Today I read the autopsy report. I don’t know if any of you have ever read one. They’re written from the point of view of the pathologist performing the autopsy. They start from the point of receiving the body in the bag. What color the bag is. The tags and numbers affixed. Any observations of the body. Color. Abrasions. Bruising. A note of every needle mark from the IVs. Rigor mortis present. Incisions. Fluid. Weighing bits and pieces that were a warm, giggling, clever child just two days before. Cardiac arrest. Unfixed bowels. Hemorrhage in the lung.
Although I often choke up watching videos of Ryann, she’s not always the object that tears at my heart. Often it’s the voices behind the camera. The innocent, clueless, content parents. I want to scream at them, warn them of what’s coming. Let them have a chance to brace for impact. Prepare themselves. When I watch a video I find myself calculating how many days it was before she died. How many days they had left together. How many more hours to hold on to. But they don’t know. I feel panicked for them. It’s a horror movie where they can’t hear the music that precedes the turn and all you want to do is shake them.
One of the most helpful things I learned as a pianist was to keep going. The temptation after a memory slip or stumble is to play heavier, think about the mistake, and tense up. It’s natural. But it doesn’t help and only causes more stumbles, sometimes a complete halt. Instead it’s better to force yourself to keep moving, don’t look back, loosen up. Take a deep breath, slow your heart, settle into the music. If you prepared with quality practice, the performance is the time to trust in it. Trust that you know what to do. Trust your fingers. A flaw can destroy the portion that follows and dim the memory of what preceded, or it can enrich the piece by reminding the listeners that the performer is human and make the beauty even more precious.
That’s the mantra I keep repeating. Remember Ryann, but don’t settle down into a rut of grief, don’t get stuck in looking back. Remember, be happy. Move forward, stay light. Trust that the pain will lessen, the memory will stay. Enjoy innocent happiness even though I know how quickly it can change. Trust that there’s more to reach for and remember everything I had. The landscape is much different than I expected, the journey has not been smooth, but I trust that the whole will be beautiful. I wish it hadn’t happened, but it has. I refuse to be destroyed by this and instead it will be a forever reminder to love, laugh, live wholly and fully and regretlessly. Life is amazing, see it for what it is.