Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dark and Ugly

I am not where I want to be.

Of course, there are two levels to where I want to be.  There's the want to be planning a first birthday party and buying a size 12 months Christmas dress and worrying about holiday travel and packing and naptime.  Where I really want to be is impossible.  What I want most of all is gone forever and there's no getting her back.  I'm starting to absorb that truth, as much as I hate it, as much as it sticks and scratches on the way down.  She's gone and all I want is to have her here.  All I want to be is parenting an almost-one-year-old and watching her take her first steps.  That can't happen.  I know.  I get that.  I've spent a year of reckoning and I guess at some point I came terms with the fact that I'm not going to get her back.  Not in this lifetime.

But even apart from that line of wishful thinking, I'm not where I want to be.

I want to be wiser, better, calmer, more peaceful, more spiritual, more compassionate, more giving.

I want my heart to be broken open and outward, not collapsed in upon itself into a ball of sharp and misfitting shards of anger.

I want to feel good about the way I have kept Eliza's memory alive in me this year. I want to know that I have grieved deeply enough, mourned intensely enough, loved her out loud enough to show how much she matters.

I want to be in a place where I feel sad, yes, but also hopeful.  I want to hope for brighter days, for healthy babies, for a future that isn't what I thought it would be, but isn't entirely miserable either.

I want to be able to report that at almost a year from my daughter's death, she has changed and transformed me into someone who is strong and capable and kind and honest.

I DO NOT want to sound like I'm fishing for compliments.  I'm just trying to say that I feel so far removed from where I want to be, from the way I want Eliza's life and death to have changed me.

I don't feel peaceful.  I don't feel hopeful.  I feel dark and ugly and sad and bitter and small.  I am doing the ugly cry again--driving home from zumba class last night (which I thought would make me feel better), sitting in my office at work today (I just locked the door and turned off the light even though it's technically my office hours), when David walked in the door from work yesterday (which is just what he needs at the end of the day--bless his heart, he does manage to give me a big hug BEFORE he gets himself a beer).

I am so angry that my daughter died.  I am so angry that there is no explanation for what happened.  I am so furious that my body betrayed me.  I am flabbergasted that all the research and reading I did failed to prevent her loss.  I can't shake the sense that I failed her both intellectually and instinctively--that if I couldn't know something was wrong, at least I should have felt it.

Instead of mailing out birthday announcements, I'm sending out memorial cards tonight.

Instead of feeling better, I feel like I'm farther away and missing her more than ever.

I know there's no justice in this world.  I watch the news, I read the blogs, I know that this life is grossly unfair all the time and to countless different people.

But I'm in a dark, ugly place where it feels like it's just me.

I feel so fucking sorry for myself I can hardly stand it.  Because it's not about ME, it's about her.  It's about a little girl who never was, because she was only and ever a baby.  It's about a baby who never opened her eyes, or cried, or grabbed my finger with her tiny little hand.  It's about Eliza, who was inexplicably denied all the joys and heartaches and jokes and birthday parties and swimming lessons and stuffed animals that should have been hers.

I really thought I was doing so well.  But yesterday the weather turned cold.  The month of November is about to run out.  And I'm still the same girl who got her life pulled out from under her without preamble or warning on a cold, dark day in December almost a year ago.

I want to be better for having loved her.

But all I feel is angry and sad because I miss her so freaking much.


  1. there is no doubt that you ARE better for having loved her. this blog is a testament to that. your words...your grief is so tangible to me. i can feel your heart crying out for hers. brooke you are most definitely better because of Eliza.

    but i KNOW that you don't feel it now because of this dark patch. i've been there. i've felt that way myself. your words resonate with me so much.

    life is grossly unfair. our little ones deserved more than anything to grow and become the amazing little people they were destined to be. it should never have been this way. and sometimes the reality is so suffocating. i don't think i will ever stop being suffocated by that. no matter how "happy" and "hopeful" i feel. they are still forever gone. and my heart will still be forever broken.

    i know what i say will probably not make you feel better. hell, when i'm in my slump i NEVER feel better when someone tries to comfort me. but i want you to know that you are not alone. not now. not ever. ((hugs))

    ♥ Eliza ♥

  2. Remembering Eliza and sending you lots of love and hugs and positive energy. I am sorry you are hurting. It's not fair.

  3. Oh, Brooke. It's hard. Every day is hard, but somehow, the anniversaries hammer it home even more. For what its worth, I found the anticipation to be worse than the actual day. It's still not what it should be and for that, I'm so very sorry.

    Wishing it were different and remembering your Eliza with you.

  4. I agree with Monique that the anticipation is usually worse than the day itself. But those days leading up to an "anniversary," and especially the last few ones, truly suck. :p And that this also happens to be "the most wonderful time of the year" is salt in the wound.

    Sending you (((HUGS))). Be really good to yourself right now.

  5. My basic thought is it's a process and you sometimes just have to be where you are.

    And I think you can still be a better person for her having existed while still feeling the anger and sadness.

    You can't force it.

    I would still obviously give anything to have our daughter not have been stillborn, but I'm to the point now that I can confidently say that I'm thankful for the fact that she existed. That she was. That she mattered.

  6. So much love to you, Brooke. Anniversaries are terribly hard, and there's something about that first one that I've found hard to process - on one hand it's "a whole year" and on the other, a year isn't much time at all. And I can only imagine how the oncoming holidays must add extra pain.

    Your love for Eliza is beautiful, even on days when you feel battered and weary and full of rage. I think you will get to where you want to be, but it's okay, really okay, to just hold on for a while and get through.

    Thinking of you and your family and your beautiful Eliza, especially as December approaches.

  7. I wish I had the words to make this all better, to make your pain go away. But I don't, or I'd already have used them on myself.

    Sorry you are feeling so sad and angry right now. Thinking of you and sending some love.

  8. I was so full of rage and anger the first year, particularly around her first birthday. I identify so much with what you say here. I felt so less spiritually sound and whole than even in the early days of my grief. Like the year of grief just wore down my compassion and everything I believed about mysef. And I was just so tired of grieving, anger, of crying, of being sensitive and raw. I just wanted her back. I still do some days. Today, for example. The days leading up to her birthday were so fucking miserably raw, like I was skinned and the world was made of salt and lemon and soaked in gasoline. Remembering Eliza with you. As weird as it sounds, I miss your girl with you, because now I feel like I know her, as I grow to know, love and admire you. She is missed.

  9. I wish your sweet Eliza could have stayed. These weeks are so hard and raw and awful. I am remembering your beautiful baby duck with you.

    And friend, please be gentle with yourself. Feel as sorry for yourself as you want and try not to feel guilty for it, because this SUCKS and is so not fair, for Eliza and for you. It's okay to be angry and resentful and bitter and any other "ugly" emotion that you feel. You are better for having loved her, even if you can't see it or feel it right now.

  10. For what it's worth, finding your blog has helped me grieve. In that heartbreaking, terrible and oh so knowing way. Your love for Eliza shines beautifully in the midst of all the ugly.

  11. Brooke, my heart hurts with yours. I wish she was here with you. I was in such a dark dark place the whole year following my son's death. I couldn't even articulate it. I just felt it. Raw and ugly and lonely. I admire the way you've articulated your grief, your love for Eliza and how it seems you've been able to communicate with those around you. I wasn't able to do those things in the beginning.
    Please give yourself the freedom to feel whatever it is you need to feel right now. This is a really hard time. The first birthday. It's just so damn hard.
    Missing her with you, Brooke. Eliza is so loved and so missed. She matters.


  12. Oh dear Brooke, I get this. I really do. I can remember saying the same thing about it not being about me, but about HER. I was more sad for HER. She was the one who died. I at least still have my life and I need to live it. She missed out on it all, every damn bit of it. Being born dead, I mean is there anything more cruel and torturous in life? It is no wonder the anger consumes us. And I know until I got pregnant again, I certainly felt like I wasn't where I wanted to be, in more ways than one. My goodness, I really related to this. Every single word.
    My love to you as these heavy days descend upon you and your family.

  13. Like you, I was hoping for something really beautiful to come from this. To make me better because I am Addison's mom. I'm still waiting. Of course I feel like she made me better, but her death made me so much worse. Dark and ugly is a good way to put it! I hate that this is what it feels like, but you are not alone.

  14. I shouldn't read comments before I comment, because all I can think about is the word "raw" and feeling angry.

    I don't feel like any better a person for losing Andrew and I surely don't think I have done him enough justice. I hate that our babies didn't have a chance to even open their eyes more than anything else in this world. It's soul crushing, this pain.

    Loving and remembering Eliza with you. Today and everyday.

  15. Oh Brooke, your words are so beautiful even in devastation. I want to hug you and tell you everything is going to be okay even though I know in my heart nothing will ever really be "okay" when it comes to our kids passing away. :(

    Your love for Eliza is so evident. You are such a wonderful mother remembering her and loving her the way you do. It's palpable, honestly. I imagine she would have grown to be a wonderful person because of you, and I like to think somewhere, out there, she gets to live that reality.

    Not dark and ugly, but beautiful.

  16. I know this stating the obvious but this is a really difficult time for you because it is coming up on the anniversary of her death. I don't think griefing and healing happen in a linear way, there are good days or weeks and then bad ones. Be gentle with yourself you are doing a wonderful job.

  17. I can't spell I meant grieving. Sorry

  18. Brooke~I am some months behind you in loss...but I too wonder when I am supposed to turn into a more compassionate, loving person. when will my love for Camille prevail over the anger I have because she is gone? I feel racked with grief and anguish and it can be a very dark, ugly place. I wish, if it was going to happen at all, that when they died, that was it. It should be enough, our daughters death. BUT...instead of it being that simple, our grief, our perspective, our emotional well being,our optimism, it all gets sucked into the pit of anguish and despair. Why do we have to continually battle? I am so sorry you are having a rough time right now. It is the same place I have been the last couple of weeks. Love to you, wishing Eliza was with you.

  19. Brooke,

    I am right there with you. Approaching what should have been my son's first birthday too. There is something about the chill in the air and the barren trees that gives me deja vu for my last days with him. If only I knew they were my last days with him. I am angry and bitter too, even though I know how futile it is. Angry with myself for not knowing something was going to go horribly wrong (like we can see the future) and bitter at the injustice of it all (like we were ever promised life would be fair). Abiding with you. Remembering Eliza. Peace.

  20. I agree with everyone above. A cop out, I know, but it's true. Raw, angry, dark... All of it.

    Just know that you are helping us all to grieve as you are putting words to our feelings. We all of us could replace the name Eliza with our missing children's name and it rings just as true. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) many of us can't do it as eloquently as you can. You really and truly are honouring Eliza every day, as you honour all of our children, and we honour yours. It is this community that keep so many of us moving forward, and you are a big part of that. Please never forget that.

    But also, let yourself be in a dark place right now. Be true with where you are. "There is nothing so constant as change" is one of my favourite sayings. It won't always be this way. But, to bury these feelings as if they aren't there isn't really an option either, and will not help. The bad days are just as important as the good ones.

    I love you, Brooke, as I love Eliza. She is remembered. She is missed. She is loved. I am sending you a warm hug through space right now, and I hope it finds you and gives you comfort.


  21. Grief isn't linear. It's convoluted and full of twists and turns. Sometimes it feels as if the grief has completely doubled back and you feel as if everyday is worse than the one before. It would be so much easier if we could predict what the next day would bring in terms of the emotional impact of grief.

    The entire month leading up to the one year anniversary was really fucking horrible. It was weird though because on the exact day things felt noticeably lighter. I guess anticipation tends to create more stress and more stress creates more sadness... Things started to feel significantly better after that. I hope you find that as well.

    Wishing you peace.

  22. Bless your heart. Really bad days in already bad years are really hard. Sometimes I'm scared about not having those hard times even though it seems impossible not to have them - because I worry that if I don't have raw and hurt and painful emotion it will diminish how much I love and miss my son. So it's almost impossible to figure out the person I want to be. Because the bottom line is the person I want to be is the mother of two living boys. Ugh - it sucks so much and I'm sorry you are having a rough time.

    In the meantime we will miss Eliza right along with you, and wish she was with us all.

  23. Wish I had the words to make it better, but I've felt this way so many times. You express it so perfectly. Thinking of you and missing Eliza with you.

  24. Oh Brooke. I'm just so sorry. As many people have said, the build up to the first anniversary seems to be such an awful time. I know it was for me. Sometimes this world seems very dark, that there is no justice, no meaning. And yet somehow it is still possible to feel very alone.

    The word that keeps coming to my mind about my own daughter, your daughter, every son or daughter that dies before or shortly after birth, is robbed. They were robbed of their entire lives when they had barely even started. As Sally says, it just seems so very cruel. Even now my fingers twitch into fists when I think of it, because surely someone or something deserves to be punched.

    Thinking of you and your dear Eliza, I'm so very sorry xo

  25. Once again, the wise women who have gotten here before me to comment have shared so much of what is in my heart that I want to say to you.

    You are a beautiful mother. An exceptional mother. The rawness and fragility you share here is like a breath of fresh air (really? yes.) amidst the fuckedupness of so many people wanting to gloss over or "get over" the pain of losing a child.

    Remembering Eliza with you always, and sending love.


    ps - my captcha is "cowbo" which is so much like cowboy I thought you'd appreciate it. <3

  26. I share your anger and love for your daughter. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of life's traumas somehow built us as people who emerge all shiny and wise and self assured? I find myself using phrases sometimes like "trying to rebuild" or "heal" and then realize that is part of just making others feel more comfortable and giving them hope that the old Lindsey will be back. We are forever changed, both by the love we have for our babies and the sorrow too.
    I miss who you were before Eliza died, if that makes any sense. I miss that world. xo

  27. I just realized I keep posting anonymously, but this is because I am a blogging novice.

  28. I'm so very sorry. Anniversaries are horrible. Don't beat yourself up for feeling horrible. But also, please don't feel you have to grieve a certain amount to prove how much you miss her, how much you loved her. She knows you loved her. We know. Most importantly, you know.

  29. I found your blog from the open thread on stirrup queens weekly roundup. I am so, so sorry for your loss and for how much this anniversary hurts. (((Hugs)))