“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” (Winnie the Pooh)
Honest questions. Sometimes I get asked them. And for that, I really am so thankful. Like today for example, during an unexpected conversation with a co-worker in an inconvenient setting.
“So are you better?”
“Am I better?” I respond, clearly stunned from the question. “Am I better from what?”
“From losing your baby. Are you better?”
(Deep sigh. WOW.)
“No. I’m not better.”
This response then led into a much needed explanation from me, and a good and honest, conversation. I didn’t realize, until we were done, how welcomed the honest question was. And I’m so thankful that I seized the opportunity to be transparent instead of running from it.
Time does not “heal all things,” and “things do not get better with time.” Does the intensity of the pain soften? Right now, I am learning that, yes, in a way it does. I guess you could say it’s more “manageable.” It bubbles up during the day, but I can choose to enter into it, or push it down for a while until it inevitably rears it’s ugly head again. Initially, especially in my first days back at work, I had no control over it. It was so fresh, and it controlled me. I spent most hours of the work day crying at my desk and unable to think about anything else other than the fact that my baby died. And I buried her. And that when I left, I wouldn’t be picking her up on the way home. And my mind would relive each and every gut wrenching moment over and over again, and I would yield to its hold over me. But now, there are milestones and month markers. And each day passing is another day of life without her, along with the realization that my life on earth will forever be without her. Each new experience that happens, blessing or burden, happens because she is not here. We will get through year one, and then what? Each year after that? That awareness is daunting and depressing and doesn’t help me to feel like time is doing me any favors.
But also with time, the honest questions have started coming. And they really have helped. They offer an acknowledgement of what has happened and is still going on. They permit me to tell my story. They allow me to reflect on the memories. They give me the opportunity to talk about HER. They provide room for truth and give me a break from a false reality. And they give me freedom when I thought I would never feel free again.
They also allow me to really think about how I am doing. How AM I doing after all? The days are busy, and grieving or not, life keeps going. It’s unfortunate and hard, but time is not standing still for me.
Most mornings, I wake up with a heaviness in my heart that I don’t even realize is there until someone asks me an honest question. I guess I’m getting used to “living with the pain” and waking up each morning without her. I find myself forging through each work day with the unspoken burden of it all constantly weighing me down. I attempt to trudge through each hour until I can just get home and feel everything I need to feel. Home is such a safe space.
But when I’m away from home and someone unexpectedly stops to ask me an honest question, the burden lifts. The tears fall, my heart swells with pride, and I sense a deep gratitude that in that moment, I’m not the only one acknowledging her story, her existence, and her profound impact on my life. I’m able to share a piece of my broken heart, and my step literally lightens. In that grace filled moment, I feel (dare I say) normal. The honest questions renew me with an energy I can’t summon on my own, and they remind me that I’m not in this alone. Other people care about her, too. She was, and IS, so loved.
What happened? How did you know she was gone? Did you have a choice to start an induction or go home? Were you scared? What was it like to deliver a dead baby? What did she look like? How was her coloring? Can I see a picture of her? How did she get a knot in her cord? What was it like after you delivered her? How are you feeling? How are the kids? Are things getting any easier for you? What is hard for you these days?
I appreciate it so much when someone “goes there” with me. I find that the majority of people want to avoid talking about IT for fear of “hurting me.” But not saying anything, and not acknowledging all we’ve been through, hurts so much more and is so much worse than saying something, because it truly helps IMMENSELY to talk about it all. The honest questions connect my head to my heart. After all, her memory and presence is the reason it is broken and full at the same time.
So, if you are one of those people who asks the honest questions, thank you. And if you are not, for whatever reason, please know that there is healing to be found through sharing the journey. And perhaps if we help to carry each other’s crosses, we might learn something from one another in this ugly mess called life, in which we are all hurting. So, please, bring on the honest questions.