Thursday, February 17, 2011


I've been drowning in this grief for weeks--two and a half months, really--and I am finally experiencing the sensation of surfacing.

It doesn't last long.  But I emerge more and more frequently, long enough to feel the sunshine and get a gulp of oxygen before the tide of grief drags me back under.

Today the last of the snow could not withstand the onslaught of 74-degree temperatures.  I walked the dog--a long walk.  We must have wandered for an hour, far from our usual stomping ground, but still in the familiar city neighborhoods, anchored by Catholic schools and churches.  And I felt it at the time.  I was surfacing, relaxing, living.  Living without her.

It is kind of annoying, how good exercise makes me feel.  It's irritating to realize the extent to which I am at the mercy of my brain chemicals.  Stupid endorphins, able to make me feel better in spite of everything.

A few weeks ago, I bought a yoga groupon.  I realize now that buying it was kind of a leap of faith.  Eventually I'll feel good enough to use this.  At the time I bought it, I still wasn't leaving the house by myself.  And now?  I'm thinking about going on Sunday to the "Restorative Yoga" class.  It's supposed to be all meditative and shit.  I would have never imagined that I would be the sort of person who meditates (even though it is supposed to be good for you in all kinds of ways).  At this point, though, I'm willing to try anything that might bring me to the surface a little longer.

Today I surfaced long enough to realize how freaking lucky I am to only be teaching three days a week and working at the learning center on Saturdays.  It is such a gift to have time to myself--time to break down, time to read, time to breathe, time to recover from this loss.  I am so lucky that David has a good job and that I already completed my degree because I know I'd never finish that dissertation if it weren't already done.

Last night we watched the season premier of Survivor (I used to roll my eyes at this show, but David got me addicted and now I'm all Russell!  Boston Rob!).  For the longest time, watching TV took all my energy.  I mean, seriously.  Sitting on the couch and focusing on the television while mouth-breathing was pretty much the extent of my capabilities.  But last night, I watched TV while also looking at a magazine and I even tore out a picture of a skirt that I think I could copy.

So part of me surfaced long enough to assume that some day I'll revisit the fabric store and pull out my sewing machine.

I still spend many, many waking hours below the surface.  It's dark and scary and hard to breathe down there.  But sometimes it feels like that's where my baby is and that's why I need to be there.  Because when I lost her, that's where I was, and only by returning there, where things are the absolute worst and everything hurts more than I can possibly stand and tears are running not just down my face but all the way down my neck and my chest is heaving and I'm choking and curling up in a ball, only then could I possibly get back to her, to that last moment I had with her.  Sometimes I can't help it--I go back there because that's where I have to be in order to be close to her.

I know, I know that's not true.  I know it doesn't work that way.  But sometimes I still feel like it does.

So surfacing is a complicated thing.  It feels good, don't get me wrong.  It felt great today, to feel the unseasonably (unreasonably) warm sunshine as I walked the dogs.  It feels good to escape by reading novels again, finally able to get out of my own head long enough to follow a narrative, finally able to muster up enough feeling for something outside myself in order to care about a narrative.

It feels good to think about things besides this terrible sadness.  And yes, it also feels disloyal somehow.  Such a betrayal to go on living without her.  But I imagine what I would say to myself if I were outside of this.  If I were my own friend.  And I would say, "Oh, honey.  You have been plenty sad enough.  Don't begrudge yourself a few moments of relief.  I mean seriously."

So, yeah.  I'm surfacing.  Every once in a while.  Choking and sputtering and resisting.  But coming up for air all the same.


  1. Here's to mucking through this mess of grief!! I'm glad to hear today was good!! Hope tomorrow is more of the same!

  2. okay.. after reading that again, maybe it doesn't sound as good as it did in my head when I wrote it! I'm in no way cheering on grief, or even the process of it! I wish we didn't have to be here blogging about it at all! But here's to somehow healing, and hoping for brighter days again!
    (by the way, I'm horrible at putting my thoughts down the way I mean them to sound :) I apologize for all the comments in the future that may leave you thinking wtf?!) I have nothing but good intentions!

  3. I think the imagined friend you is giving good advice, and it's good to hear that you are surfacing a bit. Those temps sound wonderful-- it was 50 today, and people here were walking around eating ice cream (people freak out a little when it thaws around here after long dark cold months). Also, Russell, srsly, bring some more substantial underwear next season. Blech.

  4. Yes. So true, all of it - I know the guilt of feeling "good" all too well. ("good" being one of those permanently-asterisked words for me, forever now, I believe, in need of a footnote: *you know, given the fact that my son died*)

    We bought yoga groupons in October. Still haven't used them. (Oh, and restorative yoga - SUPER restful. Lots of laying around on pillows and passive stretching for long periods of time. Which can be FANTASTIC...but can also give one's mind lots of space to wander...and, well, mine tends to wander to sadness and grief pretty damn fast so I'd want to be prepared if I were heading into a restorative yoga class. But your mileage may vary, of course! Which reminds me, I was going to email you about yoga and inflexible hips - mine are crazy tight sore these days.)

    OK, I'll get out of your comments now and send you a proper email instead of hogging this space.


  5. It really is a mixed bag. You feel miserable and that sucks. (I really think that's a necessary but awful part of the process.) And then it gets a bit easier, and you feel guilty because you aren't quite as miserable. I guess maybe that's part of the process too. But eventually, you stop feeling so guilty about it and manage to enjoy the break from grieving.

    I think it's important to remember that Eliza doesn't need you to feel guilty for taking a break from the grief and wouldn't want you to feel guilty about that (but also realize it's impossible not to feel a bit guilty about it.) are still so sad and I feel okay today."

  6. My therapist has been pushing the meditation stuff. I'm not so sure... Good days feel great, but the guilt that follows not so much. It will eventually even out. Hell, I feel guilty admitting that. Sending love and strength for good days!

  7. I still have "Sam days" (well, more like moments) 2.5 years later. The tears flow, the tightness in my chest returns and the unbelievable sadness that he will never be here is overwhelming. It's normal, I think. Glad to hear you're having some gentle moments and I hope they keep coming.

  8. I just read The Great Gilly Hopkins for class. The poem throughout the book makes me think of you. Maybe you should take 7 minutes to read it, you know... Compared to my two hours;). Love you.

  9. Brooke, I love this post. Wanted to let you know that I borrowed the e.e.cummings poem you posted for my blog this week which you can visit at More importantly, one of my colleagues asked me for resources for a mom she sees who lost her baby at the 18th week of her pregnancy, and I referred her to you and your site. You are a blessing and your generosity in sharing your experience is helping others heal.

    Warmly, Diane Sanford

  10. I think as time has gone on the guilt associated with feeling good about things going on in my life has somewhat diminished. I think it has something to do with accepting the fact that nothing is going to bring back my son. Acceptance has been the hardest pill to swallow.

    Enjoy that time resurfacing for as long as you can and when you can't make it to the surface...remember that you will again at some point in the future.

  11. Catching up on my blog reading. Just wanted to say that yoga was a BIG help to me in dealing with post-fertility treatment anxiety. I haven't been in awhile, & I am feeling the urge...!