Friday, December 5, 2014

{Four Years}

It will be four years tomorrow.

I've experimented with a lot of grief analogies, seeking a way to describe or at least try to understand myself what I'm feeling.

I keep coming back to the Mary Oliver poem that says

"It's not the weight you carry

but how you carry it--
books, bricks, grief--
it's all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down."

Four years out, I've gotten good at balancing my grief. It's heavy as hell, but I've learned to carry it, to balance it, to make space for it without letting grief crowd out the joy in my life.

But in early December, I stumble.

I lose my balance.

I fight to get it back, and most days this week I was pretty good at carrying a two-year-old, an almost-four-month-old, and the ghost of their would-be-four-year-old sister.

But other days I forget how to balance this heavy, heavy grief, while I'm also supposed to be carrying the holiday countdown and grocery shopping and tree decorating and Christmas crafts and normal routines. It feels like too much, like I'm off-center, and suddenly the weight of grief is crushing me.

This means I go back to moments I don't want to relive, but that I can't stop thinking about because they are the only moments I got with her. The regret and the guilt and the sadness bubble up and among all the sparkle and the blessings and the happiness of the holiday season with two little girls here at home. And when that happens, I'm overwhelmed with sadness and grief. I miss my four-year-old girl. I still miss her so much.

I miss her the way you miss a chance not taken, a missed opportunity, a regret not of what you did, but of what you didn't do, what you should have done, what might have happened. What you'll never know. What you'll always wish you could do over.

I miss her with guilt for what I should have done and could have done and might have done and didn't do and didn't know. I fear that I failed her and even though I would argue with a friend who said she felt the same ("Of course it's not your fault..."), my heart just can't quite let it go.

I miss her with anger that has no where to go, no specific direction. Impotent fury at God, at the universe, at my luck, at our fate, at the unfair brutality of statistics that fall randomly instead of predictably (as though predictable tragedy is preferable to arbitrary tragedy). I'm angry at everything and nothing. I'm angrier now than I was at first, as though I'm circling back to that particular state of grief (of course, because we know grief is not linear, no matter how much we wish it were).

I miss her with self-pity, because seriously: "Why me? Why us? Why our baby?"

I miss her with judgment and fury at the people who have and keep healthy children, only to mistreat or neglect them.

I miss her with a gnawing jealousy of the people who have and keep healthy children and live lives untouched by this kind of loss.

I miss her with embarrassment and shame for not being smart enough or intuitive enough to know she was dying inside me.

I also miss the person I would have been if she were here--stupider, simpler, more naive, yes, but mostly a mama who got to bring her first baby home from the hospital. A person who fully embraced the cheesy splendor of the Christmas season instead of crying every time we decorate. A person who knew little of dead babies and broken hearts. A person who believed that things work out in the end because that's just the way things work. A person who could host baby showers and squeal over pregnancies. A person who didn't feel set apart from her peers, marked as different among even her closest friends. I miss being that person, and yet I almost can't remember who she was anymore.

I miss Eliza with the poignant awareness that if we hadn't lost her, we wouldn't have these two girls we have now, and the simultaneous understanding that even abundant recompense does not really make up for a unique and perfect little girl who is not here.

I couldn't trade these girls to get her back, and yet it's equally unfathomable and sickening to me that I had to give up Eliza in order to get her sisters.

Oh, how I miss the baby I dreamed of snuggling, the little girl that I should have been able to watch grow up. I miss her smile and her laughter and her first steps and her first words and her first teeth and her first day of school, and all the other firsts that never happened and never will.

But mostly I miss her. My first baby. My grown up four year old girl. Eliza.


  1. So beautiful, so right on. I hope you don't mind if I quote you on my own blog. December is my month of loss, too.

  2. As always, your writing captures so much of what I am feeling as I approach another Christmas without my Alana. Thank you, Brooke. Will be thinking of your beautiful girl on her fourth birthday and sending all my love to you and your family.

  3. I've been reading your blog for the last 4 years, I never comment, but feel like I know your girl through your words, I just wanted to let you know on the eve of Eliza's birthday that I'm thinking about your family and will be lighting a candle for her from South Africa.

  4. Oh Brooke. I agree with these perfectly articulated thoughts.

    We all miss your baby and your big girl and will love her today tomorrow and always. Everything is not what it should but there will always be intense love.

  5. you hit this out of the park. I feel EXACTLY that way.

    And of course it's not your fault. But yes, always the guilt… the wondering… the wishing.

  6. Oh, Brooke, it's taken me so long to get through this post. I kept having to dry the tears off my phone. There are a million things that I want to say but all sound so trite compared to your beautiful words. Thank you for sharing them. Thank you for sharing Eliza. I will light a candle for her tomorrow, and write her name in the rocks on my hike. She is greatly loved. You are greatly loved. Much love and peace to you...

    1. Ugh, what I meant to say is that you write beautifully about the rawness of babyloss. My earlier comment about "beautiful words" makes me sound like I missed the point of your post completely. Still sending love (and you are clearly on my mind ;)

  7. De-lurking to send you love and hugs from NY. Reading your brave struggle with grief helps me work through my own. Thinking of you. And Eliza.

  8. Yes to everything you write here. Yes. I feel it all, too, about Anja. About me. I am angrier now, too. And the paragraph about the you would have been: yes. And the babies who come after. Yes.

    Tomorrow we are going to the Christmas Market in our city to buy an ornament for the tree in memory of Anja. I'll be thinking of Eliza. As I watch E ride the carousel, I'll remember riding it with her, pregnant with Anja, only weeks before she died and so happy, and I will picture the two little gone girls, Eliza and Anja, riding beside each other, and hope that it brings some comfort. Much love to you, Brooke.

  9. Oh so perfect words! Love to you always. ♥Eliza♥ ~M

  10. Every word Brooke. EVERY SINGLE WORD rings so true. So much of who I was and miss being. I want that back so much...because I really liked being the old me, and because it would mean I would innocently have Alexander. I wish I could time hop...and change the course of his death, and still know what I know now enough to get pregnant 6 months later with Theo. Can it just be like that instead?

    Your worlds are bled from your heart with so much accuracy. To read them brings me closer to you. And so much of your love for Eliza. I love her too xox

  11. We grieve with you. We share tears with you. And always, we remember and cherish Eliza with you. - Heidi

  12. You give a voice that is tender and beautiful and angry to my own experiences. How I wish I could express my pain as eloquently as you express your own. Thank you for sharing this.

  13. This is such an honest expression of the all the emotions and grief that surround stillbirth. Yes, to all of it and of course, remembering Eliza. Sending you much love.

  14. Thinking of you and Eliza today, and wishing you much peace and comfort.

  15. Your pain, expressed so eloquently, is breathtaking, as is the searing love that drives it. Wishing you peace and remembering Eliza with love.

  16. I'm not going to read anyone else's comments so as not to taint my own. You are simply a gifted writer. You're ability to put your feelings into words that are relatable and ACCURATE is uncanny - maybe especially to me as someone who longs to write but gets caught in the avalanche of emotion that can't seem to find it's way to words. I love that you can craft your experience into writing, and that you can then share it with close friends as well as perfect strangers. Somehow, for me, sharing the weight makes it lighter. Since I tend to carry mine alone in the face of not being able to adequately write about it, I envy and hugely admire that you can. And hope it makes your weight feel a little lighter in doing so.
    Thanks for writing that you're angrier now than when she was born. You may remember Anna's 4th year was my angriest so far as well. It's nice to know others feel the same. I miss Eliza, all our kids, for all the reasons you so eloquently said.
    Thank you for being such a truthful, honest, talented representative of us BLMs. I for one appreciate you to the depths.
    We miss you and all four years of you, Eliza. So much.

  17. As always, you give eloquent expression to what so many of us have thought & felt about our own babies. Thank you, and (((hugs))). You & Eliza have been much in my thoughts the last few days.

  18. Thank you so, so much or sharing such a raw and honest part of your heart!

    I am pregnant with a beautiful little girl that I know I will have to say goodbye to shortly after she's born. It's so hard when you feel like no one around you can relate or even come close to understanding, and your blog has been such a blessing to me, kind of like a road map telling me it's okay to feel the way I'm feeling. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  19. Thinking of you and Eliza (I know I am a few days late). You have provided me with so much guidance since we lost our daughter early this year and I hope you know how many women you have helped through similar circumstances.

  20. All I can say is, "yep," as I sob feeling exactly the same way. I love our girls. -VB

  21. So well written Brooke. missing Eliza and thinking of you. Lots of love and hugs.