I Love You, I Miss You

Published 10 years, 3 weeks past

In April, not long after we told Rebecca we couldn’t find the special medicine, I heard her crying in her bedroom.  I went in to find her with her brother Joshua and Kat.  She was sobbing, huddled in Kat’s arms.

“Rebecca says she wants Joshua to have her Cinderella’s Castle alarm clock forever and ever,” Kat told me through her own tears.

This is the clock that, for a while, is how Rebecca got to sleep, listening to the two stories it could play, one after the other, until she drifted off.  She loved to watch the tiny figures of Cinderella and Prince Charming twirl about as cheery music played and the towers lit up with slowly shifting colors.

Our five-year-old daughter, a fan of all princesses but of Cinderella above all others, willing her treasured clock to her little brother.

I cannot ever describe the emotion that pierced me in that moment.

A few days ago, Joshua added a new component to his bedtime routine.  We didn’t prompt him; he just did it of his own accord, and continues to do it.  Just before it’s time to read stories, he goes over to the clock Rebecca gave him, sitting there on his dresser as it has since that day in April, and starts the music.  Looking at the spinning figurines within, he says in a clear, slightly wistful voice, “Good night, Rebecca.  I love you, Rebecca.  I miss you, Rebecca.”

I cannot ever describe the emotion that pierces me in those moments.

But I can say that it has helped me start to pierce the numbness I described earlier.

Of course it brings tears to my eyes when he wishes Rebecca good night.  The first time I saw him do it, I almost completely broke down, only containing myself for fear of scaring him or making him think he should stop.  I don’t want him to stop until he moves beyond it naturally.

What that pure moment of love made me realize, to my horror, is that I had stopped saying those things.  I had stopped saying I loved her and missed her, because she was gone and there was no point.  But there was a point, all along, and I (perhaps understandably) overlooked it in my grief.  The point is that I can still hear those words, and in hearing them, feel what they mean and what we have lost.

So every so often, when I have a few moments alone or with Kat, I say the words:  I love you, Rebecca.  I miss you, Rebecca.

It isn’t enough to think them (or type them, for that matter).  I speak them, in a whisper or a normal tone or whatever voice seems right.  It becomes a miniature elegy.  A way of slowly, slowly, slowly coming to terms with her death.  Saying the words brings tears, sometimes just a few, sometimes a few minutes of them.  Each tear brings me a tiny step closer to acceptance.

I know it will take a long time, but this small ritual, taught to me by my three-year-old son, keeps me on the path.

I love you, Rebecca.  I miss you, Rebecca.

Comments (15)

  1. My heart aches for all of you.

    Love and light.

  2. I’m glad your voice is coming back.

    God bless you.

  3. It’s a corollary to Pascal’s bet. If she can hear you, good that she hears you. Sweet story about Joshua.

  4. Through misty eyes…Joshua rocks! and so do you!

  5. I hug my kids a few seconds longer and tell them that I love them a few more times every day because of Rebecca and your words.

  6. I don’t know how I even landed on this page, but know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Joshua wise beyond his years is awesome.

  7. Eric, I’m glad you found this path out of the numbness. I thought of you yesterday when I heard an author being interviewed this weekend. I caught just a but of the middle of the interview, but I heard him say that he had written his book to share with others his experience with the death of someone close to him. He spoke of feeling fear, confusion, numbness, and hurt.

    To me, he hit the nail on the head. Before we feel anything we can express, those are the overwhelming feelings of grief.

    Don’t ever question your ability to feel or think or do. Take small steps to heal, and be sure to be present in the moment, whatever the moment brings.

    Just as you did when you learned from Joshua this powerful way to forever hold Rebecca in your heart.

  8. I lost my nan back in early 2002. We were close. I miss her so much still to this day. Three years before she passed my first child arrived. It was a boy. Throughout my years of growing up, I hoped that one day I would meet the love if my life and settle down and start a family. And if I did and I had a boy I would call him Jack. Jack was also the name of my grandad, whom I never met as he passed just before I was born. The joyful expression on her face when I introduced her to Jack, I will never forget. She looked at me. Thanked me. And cried with happiness. Today I have another boy and a girl and I just know that my nan looks over them and keeps them safe. To this day, I too say that I miss her, either out loud or in a whisper. Just because you don’t say it every day or think of her every day, doesn’t mean that you don’t. Rebecca loved you all as much as you all loved her. Thoughts are with you and your family Eric.

  9. English is not my native language so please forgive me if something comes out wrong.

    Of course you’ll never forget Rebecca, and you’ll always love her. And I think we actually all do, thanks to you.
    Don’t forget to love all your children as well, they need you too.

  10. Those are the exact same words I say to my Dad, sometimes. I lost him in November 2012. It still helps to say it, almost like a fresh discovery and realisation each time I say them, creating a space and a shape for the loss. I’m glad you’ve found your way to them, too.

  11. I am so very sorry for your loss. The words of a stranger won’t make a significant difference, of course, but hopefully it is some consolation that your daughter will now also live on in the minds of hundreds or even thousands of visitors to this blog.

    Just such a small thing as the colour purple; I’ve suddenly started noticing every single occurrence of it around me. And of course, I think of Rebecca and what you all are going through.

    Take care, all of you, and let yourselves time to heal.

  12. I just want to offer you and your family my sincerest condolences at your tragic loss.
    I have two little girls myself and can not fathom the depth of your grief and sorry right now.
    Sometimes loved ones are taken away so quickly we do not have a chance to say goodbye, which I have experienced twice myself, sometimes loved ones are taken away slowly. I think that in a special way you were blessed because you could say goodbye to little Rebecca, you could care for her and comfort her right to the end. Whilst she might never have learned to read, she knew what it was to be loved and to give love.
    It’s too early now but there is a special book called ‘Chasing Daylight’ which you may want to read one day.
    I hope you find the strength to carry on from within the love of your special family.

  13. I was just coming here to find some information and tips about css..

    I have a little 4 years old daughter and two twin 2 years old brothers.

    I can barely imagine what you and your family are enduring. I am sincerly with you.

    Be strong, for you son and your wife. They need you.

  14. Eric,

    Please don’t let this pain wash over you and kill your heart into just a beating organ. I can’t even begin to understand or comprehend the amount of grief you’re going through… but I want you to know something.

    About 7 years ago when I got your book Eric Meyer on CSS it inspired me to make a better living for myself. All because in part of you and the great work you’ve laid out for people like me. Now I’m recently a father. She’s now 7months old. And I can provide for her, and I know you’re part of the reason why I have this wonderful life I’ve been given.

    I’m sure part of what makes you great is from your love for your family and especially Rebecca and I hope you don’t lose that and become numb.

    You and your family are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

  15. I found your blog through the Wash Post story about Facebook’s special year in review.

    I read every word about Rebecca.

    I just want to tell you this: Ten years later, I still say, “I love you Nicholas. I miss you, Nicholas.”

    May Rebecca’s memory be eternal.

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