Monday, March 9, 2009

An open letter

Sunday we had some friends come over. They have a baby who is six months old. It is good to see them, but hard too. They have come to see us twice now since Lucy died, but have not said "I’m sorry" in person. They completely ignore that Lucy ever existed. I mean, we know why they are visiting—because we are grieving—but every time I bring Lucy, or her birth, up, they get saucer-like eyes, and pretend they haven't heard me. And I do bring her up. It is troubling, but I also know that they are trying. Simply by dint of them being in my house, I know they are trying. I actually received an email from my friend, the male part of the duo, who said he was sorry for not talking about our grief, or acknowledging it in person, which was nice of him to recognize. Then he said, "Maybe we flatter ourselves, thinking we can be a bit of a vacation from your loss." A VACATION FROM OUR LOSS?!?! You have got to be kidding me with that shit.

It has sent me into a huge tailspin this morning. Honestly, it made me super depressed, because I realized that the only way I could get any respite from this grief is if I could get Lucy alive. Then the pain would go away for that time. But I will never ever have that.

So, I am writing an open letter:

Dear you,

There is absolutely NO vacation from the pain of losing your child. EVER. But if I could have a vacation from my grief, a reprieve from my pain, it would mean one thing—that I would have Lucy to hold. My vacation would be ten minutes of smelling her again, a week of touching her warm skin again. I would give my left fucking arm for one sleepless night with my daughter. My day off from grief would be to have an ordinary day with my newborn. I know I will never get that, because I am not an insane person. I am a real live depressed, grief-stricken woman. But still, that is the only vacation I can imagine from this shithole hell that I live in.

You said I seem to be doing well, and that I am strong. Perhaps I seem good to you; perhaps I seem strong, but I am neither. Strength is choosing to do something that you know is hard to help someone else or yourself. I didn't choose this life. I would have chosen a different path for myself. An simple path. I would have chosen an easy birth, a live child, a quick latch, and a good sleeper. I would have chosen to be blissfully ignorant of how much a baby-size urn costs, of what my husband's worst moment looks like, and of reading how much my dead daughter's goddamn liver weighs in an autopsy report. If I am smiling, it is simply because I am a goddamn liar right now. I am a goddamn liar if I am showing the world I am okay. And if you don't want to talk about Lucy's birth or death, it is because you are uncomfortable, not me. I am sadly comfortable in this dark place. I am at home in the abyss. We are one. You certainly aren't protecting me from anything by ignoring my daughter’s death. I have seen the worst that life has to offer. You are protecting yourself.

My husband said, “Fortunately, he does not understand what we are going through.” It is fortunate. And in many ways, I am comforted by my alienation from you right now. Fortunately.

I love you.


  1. yes, angie. speak your truth. i am with you in this hellish grief.
    people are so godamn stupid and afraid. they say stupid things b/c they haven't got a clue what it's like on this side and then so many don't say anything at all b/c they are so scared of our reality.
    i'm here with you.

  2. fuck. i just wrote a post touching on similar feelings of alienation. all to familiar here, as always angie. i'm happy to have found you but heartbroken at the same time. it sucks we all have to be here. but you're right, i'm comfortable with it. its others who aren't.

  3. there is no escape, no vacation, and i can't stand people who won't acknowledge that, won't realize that this is now who we are, no turning back. it was great to chat this afternoon xoxo

  4. I'm a liar too. I pretend to be okay and yet it pissed me off when people say I'm doing well or that I'm strong. It all seems like they're trying to make themselves feel better. Grief is a very lonely place.

  5. Bravo, Angie. I couldn't have said it better. It's all so damn hard sometimes and then other people have to make it worse by "helping". I hope you can find some shelter with people who just let it be what it is and wallow in the shit with you for ahwhile and always let you talk about your beautiful Lucy.

  6. You said that perfectly. I get that 'you seem good.' Like they are shocked that they cannot see my heart protruding from my chest and smashing open in front of them. It the f^&king other people that make this harder (if it could actually be any harder)...

  7. Man, I hate the "strong" tag. I wanted to whip out my vial of antidepressants and tell them how much I was *really* sleeping at night. These things don't happen to strong people.

    The "vacation" thing was pretty awful, too. I remember looking down at my gut and thinking, there's no where on earth I can go to escape THIS. It will always come with me. Sadly, many people don't think before they speak or act. I hesitate to tell you this, but there will undoubtedly be more stupid comments in your future. Hang tough. Keep writing the responses.

  8. Strong. Ugh. Ditto for brave, "you look great", and anything else that implies choice. People will get this wrong so much more often than they will get it right- though I do give this guy a bit of credit for acknowledging that he's too scared to talk about it. Good for you for giving voice to thoughts that we've all had.


What do you think?