Losing My Valencia Imagine someone has opened your chest with clawed hands, grabbed your heart in a crushing grip and torn it from your body. But you do not die. You remain alive, in agony. Agony that will continue for days, weeks, months and years. This is what it feels like when your child dies. To see the body of my precious child and feel its emptiness was pain that defies words. I saw my beautiful child, knowing that I would never again see her smile, hear her laugh or feel her hand clinging to mine. I would never again hold her warm body close and breathe in the scent of her hair. I would never know the woman she would have grown up to be. I walked from the chapel knowing that I had seen my daughter for the last time ever. I wondered why I still lived, and how I was supposed to keep going. I wanted to die; I wasn't suicidal - it's just that the only way to end my pain was death, and I ached to hold her in my arms again. Never again will I feel 'whole'. My whole future is flavored by the loss of my daughter. A part of me went with her, and a gaping hole exists that her warm presence once filled. I asked questions that no one could answer; Why did she die? Why not me instead? Death has struck close to me once - what if it happens again? What do I do now? How will I manage? Why am I still here? I rode an emotional roller coaster. One moment I felt I was managing well - the next I was curled up in a corner pleading with God to take me, right now. I went for long periods where I did well and thought, "Okay, I've accepted it." Then out of the blue, it hit me anew - "She's dead. God, she's really dead." And I began a new round of grieving. Gradually, I found that the lows weren't quite as low as the previous ones, and that I rose from them quicker. Then just when I thought I was cruising on a level piece of track, it dropped out from under me yet again. I did this over and over and over, but living with it gradually became easier, and I even found that I could live a 'normal' life again, although it was a new normality. I will never forget my daughter, Valencia. She will live forever in my heart and in my memories. Death makes her no less a part of our family. Living with the fact that my child has died does not mean forgetting. It means knowing and accepting that she is gone, but still holding close those precious memories. It means that my love for her does not change, but that I don't allow my grief for her death to over-rule my life forever. It's about remembering that my daughter would not expect nor want me to spend the rest of my life in misery. My new normality is not necessarily an unhappy one. My daughter's life and death is part of what makes me who I am. It has had an immense impact on the way I look at life, and although I wish she was still here, I know that I have grown from my experience. We tend to celebrate her birthday rather than her death-day. To us it's more important that she was born than that she died. We choose to celebrate her life, not her death. It means more to us that she was here than that she is gone.