The house is silent. A little too silent for my taste.
Grief is a strange animal. It creeps on you like a fog, inching its way up slowly and before you know it, you are covered, smothered and struggling to breathe. In the first few days after Darla came home, I realized I was in over my head. I pushed ahead insisting I would be okay and I could do it all despite repeated warnings from people who had been there, by people who knew me all too well.
The mornings which were chaotic became a different kind of pressure. Evenings with homework and chores seemed insurmountable. There were moments of joy, each walk with her. Watching her chase leaves, bound through the grass, play with a ball. I grinned so wide my face threatened to split open. Then there were the moments, the smells that triggered headaches, the constant fear of accidents around the home, the lingering scent of dog pee, the hyper play between the children and her. I walked around on edge, fearful something would go horribly wrong.
The need for self-care won, I petitioned and wore everyone down until they gave in to my request. This evening, I drove down to the shelter and relinquished her. We drove back, the sounds of sobs hitting me hard. The gloom cast a pall over the household. Words were minimal. We functioned.
Guilt and relief alternated. I felt weighed down and buoyed. As Amma and I walked around the oval way past dinner, I realized that relief won over guilt but the grief lingered.
The next few days will be hard. It may just have been two weeks but she leaves behind a Darla shaped hole in our home.