Jennifer writes a lot about grief and healing and making the most of a life you never asked for, and she does so very beautifully. I think you know someone is a gifted writer when it feels like they must have had your individual story in mind when they crafted that paragraph. And that's how I felt today when I read her post, "On the complications of living." Here's the section that especially spoke to me:
It's been over a year since my baby was stillborn. You'd think that if healing could happen, it would be happening by now.
I'm not sure it's happening.
I'm not sure it's happening.
Yesterday I had a rough day. I also had a really good day. I saw some of my best friends in the whole world--girls I went to college with. We talked about kids, we talked about pregnancies, we talked a little bit about Eliza. They have been kind and supportive as I've flailed about in my grief. Many of them have had personal losses that help them understand my grief, and I know any one of them would bear some of this burden for me if she could. Seeing them was really, really great.
One of them wanted to return to me a book that I'd lent her over a year ago. I'd bought it for myself, but she had her baby a few months before Eliza was due, so I'd given it to her to borrow. The title was something like At Home With Your Newborn. She had a couple other miscellaneous things to give me--an article she'd clipped for me and a CD she'd made, but I saw that book in the bag and I felt like someone had knocked all the air out of my lungs. I managed to stammer, "I-I-I don't want that book back."
She said ok immediately. She put the book away, she was apologizing, but it was too late. I started to ugly cry in the middle of my friend's living room. It was my first grief trigger that was totally unexpected, and obviously I did NOT exactly handle it well. Basically, I just fell apart while my friend hugged me until I stopped sobbing. She kept saying she was sorry and I said I was sorry that I'm such a mess. I think we were both surprised by my reaction. Shouldn't I be able to handle these things by now?
Before the Super Bowl started, David (at my request) pulled out a bin of maternity clothes that we'd put in the garage last year. I had been dreading going through them, but we've gotten to the point where the hair elastic and bella band make me a little nervous when they are the only things standing between me and being half naked in front of a classroom full of college students. I need some pants with great big elastic panels.
At the time I put them away, the idea had been to get them out of my sight as quickly as possible. Nothing was folded neatly or organized. Clothes were shoved in there however they would fit. So I took a deep breath and pulled a Pea-in-the-Pod jacket off the top of the bin. In doing so, I uncovered a package of baby-sized hangers that had been tossed in with the clothes. I don't remember doing it, but obviously it was one more thing I wanted gone. Out of my sight. And there they were: tiny, white, bare plastic hangers. Hangers that should have held a wardrobe of baby girl clothes, instead tossed aside into storage. As empty as my arms.
So then I ugly cried over the bin of maternity clothes.
Because it will NEVER be okay, what has happened. And I still don't know sometimes how I'm getting on with life. So maybe I can't heal from this. And maybe that's okay. Maybe I can keep going even if it still hurts like hell. Because what else is there to do? Suck it up and join the rest of walking wounded.
What I needed to hear this morning was not that everything will be okay. Because it won't. But I did need to hear that I'll be able to learn to live with it. Because I have to. And it helps to hear that it's possible, from someone who's clearly been through her own kind of intense loss and suffering.
So this is me. Keeping on keeping on, and thankful for everyone who helps me and hugs me and writes to me and prays for me along the way.