Today is one month since Red Twin died.
Arthur asked me if I think I’m depressed. I’m just so sad all the time. But I said no. It’s not been the 6-8 weeks yet (the normal initial adjustment period to shock or trauma) so I think it’s too early to make a call anyway. But I eat, I sleep, I exercise. I get dinner on the table.
I still laugh. Tanzanian last names are your father’s first name. So I would be Tamie Peter. A colleague of Arthur’s saw the card from Red Twin’s funeral, which had her first and middle names on it, but not her last. (Her identity still needs to be protected.) Upon seeing this he asked if Australia was a matrilineal society. Because both names are female, he thought we took our mothers’ names. That made me chuckle.
I thought grief would be like a stabbing pain, but it’s more like a slow crush. So I do everything with a smaller range of motion. My capacity is significantly reduced. None of my normal routines work.
I’d like to keep busy, but my two mornings a week for research and writing yawn in front of me. I can barely make my brain function. I’ve been inventing errands to do instead.
I want to be around people, but I’m exhausted after 10 mins. Tanzanian sympathy visits are 3 hours minimum, but I don’t want them to stop. I want to be acknowledged. But on the other hand, I want to be left alone.
People ask me what I need. I don’t know. Well, I do. I need Red Twin back.
I didn’t realise how often I WhatsApped with her, or how whenever something happened, even if I didn’t tell her immediately, I knew I would download it into her brain later on.
Things keep trundling along. Children still need to be fed and hugged and have their squabbles broken up before someone gets too badly hurt. Why do they have so many needs when I have so much less to give?! But then, Callum’s soft cheek against mine is comforting (even if the constant tugging on my clothes and twiddling with my nipples isn’t!) And Elliot brought me a picture he’d drawn, “because you’re sad, Mama”. It was of me with my Mum and Dad and sisters in a caravan, which is how we went on holidays when I was a kid.
They keep growing even though Red Twin has stopped living. They learn new things, and have new issues, and I don’t have her perspective on them. That’s not a stab either. It’s more like a gaping hole, a vacuum that sucks all the air out of the world.
I tell my little boys that Red Twin is with Jesus, but the words feel like dust in my mouth. It feels incongruent that she could be experiencing the joy of being with Him, while I feel so sad. I am jealous of both of them, being with each other, enjoying each other without me.
I’ve been trying to remember the last conversation I had with Red Twin, but I can’t. She was delirious for her last days, so we didn’t know which conversation would be the last or if she would wake up again, and if she would be ‘there’ when she spoke.
She didn’t seem like she was passing from one world to the next, from our love into the arms of Jesus. It just seemed like she was gone. I keep thinking there should have been a trace of pixie dust, some tangible hint that there is another world. But there was none. There still isn’t.
What is so real for her does not seem at all real to me. It is an effort to believe. This is what it is to live by faith and not by sight I guess.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.