Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Six Months Means

Monday was six months since Eliza died.  We did not commemorate the occasion in any special way.  Honestly, I try not to think about too much, not to get caught up in anniversaries because I think they can become a self-imposed reason to feel even shittier than I already do.  I don't need to torture myself--I'm already grieving.  Still. 

I'll tell you this, though.  Tears are still close to the surface, some kind of sadness is still ever-present, but six months later really is easier.  There are ups and downs, some days are harder than others, but I know it's easier than it was and here is why:  As I look back over these daily schedules, I am hardly watching any TV.  This is not because I am a TV snob (au contraire!) but back in my normal life, I just didn't watch much TV.  I never turn it on during the day when I'm home alone and sometimes David got home so late that we didn't have time to watch stuff before bed.  So we record all our shows and catch up on weekends (I love a lazy Sunday with nothing to do but watch TV and eat cheese and crackers for dinner). 

After Eliza died, thought, I couldn't be alone in my head.  It was unbearable.  I had to have the TV on constantly for the distraction.  I had to think about something else--anything else--besides my pain and grief.  The TV was on the moment I got out of bed and I moved directly from bed to the sofa in the living (by way of a bathroom break and maybe a brief detour to make a cup of tea in the kitchen, but there's a TV in the kitchen, too).  I was up with the Today show, watched Dr. Oz and Ellen, and then switched over to stuff I had recorded or Netflix instant queue. 

There for a while, especially on the days I didn't teach, I was probably watching about 8 hours of TV a day.  Minimum.  It was literally brain-numbing, but I had to do it to get away from my own thoughts.  Sometime over the last six months, I gradually started watching less TV.  It corresponds with the weather getting warmer and the TV seasons ending, but with a DVR and Netflix, there's really no reason to slow down.  Less TV doesn't mean there's nothing to watch.  It means that no matter how badly the loss of Eliza hurts me now, it really is more bearable than it was before.

So I guess I'm writing this to say, if you're reading this, and you're grieving, and you're just a few days or weeks or months out, I can assure you that it won't feel like this forever.  It really is like the change of seasons in Missouri.  Winter can drag out a long-ass time, and you'll have a couple of good days in there that make you think it's getting better, and then another cold spell will kill all hope you had of feeling better, but eventually, gradually, it will get easier.

Of course there's a moment when you'll say What's the point of feeling better, when better is still so shitty?  Is this really as good as it gets?  Because I still hate it.

Yeah, I know.  It's only been six months and I still want to go back in time and put things back the way they are supposed to be.  But that is starting to feel less possible, I entertain that idea less and less, and I am starting to think more about moving forward and a little less about going back in time (although having Eliza back is still my preference, obviously). 

Six months is a long ass time.  It's also a pretty short time.  For the first time in my life, I can't picture where I will be in another six months, or where I'll be a year from now.  As a serious plan-ahead kind of person, this is unsettling.  It is forcing me to live in the moment, where I am right now. 

This is a shitty place to be, because I don't especially like this moment.  Not so long ago, I thought I had everything to look forward to.  Being sucker-punched by trauma and grief was not in my plans (I suppose no one plans for that, right?  Hence the idea of being "sucker-punched"?).

This moment, though, right now?  It's okay. 

Being okay is different than it was.  It means that I can cry all morning and find myself laughing over dinner.  It means I go to Target and decide not to buy St. Louis Cardinals t-shirts for David's niece and nephew because if I have to flip through racks of Cardinals onesies, I will start crying in Target (I bought them Legos, bubbles, water guns, and glow bracelets instead).  It also means that I can smile at the good fortune of finding a dress on sale at Target for $8.74 (seriously!).  "Okay" means losing my shit way more often than I used to, but it also means holding it together most of the time. 

Life is not what it was supposed to be.  But I don't totally hate it 100% of the time.  And that's different than I felt six months ago.

Right now, in this little moment, I'm sitting on my futon typing this in my back room / sun room.  The radio is off, the AC is temporarily quiet, and I can actually hear birds chirping outside.  I know this post will be read by people who have been through this, or are going through it, by people who have reached out to me with kind words, by people who have come to feel connected to me and Eliza through this silly little blog, and I know that's a good thing. 

The room is full of light shining through white curtains and gleaming on hardwood floors (that, admittedly, need to be swept, hello dog hair!).  My bookshelves are full of books I love and, in front of the books, photographs of my friends and family I also love.  Cooper is next to me.  Mac is curled up on her bed, across the room.  The plants have been watered so they don't look parched.  This room is a nice place to be.

I could think about what I want to be doing, what I should be doing--taking care of a baby, packing a diaper bag for a couple more days at the lake with David's grandparents, ordering stupid things like mouse pads and stamps with Eliza's picture on them.  But am getting better at turning off that wishful thinking, and knowing that this moment, as a moment, by itself, does not totally suck.

Because, you guys, there is no TV in this room.

I miss Eliza as much as I ever did. 

But I don't have the TV on.  And I'm doing okay.


  1. First of all,I hope you get to go to the meeting tonight because I finally will be there. (Though I have a strict husband curfew since this is the 2nd night this week, so I won't be able to really stay to talk much afterwards unfortunately.)

    Second of all, once I cleared the 6month mark, it just got easier, from that point on especially. Not that there weren't still really bad days and tears (even now, sometimes at the drop of the hat or at something so innocuous, but less often, that too). If it's any consolation at all, the absolute worst for me was those first 6 months.

    Also, you have good taste in tv because that's pretty much my routine too. (I'm a tv-holic though I guess.) Although Dr.Oz scares my husky when he plays games with dinging and buzzing (which is every day) and Kathie Lee and Hoda are getting on my nerves.

    Anyway, thinking of you guys.

  2. It's nice to hear that at 6 months you are doing okay. I just reached 5 months and starting to feel that same way. I'm still trying to figure out how to turn that wishful thinking off though.
    Thinking of you and Eliza....

  3. It's funny how something so silly as watching less television can all the suddon hit you and remind us that we ARE doing a little better! Still shitty, but better.

    Like you I can not picture where my life will be in the next 6 months or year...I hadn't thought about that until you said it. I feel like everything is on pause and I can't pretend to know what the year has instore for me...I've always had a plan and now I am just too focused on each day. I mean I hope to be pregnant within the next 6 months, but even with that one goal, I can't picture it. I guess I don't want to set myself up for more sadness!

  4. I felt so much better at six months. I am glad you are feeling okay in this moment. I too watched so much TV after Charlotte died, and it's only been recently that I've resumed reading copious amounts, taking long walks, working outside ...
    You're right, life can be okay without them.

  5. I was still not in a good place at six months and maybe that is why it is so peaceful to read you describe yourself as OK.. thinking of you and Eliza.

  6. Beautiful and perfect. And this was precisely where I was at 6 months as well. I can totally relate to the TV thing as well. Oh man I watched a lot of Ellen....

  7. (((HUGS))) I just blogged about the 6 month mark too. I love how you said "this moment, as a moment, by itself, does not totally suck". I really need to employ that type of thinking WAY more often than I do.