I definitely have not been looking forward to today. With as emotional as I have been over my niece this year, I just knew it was not going to be good. I was worried I was creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, but I can tell you for a fact, that's not what today was. There is a difference between manufactured feelings and honest to God ones. These were real and strong and SUCKED! It didn't help that I only slept about an hour and a half last night. So not only am I depressed - overwhelmed with grief and sorrow - but I am exhausted. Yeah, just great! It has been a struggle all day long. Sometimes I have just had to take things minute by minute, because I couldn't handle it any other way.
My niece Nichole Danielle was a beautiful child. She was born when I was around 9 years old because she was a year old around the time I was 10, or just about ready to be 10, I think. I adored her. I loved babies. I was taking care of her from time to time when she was two. I love to spend time with her. I loved to read to her, play with her... by the time she was three, I was watching her on a daily basis. Her parents had divorced. Her father - the first brother I really wish I had NOT had, except for Coley - was a jerk. Not only had he stolen money, committed fraud (such as trying to sell a house that did not belong to him), but he stole money from drug dealers. Was in jail and was a drug dealer, which is how he got himself a lot of money at one point. Oh, and he was a compulsive liar and a shit disturber. You might wonder what a shit disturber is. Well, it's someone that tried to start shit between people because he can. He LOVED to cause strife - especially between family members who already had tenuous relationships with each other! Yeah, he was a swell guy! This is also the guy that said he had taken someone out into the desert and killed them. He also claimed to work for the mafia. Personally, if he had, they would had sent him to sleep with the fishes long ago because he just had too big of a mouth.
Anyway, Coley would tell me about how she was exposed to the drugs. She had seen her father and then a girlfriend of his at one point (this was after I had been taking care of her) in the kitchen of their house naked and doing lines. The girlfriend would also invite her girlfriends over to do the same - naked and all. She also told me she had seen her father selling drugs.
Then we come to her wonderful mother. This woman had two daughters from a previous marriage. Anyway, she got remarried. Well, the man she married was molesting her daughters - including Coley. When they finally told her, you know what she told them? That they were lying and that they were trying to bust up her marriage because they didn't like him. Really?? Really?? If there is even a HINT of that being a possibility, I would take my kids and run or kick that asshole out and call the police! To turn against your own kids just proves that you were never fit to be a parent and to be the custodial parent. That's how I felt about my own daughter's father, who kind of did the exact same thing. He turned on his own daughter after something just like that, except it had been his 22 year old step-son to his 7 year old daughter! I ended up with sole custody of her with no visitation for him. He proved he wasn't fit to be her father. You DO NOT TURN ON YOUR CHILDREN! Especially when it's something like that!
But I took care of her almost every day for three years, give or take. I loved it when she spent the night too. We had so much fun together! And I loved her so much. After awhile, she ceased being my niece and became my daughter. In fact, we would go to the mall and she would call me mom. Now, mind you, this is when I'm between the ages of 13-16 years old. Grant you, I always looked older than my age. When I was 15, I looked 18. When I was 18 I looked 21 or older. But still, I didn't, at that time, look old enough to have a daughter her age. We got some interesting looks and we loved it and laughed. But during this time too, I was really the only stable female figure in her life, and the whole mom thing really turned out to mean that. Even in my writing, my characters went from having a sister to have a daughter and the daughters would always be modeled after Coley. She WAS my daughter in my heart. I would have given my life for her without a doubt in my soul. Eventually, as I got older, people would say to me, "You have a beautiful daughter." I would smile and say thank you.
Even my friends love her. My best friend (We consider ourselves sisters and have since we were 15 years old) loved her too. In fact, one of my good memories is of this stupid tape her and I were making. I'd had a falling out with a friend and the idea was to make this sort of revenge tape and eventually give it to her. Okay, stupid idea and in the end it turned more into a comedy tape for us. But in the beginning of it, we actually had Coley help us. We gave her a couple of lines to say and it was so cute to hear her little voice. Then we did another section where we recorded ourselves burping. LOL! It served no purpose except to be silly and perhaps annoying to the person who it had originally be intended for. Actually, it would have done more than irritate her. This girl - even NOW! - is prone to make everything into a major drama and she would have blown it up into something else. However, just hearing Coley burp was funny! Eventually, as a joke, Nicole said that we should be called Krazy Krys and the Hot Coles! LOL! To this day it's always going to remind me of that and especially reminded me of my niece - the daughter of my heart - my first child.
As time went on, we saw less and less of each other. She was, however, the Junior Bride's Maid at my wedding. But as she became a teenager and older we just didn't see each other much. She also went down a very dark path. At one point, she had straightened out, got pregnant, got married... she had two kids. Then she fell back into drugs. Eventually, she lost the kids. She ended up in jail - I actually went to see her in jail and she looked great there, surprisingly enough. She, however, had given birth to another child and that child had been put up for adoption. Her other two children, unfortunately, her father took. Yeah, Mr. Wonderful. To this day, I'm curious to know if he managed to do any better with them. To be honest, I don't see how. I think the one that will be the most normal will be the son that was put up for adoption.
Anyway, she got released from jail and ended up into drugs again. She seemed to disappear after that. I didn't hear about her. I was also going through so much of my own stuff - including abuse. But I NEVER stopped loving her. I NEVER stopped looking at her as a daughter. Those feelings just don't go away. Once a child is your child, even if it's just in your heart, that's how it stays. At least that's how it was for me. So when I found out she had died, I was devastated. To be honest, it was so traumatic, I don't remember that year it happened. I could do the math, but I haven't bothered. The year doesn't really matter. What matters is that it happened. I don't even remember being told. That part of my memory is gone or blocked. What I do remember is losing it. I went into my room and screamed, cried and beat the wall. Part of my heart and soul had been ripped out of me at that moment. And all I could see in my head was my little girl. The little girl I had taken care of and loved so much. The little girl that for all intents and purposes had become my daughter for that period of time. She had died of a drug overdose. She had Meth and Methadone in her system. It was YEARS before I could even talk about her without crying. I couldn't think of her without crying. There is NOTHING compared to losing a child and straight out of the blue. I have compared the moment to finding out like getting hit by a freight train. You are standing there one minute, thinking everything's okay and then BAM! Your whole world gets turned upside down, providing you survive. The crazy thing is, one year I stopped feeling like that. I didn't cry talking about her anymore. I had just figured enough time had passed, or I had processed it... then this year... and I am back all the way to the beginning again. So, what probably happened is that I blocked the feelings. I buried them. It's something I'm good at and I wasn't aware I did it. But I think it got triggered this year because of what was happening with my own daughter. It was like I had already lost one daughter and now I was losing another. Grant you, not in the same way, but still a loss.... I found myself crying over Coley again, just like I had in the beginning. I'm unable to talk about her without tearing up and wanting to cry. Sometimes a tear escapes even though my mind and body are trying to hard not to let it; to stop the tears and stop me from crying. You might say, why not let yourself cry? I would if I could. I have tried for years to make it okay for myself to cry. I would NEVER tell someone not to cry. But for me, I feel too vulnerable and growing up, the last thing you wanted to be was vulnerable. So somewhere along the way, my automatic response to wanting to cry is to try to shut it down, and no amount of telling myself how it's okay and it's natural and everyone does it makes it okay or has made a dent in this. So when I do cry, I feel like I am losing control and that I am vulnerable. And the pain is back completely. My nightmare is back. To me, I lost a child that day and there is NOTHING worse than that. And I NEVER want to go through that again. I'm not sure I could live through it.
SO here I am. I have managed to make it through the majority of the day. I have do what I could to cope. I posted on Facebook in support groups and even on my status. I wrote with a friend. I have dragged myself to groups, I have tried to eat regularly... I have written an email to my Aussie and I also saw my trauma therapist today. We talked about Coley and other things too. But a lot was about Coley and my other daughter. One of the things suggested to me was to write her a letter. I had planned to do that today, but just doing what I've done has really just taken everything out of me. I almost didn't want to write this, but I wanted there to be something on here about her and the day... but especially about how much she meant to me, because I wouldn't hurt this much if she didn't. Love doesn't die.... I know that... I just wish the loss didn't hurt so much. But I did find one thing to be grateful for... That I had been able to have her in my life at all...