May 10, 2011 · Portrait Pricing

Last Mother’s Day I was so numb and in shock with swollen eyes that the day just floated by. I remember eating at a bakery and it was windy outside. Mother’s Day. I remember reading grief pamphlets given to me by our social worker at UCLA. Then throwing them away…tucking myself in and falling back to sleep.

This Mother’s Day I freaked and panicked. I wanted nothing and everything at the same time. I wanted it to be just like any other day because I’ve become comfortable coping with my daily pain and grief. But I wanted it to be special…but the haunting memories of what I was going through a year ago just won’t give in. Last week also marked one year since the doctors told us they could do no more for Emma. That it was time. It was in a small conference room in the PICU of UCLA and all her doctors were there. There were pictures of puffins on the wall.  Her nephrologist, team of pediatric cardiologist, pediatrician, and neurologist were all there and the palpable stillness enveloped me the moment I walked in the room. Her primary cardiologist, a pretty blonde lady named Mika simply said that she didn’t want to offer us false hope, that there was no more that they could do for Emma that would help her. All that brain power in a tiny space yet not a shred of hope. My vision blurred. They just kept saying that her heart wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t breathe. They didn’t even know if there was activity going on in her brain. I wanted to throw up. The time had come to remove all the wires and tubes…all the medicine and hope. I remember looking at Derek…and then Claire who was just sitting in her car seat…wearing shorts for the first time. Wondering if she understood what they were saying about her sister. But how could she have understood? I didn’t understand. I blanked and warm tears flooded my face. Doctors giving me their sad faces. Their sad faces just frustrating me even more. I clenched my jaw. There wasn’t anything left to say so they left us alone in that tiny room for a while.

I never thought of that moment until last week. Amazingly, the details are still saturated in my mind…the smell, the arrangement of the room, the thick air, what I was wearing, seeing all the doctors faces.  Today, my grief feels like an iceberg: only a fraction of it visible at the surface, a small manifestation of a massive body of grief.  I think its my minds own coping strategy. A little bit at a time.