ATTENTION: Reader Readers, the post includes the project I mentioned a few months ago, the one where you talk about right where you are in your grief and what it is like now, so new people can get an idea of the experience of grief further down the road, and so people further down the road can reflect on how far they have come in their grief.
"I want to write about Lucy, but I feel lost in all that I have said in the last two and half years. Haven't I said it all already? She died. I grieve. I don't know. What do you think I should write about?"
My sister looks down at her tea and back up again. "Don't ask me. I think you should write about dragons."
"No. Angry ones. That breath fire and whose eggs are magic."
"You are a thirty-seven year old woman."
"I still like reading fantasy stuff. Why did you ask me?"
"I don't know."
Sometimes I want to write about her, there is a longing to connect with her, but I just don't know what to say. I feel like I have written everything one can write about a little baby that lived for 38 weeks, in my belly, and then died.
And so, today, longing to write about her and my grief, I impulsively decided that today is the day where we should share about our grief, right where we are, right now. I mentioned this a few months ago. That maybe we should write about what it is like on the road of grief--from the earliest stages to the ones further down the road. So, here it is. I don't want it to be a bunch of posts where people say, "It gets better. Just wait." But rather posts where you just talk about where you are right now in your grief, and the daily ways in which grief rears its head, the things you can do now that seemed impossible, the obstacles you are facing. There is a Mr. Linky at the bottom to connect here. Please title your blogpost: Right Where I am: (Insert the Time Since Your Child's Death). Look at mine above. You can use the comment section of this post if you don't have a blog yourself. And please comment here to let me know if you are participating. I hope you decide to join in.
After two years and five months, I still feel sad about Lucy's death. It is heartbreaking. I imagine I will always be sad. It sometimes comes out of left field, and sweeps me up in a moment. I cry and then get back to whatever I was doing. It comes in pockets of suck rather than a glue leisure suit of suck that sticks to my form for days until the sweat and tears loosen it. It still comes when I think of what we have been through in that remarkably short amount of time, or see another two point four year old child with dark hair and blue eyes, or I see sisters just 20 months apart in age playing together or just when I push that particular hurt because I want to mother her and I don't know any other way to mother her than to paint and cry.I guess my point is that it doesn't knock me out all day. It is just a moment in my day.
I have integrated her death and life into our lives. My daughter talks about her, and I answer without crying. We have Lucy rituals and certain things that were Lucy's in our every day life, like a towel I bought for her that she never used. We still call it Lucy's towel, and Beezus asks to use Lucy's towel and it is fine. It is more than fine. I like that Lucy can lend something to Beezus. That makes me feel comforted rather than creeped out. I couldn't have imagined that two years ago. This paragraph might have been the creepiest paragraph I could think of two point four years ago.
Yesterday at the market, the cashier remarked on how much Thomas looks like me. Almost as much as Beatrice doesn't. Genetics are funny, huh? We all laughed. And I thought about what Lucy might look like with her brother and sister. Who would she look most like? What kind of remarks would she get? Maybe she would have been the dark-haired, blue-eyed middle ground. I fell into the 100-yard stare and didn't mention that there was one in the middle. It didn't seem right to drop the dead baby bomb in middle of some small talk. It was awkward whether I mentioned Lucy or not, because I fell into a trance, staring in the middle space between focusing and not focusing, right above the head of the cashier, remembering her nose, her hair and everything that was as impermanent as her. My eyes might have welled up a bit, but I didn't weep. She would have turned into a baby that looked nothing like the picture I have of her, and yet, her face is permanent now, fixed, in a newborn state. My eyes moved my head from one to the other. Where does Lucy fit? Where do I fit? Not even in the most benign of conversations, or situations. I still don't fit back into the life I once had. That is okay, though, because I created a new life that I love.And so that is it. I fit into this life. It isn't the same. And somewhere in the past two years and five months, I abandoned that idea of my old life, and the new one, or what things should be like. This is the way things are. And truthfully, I made a good life despite Lucy's death, not because of it.
That is what grief is like for me now. My life is good. It is beautiful. Lucy gave me many gifts. I can say that now. I can feel gratitude for her and the way she taught me about love. My life is also completely different than two years, five months ago. I write about grief and parenting. I paint most days, or create something crafty and/or artsy. I light candles on an altar of babyloss that I have. I have a whole new set of people I go to when I am sad or happy, even. They also lost babies. Who I am on the blog is pretty much exactly who I am in my daily life, in the same way that talking to a therapist is pretty much exactly like I am in my daily life. I don't go around wearing my heart on my sleeve, but I am honest. Most of my friends from before don't email me anymore, or call. I am okay with that. They did what they needed to do, and me too. I am not bitter about it anymore. Or about much anymore. There are certain hurts, but mostly, I take life right where it is right now. I don't expect people to be there for me anymore, and in that way, they never let me down. That sounds depressing, but it is very liberating.
When I was in the market, I felt like someone recognized me. Not from another life, but from this one, the on-line one. She pointed and whispered and smiled, but said nothing. And I wondered if she knew me because her child died. It was a strange feeling, not unpleasant, but strange. Another moment when I remembered that Lucy died and that things are different, but again, that moment didn't floor me.
I feel lost with the people in my every day life. When I interact with this loving, supportive, compassionate community, and the other one I developed in the last few months, I am finding it hard to deal with the cattiness and weirdness of interpersonal dynamics among people who haven't walked through hell. I guess I have been thinking a lot about blogging and what drew me to put my private life out there so publicly, particularly the grieving, vulnerable part. I felt like reading about other people grieving and processing in the early days, it saved my life. Maybe precisely because I am not that emotive in real life. I hug. I express gratitude. but I don't express my vulnerability well. I can't ask for help comfortably. Being a crying, grieving wreck was a particular kind of hell, like a condemnation of some Greek God of emotion, or something, but it was also good. I learned to ask for help, be vulnerable, know my limitations. Some events I still cannot go to, and I forgive myself about that. I became disciplined with my writing, and my life. Writing here was a way to be emotive without sitting with someone's pity. I can't stand pity. I realize now that at times in the last two years I confused pity with compassion.
I did the best I could at the time.
That is something I can say is a huge sea change. I wanted to be the best griever in the beginning. Appearing strong, brave, resilient, but then I crumbled onto myself, and beat myself up. I don't beat myself up nearly as much as I used to. I really did the best I could, even at my worst moments. At two years since her death, I don't need this space as much to process my emotions, but I still need it. I love talking to grieving women. Lucy's death brought all these amazing women into my life. And when they came into my life, I learned what it is to have a community of people like me. I stopped being Latina, or fat, or athletic, or itchy. I was just this set of emotions on a screen, and that felt/feels authentic and right. I feel normal here, and weird out there. Because the shell of me is not me. Lately, I have felt gawky and outsiderly in my day-to-day life. Maybe because I am not drinking, and I am a stay-at-home mom, and I am a writer who observes people and I don't know anyone else like that in my neighborhood. I have been cut out of my neighborhood activities lately. I see the posts on FB, but then I'm not included. I feel soul sad about it, because my neighbors have always included us. I can't, for the life of me, figure out what we did. I don't know why, but I find myself responding in the same way I responded in seventh grade--to cry, feel bad about myself, and demand that we move away from this place as soon as possible. Then it occurred to me that people in my real life might be reading my blog without telling me. I have talked about a lot of heavy, hard shit in the last five months. Stuff that might keep people from asking me to parties.
I have read about this happening to other people. I remember from my early days reading about it with people years out. When their real life peeps into their online diary, and then have things held against them. They went private or password protected or went anonymous with a new blog name. I don't know how to deal with it, because I never thought I would care or not be able to just ask someone if they were reading my blog. I don't want to ask now and draw attention to my blog, and on the other hand, it feels like a violation if someone is reading about my emotions on a day to day basis. And that is just it. In the beginning, I didn't care if people read because I knew that grief was trumping everything. Now that people expect me to be normal again, I can't quite figure out why I ever thought telling anyone about my blog was like a good idea. And yet, I have come to rely on this space. So, that is the awkward grief place I am at now. I don't mind if people in my day to day life comment, or let me know they are reading, it is the awkward place of me not knowing what everyone knows. If they read here, they know way more about me and my weird hiccups in life than I know about theirs. It feel unsafe sometimes. It makes it sound like I dwell in grief, but this is the place I process that part of my life. And it is so important, I can't give it up. Blogging is strange, because the temporary feelings become permanent, and little dalliances with the annoying take on the gravitas of epic angers. Nothing is ever permanent with emotions. Nothing, except people can pull up a specific blog post and say, "But you feel like this."
I have had a subsequent baby since Lucy died, and think about another here and there. I think I romanticize the pregnancy of my "before time," not Thomas' pregnancy, which was insanely difficult for me emotionally. And sometimes I think that more time between Lucy's death and another baby will make it easier, but then I know myself too well. So probably not another baby, but sometimes I entertain the thought.
All in all, I have a good life now. I miss Lucy every moment of every day. It has become part of my being, the missing, but my writing and art involves her and connects me to grief which connects me to her and that feels right and good. I love hearing from babylost mothers just coming into this community and those who have been around for a long time. Quite often, someone will comment on my blog in the first weeks/days after their loss, and I try to respond, and get a no-reply email. Then, they like never comment again. I am sure it seems like I don't care, but I do. I did the same thing in the beginning of my blogging experience, just because I didn't really understand all the ins and outs. And I thought I was too new to talk with if someone was years out. But on this end of things, I can only say that I just miss comments sometimes, and am not terrific on follow-up if it isn't easy, but I want to talk to everyone directly. I pull something from each comment that comes in. I don't email directly with very many people, and I love emailing and keeping in touch that way, so hit me up, if you want. I also am on Facebook a lot, and Twitter here and there. I am on google chat and am available on skype. Email me and we can chat. I don't mind talking on the phone anymore. Just know that you are not alone. Lots of times in the early days I felt so lonely I thought I would burst. I thought that I would like to die from the pain, though I wasn't suicidal exactly. I just wanted it to end. I don't feel like that ever anymore. If you want an email back, leave either your email, or comment with a respondable email, or email me directly at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. I read lots of blogs and love to add new ones, so leave yours for me. I'll add it to my reader.
Now, it's your turn. Where are you in your grief? Emotionally. Physically. Psychically. Title your post, "Right Where I Am:(Time since your child's death)". then come back here and link your blog post on the Mr. Linky. Click other participants and read about right where they are. Comment if you can. Just a thank you for telling me about right where you are. If you don't want to write a full post, why not just comment here and tell me the time since your loss(es) and anything else you want to share. Spread the word around the community by linking back to this post, so people can find out what grief is like on all stops on the road.