The Other Side of the Fence

We see you, all of you, on the other side of the fence. We know you can see us, too. Thank you for looking. Thank you for stopping by. Thank you for holding our hands through the tight, painful openings. Thank you for taking the time to feel saddened by the pain that we experience.

We’re sorry for your pain, too. We know it’s impossible for you to feel what we’re feeling, and we’re so very thankful for that. Your support is amazing. Your words are so kind, and even when they unexpectedly sting, we know they are well-meaning. We love you all.

None of us on this side of the fence want to be here. We’re trapped in the grips of a nightmare that we can’t wake up from. We feel like we’re being suffocated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are literally unable to catch our breath at times, as our chests ache with a physical, deep, substernal pain. A different kind of pain than we’ve ever experienced. We’ve learned that these symptoms are due to a condition called “Broken Heart Syndrome,” which has literally killed people, due to stress-induced cardiomyopathy that sometimes occurs. So, when we say our hearts hurt, that we have physical chest pain, and that we can’t breathe, we mean it.

We are haunted. Haunted with the whys, and the what ifs, and the (irrational?) blame. We constantly wonder “were we good enough” people and parents and humans. We search for answers as to why this happened. Emotional answers and, in our case, scientific answers. Answers that no one can give us, not even the best and brightest scientists and medical professionals. We now live with demons, haunting demons that try to take over our minds, when we are too weak to forsake them. Some of us are also haunted by the physical images we faced when we were thrown to the other side of this disgusting fence.

We wonder if we are the ones who have died and are now living in Hell, because this life and these feelings are consistent with an unbearable pain and torture that lasts for eternity.

We know that nothing that occurs in our lives from now on will ever be as painful as what we have experienced. We know that no words will fix this because we have not only lost a child, we have lost a part of our selves.

Yet on top of all of this, we still ache for all of you, on the other side of the fence, because we know your hearts hurt too; for us and for our losses. We know you feel like there’s nothing you can do for us to make us feel better. There isn’t. But that’s ok. You just being there, saying nothing, looking over, reaching out, reminding us that we’re not alone, even though we’re permanently on the other side of the fence, is enough. For you, those on the other side of the fence, are the ones who are able to give us a brief moment of peace or laughter or a simple distraction.  We are so thankful for those moments. We never want them to end.

We run towards the sunshine that sometimes peeks through the darkness. We all pile in and relish in that moment because we never know when it’ll be taken away. We live in constant fear of what the next emotion will be or how we’ll handle the next requirement of life. We walk around aimlessly with blank eyes and a fake smile, just to try to maintain some normalcy for our loved ones, mostly the children who are on this side of the fence with us.

But please know that we are so happy for you, there on the other side of the fence, and we pray that you’ll always stay there. We see you running and laughing and playing and working and sincerely smiling and enjoying life. We see you functioning. We remember what that was like. We yearn for that time.

We hope those things will return for us too. We know, however, they’ll never feel the same, because someone will always be missing.

Just like you, we had a different perspective of all of this when we were on the other side of the fence. But take our word that life will never be the same. There will be no “new normal” because what we are experiencing is far from normal. Time will not heal us, because there is no healing in this loss. We’re living a trauma that never goes away. We will have wounds until the day we, too, die. We will just eventually learn to live with scars. Very abnormal scars.

We know this process is on our own time. And honestly, we’re too weak and exhausted to try to control it. So when you remind us that we can mourn or grieve for as long as we need, believe me, we will. We have no control over any of this. We’re scared. On the other side of the fence.

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