[Warning: The word "okay" gets used so many times in this post that may start to look like a nonsense word and cease to have any real meaning. I am using it as shorthand for "fine, I guess, all things considered."]
I was just telling someone that I feel pretty okay today.
I'm going to a yoga class this afternoon. I'm going to start on a sewing project (a new dog bed cover for Cooper). I've submitted my grades for the semester. I am ready to start reading a new book. Last night I sat out on my deck, chatting with a friend about her dating foibles and I felt... okay.
It is unbelievable to me that I am surviving the death of my baby and that I have moments--hours even, days maybe--when I feel okay.
When I stop and think about the horror and enormity of what happened, I genuinely believe there is no way I will ever be able to accept Eliza's death. I could never accommodate such a loss into my life and ever hope to regain a measure of happiness. I simply cannot go on as I did before--I will always be broken and damaged and scarred beyond recognition. I am a mother whose baby has died. How can I be that and also be my old self?
And then in some kind of silent but persistent rebuttal to those thoughts, I have these days when I feel okay. Or almost okay. Emotions that threaten to overwhelm me can be checked, tears can be blinked back, and I can continue with my day. I can take care of chores or work things or errands and I am not just functioning, but actually enjoying the breeze with the windows down or the clicking sound of my new flip flops or the red beans and rice I made for dinner. E-mails make me laugh and I experience the small pleasures of snoring dogs and sun-tea and a clean house. I look forward to upcoming events, including a friend's graduation party. This is what okay feels like.
But when I'm okay, I think that I should be feeling sadder, feeling worse, remembering the immensity of what I have lost. My baby died. How can I possibly be okay? What sort of person can be okay after that?
And then in those other moments (less frequent, but brutal when they come), those days when I am overwhelmed by grief and sadness and every part of me longs for Eliza with an indescribable aching that starts in my throat and tightens my chest and makes my limbs feel heavy and my head pound, I feel so shattered and hopeless and the pain in so great that all I want is to find a way to feel okay again.
I don't know how to balance being okay and being broken by grief. Because I am both all at once and each one at different times.
I'm not great.
But today, I'm okay.
And I still don't quite know how to feel about that.