Saturday, March 12, 2011

Collateral Damage

6 months.

A half of a year.

We should be celebrating a milestone today.  Instead, I just miss him more than ever.

Such a short time, such a lifetime, such a timeless half of a year this has been.

It feels like recently I have been mourning all the losses that came in the aftermath of losing Otis.

I no longer practice yoga.   Find my breath? Why?  I don't believe it will do anything to steady my nerves, to calm me, to bring me peace or to help ease my suffering.  My heart is not open.  It is wrapped in layers of barbed wire and electrical fencing, cinderblock walls built up around it.   I don't want it unwrapped, I don't want it out there vulnerable again.  (I realize even as I write this that this is not true.  I *do* want an open heart, I *do* want to feel the vulnerability of loving something so intensely.  But I am so scared.  So instead, I cower in corners rather than let my heart be open to the joys (and pains) of this world.)

I no longer go to the animal shelter to volunteer.  This was a part of my life that was so important to me prior to Otis's death.  I have volunteered there for three years.  I continued to go there through my ninth month of pregnancy with Otis; I could no longer walk the big dogs but I would sit and snuggle with the little dogs and the puppies and bathe the little ones and bottle feed the uber-little puppies.  I've tried to go back and I just feel lost there.  All I see is the desperation and sadness there.  I can no longer find hope in being there.  I used to feel like I made a difference...that feeling is so gone.

I have lost friendships in these six months.  Friendships that were near and dear to me, friendships that I thought could transcend anything.  I don't have a lot of energy to put into my friendships right now.  I am horribly ashamed of this fact.  I don't return phone calls, I don't return emails, for the most part, I don't have room to hear about what's going on in my friends' lives.  I am embarrassed to say that this is even more true when it's good news.  I am so selfish.  I don't want these friendships to wither away, but I am not able to tend to them right now, so I watch as they disappear.

I understand why this is happening.  I do. Life goes on, whether we like it or not.  In the moments that I feel like my life is going on, I am grateful.  In the moments where I actually feel alive and not like a shell of my former self, I am thankful that time is passing and that life is returning towards some semblance of normal.  So life is also going on for all of our friends.  And we don't really fit into their lives, at least not very well these days.

And yet as I write that, I am mad.  There are friends who stood up at Otis's funeral and promised to stand by us, who swore that they understood that we weren't suddenly going to be "fixed" in 4 months, who promised to do the hard work because they knew E and I wouldn't be able to.  A friend who spoke at Otis's funeral spoke directly to this fact - that we needed AT LEAST a solid year of support, that we needed them to remember, to show up, to force us out of the house and to remind us again and again how important we are.  People came up to me at the funeral or wrote me notes afterwards speaking specifically to this fact, "I will not forget. I will not go away. I will remember and I will be here through it all."  And now, 6 months in, they have all but disappeared back into their lives, their regular lives of raising kids and going to work and laughing and dancing and paying taxes and Living.  That is not to say that I think our friends don't think of me and E and Otis often, this is not to say that I don't think they care - I just think they don't know what to do or how to do it anymore.

6 months in and I feel so lost, so left behind. I feel like every day that passes I recognize more and more the multiple layers of loss that Otis's death has brought upon my life.

I miss you, sweet baby boy.  I wish I could tell you in person how much I love you.  I wish I could nuzzle into your neck and kiss you and smell you and whisper and tell you how you are my greatest joy, my greatest gift, my truest love.  Instead, I will light candles for you today and tend to your garden and kiss the dogs and kiss your papa and remember you, with every single cell in my body and every single part of me.


Maddie said...

I was talking to another BLM recently and saying yes my friends understanding losing Matilda was and is devastating to me (an understatment but can't find the words) but I'm sure they don't really understand all the other losses that go with it. Things like what you've said.

What a beautiful picture. He has great hair.

I didn't see/contact a lot of my friends for over a year other than the occasional email. They wanted to see me but I didn't want to hear about their lives carrying on and didn't want to talk about what was happening in mine because I knew they wouldn't understand. So I took the risk of the friendships withering and figured the real friendships would stand up to no contact for a period. Now coming up to 18 months later I'm seeing some friends for the first time since Matilda's funeral and those that matter to me, have held up. I hope the same for you.

Sending love and remembering your precious Otis with you.

Maddie x

Monique said...

What a gorgeous boy. 6 months out is a hard place to be in, I remember that time being so hard, feeling lost and lonely. Sending you much love and remembering Otis with you. Wishing it were different.

Hope's Mama said...

He's so beautiful, Sarah. You should be proud of growing such a big and handsome boy. I could look at this picture all day.
And yes, yes and yes to all of the stuff about friendships. I was right where you are and all this time later, things are not a great deal different, though I have to fake it so much more now. I too wondered where all those people were who said in week one "we're here for you, whatever you need, whenever you need, as long as you need". How quickly they fell away. I know I was a bad friend to them and made it borderline impossible for them to interact with me, but they all expected to see a steady progression from bad, to better, to good, to fixed. And when it didn't work like that, in fact it was the opposite in that it got a LOT worse before it got better, they started dropping off. Two and a half years later, I only have to take one look at my FB friends list to know how drastically different my social circle looks. And right now, I am ok with that. I think I said somewhere else recently, maybe my own blog, I go for quality over quantity these days for sure.
Much love to you at six months. Holding you and Otis close.

My New Normal said...

Of course you're not fixed yet. Anyone who expects you to be is completely ignorant. Hang in there Mama. You will get through this.

kate said...

sarah - i treasure your friendship, your words and your love.

i wish these accumlative losses didn't ripple out in larger and larger circles - touching your life in every possible way - however, i also can't imagine how it could be otherwise. your loss is so huge and all encompassing.

i'm so sorry. i wish so badly that otis were here too - i wish you could kiss the soles of his little chubby feet and make him chuckle when you blow raspberries on his belly. 6 months is a lifetime - but also a blink of an eye... it is still so soon and i don't expect you to tend to me - only to yourself.

kate xx

-Jen- said...

I love you SO much Sarah. I will never forget your precious Otis. NEVER. I think about him, and you, every day when I look at the dandelion picture in my office. It's so beyond unfair that he isn't here.

He is one perfect little boy.

æ said...

Kate said this so well.

I guess I'd add, from the dark parts of me you've known so well, that I would probably feel a little glad to see some of those same people struggle. Then feel bad about that too, naturally.

Like Maddie said, I'd imagine I'd feel a junction of not wanting to hear about them, and not always wanting to talk about me, and not wanting nothing--it leaves no room for something to feel right.

Love love. And gosh, truly, such a handsome boy, a little E.

katherine said...

Sweet Sarah,

I have been thinking about you all day, today -- sending you love and wishing you peace...
Your Otis is so breathtakingly gorgeous -- my heart skipped a beat when I saw that photo. And somehow his beauty makes it all the more unfair he's no longer with you. I cannot wrap my mind around it. Tears...
But thank you so much for sharing, sweet mama.

Thinking of you, always.

Angela said...

Six months out was a big milestone for me. It felt more like a road block, actually. Sending you strength and peace today. Your baby boy is darling. I love his dark hair and sweet cheeks.

Tess said...

Thinking of you Sarah, of E and your precious son Otis - such a handsome young man! I am sorry all those friends haven't come up to scratch for you, now being the time that you need them the most - to know that your Otis is still remembered and you aren't given a time limit on your grief.

Love and light to you

zubeldia said...

oh Sarahlu, your sweet precious boy. Seeing his beautiful hair, looking so much like E, just took my breath away. Beautiful, big boy. So loved, so missed.

You are so dear to many of us, and not being a BLM I know that there is something which eludes me, EVEN while I know, know, know that this is surely the MOST shattering thing a mother can endure, that losing your child is just a devastation which is beyond reason and understanding. And that there is something in the suffering of this loss that cannot be articulated, only mutually felt and experienced by other baby loss mamas.

But so many of us are here for the long haul, my girl, even when we say stupid things and don't quite understand, even when we shy away because we (well, I) think we've (I've) screwed up.

So much love to you and Otis and E, and wishing that O was with you, with us, that you were sharing him and we were loving on him. We still love on you, Otis, and seeing your picture here is such a treat. x

Missy said...

Reading this is like flashbacks two months ago. When nobody IRL bothered to remember with us, when I still thought people had the capacity to care. It's lonely to be the mother of a dead baby. It is so lonely. I remember Otis with you. He is so beautiful! I hope you know I think of you and am here if you ever need to shoot off steam! Take care of yourself mama~

Hanen said...

Oh Sarah. What a gorgeous boy he is, your beautiful son. I'm sure he knows how much you love him and is sending kisses back to you any way he can.
Six months was grindingly hard for us too. In that initially shock of grief, it really does feel that maybe loved ones might be able to carry you through this, do the hard work for you - that it hurts but it will all be okay. And then, as the reality hits home, you realise no one can fix this, and that no one has lost him in the same heart-split-apart way you have. But it does help if some friends / family can be there to squeeze your hand through those hard realisations and make you tea / lasagne while it is happening, because I reckon getting your head around something this big and this hard takes up a good 70% of your brain for quite a while.

Please don't beat yourself up about the yoga and the animal shelter - it sounds like these are triggering new issues for you given that you now understand human vulnerability in a much more practical, real sense than you did before, because of Otis. Giving yourself a chance to feel through those issues takes time and a lot of strength. My guess is that you'll do it eventually, because it seems clear that they are important to you, but maybe it will take a while.
Sorry for blathering on. Sending so much love xxxh

hayley said...

hey sarah

this seems like the worst and yet most appropriate post to "footprint" on. love you sarah and Otis too.

h. x

Simply Me said...

thinking of you, sweet sarahlu. not forgetting, not at all. otis' photo still has the power to take my breath away. he is so incredibly beautiful.

still life angie said...

He is gorgeous, Sarah. Thank you for sharing his picture. Six months felt soooo long and absolutely no time at all. It felt like it was the same long long day of her death, honestly. And yes, six months, the resentment of my friends not really being there settled into my bones. I was just so hurt and angry, and the losses seemed to gain momentum, maybe become a tad more sophisticated and convoluted--I loss my sense of being, my comfort with crowds, my ability to make sense of the simple. I don't know. Maybe I am babbling. Abiding at six months. Half a year is impossibly long without Otis. Impossibly long. xo

Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Sarah.. I am remembering with you tonight.. please forgive my lack of a comment last night and know that Otis is bright in my heart tonight. Sending you love....

Sarah said...

Sarah --

I love you, and I love Otis. I still think about and pray for your whole family so often. He is such a beautiful boy, I love seeing his picture here. Thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, your beautiful self.


Jenn said...

Oh Sarah, he is so beautiful. I am so so sorry you've had to endure six long months without that sweet boy by your side. It is not fair. Six months was a rough, rough time for me, make sure you are gentle with yourself in the days to come. Thinking of you and your gorgeous little boy and cowering in the corner with you. xx

ania said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ania said...

Dear Sarah,

I wish that you and E could have raised Otis. There are some people toward who I have an especially sensitive hope that they raise children. So, wrong or right, I feel an extra sadness that such lovely parenting materials (that sounds odd, but whatever) as the two of you - and especially you who I "know" - haven't the opportunity to raise this beautiful boy.

I've never experienced the grief of losing a child, I've never been a parent. (Okay, you know that, so I don't need to say that with nearly every comment.) But, I've experienced grief and loss.

It's astonishing that life stops, but stuff goes on. One particular Saturday in my past, I sat on my bed and thought in part, "they're starting to breath again."

Sarah, I am sad for you and your family. I just am. Of course I want for you to feel the good, be able to feel the good that will come in your life. But you know what? You'll feel what you feel when you feel it. Sometimes it seems senseless. But it just is.

I care and think and pray about you.

book fish said...

Dear Sarah

Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. Your son is so beautiful and looks like he is sleeping. I just don't understand why he isn't sleeping at the moment in the crib in your house. I think like this always. When everyone's children sleep peacefully in their cribs why not ours? Much Love.

-Little vitu's mommy

roark said...

You know that if you never reply to me in any way ever again in 20 years I'll still be here, right? Whether you like it or not (so there!). And if I need to step it up so you know how often I think of you and send you love (a hundred times a day day! all the time!), that can be arranged. I'm delightfully stubborn.

And you are so worth it. Anyone who doesn't see that or somehow forgets that is a fucking idiot and then some.

It's so easy for me to say "you take your time," "don't worry about losing touch with people," blah blah blah. But you know what? Take your time. Don't worry about it. At least that's what I think (but what do I know?).

Really, though, you are strong and you are making it through this and you are worth having in a person's life. You are unspeakably wonderful. The smart, good, true ones won't be able to forget it. Screw all the rest.

Loving you and E and Otis. I have some pictures to send you from your favorite place (and ours, now, too). No reply necessary! I insist.


roark said...

Also, Otis is just the handsomest baby I ever saw. Can't not say that. And he is so loved. Always.

Teresa Farmer said...

Thank you so much for this post! I just hit my daughters 6 month and I feel like I have gone downhill since and I completely agree with everything you have said and I am glad I am not the only one that feels like this.