Monday, May 28, 2012

Where I Am Now: Almost 18 Months

I participated in this project a year ago.  I was in a very different place a year ago.  But you know?  It wasn't all that different.  I can reread that post and still feel all those same emotions.  They're just a little softer now.

So maybe time does help.  Right where I am now is one week shy of eighteen months out from the loss of my daughter and 35 weeks pregnant with my second baby.

I was trying to articulate to David the other day exactly how I felt, feeling the Deuce kick and wishing Eliza were here, too.  I read this on another blogger's post (Amelia) and I have been borrowing it in my head ever since.

I am happy about all the things in my life that I can control.

It seems like a pretty accurate way to sum things up right now.

When people ask how I'm feeling, I mostly say "Fine" and I mean it.  Physically, I'm fine.  Emotionally, I think I'm doing as well as can be expected.  I guess I'm fine.  Sometimes I even feel lucky, which I never would have believed as possible.

The idea of happiness is still something I struggle with.  How to be both happy and sad.  How to reconcile the bitter with the sweet.  How much I wish things were different, how glad I am that we've gotten to where we are.

So much of the heaviness has lifted.  Grief isn't suffocating me.  It can still blindside me, tears still come so easily, there is still nothing I wouldn't do to change things and get her back.  But it doesn't hurt to be alive the  way it did for so long.  Ordinary life is enjoyable again, and there was such a long time when I didn't believe that would be possible.  I can't believe that my sense of humor is still intact, that it's possible to have fun again.

The bland, gray world that seemed to be all that was left without Eliza, has sparkle and flavor again.  It's not without darkness and shadows (how could it be, when I miss her so much?), but there are more bright moments than dark ones.  I feel like I am living instead of just going through the motions.  Eliza is still right there with me, but it truly feels more like a presence than an absence.  She's the daughter I love, not just a gaping hole in my life.  I miss her being here, but I also know that she'll never stop being our first baby and a beloved member of our family.  And that brings me comfort instead of just sadness.

I feel recalled to life this summer.  I don't know what I did last summer.  I taught a class.  I sobbed my way through my birthday.  I fled the country to the wonders of Canada for two weeks.  But we didn't go to the farmer's market.  We didn't visit green houses and carefully choose new flowers.  We didn't eat dinner (and breakfast) out on the deck.  We didn't barbecue with friends or invite people to come in town for the weekend.  I thought we were functioning, but it was all we could do to get through the day.  I forgot what it felt like to have energy, to get excited about little things, to relish life and delight in things like sparkling citrus water and strawberry shortcake.

That doesn't mean that I don't wake up at 4am with a grief and fear that weighs so heavy on me that eventually I can't take it anymore and my sobs wake up David and he wraps his arms around me while my tears and snot make a wet puddle on his chest.  Yeah, that still happens.  But those days are few, and far between.  The hardest thing about right now is the conflation of grief about Eliza and fear about the Deuce.  It's hard to separate those emotions, and I feel conflicted about the way they seem to twist together and overlap.

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again:  there are no silver linings.  There is no lesson great enough to justify the loss of the baby we wanted and loved so much.  But I am so appreciative of the gifts we've received because of Eliza, of the people who have reached out to us in kindness and in friendship.  And I feel now like I can try to give something back sometimes.

The biggest difference between now and a year ago may be that eighteen months out is long enough that I can look up from my pain and interact with the world around me.  It's long enough that I can talk about Eliza without crying, and the Deuce has actually made it easier for me to do so.  What I've found is that I'm not the object of pity and wonder that I feared I would be.  Instead, Eliza is a connection I share with anyone who has lost someone they love dearly.  Because of Eliza, I've heard stories of death and loss and sadness that would otherwise have been hidden.  I never expected to enter this world of shared tragedy and empathy and understanding, and I certainly wouldn't have traded my daughter's life to get here.  But I'm honored that people trust me with those stories, that they see me as someone who can listen and understand in a world that wants to ignore grief and sweep it aside. I know that they only do so because of Eliza.  And, surprisingly, it doesn't feel like a burden when someone shares their story with me.  It feels like a gift.

Yesterday we bought a baby swing for the Deuce right before we visited the park where we have a memorial brick for Eliza near the Angel of Hope statue.  The park was gorgeous and blooming, and a cardinal fluttered around us, which always makes us think of David's grandpa.  It was a day of preparing and remembering.  It was happy and sad.  I cried and I laughed.  I felt overwhelmed with love for both my Baby Ducks.


27 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful! You speak of the potency of grief so well. I really appreciated the paragraph in which you spoke about how last summer you thought you were living. So perfectly said. No breakfast on the patio, no friends coming by, frozen by grief, consumed by it.

    Continuing to think of your Baby Ducks.

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  2. Brooke, I am new to your blog, and I want to thank you for sharing where you are now. I actually also read your post from last year, and I can relate every single word. But your post this year gives me hope for the future, and balancing the grief and joy in life.

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  3. Instead, Eliza is a connection I share with anyone who has lost someone they love dearly.

    Yes, this. It is a change from early grief where this suffering feels so different than other suffering. I wanted to make sure people knew it was different. And then it became a way to connect with other people, to listen, to open a conversation about grief. Beautifully put. Thank you for sharing where you are. Eighteen months was a time when things changed for me, grief was different. I was grateful for it. xo Love to you. You look gorgeous.

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  4. oh this was beautiful. I felt like I was reading my exact thoughts from a year ago - when I was within weeks of meeting baby #2, while missing baby #1 so very much.

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  5. So eloquently, yet simply articulated.

    You look beautiful.
    ~Cava

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  6. Well, thank you for that.

    This is just so beautiful, and so are you.
    I think of you and your Baby Ducks daily.

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  7. Oh how I also wish things were different but am glad to have gotten to where we are. I also cherish the connection that Bear gives me to the intensity of human emotions. I thought I knew love. I certainly didn't know great loss. He has expanded my capacity to connect and love deeper.

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  8. Firstly can I say, you are just about the most lovely looking pregnant person I have ever laid eyes on! You do it so well.
    And yes, there eventually is a shift from going through the motions to actually living. Not sure when it does happen, but things sure do feel lighter after it does.
    And I hope once baby Deuce is here, you will feel the sweetness that little bit more and you'll understand on another level what it is like to live with the happy and the sad. I absolutely can't wait for you.
    Here for you.
    xo

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  9. You are beautiful! In every way.

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  10. I love you loving your baby deuce.

    I know you still miss Eliza. I am so glad you have hope and less bad days than good. That the break downs come less often but you still have warm arms to wrap you up and love you through your tears.

    I am not there yet, certainly better than I was 9 months ago. Yes time does help, you are right about that. I hope someday that I will see the gifts more than the grief.

    Sending a giant hug to you.

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  11. What a beautiful post Brooke.. and I love that picture (it's my fave dress- I have it in three colors!!). Enjoy every moment of this pregnancy as best you can.. in each moment right where you are.
    xo

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  12. You're stunning, I love that picture! I've been following your blog since the beginning, I think. And if not the beginning than the near beginning. You write so eloquently on grief and loss, but you cover life in a beautiful way too. This sentence jumped out at me as I was reading, "but it truly feels more like a presence than an absence,"
    Yes, it does. I carry Charlotte with me, she is part of me even though she is not here.
    Thank you so much for sharing. Remembering Eliza with you.

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  13. I am still amazed the grief and hope can coexist, but they can. I miss my son every day, would always turn back time to have him back, but only if I could have my baby who came after. And there's the rub, as Shakespeare might say, I can't have both. Physically, it could have been possible, they were 20 months apart, but I wouldn't have tried deliberately to get pregnant again so soon after having Ben, had he lived.

    It's always there, this grief, but I also know how very, very lucky I am.

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  14. Gorgeous words and gorgeous picture too. : ) Getting through that first year is such a milestone -- and I am sure that the Deuce & his/her impending arrival has helped, too. Thanks for continuing to share with us here.

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  15. Nope, no silver linings. None that would justify the death of our children. No lessons learned crap.

    We are all very lucky for our children. Very lucky indeed.

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  16. What a beautiful photograph.

    I think you've described it perfectly, that our grief does act as a connection that you share with anyone who has lost someone they love dearly. Like you, I've heard many stories, so dear to the hearts of those who shared them, that I was completely unaware of before she died. I hope that they can trust me not to sweep their grief aside and that I am worthy to hear those stories. You are right, it does feel like a gift.

    I love your description, recalled to life. It seems to creep up on us, little by little. And I'm sorry about the anxiety, I know I found it impossible to disentangle what was grief and what was fear and ended up quite paralysed for the majority of my pregnancy.

    Sending love to you and both your dear Baby Ducks

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  17. That photograph of you made me all weepy. In a good way.

    I remember so well the way grief and fear tangled together during my second pregnancy. Hoping for you, and remembering your beautiful Eliza with you, and sending love.

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  18. You're adorable, and your boobs are huge! ha! :)

    I agree, it's a different form of grieve, tinged with some hope and fear.

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  19. A beautiful post, and you look beautiful, too.

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  20. "The idea of happiness is still something I struggle with. How to be both happy and sad. How to reconcile the bitter with the sweet. How much I wish things were different, how glad I am that we've gotten to where we are"

    This is the trick I think to living a full life when someone is so obviously missing it. Learning to live in a balance.

    "What I've found is that I'm not the object of pity and wonder that I feared I would be. "

    I don't feel like a medusa anymore. In fact, I've found that my experience with losing George has made me more empathetic to my patients and I know that it means something to them. That makes me feel good about the woman that I've become since G died.

    "It was happy and sad. I cried and I laughed. I felt overwhelmed with love for both my Baby Ducks."

    Yes and yes. I get it.

    P.S. You look so beautiful Brooke.

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  21. I read this post and your post from last year. I relate so much to that first post, it's almost as though I could have written it all myself.. I'm almost three months in. I don't feel wise, as though I could draw meaning from my son's death. I'm the whiny brat you described in your first post: "IT'S NOT FAIR! GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!" Thank you for sharing your story - seeing where you were, and where you are has given me some hope. Thinking of you and Eliza and wishing you a peaceful pregnancy.

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  22. More of a presence than an absence. So very perfectly it. This is a gorgeous, uplifting post. Thank you.

    And you are stunning in that photo. Much love and luck to you.

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  23. This is beautiful. This, for me, is hopeful, just ten weeks out of my loss. Your older post feels familiar to me, this post feels like where I hope to be a year from now.

    Thinking of you, Eliza, and little Deuce, and a gentle few weeks until you meet your new little one.

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  24. This is one of my favorite blog posts I've ever read. :)

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  25. What a stunning photo - you are gorgeous! I miss my pregnant belly but my rainbow is far more joyous then my belly ;) so no complaints here! So very sorry for your loss but happy to hear your rainbow baby will be with you soon. I will pray that the Deuce reaches your arms safely. These lines really hit home "but there are more bright moments than dark ones. I feel like I am living instead of just going through the motions." I feel this way often - I miss my three children so much (one of them was my rainbow babies twin) but they are a part of me and I can talk of them without it shattering my day. As you said too I feel honored that people speak to me about their grief. It's a sad journey to enter but I am blessed to have met so many people that have impacted my life. Thank you for sharing and much love to you! <3

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  26. Just to add my compliments to everyone else - you are a stunningly beautiful pregnant lady.

    And this: "And, surprisingly, it doesn't feel like a burden when someone shares their story with me. It feels like a gift."

    It took me so much longer than eighteen months to reach that point. You have such grace.

    I wish you so much joy in the very near future.

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  27. You have the most beautiful rainbow bump!

    thank you for sharing

    Maria
    xxxxx

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