Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Let's Talk About Yesterday

Last year, I had strep throat on Eliza's birthday and I actually think that was easier. Feeling physically shitty was a distraction. I've come to realize that what I really need is at least two days of bed rest and not having to be a functioning person on the 5th and 6th of December. Unfortunately, that's just not entirely possible.

I thought I was doing ok after spending a good weekend with friends in Kansas City, but the sadness started settling in on the drive home. Monday at work... And suddenly I was ugly crying in my office. 

So on Tuesday, I gave up on life, asked a colleague to collect my students' final essays and went home to put on pajamas and weep intermittently while watching Gilmore Girls and finalizing my last exam. I also managed to take Cooper for a walk and take a pair of shoes to get repaired, but otherwise I just made a butt imprint on the couch. I thought I might be able to work on Christmas gifts/wrapping, but I had zero motivation.

It just hit me hard that she would be such a little PERSON at age 6 with her own ideas and thoughts and comments about the world and I'm missing that and missing conversations with her and oh. my. god. My baby died. My baby died. How is that even possible?


One of my dark secrets for a long time was that if I could go back and never get pregnant with Eliza at all, I thought I would have made that choice. It was so hard for me to separate the pain from the happiness that I would gladly have given up all of that anticipatory joy of pregnancy, knowing it would only lead to disappointment. 

One gift of distance is that it allows me to remember some moments of happiness without seeing them as completely tainted by the grief that would follow. I'm trying to separate my love from her loss. It often feels impossible to pull them apart, but I'm trying to reframe things a little bit. 

It's hard.


Last night when I was talking to Zu about Eliza's birthday, she said, "Can we have a celebration?" and then she said, "What kind of treats and cupcakes did Eliza like when she was a baby?"

Yesterday morning our stupid elf was hanging out on Eliza's picture and we talked about her birthday again and Zuzu said, "I wish she could be alive." and I could tell that it was kind of a dramatic performance rather than a real wish, but it still got the tears rolling. 

Also she suggested we ask Santa to use his magic to give Eliza a candy cane that would bring her back to life. #greatideas


Late yesterday afternoon, I shook myself out of my stupor. David was going to be picking up the girls from class, so I planned to run out to get birthday treats to have after dinner before we went out to the vigil. But then David called because he had a flat tire and it had a hole in it, so I ended up having to pick up the girls and meet him there. 

Which would have been fine, except I wanted to run to Target to pick up a few things for the family that was adopted by my university for Christmas (as I told Zuzu, trying not to cry, "I can't buy shoes for Eliza, so I'm buying shoes for these kids instead.") and then I'd forgotten our candles, so I wanted to run home to get them (I should have just bought more at Target, but I was not thinking clearly), and that put us behind schedule. Instead of a nice dinner with special treats, the girls ate Target snack bar popcorn and breakfast bars for dinner, then had scrambled eggs and cereal as a bedtime snack. #qualityparenting

Also Coco had to pee at Target because Coco ALWAYS pees at Target and then since we were all going, I decided to go, too. I'm sure the other women in the bathroom especially enjoyed the LOUD conversation from our stall:

Zuzu: You going pee pee or poo poo, Mommy?

Me in a whisper: Shh, honey. I just have to pee.

Coco at top volume: Poo-poo?

Me: Shh! No!

Zuzu: I hear your tinkles!

Coco: Twinkle twinkle! Good job!


Meanwhile, at Jiffy Lube, the guy working there overheard part of David's conversation with me, when David was explaining that it would take an hour so he'd just have to meet me there. The Jiffy Lube guy asked David where he was headed, and David told him. 

An hour later, after the tire was repaired, they didn't charge him anything for it. Isn't that a sweet act of kindness?

I'm glad David got to talk about Eliza, even just with the guy at Jiffy Lube, because I think part of the reason that six years feels so hard is that with fewer people directly acknowledging her birthday each year, talking about it (and her) starts to feel less and less acceptable, especially since there's nothing new to say and everybody has heard it already. How long can I keep asking people to be sad with me? It must be exhausting for them.

At the same time, people are always willing to celebrate good things. A new job! A regular living birthday! A great haircut! The end of the semester! 

Why can't we recognize and acknowledge heartache as well as happiness?


The vigil was nice, even with me feeling a bit frantic and rushed, and I'm glad we went. David got there early enough to place a flower on the angel for our girl, and I was happy that he did that. At least Eliza has one parent who can get places on time. 

As always, I'm so grateful for the texts and the e-mails and the blog comments and the love and the prayers and the good thoughts (even if you didn't tell me about them) and the candle lightings and the acts of kindness and the donations in her name. 

I don't know where I'd be today if it weren't for you all who read the blog and comment or email me. Probably institutionalized. So, thank you. xoxoxo


  1. Jiffy Lube man is my favorite person today.

    And yes, I'm starting to feel that 6(+) years feels harder to talk about and less acceptable as you mentioned and it sucks and I don't want to be that broken record, but I don't want to stop acknowledging this ache even if it's not as acute as it once was.

  2. Remembering Eliza on her birthday... It will be four years on December 13th for my Avalon. Oh December.

  3. What a sweet Jiffy Lube guy <3

    Grief is so hard. You are going through all of those firsts without them. I often have a striking realization 9..... omg she'd be 9. I just I can't think about it some days as it messes me up.

    It definitely gets harder to talk about as the years go on. People stop wanting to listen because they've heard it. We have no new stories.

  4. I'm sorry that Eliza's birthday was so messy. I feel you on the loss of public grieving. My brother and his wife had a baby girl on Monday. I've had baby loss on the brain a lot this week, both because of the holidays and because of Eliza and Andrew. I'm having a hard time being as happy as I should about my new niece. This is their third baby. They now have two girls and a boy, in a way that I never will. I feel like it would be a smidgen easier if anyone in my family would acknowledge what I'm missing. But I don't feel like I'm allowed to ask for that sort of attention anymore.

  5. I don't ever comment, but today I just feel like sending you love, and thanking you for sharing your story with us.

  6. Eliza is always in my heart. My Ramona would be three on Christmas Eve and Eliza's story helped me get through the early days of grief. Thank you for sharing her story. I would be in a much different place if people like you didn't let me know everything I feel is ok.

  7. OMG thanks for making me a future customer of Jiffy Lube. And good for David for telling him.
    I'm glad and so very sad to have known you now for these 6 years.

  8. It's interesting you wrote about trading in the pregnancy with Eliza if you could avoid the pain. I remember going back and forth on this when I was pregnant with Grace... Playing a (horrific?) game whereby if I could trade one pregnancy for the other, would I? I knew by the time I found out G was a girl, I would not trade them. I love them both (and now Piper) all together as my children, but separately as individuals and as my babies who make me a mom.

    But I would trade just about anything else to have a living son, and two living daughters, in that order, without a hint of grief.

    I can.not.even.imagine that life. It must be amazing. But I know I am grateful in a way I don't think many of my mom friends who haven't experienced loss are. I have some very kind and compassionate friends, but they don't "know".

    I'm rambling. Because your losses mark the start of my slide down into Christmas joy/horror/sadness which won't let up until after Jan 11th. This is a long haul.

    All this to say I love your babies, and I love you. and the Jiffy man.

  9. That both my Little's would be in school and we would beginning the next stage of This Is Our Life is really affecting me this year. This is where all my mental pictures hung out when thinking of our future. And it is so different than I expected. Ugh. Fuck December. I need to have shirts made.