Friday, March 25, 2011

There's a tear in my beer, but at least the beer is cold.

Vacation is winding rapidly to an end and I will definitely be reluctant to leave the sunshine (and the pop music they play poolside--David only listens to country music and it's so refreshing to hear Katy Perry and Justin Bieber some place other than alone in my car).

No pictures yet--internet is slooooow.

I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project.  It feels like a weird choice because I think trying to be happy after your baby has died feels wrong and superficial and also annoying.  But I was linked (I think through Tiffany's blog) to an article that Gretchen Rubin wrote about finding happiness in an unhappy time and that article prompted me to read the entire book (I skipped the chapter on "Parenting" because, obviously).

(A side note:  I have read three books on this trip--two kindle freebies and The Happiness Project.  One of the freebies was an old-school murder mystery and the other was a children's book about a girl named Katy who is paralyzed.  Each book completely unrelated to the others and selected pretty much at random just because they were free.  And yet in all three of these books, there is a character named Eliza.)

Anyway, The Happiness Project makes explicit some vague notions that have been floating around in my head since Eliza died.  An event like that makes it easy to think about what matters and what doesn't and what brings you happiness and what weighs you down.  I wouldn't say that I am happy, or that I really feel like actively trying to be happy.  But I would say that I don't waste my time on minor annoyances the way I used to.  I shrug off ordinary mishaps or small inconveniences because nothing like that matters the way that it used to.  I also feel intense gratitude for my family and friends in a way that I had not recognized as fully before.  It is no consolation for losing Eliza, but it helps me keep in mind that as time goes on I will be able to recapture an enjoyment of life--the important relationships but also the small, frivolous things.

Speaking of which, I really did enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter yesterday.  It was absolutely adorable and delightful.  I teach a class on banned books and censorship over the summer and one of the books we read is the first in the Harry Potter series, so I was sort of using "professional research" as an excuse to be there.  But then I remembered something from Rubin's book about recognizing what makes you happy (even if it's kind of embarrassing) and the truth is that I love the Harry Potter books and drinking a Butterbeer while gazing up at Hogwarts castle made me feel quite happy.

And I use this word happy to describe how I felt, even though I have cried since December 6th, 2010, including the day I went to Hogwarts.  Not one day has gone by when I didn't shed a tear over the loss of my baby.  I would have been horrified to know that in the beginning--I remember begging people who were further out from their loss to tell me it gets better, it gets easier, I will be less sad, I won't wake up sobbing everyday.  And it does and it did and I am and I don't.  But I still cry every day.  Sometimes it's just a tear or two in the car over a sad song, or at night when I'm reading.  Sometimes it's a really big cry when David's there to hug me. 

I've cried everyday of vacation, too.  But it doesn't feel like a bad thing.  I've still had a really nice time overall.  I just sometimes need the relief, the moment to think about how sad I am, and then the knowledge that I can pull it together and keep going.  Sometimes I truly think that it's worse to think about it than to be in it.  I exist all the time in this place where my baby is dead, but if I can keep myself from fixating on it constantly, I find that this place is livable.  It's not awesome, but it's also not the barren wasteland of death and destruction that it was in December.  Yes, I cry a lot.  Way more than I used to.  More than I ever have in my life.  But now I laugh, too.

So, yeah.  There's a tear in my beer.  But the beer is cold.  The sun is warm.  My toenails are red.  The music is loud.  I miss Eliza more than I can say, but even though I want to be sharing these good things with her, I know that they are still good.  Being able to recognize them doesn't make me miss her less (sometimes it makes me miss her more, as when I told David that I wanted to be able to read Harry Potter to Eliza) but it also makes me want to seize the nice things as long as they last.  We all know that joy is fleeting, and I'm trying to find enough of it to help it mitigate my sorrow.  It's not a replacement, of course.  It's more of a balancing act.

And if I happen to find that cold beer and a swim suit and a fashion magazine and a trip to the outlet mall and a visit to an imaginary wizarding school help me to balance my grief, than so be it.


  1. Your husband and my husband (well, and myself) could be friends. Country music is the fave of the Wilson house. Just went to a Sugarland concert I should blog about so people know I'm somewhat normal and not all dreary.

    Eliza in all 3 books. What on earth? I'd say something like, "She was giving you a sign" but I'm just not sure I'm really buying all that yet.

    Glad you're enjoying the vacation. And on the note of how you've changed and the minor annoyances/mishaps not bothering you so much, I feel ya. The little things matter even more to me (like the little moments, fresh baked bread, a good book), but someone cutting me off on the highway, trivial.

    A good cry. I think I'm due for one. I've only done quick sobs for the last couple weeks. Every now and again, though, that brick lands smack on my forehead.

  2. I'm super jealous about your visit to Hogwarts. I bet it was amazing and I'm almost positive I would have freaked everyone out with a sob fest. I was re-reading the books while pregnant and read out loud at times. It makes me so sad. I'm glad that you are finding life livable and enjoying your vacation. All my love to you~

  3. definitely jealous of your trip to hogwarts too. i'm a big HP fan. so glad you had a good time on your trip. i totally agree with your assessment on life after loss. i definitely don't have time to waste on anyone or anything that brings me stress or agitation. only things that bring happiness is in the plan from here on out.

    i'm glad my blog brought you to that book. do you recommend it? i got a sense from that article that it had some good points, but the delivery would probably be too over the top for me. i've been thinking about you lately too. i've been reading 'when bad things happen to good people'. it's brought me so much comfort. i can't thank you enough.

  4. Yay for beer and red toenails. Which reminds me I'm way overdue for a pedicure.

    I still cry almost every day too. But it's so normal now I don't even think about it anymore.