I’ve spent a lot of time punishing myself. When your baby dies it’s hard to see beyond the fact that you feel like a failure as a parent, and a human being. As a mother, my only job was to keep my baby safe and alive. And I failed. Was it my fault? No. I know that. But the overwhelming sense of guilt sometimes causes me to punish myself for feeling anything but incredible sadness.
It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t walked in my shoes to imagine. The only way I can possibly draw some parallel for those with living children is to imagine a time something has happened to your child – a bumped head or a scarped knee- because you maybe turned your back for a second. Imagine that guilt. Imagine how you questioned in that instant “if only I hadn’t turned my back for a second?”. Imagine that times about eight hundred million. I will always question what I could have done differently to save her, and I will always feel guilty that I am the one that lived while she was the one that died. It’s a mother’s guilt.
I’ve been trying very hard for the last little while to wake up and choose to be happy that day. Happiness has to be a choice for me. I don’t just wake up feeling that way. I wake up every day with a feeling of emptiness, and that looming sense that something is missing. I honestly believe that every day for the rest of my life will have that hole in it. I will always wake up feeling sad and confused and empty Therefore, I have to make the conscious choice that despite everything that is missing, it’s still OK to feel happiness. I deserve to be happy. Worrying and punishing myself will never change the outcome of what has happened. I have to start treating the world better than it has treated me, or I will never have a good day again.
These last two months I feel like I have turned a corner on my grief.
I still have awful days. I didn’t anticipate how hard Halloween would be. It makes me fear Christmas. I sat on my couch, home alone on Halloween night, begging to the universe not to send any more trick-or-treaters to my door. I cried my heart out over a “my first Halloween” sleeper that I had bought last year. I hugged it to my chest and cried. I cried because I should have been out with Everlee in her octopus costume. I cried for all of my lost dreams.
But those days are becoming farther between. I’m choosing every day to find some happiness, and to feel the love that I am so lucky to have found in my life. I can’t believe that when things change I will be happy, instead now I am trying to believe that when I am happy things will change. I have found a place where I accept that I can be happy, and be still be sad and be grieving at the same time. I don’t need to feel guilty when I laugh, or when I love. It’s not betraying my daughter to find happiness in my life.
Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.