Friday, February 1, 2013
I've also been wondering if I've gotten to the point where I don't have anything new to say.
I still miss her.
It still sucks.
My heart still aches.
I'm carrying my grief better, but I'll never leave it behind.
And so it goes.
When I watched the inauguration, seeing the Obama sisters made me sad. Because they are so cute and they look like sisters but they also look so different--one looks more like their dad, one looks more like their mom. And I wonder. What would it be like to see Eliza and Zuzu side by side? Which one would look more like me and more like David? Zuzu's eyes have changed from blue to green--would Eliza's have done the same?
Down at the bottom of my blog is a list of "labels"--I've labeled blog entries according to topic. The number one blogged topic? Grief. Number two? Eliza. Then pregnancy. Coming in fourth? Caroline Audrey.
She's gaining on her sister, and let's be honest, she's going to surpass her. I'm going to have more to say about Caro than I'll ever be able to say about Eliza. Talk about bittersweet. I feel like it's some kind of symbolism--Caroline's going to get bigger and bigger, and Eliza will stay about the same, but her name will inevitably grow smaller in comparison, just as it's the name that is spoken less often than her living, breathing sister's name.
When Eliza died, I was sort of embarrassed. I don't think I've written very much about that emotion because I'm not sure I recognized it for what it was. But I was ashamed that it had happened to me, that people might assume I'd done something wrong. I initially felt a huge sense of dread at the idea of being "known for" having a stillborn baby. Like people would think about me, and all they'd think about is the fact that my baby died. Of all the facets of my life and personality, that's the one that would stick. I was scared that that one event, and all the subsequent grief, would be the defining moment in my life, would take over my identity. I'd be lost in grief forever. I hated the idea that my entire life was going to be overshadowed by the tragedy of my baby's death. As much as I missed her, I was desperately afraid of that being ALL there was to my life. It seemed so terrible and suffocating.
Now I'm afraid that her loss is something people will forget. That my current happiness will allow people to diminish the enormity of my grief. That it will get rationalized away as a hardship we endured or an unfortunate thing we got over or made our way through instead of being recognized as the horrifying reality of experiencing and continuing to live with the death of of firstborn and much-loved child.
In December of 2010, I was desperate for time to pass. I just wanted enough time to go by that I could take a deep breath again. I craved distance from the pain. It was so sharp and so deep and I had to believe it wouldn't hurt so bad forever, but I didn't know how long I could stand it to hurt as much as it did.
Now it still hurts, but I can take a deep breath. The passage of time has made things easier to manage and although I don't miss the pain of those early days, I miss the proximity to Eliza. The closeness. The tangible memory of being pregnant with her when she was alive and squirmy and kicking and we were so ridiculously happy and optimistic. So much has happened between then and now.
I quit planning ahead after Eliza. I didn't make plans because (1) I didn't do anything (2) I didn't know if I'd ever feel like doing anything and (3) how the hell could I plan ahead when there's nothing you can count on in life?
I'm making plans again now. We bought plane tickets for spring break. We're making travel plans for the summer. I'm even thinking a little bit about Zuzu's first birthday party--although that feels dangerous and I worry about jinxing myself even though I don't believe in that stuff (do I?). When did I get so brave and so bold as to look forward to the future and assume things will work out the way I want them to? Am I crazy for allowing myself to think months ahead, for counting on Zuzu still being here?
I still have to take a deep breath before I buy clothes for her to grow into.
Oh, I buy them, because I love a good deal. But I think about it in a way I never would have before.
I wish I could say that Eliza's life changed me in all good ways. I wish I could say that because of her I don't take things for granted and I appreciate the good things so much more and I make the most of ordinary moments and blah blah blah.
A lot of that is true. But a lot of that was true before Eliza died, too. I was lucky and appreciative then. I didn't need a lesson in gratitude. Not that kind of lesson, anyway.
I'm sighing now because I think I'm repeating myself. I know I've said so much of this before... Like this: Eliza's life--and loss--came with its own share of gifts. It's true. As much as I hate it, I can't deny that good came from it, came from loving her, and even from the experience of losing her. (Nothing good enough to make up for it, that goes without saying. But gifts, nonetheless.)
Still, grief carries its own baggage and takes its own prisoners. For every new friend I have (and I have some lovely new friends), another friendship has been changed or complicated or scaled back in a way I never would have wished. I've missed birthday parties and get-togethers and backyard barbecues because other people's celebrations (and children) made (make?) me jealous and selfishly sad. I'm still hypersensitive about certain things--talk of the "difficulty" of having two kids close together in age, in particular. Over Christmas some of David's cousins were talking about family plans--when they want to start having kids, how many they want to have--and I felt like I was going to vomit. How can anyone think they can make plans and control such things? How can people talk about that when I'm sitting right there--living proof of the best laid plans gone so terribly awry? (Perfect example of me having worried that people would only see a dead baby when they looked at me and therefore would act differently--now I hate that they seem to forget all about the baby who isn't here and don't filter themselves at all).
There's a dark, twisty, bitter side of me that would have never existed if Eliza had lived. I feel differently about so many things--death, God, my marriage, Christmas. Changes that are both good and bad. Everything is just more complicated than it used to be.
Sometimes I let myself look forward to the idea of Zuzu doing certain things--taking gymnastics, going to see Sesame Street Live, really caring about the story I'm reading out loud--and I think, if Eliza were here, those events would be happening NOW, or a year from now, instead of two or three years down the line.
I'm so lucky to have a baby girl whose smile lights up my life. I'm so incredibly lucky, and I know that.
But even now, I still miss what might have been, what should have been. I can't even tell you how much I miss it.
This is maybe the biggest paradox of all--how much I love the life I have now, and how much I miss the life I should have had, and how impossible it would be to have both those things.