Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Here We Go Again

Well, we got through her birthday. This year, the lead up to it was less heavy and the day of hit me pretty hard. I think I was able to compartmentalize, as I worked and then took the 6th off. I woke up to texts and had a lot of tears.

As I told one friend, I am so grateful for what I have, but that doesn't cancel out the anger I feel about everything that we've lost.

I was angrier than I expected to be on her birthday. Just really mad that I don't have my nine year old girl here.

My friend Monica texted me that she'll always remember Eliza and the joy that she brought to me, and that just took my breath away because, oh, she brought us so much joy. Losing her broke me to pieces, but expecting her was one of the very happiest times of my life--a joy not balanced or tempered or shadowed by grief.

And now, we get on with the business of life, which still feels a bit sad and unfair, to be honest. We're barreling toward Christmas, but it's the day to day routine which gets me overwhelmed at times. Yesterday morning was a rush to get out the door because Coco had an accident, which meant loads of laundry and morning showers for both girls, who then needed their hair blow dried because it's freezing outside. We made it everywhere on time, but I still felt frazzled.

Then last night David was at a work event, and I lost my temper with Zuzu. We'd been having a perfectly pleasant evening, reading The Penderwicks before bed when the baby started crying. This was at the same time Cooper started crying because he wants to be upstairs with us but has trouble getting up the the stairs. So I hauled the 45 pound puggle up to the second floor, then went in to pick up the baby and get her back to sleep and Zuzu would not stay in her room--in her room with her sister, and the dog, and the lamp on, for just a few minutes while I shushed the baby. She wanted to be in my room, in my bed, distracting Genevieve. And perhaps in the grand scheme of things this is no big deal, and I should have let her lie quietly in my bed while I rocked the baby, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD this child WILL NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. Not if they are contrary to what she wants to do. I would literally have to beat her into submission, which is not my parenting style (although I've been tempted, trust). I yelled, which I hate doing, but it didn't matter because she doesn't care how pissed I am or how loud I yell, and then everyone was worked up--me, the dog, the baby--and Zuzu was STILL in my room, because I would have had to physically remove her to make her go, and my arms were full of baby.

(Sidenote, but illustrative of Zuzu's personality: She wrote me a note while at school that included a list of what her teacher has "tocin" (tooken = taken) from her. This included a balloon, a slime ball, fifty cents, and a book about Santa. All things she is not supposed to have at school. This note was NOT remorseful. This note was highly indignant that her teacher confiscated these things. Zuzu expressed a desire to homeschool. LOLOLOLOL. Bless her heart, I think she really expected me to feel bad for her, but obviously I'm feeling for her teacher, who fortunately seems to know how to manage Zuzu--she runs a tight ship but seems to have a great sense of humor.)

David got home just in time to rock the baby back to sleep and deal with the obnoxiously defiant Zuzu while I stomped myself downstairs to have a glass of wine and read Democracy in Chains, which did NOT improve my mood. I found myself scrolling facebook as a distraction because the book is depressing, and that made me feel even worse when I saw a post from a FB friend suggesting that we can't trust the "liberal media." I really like this person, plus I think a government who tells us not to trust the media is a government trying to keep secrets, so I found that quite alarming. I ended up crashing on the couch around 9pm, woke up bleary-eyed and still cranky around 11, and fell into bed without washing my face or brushing my teeth which is truly something I have not done since college.

(Possibly indicative that I haven't been getting enough sleep?)

I woke up early this morning, though, determined to have a productive day, and mostly got off to a good start. I took a long shower, and double-washed my face to make up for missing last night. I did get breakfast made and pureed some peas for G and packed a lunch and started another load of laundry and then realized that there was dried dog pee on the kitchen floor, so I ended up mopping the kitchen after loading all the kids in the car.

(I just talked to a friend about doggy diapers, and Cooper may be giving them a whirl if we can't get the pee thing worked out.)

I'm moving out of my office at work this week, and it makes me really incredibly sad. I read or heard somewhere recently that change always involves loss, even when change is good, and I'm feeling that now. I'll miss my friends and coworkers here so much, even though I went to a happy hour with my new colleagues and loved it and I think I'll really like it at the new place. It's still hard and sad to pack up three bookcases full of books and take down a bulletin board full of photos and quotes and poems. I did manage to empty two filing cabinets and winnow them down to one small filebox and one small stack of folders (good-bye articles I've had from graduate school on Chaucer and Melville and other texts I never want to read again).

And there's the fact that I'm feeling the stress of the financial crunch of two daycare/school tuitions on a lower salary, which is also bringing my mood down. We are trying to frame it as a no-spend challenge in the new year, and I am very aware of the privilege we have and are exerting in choosing a top of the line daycare, but damn it is breathtakingly expensive and honestly I'm second guessing that choice when I look at our January budget, but I don't have a clear alternative at present.

Friday is my last day of work here at the old place, and I'm ready for a week at home while the big girls are still in school. I plan to get organized for Christmas. I'll get everything wrapped, make some dough for Christmas cookies, and spend some quiet time with G. I hope this will lift my mood back up and energize me before the new year starts and everything changes again.

For now, I really want to say thank you--to anyone who is still reading, to everyone who held Eliza in their thoughts on her birthday, to anyone who keeps her memory in their hearts. We miss her still--we miss her because she brought us so much joy.

Monday, December 2, 2019

This Week

Grief feels like lethargy these days.

The duration of this heaviness is shorter than in previous years, but yesterday the calendar turned to December and my heart sank with the flip of the page.

I was trying to explain it to David last night... how I feel tired. Just knowing someone else is remembering Eliza is a gift because it starts to feel like something I carry alone. I'm grateful that Share continues to hold the candlelight vigil on her birthday because it's always something I can mark on the calendar, a prior commitment that holds that day apart.

Because otherwise maybe I would be okay enough to agree to doing something else? Or maybe I never would? And I'm honestly not sure which would feel worse.

I dread going to bed this week. I watch TV or read until my eyes burn, until I can be sure that sleep will greet me almost the instant I turn off the lamp because I just don't want to be in my own head. I don't want to think about what nine years means or who I would be with her here or who she would be at nine years old with long hair and loose teeth and a big laugh. I see her as some combination of her sisters with a something that would be just Eliza herself--like a vision that's just beyond the corner of my eye.

I look at her sisters sometimes as if I could get a hint of which one she might have most resembled. They have the same hair color, a golden brown, so I picture her with that same shade. Zuzu has brown eyes, Coco has green eyes, and so far Vieve's eyes are still baby blue. What color would Eliza's have been? It's no exaggeration to say I will spend my life wondering.

I participated again in an ornament exchange with babyloss mama friends. I am eagerly anticipating my Eliza ornament, which is always a bit of a balm in December, but those who have already received theirs have posted photos on instagram and the ornament I sent already made its way to my friend Veronica in Canada. I looked at several options on Etsy, but I knew the moment I saw it that it was the right one for her and her Alexander. It is a stamped ceramic heart and reads, "We will always wonder who you would have become."

As my friend Julie said on IG, it perfectly captures what we all feel all.

We are managing at this point. We are not completely crippled by our grief these days. We are all functioning pretty darn well, actually. But we will never stop wondering who they would have been.

After a visit with Santa last weekend (Coco wants “tie shoes” and Zuzu wants a Frozen II LEGO set), we are officially in holiday mode here (although I forgot to put treats in the Advent calendar last night as I scrolled my phone into oblivion before bed). We've started crafting some Christmas gifts, and made plans for viewing lights and participating in a Christmas pageant. It will be a jolly holiday with three little girls and two sparkling trees under our roof. And we will miss Eliza.

As Elizabeth McCracken writes so perfectly, "It's a happy life, but someone is missing. It's a happy life, and someone is missing."

It's a happy life, but I miss my first sweet baby girl and the big girl she would have become this year.