I always thought stories with adversity ended with redemption and growth. Enlightenment and kindness. Until my daughter died. I stare off into my future, I just see bitterness and anger. The losses. The piles of fucking losses. I blame my love of the sports movie for that bullshit belief.
I am so sad today. These weeks of overwhelming housework, mostly single parenting, running around despite my extreme pregnant-ness, must have caught up with me. And how it has caught up with me is that I lie in a hot bath crying about the fact that last year the first person who called after Lucy died called me when I was in a hot sitz bath recovering from birth with cabbages over each breast. I cried then because I couldn't process that my daughter died, and I cried because I was also thankful that this person was listening to me, that this person loved me, and cried over Lucy's death, and that this person was my friend.
I haven't seen her since last June, or even heard a peep in months. I have learned to live with this grief. I have learned to live without my daughter. But without friends? I am still getting used to that. People constantly throw these platitiudes--you need to forgive. You need to let go. "They don't understand daughter death," people rationalize. "They don't know what to say." Perhaps one day, many months from now, I will wake up and realize I have forgiven people who walked away, but I cannot pretend that there isn't another hole in my heart where my friends once lived. A hole that collects dust, and scraps, and burnt out shells of compassion bubbles I had deep within my soul.
I have immensely appreciated my on-line community of grieving women, and my other friends who keep up with me via this blog, who still send me emails and cards, wishing they were closer. That means so much to me. Truly. But I miss the human interaction. My sister is always here. I should preface the post with that. She is always here to watch Beatrice, or help me go shopping, even if I don't take her up on it, or as we did this weekend, go to the hair salon for a good scalping. But it is different to miss friendships outside of the realm of family. People choose you for their friends. And that feels awesome to connect, until they don't. And then you feel more lost than when you didn't have them at all. Unfortunately, KellyAnn is stuck with me. As she often says, "I am the scratchy undersweater in an otherwise cute twinset." Except, you know, I am the scratchy one, and she is the awesome cardigan. Now, more than ever.
A lot of people sent a condolence card, or email, after Lucy died and then never wrote again. One woman recently emailed me: "Oh, you are pregnant, so am I! We should totally get together." Yeah, totally. I totally want to reconnect with someone who chose to ignore the death of my child completely and the subsequent grieving/mourning/cavorting with the abyss for a year. I somehow doubt pregnant lady who cannot handle stillbirth really wants to enter the kind of realm pregnant-after-loss women inhabit. The we-won't-discuss-breastfeeding-sleeping arrangements-birthing options-car seats-pregnancy symptoms world where we only use qualifiers like if, perhaps, maybe, we'll see and completely avoid speaking of due dates, or any planning that takes into consideration that an actual baby might live in our house.
I had other friends who called often in the beginning, who cried with me, who I didn't think would disappear, who told me they wanted to see the good, bad and ugly of my grief, who were amazing and left me in awe...who I haven't heard from in months. Who may have made me a dinner or two when Sam had surgery, if they even knew Sam had surgery and that I was 33.5 weeks pregnant. Who ended up going away for a reason that is unknown to me. I miss some of those people. Actually, I miss all of them right now. A lot. And I guess it is those people that are making me cry today.
I started out early today to hit the market, mail out a jizo commission. Beatrice woke on and off all night with a croup-like cough. She mysteriously says her cheeks hurt when she coughs. My beautiful daughter is a poet, like when she had the stomach flu and claimed that she couldn't yawn. Now that she is slowly losing her voice and barking like a seal, she is claiming her cheeks are sore. And when she says those things, I sit silently for a moment holding her, imagining the Mystery Diagnosis title--The Girl Who Couldn't Yawn.
The air was warm today, and I had a sweatshirt on (ONLY A SWEATSHIRT) and I grabbed a decaf non-fat cappuccino, because that is how I roll on early Spring mornings. And I felt light. The snow is ugly, but melting. There are green sprouts in my beds. And by the orange juice section of the market, my shoulders felt sore and weak, and I felt limp. I almost did that old lady thing where I lean wholly over the shopping cart, ass blocking the aisle. But I haven't quite given up yet. I haven't give up yet.
I guess that is when it sunk in. Have I? Have I given up yet? This is not what I imagined last year when I thought about a year later. I imagined I would have this shit figured out. I thought people would venture out again, become brave and be here, now that my grief isn't acute, and my mourning isn't so wet and sloppy. And I thought, perhaps, that I wouldn't be so disappointed in them because of their weakness. That perhaps I would come to understand why they couldn't be my friend.
I actually miss my friends. I miss a sense of community. I miss a sense of having people who want to laugh with me, who don't think of me as the burden of grief. I know this sounds strange, but there is something to be said for the people who didn't say anything to me after Lucy died. At least I knew where they stood. At least their actions said, "I'm not going to be here through this shitstorm. You are on your own, kid." And I knew that when I was 33 weeks pregnant, and freaking out, and needing someone to have coffee with me that they were not going to call me, and conversely, I was not going to call them. But this empty barren place of solitude, summoning all my strength, it is exhausting.
I grew up in a place where people brought you a fucking casserole. Now, my neighbors see me pulling a ripping garbage bag out my front door, and give me the nod. And I nod back, "Hey, dude. Nothing happening here. Just a gigantically pregnant woman dripping rotting liquid across the driveway. Don't offer to help or anything, big strong dude."
I'll be honest. I don't want a bunch of pity. No comments saying "I'm sorry." Or how lucky you were to have good friends. Give me the best convoluted cuss you got, or a really good joke. I am massively pregnant so incontinent jokes crack me up, also smart religious jokes do too. So, lay it on me. Give me the best joke you got. Oh, and Here we go AJen won the needle-felted thing from a few posts ago. So, dear lovely Jen, let me know what you want and if it shall be a pin or a magnet. (Smooches to you.)