“Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, And each will wrestle for the mastery there.” (Johann Wolfgang van Goethe)
I haven’t been avoiding you...at least not intentionally. Perhaps I’ve been avoiding the situation subconsciously for self preservation. But I’m feeling guilt and remorse for running. For running from reality, which ultimately, is running from your death. I’m trying to numb the fact that before I retire for the day, I look at your name and footprints on a clay tile, instead of looking at you in your bed, which is just across from where I rest.
It infuriates me. And when I think about it for too long, I want to implode.
It was nine months last week. Nine months that have flown and crawled at the same time. Nine months of drinking in my sorrow and being parched for joy. Nine months of grieving and being submerged into the depths of my confusion, anger, and despair. Nine months of flashbacks, triggers, progress, and setbacks.
Long nights. Long days. Endless tears. Haziness. Navigating in a fog.
I have felt so lost.
Who am I? What is this life? When will things ever feel at peace again? When will my soul find acceptance and fully surrender?
The days moving forward from the 38 week mark have been marked with a lot of inner turmoil. I’m frustrated with myself. I’m overwhelmed with life. I keep pushing forward, but I really just want to STOP, because I’m exhausted in every single way. I’m weighed down from the fight to survive. How can I keep going?
My jealousy has returned. My judgement relentless. I try to swallow it, but it rushes up with a force that suffocates me. And then I feel so ashamed. Why did I not get to keep you?
Am I not good enough? Were you too good for me? Why this punishment? I didn’t ask for this cross.
Honestly, I would still choose to give it back.
I see friends with their babies your age. The hardest are those with little girls. And I can’t help but think of what you would be like at nine months old. It’s my favorite age...my little babe, you would be so full of life and personality. Would you have us crying tears from laughter, instead of tears of anguish? I try to look away from these other babies, but I can’t. My eyes are drawn to them, because I’m just so curious. I’m curious about you. And at the same time, I’m so thankful THEY are alive, and that God had blessed my friends who have been open to life. To see that is so beautiful. How can I be thankful and so sad for myself at the same time? I’m divided.
But what would you be like? I long to know. I long to know YOU. I can’t belive that you will always be a mystery. That fact makes it often feel like you are a myth. But My body grew you and carried you and delivered you...why does my mind make it all so hazy? I tell myself to look at our pictures together, but I’m so hesitant. Because the pictures mean this is real, and I want to wish this reality away. But I don’t want to wish you away. I’m divided.
I’ve tried to do things for you...singing mainly. It’s been hard to put myself into large social settings. I’m so easily overwhelmed. I still want to hide in a shell most days, but I’m finding I’m being propelled more and more into life and people and social interactions. And life and people and social interactions are hard. And I don’t have much patience, if any at all. Not many people ask about you, or even say your name. It makes me feel like you are forgotten. And with my uncertainty of who you are, I’m left feeling perplexed. Doing “normal” things makes me feel like I am moving on from you. I want to know you, my sweet love. I feel like I should be saying “no” to serving, because I’m too busy being wrapped up in life and raising you. I want your life and death to count for something, but even in the midst of extending myself, I just end up feeling sad and angry. Ultimately, all I want is you. And perhaps that is selfish. I’m divided.
I had spent the days leading up to your nine month day pretending it wasn’t coming. I didn’t want the twenty-second to come again. Then, the night before, the ocean of grief swallowed me whole and tossed me around violently, thrashing the broken pieces of my heart into my hands for me to look at in the face.
I began overreacting, and I took my anger out on your siblings. Your Daddy asked me when I was going to start treating them with kindness. His words pierced me...I have felt like such an awful mother lately. I want to be better, and yet, I feel so incapable. I’m divided.
My emotions rule my days. It feels impossible to choose mind over matter when I’m just so reactive. My anxieties and insecurities eat away at me, and I don’t even take the time to process it all. The end result...I hurt others, because I am in so much pain. And I hate it. Maybe you are better off without me after all.
As we put your brothers and sisters to bed that night, and sat to pray before ending the day, the mess of myself I had been attempting to stuff down rose up with an intensity I couldn’t deny. I kept pushing the tears back, because I didn’t want anyone to know how heartbroken I was feeling. Why have I been so ashamed of my emotions? I know I’m not okay. Why do I pretend? I’m divided.
I left the house without warning, and in a flood of tears, drove blindly to your grave. It was dark. It was 9 PM. Perhaps that was not safe, but safety and sanity weren’t priority. You were, and I needed to be near you. When I arrived to you, I cried relentlessly, burrowing my body into the granite wall, which seperates us. I pounded my fists against the cold stone. I traced your name over and over. I begged and asked WHY. I was overcome with my grief. My arms, my heart, my body, my everything aching for you. I wanted to collapse under the weight of it all. The finality of nine months pressed in deep, and I just couldn’t believe it. I still don’t want to accept losing you. I want you here with me.
After leaving your body, I went to the chapel where we spent almost everyday together. My grief was audible. My sorrow loud. I pressed my body at the foot of the stand of the tabernacle, and just gave Him my tears. Gave him my hurts, my sadness, my confusion, my longing, my anger, my grief. I lost track of time, but when I finally left, my eyes were inflamed and my face swollen. What little energy was left within me had been drained, as I literally cried out from my pores. I was empty.
When I returned home, I didn’t say much to your Daddy. I didn’t need to. My face said it all. I passed out in bed from sheer exhaustion and spent the next two days in a fog attempting to recover.
I was surprised to find that the actual day...February 22...wasn’t like the night before. I found joy in the spring weather, the warm sun, the birds chirping. Signs of new life swirled around me. We went for a family walk that afternoon, because I just wanted to be present and feel at peace and not bask in my misery. I casually mentioned to your siblings that you would have been nine months old. “Would have been”...those words stung. In the midst of the external beauty was my internal pain. And once again...I was divided.
We left town for the weekend to see your Daddy’s sister and her family...she sure would have spoiled you rotten. Every time we go, I feel your absence. It’s a new place, so there are no memories of us being in their home together...but it’s strange to be there without you. But I found you. Or you found me.
I found you in the white, spring flowers, which gently fell from the budding trees lining their driveway. I watched them fall as if in slow motion. It looked like snow and was practically magical. Watching them cascade made me feel alive. I had found beauty.
I found you in the wind as it breezed over me while your siblings swam...they were freezing, by the way, but desperate to have fun. As the cool air brushed over my skin, I felt you, and heard your whisper to me, “I’m here, Mom.” It gave me comfort. My love for you is so deep and so intense. Do you feel it?
Then we had to come home.
We had to return to real life. And work. And school. And chaos. And busy, endless, insanity. That night, at mass, the message of surrender. Giving it all to God. Living with open hands. Wanting God more than anything. The story of Abraham, willing to sacrifice his son for love of God...I felt ashamed. Because in the midst of all of this, if I had a choice, if I could go back in time, if I could write this story’s ending...I wouldn’t choose loss. I wouldn’t choose your death. I wouldn’t choose sacrifice, or this cross, or this grief. I would choose to be your Mom this side of heaven. The words of our pastor carved into me, and I thought I might bleed out, but I didn’t want to release my emotions. I swallowed them down hard and pretended to be unbothered. I was convicted, but not convinced. I was divided.
Since then, I’ve been a driving force forward destined to plummet at any given moment. And of course, I inevitably did.
The nine month mark of your burial came, and I couldn’t stop it. Someone at work made a comment to me about a memorial and our family processing together down the center aisle of church in your memory...the same church where we celebrated your brief life and grieved your death. My mind flashed back to your funeral, and I felt like I would choke from the fragile feelings. I was scared to blink my eyes, because I knew if I did, the tears lining them would waterfall and fail to cease. I couldn’t get to my office fast enough. Once I did, I was overcome. I stared at your picture in a blurred state, then your Daddy called me. He always works so hard to make it better.
Last night, my anxieties were triggered, and everything I’ve been trying to suppress for the past week found their way to the surface. Fear. Lack of trust. It’s so real. As much as I want to believe that everything will be okay with your little brother, I’m still so scared. All I can see is how it ended for you. How I carried you for nine months and have now lived without you for the same amount of time. Then I spiral, despite my best efforts to prevent it from happening. “I do what I hate...”. I’m divided.
This journey feels like one without relief, my love. Every day I wake up in disbelief. I need a break.
But my love for you is unwavering. Forgive me for running. For hiding. For trying to escape the pain that consumes me. Forgive me for my division.
I love you endlessly. Pray for your Momma, sweet girl, and find me when you can. Unite me to you and be present in my life in the here and now...in the midst of remembering and hoping...longing and waiting...sorrow and joy...anger and gratitude. I don’t want to be divided.