Choosing Happiness

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. 

One Step Forward

I had a really nice time tonight with a friend. Quiet and lovely and they knew exactly what I needed to make me genuinely smile for the first time in a long time.  I left feeling like maybe I could start having more moments like that and that maybe I might be ok sometime in the future. 

On my way home I decided to stop for some subway as a treat for my supper. As I stood in line the woman behind me asked me very politely if I knew how many calories were in my sub because it looked really good (it was a veggie sub on flatbread). She seemed nice, so we started talking about weight loss, and food, and dieting.

A few minutes in, she told me that she just had a baby and she was trying to lose the baby weight and that her baby is five months old.

 I told her that I was doing the same. 

 Then she asked me how old my baby was. I swallowed hard. I couldn’t lie. I swore I would never ever ever lie about Everlee. I said she would be 4 months old. But she passed away. 

The poor woman felt awful. For a few seconds she couldn’t speak properly. She stuttered, and stammered out an “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ask so many questions”. So I, naturally, started to console her and told her it was ok, she would have no idea. After a few more seconds she finally said “My friend who was pregnant the same time as me. She went in the morning of her C-section at 9 months and they discovered her baby was stillborn. Then she had to deliver the baby.”

“Almost the same thing happened to me.” 

She felt awful. She tried to apologize. She put her hand on my arm and said “God has a reason for everything” but I just couldn’t take it any more. I had to leave. I just looked at her and said “It’s ok”. and I went to my car and burst into tears. 

To anyone reading that it might seem like a simple exchange. To me it was excruciating. Every single word was like a knife in my heart. I hate that the only story I have to tell people about my baby is that she died. I hate that talking about her makes other people so uncomfortable. I hate that every time I take a teeny step forward, my feet are taken from beneath me I stumble several steps backward. I hate that she’s not here. 

It amazes me on a daily basis how many people advise me to turn to God to help heal my suffering. It amazes me how many people tell me that God had a reason for Everlee dying; that this was somehow part of His plan.  I always wonder if those people would have such a simple answer if their child died. If they would find comfort in knowing some man in the sky had planned to rip their child away from them? Maybe some people would. But I certainly don’t. What’s the reason? What was his reason?  I’m glad that it can bring others comfort, but not me. With everything else that I have lost, my faith and trust are among them.