At first, it's all there is, the grief, the pain, the sheer size and weight of a nothingness you can't even comprehend, even as you carry it around. Everything you see, or say, or do -- all translates, degrades, into the mental image of sod-stripped ground, and the seemingly gaping hole that waits to swallow up the casket and hold it hostage from you for eternity.
Or the way the rain played on the surface of the pond in the distance, the peaceful shade under the arms of the willows that drip, sodden with your grief -- wouldn't she have loved to feed the ducks there? Wouldn't you have had to be oh so careful that in her youthful glee, she didn't fall in?
She'll never worry you that way, mama, she'll never get the chance
Weeks, perhaps months, later you'll wonder what the minister said while the rain poured off that grotesquely green tent and down Uncle John's back. Why they turned you away when the men came on the tractor. You'll have to re-examine the visitor book to know who attended -- and search for your own name, because it all still seems so unreal.
Death is ugly, horribly, irreversibly final.
Time passes, and one day, with a guilty start, you'll discover an uncertain smile on your lips.
It can't be helped, as cruel a reality as it is, as cliche as we know it to be, life goes on.
Beckett said it best didn't he?
"I can't go on. I'll go on."
You do because you have no choice, not because any part of you believes that you can, not because any fiber of you even wants to. It would have been easier to sit, motionless on that aluminum folding chair, until my body wasted away -- until, through some process of physics or biology -- the pressures of the inner and outer were equalized.
The 3 year anniversary passed in August, and it crushed me to the point of being unable to speak it out loud. I lived it all over again, pining over pictures of her tiny tube-riddled body, and those of the bloated purple child they planted firmly in the ground -- just out of my reach.
6 more months have passed, and I feel no differently than I did then -- I just don't have the luxury of letting it out, never did. I just, went on.