Perhaps I'm the one assuming, but I can't help feeling like people assume that we have moved on from this tragedy. There aren't many who ask how we are really doing, and no one ever seems to say her name. There are the faithful few whom have continued to trudge through this ugly journey with us, and for them I am extremely thankful. Yet, there are still relationships that have fallen by the wayside. Our grief has seemed to be problematic for them.
It also seems as though others think our new baby has solved all of our "problems." The problem of grief. The problem of suffering. The problem of being sad and/or unhappy. The problem of isolation and insecurity. The problem of living each day with the awareness that we lost a child who left this earth far too soon.
Losing and burying our baby is not a problem that can be fixed. Her death will never feel “okay.” Holding her brother in my arms does not erase the pain, the memories, nor the constant ache and longing I have for my little girl. Nor does his life soften her death.
Does he bring joy? Yes! IMMENSE JOY. But with the joy is the blade of guilt... How can I feel this way? He is only here, because she is not.
Every milestone reached with him is just another reminder of everything that has been lost through her untimely passing. Every smile, coo, nursing session, sleepless night... Every act of engagement, eye contact, and connection... They are all beautiful and painful at the same time. Gratitude and heartache coincide, and it takes everything out of me to get through each moment, each day. To keep breathing. To keep functioning. To believe I will continue to make it with this chasm in my heart.
We are not thriving. We are barely surviving.
Anger has returned with a vengeance, and the hard facts are screaming at me. My pregnancy for her brother put me into self preservation mode, and my emotions were stifled and numbed as anxiety completely took over me, wreaking havoc on my day to day functioning. Everything feels so fresh again. So raw. So unbearable. So utterly devastating.
I put our living baby to bed after an early morning feeding, lie down on my pillow, but struggle to fall back asleep, because I pine for her. I envision myself holding onto her small body, pulling her in close, and never wanting to let go. Eventually, slumber takes over, and then I awake startled and heart broken, because I am fully aware that she truly is gone...forever. And the cycle continues:
Arise. Function. Stuff. Repeat.
I guess I just don’t want people to assume that I am okay, that my husband is okay, that we are okay, or that our family is OKAY. Or to assume that a smile on my face means that I am “better.” That because I hold a babe in my arms, I am over not holding her. That because it’s been a year, life is back to “normal.” We are not fully functioning. We are just trying to make it through another day. Just as pregnancy after loss was unbearably brutal, parenting after loss has been a beast of its own. I look around and see all the ways our lives have unraveled over the past thirteen months. Life still seems so out of control.
The grief is intense. In fact, it is debilitating at times. My heart aches just as it did when her heartbeat could not be found, and I had to deliver her limp body. The pain still rips me in two, and I can still access it effortlessly. Denial is not a choice, and I am being forced to face the truth.
I am not over her death. I have not moved on. I am not fixed. I am not “better.”
I have grown and changed and transformed and expanded. And those things are still happening on a daily basis.
So, yes, while life still continues moving forward, and I take new steps each day, I have not forgotten, nor will I ever. I hope no one assumes otherwise.
”Life has a way of going in circles. Ideally, it would be a straight path forward––we'd always know where we were going, we'd always be able to move on and leave everything else behind. There would be nothing but the present and the future. Instead, we always find ourselves where we started. When we try to move ahead, we end up taking a step back. We carry everything with us, the weight exhausting us until we want to collapse and give up. We forget things we try to remember. We remember things we'd rather forget. The most frightening thing about memory is that it leaves no choice. It has mastered an incomprehensible art of forgetting. It erases, it smudges, it fills in blank spaces with details that don't exist. But however we remember it––or choose to remember it––the past is the foundation that holds our lives in place. Without its support, we'd have nothing for guidance. We spend so much time focused on what lies ahead, when what has fallen behind is just as important. What defines us isn't where we're going, but where we've been. Although there are places and people we will never see again, and although we move on and let them go, they remain a part of who we are. There are things that will never change, things we will carry along with us always.”