Friday, October 21, 2011

There Are Moments...

When I feel lucky.

When I eat a hot bowl of chili and sip a cool bottle of hard cider and appreciate how delicious it all is.

When I snuggle up on the couch with David to watch TV, and Cooper clamors on top of us and pushes his way under the covers and I feel so happy that they're both mine and I get to hang out with them every day.

When Little Mac's antics make me laugh.

When I have a conversation with a friend and afterward I feel like I can take a deep breath for the first time in days, and I'm grateful for these people.

When I leave a yoga class and I'm so stretched and relaxed and focused that I ride that high all the way home.

When I grade a quiz and see how much one of my students has improved, and I feel like I am actually teaching them something.

When I watch Parks and Recreation and it's so funny I laugh out loud, really loud.

When I redecorate our backroom a hundred times in my head, entertaining myself for hours as I rearrange furniture and imagine how it might all turn out.

There are moments when my life isn't just bearable, it's actually enjoyable.  It's a good life.  Almost a great one.  My sadness for Eliza exists right alongside all of those moments, but it does not wholly overshadow them.

I have grieved for that baby girl as intensely as I could possibly grieve for anyone.  I continue to mourn her loss, as I will do every day until forever.  But the truth is, there are moments when life gets a little of its sparkle back--a glimmer, a sheen.  It might be gone in an instant, but I'm trying to appreciate those moments for what they are.  Not signs that I'm "over it" or that I'm "okay again," but signs that life is full of gifts to help balance our heartaches.

I'm learning we need to clutch our joy at least as as tightly as we hold our grief.  Because the hard part never goes away, and if that's all we focus on, we miss out on so much of the good.

In the early days, that lesson was wasted on me.  I lived and breathed my grief and it was all-consuming.  These days, I'm trying to appreciate the good that comes my way.  It will never be good enough.  It will never make up for what's been lost.  But life can be terribly, horrifically, unbelievably shitty.  So if a bowl of chili and a bottle of hard cider gives me a reprieve from the sadness, I'll take it.  And I won't feel bad about it, or guilty that I'm somehow being disloyal to her memory, because I know that no matter what happens, I'll never, ever in a million years have enough joy to make up for the sadness of Eliza's death.  But I'm starting to see that this doesn't mean I can't have any happiness at all.

The poet Jack Gilbert writes, We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.

I've never had a problem being stubborn.  And the analogy of a ruthless furnace seems a pretty apt description of the world I'm currently living in.  So this is where I am--try to accept my gladness when it comes, and trusting that when it goes, it will return again.  Life is hard.  But there are moments when it's a little softer.


  1. Amen sista! And if i were eating ur chili i would feel that way too ;)

  2. "I'm learning we need to clutch our joy at least as as tightly as we hold our grief. Because the hard part never goes away, and if that's all we focus on, we miss out on so much of the good."

    I love this sentiment. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. I agree with the comment above, that is such a wonderful sentiment and so SO true.

  4. ruthless furnace. that does seem like an adequate description.

    i don't think you should ever feel guilty for having a glimpse of happiness. like you said, all the happiness in the world wouldn't be able to make up for the sadness we feel on a daily basis. and Eliza knows how much you love her. there is no mistaking that.

  5. I feel I have never felt guilty for being happy. I grasp for it, search for it. Because I CAN NOT only be sad I just can't. A lot of this is tied up in my love for my son. It just wouldn't be fair to him. I am sad and crabby and shitty and all kinds of angry and did I mention when the glad, happy, smiling, laughter, joy, gratefulness and general well being permeates...I say bring it. Bring on the love and the hope because you are right, we will always be sad about our daughters not being here with us but we are still alive and that is something to be thankful for. xxoo

  6. I think there's a phase of grieving when you start realizing that you don't feel sad, consistently sad, all the time. For me, that was a really hard part of grieving, and not feeling guilty about not walking around every day as an open, throbbing wound is something I'm still figuring out.

    I love the what you write about daily joys and pleasures in the face of great grief, and I'm glad you are clutching yours.

  7. I want to print this and frame it. Thank you for writing it. It's really so beautiful, and, so true...Life is beautiful...but, there's someone missing. Life is beautiful, and there's someone missing. (A bastardization/stretching of a McCracken quote...forgive me.)

    much love as always.

    (and wishing I were there to enjoy some of these moments with you in person.) xo

  8. Phew. That was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I relate so much to what you shared here.

  9. Isn't it amazing how the beauty exists alongside the darkness? Sending love....

  10. could not agree more. I remember the first time I laughed after Cale died and how wrong it felt. I remember someone saying "it's good to see you smile" when I returned to work and I immediately felt like I was betraying Cale for smiling again. But in time it gets easier, and I've learned to not only accept being happy at times or smiling, but to enjoy them when they happen.

    I feel this way about your blogging (yours and many others). Or just my putzing around on the internet in general. I can read the most beautiful and gut wrenching post about grief and missing our babies, and then read something cute and silly like your last post - and I can enjoy them both! weird analogy, but I get it. . .and couldn't agree more :)

  11. So very true. Life's gifts exist, but grief exists side by side, and there are fleeting moments in my life too when I feel good about things am privileged to have. You have written something which I ca only feel but could never express in words.

  12. Wow Brooke, what an uplifting peice of writing. I'm going to read this a few times I think.

    Especially "I'm learning we need to clutch our joy at least as as tightly as we hold our grief. Because the hard part never goes away, and if that's all we focus on, we miss out on so much of the good."

    There is a lesson in that and your'e teaching me something too.

    Always remembering and never forgetting Eliza. xo

  13. Perfectly written my friend. Love to you and Eliza~

  14. Beautifully said (as always!), Brooke. : )