Day 2

I remember wondering in those first days and weeks after we lost Everlee if I would ever make it through a day without crying ever again. I don’t remember when it happened, I’m sure it wasn’t a particularly momentous day. But it happened none the less. I still cry more days than I don’t. I usually cry quietly to myself in the darkness of night now. But, usually, I can muster the strength to make it through the daylight hours without letting my heart leak onto my face. I have always hated showing any outward sign of weakness. That part of me soldiers on. Funny, when you consider how I’ve chosen to make some of my most personal and vulnerable thoughts so public here.

These last three days, I have had reminiscent feelings of those first few weeks. The anxiety has returned tenfold. If you’re having a bad day today, consider this: I threw up in the shower this morning. Note to self: don’t eat breakfast for the next few days, and hope that this wave of intensity passes. A little perspective. And as I picked up my coffee at Starbucks and headed onto the onramp to the highway toward my office for the second time this week it started. The tightness in my chest, that hot burning feeling at the back of my eye balls, the topsy-turvy feeling in my tummy, the dryness in my throat. And then came the tears.

And I wondered aloud (as I often do have very meaningful discussion with myself out loud when driving alone) “will I ever be able to drive to work without bursting into tears? Will I ever make it through a day at work without having to go lock myself in the bathroom to cry?”. As a wise man once taught me (thank you for *everything* but especially this Mr. Duffenais) Tomorrow is a better day. Hopefully some day in the not so distant future, on some not particularly momentous day, I’ll make into work dry-eyed. And hopefully some day soon people won’t pass my open office door and wonder if they should pop their head in to say hello. And hopefully some day soon I won’t have to work myself up for 45 minutes to be able to walk to the cafeteria to get a yogurt for my break. And hopefully someday soon I won’t have to think about all of these things so intently.

This grief thing is never ending. Time diminishes the intensity of it, or maybe, time diminishes the frequency of intense periods. Because when the waves crest, the intensity of the anger, resentment, guilt, and sadness is raw and painful like that of the first weeks after it happened. Acute, deep, and fierce.

There are times when, out of the blue, the tears well up and my face turns hot. Maybe there was a trigger – a new baby born, seeing a Facebook post about how someone else is pregnant and not me, or catching the faint smell of new furniture still wafting from her closed bedroom door. Maybe it was nothing at all, Just sudden, inundating sadness. But it’s always there. Picking at my soul. Always on the periphery of my mind. Always something missing. That is how the rest of my life will be. I believe someday the grief won’t be as intense. But it will be always present in my life. It’s my new normal.

It only hurts when I breathe

I think that I am starting to accept that I will be sad forever.  It is my destiny to grieve.  I mean shouldn’t I?  I have a child who has died.  Should I not be sad until the day that I die?  And it is just starting to dawn on me,  I should be sad.  I should be sad every moment of every day.  How peculiar would it be if I wasn’t sad for my Everlee?  How cold and heartless would I be?  Instead of worrying that I’m still sad, I should worry that some day I might not be sad…as much as I desperately want the sadness to go away, the sadness means that she was real, and that she mattered. 

I know that at some point I have to allow myself to be happy, or at least that’s what my psychologist tells me. But I’m not there yet, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I have cried every day and I don’t know if the tears will ever stop. 

So often I go around feeling like I am alone in my misery, with Darcy. I don’t know many people (and I know nobody my own age) who has gone through this kind of tragedy. I don’t often get to see people on the other side of this Everest of pain. It seems sometimes that no one remembers that I was pregnant, and that there was a living being here on this earth that looked just like me and Darcy.

People forget that every day, every minute, I pine for that tiny soul, my sweet Everlee.

People forget that shoving their big bellies in my face, or their newborns reminds me of how broken and lost I really am and what I’ve lost, and what I may never have again.

Its human nature to forget, maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know.

Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I can’t begrudge them (even if secretly, occasionally, I want to poke them in their perfect world).  

And just when I thought that every last soul on this earth (except Darcy) had forgotten that I had a precious baby once too, someone comes along with a nudge to tell me they remember.

Thank you Cathy, for giving me what many others could not.

Better

People keep telling me not to think about it. They keep making references to “when you get better” and ask me if I’m starting to feel more like myself yet. None of those things are ever going to happen. I have a gaping hole in my being that will never ever be filled. I think that everyone will start to understand me a little better when they start to grasp that concept. I know it’s hard, but I need you to imagine – how would ever “start to feel better” if you knew that you were responsible for your child dying? My body failed my perfect little  five pound, one ounce, eighteen inch long baby girl. And as much as it wasn’t my fault, I am the only one responsible.  

I spent the entire evening looking at pictures of the only time I’ll ever get to hold my first born child, making a memory book instead of writing firsts in a baby book. There’s no room for better here. So please stop referencing this mythical place called better. I need to find solid ground in coping. 

The sound of silence.

Tonight was hard.  I’m more-than-ever acutely aware of how difficult I am to be around. And it hurts. Before Rhonda was always the centre of attention. After Rhonda stands on the periphery of a room and doesn’t get invited into the mix, let alone to the centre. 

I wish there was a guidebook for friends and family for how to deal with someone in  grief over the loss of a child. I make almost everyone uncomfortable, and awkward. More often than not, I evoke a deer-in-headlights reaction from people.  There are so few people I feel comfortable with anymore, and I know there are even fewer people comfortable around me. No one knows what to say, or do. They’re so afraid of hurting me they say nothing, unaware that it hurts me even worse than anything they can possibly say wrong. I’ve already lost my baby, anything you say won’t hurt worse than that. I just wish that there was a prescient for this – for all of our sakes. 

Afterthought: (Incidentally, I have discovered that someone HAS thought of this – this website has some suggestions.. http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-help-a-friend/)

There’s an elephant in the room. But I’ve come to realize that the elephant is me. 

Everyone has gone back to their lives. I’m still here, frozen in time. It amazes me how I have not only become a stranger to myself, but to others too. Family and friends that I always considered so close to me have become strangers, they avoid me at all costs, physically and emotionally. Even when I’m in the same room. I’m not sure if they just don’t have the ability to interact with me without the fear of hurting me, or if  they fear I’m contagious – not unlike a leper. Whatever their reason I tend to feel more like the leper. I know their intentions aren’t malicious, but not having them here to support me hurts more than anything they could possibly say. Sometimes all I want is for someone to look me in the eye and ask me, genuinely, how I’m feeling (and not believe me when I answer with my usual, mournful “okay”). 

Then there’s those that I would never expect to even speak to me, or be understanding at all – relative strangers to the Before Rhonda –  that have come out of the woodwork to be some of my greatest supporters.

I guess watching people in grief does odd things to people. 

Darcy and I leave for a vacation in a little over a week. Miranda (my psychologist) says I grimace when I say the word “vacation”. She’s not wrong. I hate thinking of a vacation. I feel horribly guilty with the imagery of vacationing. This isn’t a vacation to me. I hate the thought of anyone, including myself, thinking of me care free on a beach sipping pina-colodas. This isn’t about sunning myself and getting my picture taken with Mickey Mouse. This is about anonymity, not having to constantly struggle to keep up with the social graces of being “that girl who lost her baby”. This is about taking some time to learn who I am now, away from the pressures of what “normal” has become, where I don’t have to look at that closed bedroom door all of the time. This isn’t about forgetting, because I’m not going to forget. I don’t WANT to forget. It’s about making happier memories and teaching myself that smiling isn’t a betrayal to Everlee’s memory, but it’s honouring her with my own living. It’s about learning how to smile again without having to concentrate on the mechanics of making it happen. 

It’s easy for me to type that. I just need to learn to live it now. This isn’t a vacation. It’s the beginning of a prescription for healing. I hope. 

And I hope being away from people I know will teach me how to be around them again, and maybe help me become easier to be around. And maybe I’ll get invited back into the mix, or maybe I’ll just find a new centre.