Friday, February 25, 2011

Calendar Year

I went to the grocery store today and was momentarily shocked to see Easter candy instead of Christmas candy.

After dropping out of life for nearly three months, it can be a bit jarring when you drop back in.

And this isn't a rant about preempting holidays to the extent that by the time they arrive you're tired of celebrating them.  It's just that time keeps on going, no matter how politely or vehemently I tell it to stop.

I remember having a conversation with a friend back in January, when I was already feeling panicky about time moving on.  Because, obviously, everything should have stopped when Eliza died.  It can't just be my world that was shattered.  No one else gets to move forward either!  Let's all freeze in place and we'll just let the vines creep up around us, fairy tale style, until I can figure out how the hell to fix this.

My friend said, "Well, I know it's hard to keep going.  But I think it would be worse if you were truly stuck in that moment forever."

Oh my friend.  With all her stupid wisdom.

So time has kept trudging forward.  But I, for one, have made a small, personal protest.  At some point in December, I gave in and bought a 2011 calendar for the kitchen.  Because I used to be the kind of person who loved keeping track of things and making plans and I would enjoy sitting down sometime in late December at the kitchen counter with the old calendar and the new calendar and flipping through to write down birthdays and other annual events and reminiscing with David about all the fun stuff we'd done the year before.  (So cheesy, so true.)

In 2011, there will be no fun.  There will be no plans.
That is my protest:  I don't write on the new calendar.

It is as blank as the day it came out of the package.  January was a blank.  February was a blank.  March?  Blank.  If we don't write anything down, maybe it will be like it never happened.

I do not want to make plans that do not include my baby.  And so...  I do not make plans.

Of course that doesn't really work.  FINE.  I grudgingly make plans because some obligations are inescapable and occasionally I do feel compelled to be somewhat social and my therapist thinks our upcoming trip to Florida is a great idea.  Whatever.  But I will NOT write said plans on my calendar!  Take THAT, stupid world, still turning.

In Elizabeth Edwards's book Resilience, she quotes part of a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay that set me to pulling my volume of The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay off the shelf, to read the poem in its entirety (What?  Doesn't everyone have that book on their shelf?  Well, you should.  In fact, I should add her poetry to my list of Books for the Bereaved to Read).  Anyway, the poem in question is called Interim and it's a heartbreaking poem about surviving the death of a loved one.  Edwards quotes these lines:

How easily could God, if He so willed,
Set back the world a little turn or two!
Correct its griefs, and bring its joys again!

Hell to the yeah.  Get on it, God.  We're waiting.


Still waiting.

It's wistful thinking, of course.  Crazy talk, even.  Nobody's God works that way.

But I know what it is to dread the change of seasons, to feel a stab in my heart when I look at a display of Easter candy.  Because every step I take away from December, every calendar square that moves me farther from the 6th of that month, well, don't you see?  It's going to be harder and harder to turn back time and bring her back to me.  In fact, we should hurry up and have that happen right about now because it's only going to get trickier.  More and more complicated.  The longer I have wait for that kind of miracle, the less likely it's coming.

The truth is that the more time passes by, the sooner I have to accept that the world is not going to be set back "a little turn or two."  Its griefs will not be corrected and whatever joy is brought to me will always be tempered by the loss of one perfect baby girl.

So I guess that's why I'm still not writing on the calendar.  Because maybe if nothing of any real importance occurs between then and now, then maybe we could still turn back the world and I could come home from the hospital holding a baby instead of a memory box.

It would only take a little turn or two.  Is that really too much to ask?


  1. Time sucks. I read your posts and it brings me back to the time when I was writing very similar things and feeling the same things. I wish I could pin point the time in this journey when time itself became less of an evil bastard. I wish I could do that for the mom's who have come after me but I can't. The reality of it all is that time and the path is different yet the same for each of us. It still hurts especially with the hint of spring that I know will lead to summer. Maybe after the first year it won't hurt so bad? Says who? I discovered this gem last night:
    All my love mama~

  2. i don't think it's too much to ask. :'(

  3. Yes. I have total and complete calendar confusion. Several times recently I have been confused that it's February and not October or November. I can't keep my holidays straight and I can't keep track of time. And yet I have a huge calendar on our refrigerator on which I cross days off every night and attempt to keep track of important meetings/dates/events....At the end of every month when I rip the page off it feels like this sharp betrayal to Otis that another month is passing that he is not with us. The transition from September to October was especially devastating for me, ripping off the month that held so much promise, so much joy, and heading into a month that was nothing but bleak.

    So often it feels like time has just frozen at the end of September for me.

  4. I definitely remember that, too, just being bewildered by time moving on. Time is a catch 22, it takes you farther away from your time with Eliza, but slowly and eventually, time also makes life in general a bit easier for you (which is not always what we want.)

    Regarding your note: our former neighbor was an L&D nurse at St.Mary's (the other major high risk hospital with a level III NICU), my mom called her and was asking her about this. It turns out that the drops are not good at all, ever, and we just happen to be lucky they decided to start monitoring early and caught it, because it signifies a slight drop in oxygen which is not good no matter how they try to paint it. The practice breathing thing is okay to fail since she said they often didn't see that until towards the end of 28 weeks.So. Blech. Apparently I have a knack for dramatic pregnancies. (Don't let this freak you out from trying again when you are ready. My good friend's first daughter was stillborn for unknown reasons and she has had a totally uneventful pregnancy and is delivering in 2 weeks.)I'm glad the book made it to you and hopefully it will be helpful when you are ready to start thinking about it.

  5. I lost my baby at the end of November and went back to work at the beginning of February. It didn't hit me until then that time really had passed, that we weren't still stuck in the cold in November, that Christmas and New Years had really happened and that I really was 2.5 months out from losing my baby.

    It. Was. Horrendous.

    I hated the weather for getting warmer, for pulling me away from my baby. I still do hate the seasons for carrying on. Not always, but sometimes.

    We never had a 2010 calendar for much the same reasons as you. I've bought a 2011 calendar but can't make myself write on it yet. We'll see...

    it shouldn't be too much to ask. Not at all.

  6. It's a shock to the system to realize that time marches on without us. One of my coworkers cheerfully told me that she always thought I was the one person they could never do without, but they actually managed quite well in my 10-week absence after Katie was stillborn. Gee, thanks, just what I needed to hear. :p