In the hours since Rebecca’s funeral and inurnment, I find it increasingly hard to speak. I can talk if I must, almost always in response to someone’s attempts to engage me in conversation, or to thank people for coming to Shiva. I have no words of my own. Only here, typing, can I find a few. Even these are hard to produce.
People come to the house and tell me how sorry they are, and all I can say is “So am I.” They tell me how remarkable Rebecca was, how much the service moved them, how we’re constantly in their thoughts, and all I can do is mumble “Thank you.” They ask me how I’m doing and I don’t know how to answer.
I look at her pictures on the wall and on the mantle, sitting in front of the Shiva candle, and I try to feel something. Anything. Grief seems as absent as joy. Tears rarely come, and only then in sympathy with the tears of others. People tell me how incredibly strong I am, and I don’t know what they mean.
In my head, I tell myself that this is still shock, deep shock, and that grief will come. In my heart, I ask myself how I could possibly feel — more accurately, not feel — this way, if I ever truly loved Rebecca. Was the whole thing a long, involved dream?
The mourning candle burns on the mantle, and the pictures surround it. Rebecca as a baby. At Disney. Laughing with her siblings. Kissing a dolphin. Smiling next to her mother. It must have been real. The house seems empty now, vast beyond need, filled with too many rooms and not enough use. I miss her laugh, her footsteps, her arms around my neck, her energy. It must have been real. Yet I still sit, numb and passive, wondering if I will ever grieve my child’s death, and what it will say about me if I never do.