Catelyn was born on December 30, 2009. She unexpectedly died on September 11, 2011. She was 20 months old. It was the worst day in my life, thus far. I never envisioned anything could come close to matching the pain I felt that day.
And then, two days ago, I received a message from my ex-husband notifying me that Catelyn's cousin Audrey, my niece, had passed away.
Audrey was born on May 1, 2015 and unexpectedly died on June 16, 2015.
She was 3.5 months old.
Immediately, I felt that seemingly endless, gaping hole in my heart reopen.
There aren't words.
I've tried telling my former sister-in-law and brother-in-law how sorry I am, but it's not enough.
I want to hold them while they cry. I want to scream with them. I want them to pound on my chest when they can't take it anymore. I want to sit with them. I want to do their laundry, wash their dishes, feed their other children and pets, buy their groceries, mow their lawn, build them a memorial garden...
Honestly, I don't even like doing most of those things for myself, but if I could, if it would change anything, I would do everything on that list and more to lessen their pain.
I remember what they did for us....cut a lock of Catelyn's hair, yielded questions about what happened, helped write thank you notes, arranged balloons for a release at the cemetery site, took pictures of each plant/flower/gift we received at the funeral, helped assemble picture boards, distracted us, sat in silence with us, encouraged us....
Right now all of these items seem like an insurmountable task, and yet, they did it all, with help, of course, nearly four years ago, when we were in their shoes.
I still don't know how they managed to complete so many painful tasks....
...and to be honest, they probably don't know how we did what we did either.
Somehow it seems harder this time.
And here I sit, so mad at myself, because instead of rallying in their honor, I feel almost paralyzed by the intense flood of memories and emotions swooping over me.
Why can't I do for them even a tiny portion of what they did for me? I've been through this. I understand the pain, and yet I'm so stunned.
I feel completely helpless.
I semi-comprehend what is happening around me, but I have no idea how to help.
I'm at a loss.