something good was about to happen. You knew something was not right. You knew something was wrong. You knew your life was about to change in an instant. Well I vividly remember that feeling. For a while I didn’t remember much about the first hour after I found out we lost her, but that feeling, that sense that something was VERY wrong, that’s the one thing I have not forgotten.
As I said when I got ahead of myself, I used to teach early education at a christian academy inside of the church that I (and Marriah for a bit) grew up in. At the time we lost Marriah, I was an infant teacher and the infant-teacher ratio was LOW. So when my parents showed up at my school and asked to speak with me, they had to send someone in to relieve me from my class. I was on my lunch break and sitting in an empty room in my “neighborhood”. I remember seeing a friend/coworker enter my class and thought nothing of it until she turned around and walked back out. I spoke up and asked if she was looking for me, and she told me she was because our headmaster wanted to speak with me. I literally had ZERO ideas or inklings as to why, but I followed her out and met with our headmaster.
He mentioned I wasn’t in trouble, but I was needed elsewhere. I followed him into THAT room and everything changed. I saw my Momma, then my Daddy, and then THAT feeling hit me…..something was VERY wrong. I scanned the room and saw our worship pastor and friend from church, I saw one of the pastors from the church building I worked in, and I saw my headmaster round the corner and take a seat. That feeling only intensified.
First thought, something happened to one of my grandparents. Second thought, something had happened to my baby brother who is enlisted in the military. Never in a million years did I expect the words that came out of my Momma’s mouth when she sat me down at that conference room table. I remember her grabbing my hands, looking me in the eyes, and saying one word. That’s all I remembered for the longest time that day…..her saying one word….”Marriah”.
For the longest time, I didn’t remember what happened between then and my director & supervisor (and work momma) coming in the room. It was like I was in a tunnel. I heard Momma telling me about the accident and that we had lost her, but I don’t think I really heard her. I didn’t want to. My favorite word that day was NO. I think I said it a hundred times before we left that room. Daddy stood behind me with his hands on my shoulders as I cried and repeated “no” over and over again while trying not to throw up. I’m nauseated just thinking about it. I remember looking away from Momma as she told my bosses what was wrong and watching my work momma start to tear up and cry with us. I was surrounded by so much love, but couldn’t feel it. I was drowning.
They offered to go get my stuff out of my room for me so I could sneak out without any questions, but I refused and said I wanted to go see my babies. Work Momma said that she would go with me and we left THE room. As I walked into my classroom and looked at my babies, I felt like I could breathe a little. I picked up “my” girl and just rocked her. I didn’t have favorites in my classroom, but there are just some children that you have a bond with and in this specific class that was “my” girl. She looked at me and just smiled as I cried while rocking her. I kissed her head and said I would see her soon, gathered my stuff and left the school with my parents. I was still drowning, but I was able to tread water for a few moments in my classroom.
When we got home, we called my brother. I say “we”, but it was Momma and Daddy who called him. I left the room. I had already “heard” it once, I COULDN’T hear it again. I called my childhood best friend who knew Marriah and I called my work bestie who happened to be off that day. I don’t know how I got the words out to tell them. I don’t remember what I said. I just know I called them. I was sinking further into the dark water.
At some point I calmed down enough to drive to my house and pack as well as tell my roommate what was going on. Again another conversation that don’t remember what I said. I made it back to my parent’s house and we headed for the ranch. *I’ll do a post on the ranch at a later date and tell y’all all about it.* I was an anxious ball of energy for that never ending drive. In reality it was only an hour and a half, but it felt like it would NEVER end. One of my other dear friends (my “sisstor”), who is married to a friend of Marriah’s brother, lived in GUAM so I had to get in contact with her to let her know. I did that on the drive. And I felt like I would never make it back to the surface.
I kept thinking “I just need my [aunt] and my [uncle]”. I needed Marriah’s momma and daddy. Those hugs and tears I remember like it was yesterday. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe again. Hearing my aunt talk about how we had lost our Marriah…that changed something in me. I knew Momma wasn’t lying to me, I knew this was real life before that moment, but hearing it from my aunt, from Marriah’s momma, and seeing her break down….was like hearing it all over again. I was really drowning.
I was drowning in my grief. I was drowning in the “what ifs”. I was drowning in the “what might have beens”. I felt like I couldn’t draw a good breath. And I was so tired. It hadn’t even been 4 hours and I was just so tired.
Before that day, I always turned to Marriah for my “emotional” support. She was the emotional one out of the two of us. She was my sounding board. She was the person I could always call or text “ok I have a problem”. She could read me like a book and know when I needed her to be real with me or when I needed her to tell me what I wanted to hear. I once text her that I had an emergency and she responded back that we needed to define emergency because this particular situation was NOT an emergency. She was the one I wanted to turn to while I was drowning, but her being gone was the reason I was, and still am most days, drowning.
There are many definitions for a single word in the English language. The 5 letter word D-R-O-W-N has so many that fit grief. Hence my English lesson at the top of the page. I feel them all in a different way while grieving. Maybe not the first definition so much, but definitely the last three. And that’s okay. There isn’t a manual on grieving. There isn’t a 12 step program that helps you recover from grieving. It’s a life long journey. But THAT day…the day everything changed…the day I started grieving…I knew what drowning felt like.
The song for this post is so accurate. It was written by Chris Young (and others) as a tribute to a friend he lost. If you only listen to one of the songs I use in my posts, this needs to be the one. It was just released this summer and is such a great song for anyone experiencing a loss.
” So, I’m gonna pull out pictures, ones with you in ’em
Laugh and cry a little while reminiscing
I can’t help
That all I think about is
How you were taken way too soon
It ain’t the same here without you
I gotta say, missing you comes in waves
And tonight I’m drowning ”
Love you always. Miss you forever, Sunflower. 🌻
Artist: Chris Young (2019)
Written: Chris Young, Corey Justin Crowder, & Josh Hoge