…and suddenly was overwhelmed with a very physical yearning to touch and kiss my daughter. That building is the last place I saw my girl. And it was nearly 7 months ago. And it wasn’t the same.

I didn’t realize that death sucks the softness out of our bodies. Elli had the softest hands. I especially loved to hold her hand during church. And she would run her hands up and down my arms when sitting next to me.

At the hospital, as we sat with her and tried to wrap our minds and our hearts around the reality that she would never open her eyes again, I held her hand. It was soft, but it was growing cold. I used to warm her hands and feet with my hands, but this time her hand wouldn’t warm up.

The morning we buried her, I touched her hands one last time. And almost recoiled from the shock. Her hands were hard. They didn’t even feel like real skin anymore. The only thing that still felt the same was her hair.

And driving by the funeral home reminded me of all of that in a flash.

I think it takes time to really understand that someone is gone. Permanently.

The pain of loss is overwhelming at first, like a wave crashing overhead and completely disorienting you. That initial wave is ebbing now, but now I find myself caught in a rip tide, pulling me further and further away from her. As hard as I try to cling to and dust off my memories of her, they still fade a little every day. And that is a whole different kind of pain. Instead of the overwhelming which-end-is-up flood, this is a dull ache that always aches and occasionally throbs or stabs.

People tell me the aching gradually decreases, though it never disappears. And the throbbing and stabbing pains get further apart. But they never disappear either. So we will go on, missing her, aching to hold her again, run our fingers through her hair, and smell her skin.