I am writing this post as part of the project started by Angie at Still Life With Circles. Accounting for where I am in this moment shouldn't be that difficult, considering that's sort of been the point of this blog all along. It's recorded where I was at various moments since 2008. Worrying about my dissertation. On vacation. Celebrating something. Embarrassing myself and laughing about it later. Expecting a baby.
Now, I'm trying to make sense of where I am five months and three weeks into whatever this is. Grief. Mourning. Sadness. Life.
It's been like living in a time warp. The days are long. The weeks are short. These months have felt like an eternity because I feel like I have aged a million years since December 6th. I can recall those hours in the hospital as though they just happened yesterday--in vivid detail that makes the bile rise in my throat. The gleeful, smug happiness of my pregnancy feels much farther away.
I think that I should make Eliza's death mean something more than great sadness. It should teach me what it means to be truly alive. How it feels to be continually astonished by the beauty and destruction in this world. Grateful for the people who support me, the comforting things that surround me. The connections I've made with strangers who have become confidants almost overnight. Crying this hard, this long, means that I'm living. I'm right in the thick of it and I'm struggling to make meaning out of a loss that, by all rights, should have simply done me in.
The thing is, I don't feel one bit like the wise woman who can speak of the way my daughter's death taught me what it means to love.
Mostly I feel like the whiny brat who wants to scream "UNFAIR! DO OVER! I WANT MY BABY!" Oh, God. Do I ever want that baby.
Oh, and I will scream it. Except it doesn't do a bit of good, and it kind of stresses David out.
I've moved from zombie on my sofa, crying buckets of tears, my body wracked with heaving sobs I can't control, to, five months and three weeks later, a mostly functioning person whose tears are close to the surface but usually kept appropriately in check. I find myself laughing. I make David laugh. I have moments that feel so good I can't believe it. I can't believe this happened to us. I can't believe we are two ordinary people whose baby died just when she should have started to live with us. It's impossible.
Except the truth of it hurts my heart. All the time.
It's not just in my head. It's not something that I can turn on and off at will. Yes, I can function better now, keep my tears to myself most of the time. But sometimes it's the biggest thing I've ever felt, and there's nothing I can do to escape it. It has nothing to do with willpower or mental attitude. It's an anguish that knows no bounds.
I'm grateful for my friends who have not let this pain scare them away and who promise me that they're not going anywhere even though the give-and-take of friendship has me just taking these days. I'm grateful for my mom, who has the astonishing ability to never say or do the wrong thing when it comes to Eliza. And for my dad, who hugs me tighter every time he sees me.
I'm disappointed in the few people who have taken my sorrow and made it about them, about their life experiences, about what they believe, about what makes them uncomfortable. I know I'm lucky those people are so few.
I'm in awe of the people I know in real life who were where I am fifty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago. Who remain vibrant and kind and interesting and happy people. It gives me hope that I won't become a broken shell of my former self.
I don't think I'm doing a good job of articulating where I am now. I'm not sure this is at all coherent. Which seems appropriate. I'm kind of incoherent these days.
Right now, I'm scared. I'm scared of trying to have another baby. I'm scared of losing David to some random, unforeseeable accident. I'm scared of losing everyone I love. I'm a reasonable person who can't abide by probability or statistics. I can feel God sometimes, but I have a hard time praying. I don't sleep as well as I used to, but I am sleeping. And eating. And vacuuming. And ironing. These tasks were impossible for a while; they're more manageable now. I still have days when it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed, and I cry almost all day long. But these are fewer, and further between.
Today, I'm feeling more like my old self. I'm actually interested in this little project of redecorating my living room. I'm doing more reading and less TV watching. I have more energy. I can think about the future more than two days in advance (I'm still not looking too far ahead, though). I'm taking pleasure in some of the things I used to love--caprese salad, my favorite jeans, a new purse, clean sheets.
I still feel sad, heartbroken, lost, and angry. But I also feel more wistful these days. There are still horrible moments of gut-clenching fear and sadness, but there are more moments of a softer kind of longing. I'd be doing that if Eliza were here. We wouldn't be making these plans if Eliza were here. I miss her, but this is now. I have to make do.
Maybe this is what they mean by the acceptance stage of grief? It's not that this will ever be okay, or that I'll ever be better. But it's starting to feel like maybe, eventually, this could be a sad and tragic part of my story instead of the wrong life all together.
Even as I want to get to that point, I resist that idea. The possibility of accommodating this huge and terrible thing into life's series of ups and downs, it feels so wrong, like it diminishes how much we loved Eliza, how much we wanted her, how many plans we had for her. I know that my love for her doesn't have to be wrapped up in this great pain forever, but right now those two feelings are still mostly inextricable.
It's been 5 months and 3 weeks. I'm really, really sad. I miss my baby girl all the time. But I'm mostly--surprisingly?--doing okay, a lot of the time. I don't know how to resolve that contradiction, so I'm just learning to live with it.
P.S. I should add that, having written this and clicked "publish," I immediately burst into tears. I am so tired of being introspective and self-reflective and trying to keep my shit together. Maybe I could have written this post in one word. How am I, at five months and three weeks? Tired. Sick and tired of being so sad and tired.