Yesterday afternoon we went to the coroner's office to see the body. Dan and Ben had both wanted to see it one more time, and as we were not averse to the idea, took them, along with Sue (Dan's mum).
I was always aware that character played a significant role in how we look, but even I was surprised at the stranger we saw there. We all agreed after that if we'd been presented with a body and asked to identify it, we would have really struggled. I won't describe what it was like, but although we could recognise she'd once used that body, it seemed that the longer she was away from it, the less like her it had become.
Now as it happened, the other girl who had been in the car was in the ITU of the hospital, not far away. We were asked if we'd like to meet Gemma's parents, and were happy to do so.
They were just lovely people, obviously in tremendous pain, and yet still able to reach out in love. When Gemma's mum learned who Dan was, she hugged him and forgave him. I think we were all in tears somewhat then. There were no signs yesterday whether Gemma will pull through or not, but we pray that she will live to make a complete recovery.
This morning Chris and I were talking about how we were coping. As we've said so many times, the grace of God has been there for us in an amazing way. People have arrived expecting us to be devastated, and sometimes we've even comforted them. Mornings are usually worst, but it feels like we have moved from grief to a softer sadness and sorrow. We have been spared the intense anger that often accompanies this kind of thing, and even the 'if onlys' quickly passed. For now we are still quite tender, but are moving forward as a family, talking about how we need to include each other and discussing future plans.
Time is currently running in slow motion. Chris is fairly convinced she doesn't want to return to the old ways of being hectic. I'm sort of looking forward to the return of brisk, ordered chaos. We will just have to wait and see what shapes life assumes after the funeral and celebration. I hope this has changed me as a person. I want to be different, with rearranged priorities. For now, I'll wait and see.