Darcy and I often joke about my twice weekly visits to the psychologist. We’ve dealt with just about every situation in our lives using humour. It’s how we cope, and this isn’t very different in that respect. Often, after our appointments together we’ll look at each other and say “still crazy? yep.” and chuckle and move on to face whatever that day has to hold. On the outside, we put on our bravest faces. On the inside, usually we’re both barely held together by the seams.
“How the hell do you think I am?”
How many times have I wanted to scream that at anyone who cares to ask how I’m doing? People wouldn’t ever expect me to react that way. They’d know I was crazy. Alternatively, how many times have I wanted to meet their eyes, all calm, cool, and collected, and say that? Just say it– no forced smile, no nothing. How many times? I’ve lost count. And how many times have I actually said it? None. But none of us are any good at this. Sometimes people don’t know HOW to ask how I’m doing. And sometimes, I really don’t know how to answer.
Why is that, you think?
I think part of my need to appear sane isn’t about me at all. It’s not about my pride being hurt if I’m pitied; looked at like a sad puppy in the pound at the SPCA. It’s not about being patronized with idiotic advice on how to make things all better. I think some part of this is about the need to have Everlee seen as profoundly cherished, and not just some event that has driven me to the brink of insanity. I hold it together so that when I choose to talk about her, I am not dismissed. I think one of the things I want most is for others to understand my grief, just a little bit. It’s not an overreaction. It’s a deep love for my child who has died, and that warrants the most hurtful and deep sort of grief there is. It’s messy. and hard. But it’s far from an overreaction. And that’s hard for others to see sometimes when they haven’t been here. I know that I am slowly finding my footing in this new world I’ve found myself in but it is, by far, that hardest thing I have ever done (and will ever have to do, one would hope) in my life.
I have so many wonderful people in my life who regularly check in on me. I still don’t spend much time with people. I find it so difficult. It gives me anxiety to the point where I break into sweats and have to actively think about how to breathe. It’s getting easier than before, no doubt, but it’s still a challenge. That’s why I am so thankful for things like Facebook that allow me to still maintain those relationships that are so important to me (and, it seems, meet people who have families like mine).
“Hi Rhonda, I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you, Darcy and Everlee today. Love you xo”
So simple. So easy. That very tiny bit of love, sent regularly by keyboard, lets me know that my friends care,even if they don’t completely understand. It soothes my beastly bitterness at how the world slights this type of loss. Facebook, of all things, has saved some real friendships, by helping me let people off the hook for not being better at this.
No part of this has been easy, and more than occasionally I have been teetering on the brink of losing it. However, there is not a doubt in my mind that it is that love from the amazing people in my life that has hauled me back from the depths of grief stricken hell. Am I insane? No. Do I often feel like I might be? Absolutely. But one thing is for certain, and that is that without my friends, and my family and my Darcy I wouldn’t be able to put on that brave face and keep my seams from bursting apart with all of the pain inside.
What people don’t get is they think you buried a child you didn’t get to know. What they don’t understand is you really buried the little girl that she will never become. When you’re pregnant you not only pick out cribs & Christening gowns, in your mind that crib turns into a teenaged girls bedroom & that Christening gown becomes a wedding gown. When you’re pregnant your mind plays tricks on you. By the time the nine months are up you already have their lives planned in your mind, you know what their smile will look like & how much you love them. My husband lost a little girl during his first marriage. She hung herself in the umbilical cord at birth. She would be 25 this year. We were at the graveyard today & he cleaned off her tombstone. He still cries while doing it. It’s ok to do that. I remind him of the 3 great kids we have now & how lucky we are that they are healthy but I also let him grieve for the one he lost. He has a Christmas angel he puts on the tree & he visits her grave. Its normal to grieve for your child. You’ll always wonder what she would have become. You’ll always miss her. You’ll also move on when you’re ready. It’s ok to smile & laugh again. You are now a Mom. You’re Her Mom. That will never change. Grieve in your own way.
I think back to when i found out i was leaving Newfoundland, one of the hardest things was saying good bye to people like you, knowing i would never be there when Everlee was born, and to this day i beat my self up over the fact that i wasn’t there for you, i wasn’t there when you needed that hug at her wake or that hug at her funeral, i wasn’t there when you needed a friend, i made a promise to my self that i would try to text you each day and let you know i thought of you, i have not completely done that, but every day you have been in my thoughts. I love you so much and you can grieve all you want, i am just right here with you. i love you so much
Oh, the humor. My friend, Brantley, had the gift of saying the most ridiculously inappropriate things when Richard was dying. I once told him, “Well, his sister wasn’t a match for bone marrow, but we’re still holding out hope of finding a stranger match. Turns out Richard has pretty common DNA.” And Brantley says, “Is that why he looks kinda like a monkey?” We laughed so hard. It’s good to be safe enough to laugh in the middle of all that crying. One doesn’t cancel out the other.