95: Dear Danielle

95: Dear Danielle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Dear Danielle

She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.

~George Eliot

A bottle of perfume, a pallet of eye shadow, and a can of hair spray sit on my bathroom vanity. Other than a daily dusting, they remain untouched. Her beautiful smile and flashing brown eyes continue to whirl around the misty corners of my brain to haunt my dreams each night. The memory of her tinkling laugh makes me smile wistfully each time it glides across the silence of my empty house to tickle my ears. My daughter Danielle may no longer reside in my house, but her spirit remains eternally young and beautiful in my heart.

Losing my mother in 2007 knocked the wind out of me, but the loss of my daughter in 2008 brought me to my knees. As I scramble for a way to cope, familiar passages from The Holy Bible have become my best friend. Each word is like a rainbow from above, a sign of his eternal promise of comfort and hope. The reading of his sweet, familiar word offers so much encouragement in those dark, early morning hours when sleep evades me. Clinging to the hope of eternal life strengthens me. Faith in my redeemer brings me peace. Acting like a lifeline, it encourages me to get up each morning to go on. In all honesty, my faith in Christ is the only thing preventing me from slipping into the black hole of depression and misery.

Writing has become a great catalyst to rid my soul of anger and resentment. Cataloging my thoughts helps ease the pain. As I channel my loss into a poem, I can feel Danielle’s presence in my life. Precious memories deserve their place of honor. A daily journal of my inner feelings encourages me. It is the one place where I can write down my feelings without feeling any shame. Daily, I spill out my innermost thoughts, the good, bad, and ugly.

On New Year’s Eve when the stars twinkled brightly in the sky, I inhaled the scent of my Irish Cream coffee and wondered about the year ahead. Did I have anything to live for in the year ahead? Then I thought of my other two children, my husband, and my seventy-five-year-old father. Praying for strength, I somehow made it through the night. It’s funny but I remember wondering how many in the world were wearing silly hats as they tooted paper horns and toasted each other with a glass of champagne.

As the long months of spring and summer loom ahead, I continue to struggle to regain my footing. When the spring flowers began to unfurl with a prism of bright color, how will I be able to feel any joy? Spending time with my earthly father helps. Reminiscing about the past, somehow bridges the pain I feel. I hope by spending more time with him, the gaping hole in my heart will eventually heal. He is my rock, solid and strong. He has suffered the loss of mother, father, brothers, a sister, wife, daughter, and now a granddaughter. Yet through it, all, his faith has remained steadfast and sure. He continues to talk about the goodness and love of the Lord. Through his faith, I find peace.

Death is one of the hardest lessons life can hand us. We have all faced the long dreaded trip to a funeral home. Yet nothing prepares us for the scars these visits leave on our heart and soul. All loss is painful, sad, and in some ways eye-opening. Each trip drives home the reality that life on earth will not last forever. I struggle for answers. Why did my daughter die so young? If I had done things differently, would she be here with me today? How could the Lord see fit to remove a twenty-seven-year-old from this world? Yet through it all, I know it is not my place to question. In his infinite wisdom, God knows all. He has a master plan, and we each have a tiny spot where we fit in. Many things happen that leave us wondering why. A mere human can never understand it all.

Through the years, people always told me a mother’s intuition is greater than radar. That statement is no longer questionable to me. As I sit here writing this, I know beyond a doubt my daughter is in Heaven with the Lord. I am assured she is happy and at peace. Now as I continue my daily struggle in this cold, cruel world I must look up in order to survive. He never promised the journey would be easy. Never guaranteed we would live each day in comfort. Struggling to overcome the death of my daughter is the hardest thing I have ever done. Yet in my heart, I know with the help of the Lord I will endure.

Each morning I get up to follow my familiar routine. As I go about my daily life, I cling to my memories of my daughter. Spending time with my husband and my two other children encourages and inspires me. Then late in the evening, after things have settled down, I sit at my computer to write. As my daily journal flashes onto the screen, I type in the familiar words, “Dear Danielle.”

~Sharon Rosenbaum-Earls

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