Happily Ever After

 

When it comes to the stages of grief, research and leading psychologists suggest that I am supposed to be angry by now. I should hate the world for what happened to my beautiful little Everlee. I should be mad at God, Mad at the health care system, mad at fate for giving me such a beautiful little girl and stealing her away before she ever got a chance. But I’m not. I’ve never been an angry person. I can count on one hand how many times in my adult life I’ve been truly angry. Anger doesn’t seem to get anyone, anywhere. 

The only thing I can bare to be angry at, still, is myself. I’m mad that I was so naive. That I expected everything would be ok. That I took the fragility of life for granted. I’m mad that my body failed her.  And I find it hard to understand why those that grieve my little girl aren’t equally as mad at me. My body was supposed to protect her. It was supposed to be the safest place for her. But it failed. I failed. Rationally,  there was nothing I could have done. But I’m still haunted by the the thought that ultimately, all I could be was her coffin. 

I’ve never felt old, despite having been through a lot in my 27 years. I’ve always felt youthful, things have never wearied me as they seem to with others. I’ve never dreaded birthdays, and I’ve welcomed them and celebrated them with open arms. I was married at 24 and expecting my first child at 26, but always felt that I was just a baby myself, pretending to be a grownup in a great big world.  But as I look in the mirror now I’ve aged more in the past 5 weeks than I have in the past 15 years. The world weighs heavily on my shoulders. My eyes sag with sadness and exhaustion. Smiling is a chore – The corners of my mouth weigh a ton a piece. I’ve seen the thin veil, that delicate tiny line, that separates life and death.

I’ve often wondered what it takes for a person to survive something like this. What fabric makes up the kind of soul who can stare down the deepest and darkest tunnel of despair and turn up alive at the other end? Hardly unscathed, but alive nonetheless. People say I’m strong, but the truth is, there is a distinct difference between strength and the struggle for survival. And what I am doing is not strenght. It’s survival. It only hurts when I breathe. I think about how anything could change at any moment. We go through life planning and believing that certain things will be constant in our lives, until everything that we believed in comes crumbling down and the ground beneath us shatters. I have been thinking about this so much lately, in the endless sleepless hours of the night. The impermanence of life, of our bodies. and yet we live life planning for the future, believing we will all be here tomorrow. We find support from the earth and comfort in our homes, families and friends, but they could be gone at any moment, our homes could be lost and the earth could literally break beneath us. 

And it’s aged me. I feel myself holding back from others who seem to go on blissfully unaware of all of these life lessons I’ve had hurled at my head like bricks from a runaway train in the 5 weeks since Everlee has died. Don’t they know what could go wrong? Don’t they know that tomorrow isn’t promised to everyone? Don’t they know not everybody gets a happy ending? Not every story is a fairy tale. Not everyone lives happily ever after. 

But I’m not angry and I’m not strong. I just survive. 

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11 thoughts on “Happily Ever After

  1. People say you are strong because of the words you use to capture your raw emotion, what has happened to you and what the next step is. You are saving someone out there who is reading this, who has gone through the same thing. Your story is saving someone. That makes you strong. Its not about smiling and getting through the day Rhonda, we say you are strong because its a way for people to encourage you, to say don’t give up, we love you, we are here. I think you need a break. How? I wish I had the answer. What I do want to say to you is, you need to forgive yourself and your body. We don’t know why this happened but what we do know is that you will survive this.

  2. One of my literature professors had a tiny plaque in her office with this quote on it: “Even if I knew certainly that the world would end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today.” It’s attributed to Martin Luther, probably apocryphal, but who knows. I think that’s what keeps people going. Yes, it could all end tomorrow. Or it might not. There is grace in doing things even if they fall apart. I’m not a good enough writer to get at what I’m trying to say. The tide and the winds will wipe out every sandcastle we build, but that doesn’t erase the joy we felt from building it or the feel of the sun on our skin or the laughter we threw into the wind. Everlee’s life increased the amount of love in the world. Your family’s joy in anticipating her birth was real. You were a great mother to her.

    I have a friend who lost a child in a horrible accident when his wife left the baby in a hot car on a summer day. It was horrifying. It was a REAL mistake. They were vilified in the newspaper. At the same time their baby was gone. I told him, “The fact that she died doesn’t wipe out the fact that she was loved every moment of her life, even those last ones.” It’s very difficult to hold two ideas like this in our brains at the same time. We’re trained to see things as a dichotomy when they are all part of the same strange life.

    Please don’t be angry with yourself. Be gentle with yourself.

    • I know what you mean. Boiling it down life really comes down to plan for the worst and hope for the best. I’m just so disappointed that I was so naive to never think of the worst. To just assume I was coming home with my baby alive. It’s made me jaded.

      • I hear you. There’s no way you can’t be affected by this trauma. Ever since Richard died, I haven’t 100% believed in anything because I know it can all go away in a snap. But I still find joy and I truly believe that you will too one day. Don’t rush to or try to force yourself. Feel sad and jaded. Feel whatever you feel and let it flow through you.

        The first time I got pregnant, a friend who had a stillborn baby kept sending me info about fetal death. I couldn’t look at it because there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I understood why she wanted me to be aware, but to me it felt like trying to be aware that a meteor could hit my house.

  3. I love the way you write Rhonda, such honesty behind each word. You dont have to be strong, its ok to yell,scream, cry and be as angry as you like. We are here for you and we love you

  4. I’ve tried to write something for awhile now.. The words never come out right. Not every story has a happy ending. But the story isn’t finished. This is the middle. You can’t let something you couldn’t control hang onto you like this. Its not fair to you, to Everlee, or to her eventual brother or sister. I know the only person who can resolve this is you. But no one blames you. No one but you. So many people loved her, and love you, We still celebrate her memory and we celebrate you for being her mother. Rationalize the simple fact that you didn’t make a mistake, you didn’t screw up, your body didn’t “fail” it was a horrible horrible fluke. Something that just happened that so many people would give up so much to change. You can’t even sit down and give what ifs and maybes.

    You need to decide how to write the next chapter of this story.

  5. I’ve tried to write something for awhile now.. The words never come out right. Not every story has a happy ending. But the story isn’t finished. This is the middle. You can’t let something you couldn’t control hang onto you like this. Its not fair to you, to Everlee, or to her eventual brother or sister. I know the only person who can resolve this is you. But no one blames you. No one but you. So many people loved her, and love you, We still celebrate her memory and we celebrate you for being her mother. Rationalize the simple fact that you didn’t make a mistake, you didn’t screw up, your body didn’t “fail” it was a horrible horrible fluke. Something that just happened that so many people would give up so much to change. You can’t even sit down and give what ifs and maybes.

    You need to decide how to write the next chapter of this story.

  6. I feel the same way… all those different feelings are my normal too. I am not angry… I think I won’t be. It has helped me to find people that are further out, that are still alive 4 or 10 or 16 or more years out… you know? Just keep living, let it hurt. I know the world says you are strong and you think they are wrong… but someday you will know that in that time you were alive and that you were the strongest you could be…

  7. Losing your baby to stillbirth is the worst thing that can ever happen. I can say this. In 2010, I became a member of an exclusive club that I never asked for membership for, and a club from which i can never leave. My daughter died at full term due to healthcare negligence.

    It has been quite some journey. But my daughter lives in my heart. Please have a look at ukstillbirth blog, as I have been working with other women, (I am 3 years in now) what is written there, is from all of us, all 150 women….. how we have all felt.

    I felt angry too. I felt angry at me…. for not doing enough, i felt angry at the healthcare for not saving her, i felt angry at friends for expecting me to move on, I felt angry at family members for forgetting about her, i felt angry at life, and I even felt angry at my daughter for leaving me….

    Sending you a huge hug, unless you have been there, it is a feeling I think that is impossible to understand. And thankfully so, as it is the worst journey to walk through. 3 years later, my daughter is still in my heart, every single day, she has never gone away. Now I don’t think that she ever will.

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