“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Losing a child puts you in a place where the irrational can be completely and plausibly rational. It puts you in a place where you’re surrounded by all these crazy thoughts, and you know they’re crazy, but you can’t help listening to them and wondering if maybe they have a point, if maybe they are right after all. It puts you in a place where confusion is a normal, day-to-day thing. And then sometimes you come out of this crazy place and think, what just happened to me? Did I really think those things, feel those things? Was that me? How could I even think that?
And then you bury those thoughts and try to ignore them and go about your business, but they keep coming back to you at odd hours, and they hound you until you feel you really might be going crazy. And you’re not sure who you can talk to about it because what will they think? And then you just sit down one day and write about it and stop caring what people think, because it’s part of you and part of this life – this new normal you have to come to accept.
And it makes you feel so alone. Surrounded by people buy so horribly, awfully, utterly alone. My personality has always been to help other people and I feel like I’ve been spending so much time navigating other people through how to talk to me, and trying to make them feel comfortable around me that I so seldom spend time trying to navigate this dark and lonely place for myself. Perhaps that’s why I’m awake at night, because its really this only time I have to myself.
Or maybe it’s the dreams. I only have one. Reliving that night. The worst night in my life. And if my body knows when it sleeps that’s where it’s going, then why on earth would it ever let me sleep again? And worst of all, I usually wake up thinking I’m hearing her crying for me. As if she was here. But she never is. And I never get to hold her again in my dreams. Her cries always wake me up. If only I could sleep long enough that I’d get to hold her again.
Once you cross that threshold of grief, it changes you forever. You can’t have any of it back. You can’t unlearn the harsh lessons of grief. You struggle to find a “bright side.” It’s not like losing your first love or not getting that job you always dreamed of. You can’t just tell yourself, “If I try hard enough, I can do it. I can get what I want. I can succeed.” That doesn’t work after losing a baby. Because it wasn’t a matter of trying hard enough or believing in yourself. It was never in your power. You can’t control life and death. You can’t even try. She’s never ever ever ever ever coming home.
It’s still so incredibly hard for me to believe that she’s gone, but everyday I have the physical reminders on my own body that she was here. And no matter how brief and limited her life was, what’s unmistakable is the profound effect she has had on me. Everlee has changed everything I ever was and everything I will be. Now I just need to get to know myself and who I’m going to be all over again. Without Everlee.
When you lose a baby, you lose everything. You lose all the hopes and dreams you held over those ten months, you lose confidence, hope, courage, strength. Your sense of control. It’s all gone. All you have left to you is grief. It’s the only thing that’s real; everything else is just an illusion.