Thursday, May 26, 2011

Right Where I Am: 8 1/2 Months

Thank you, Angie, for getting this project going.  Being able to read and share in the journeys of other bereaved mothers has been my lifeline in the last 8 1/2 months.  Having these snapshots all in one compilation is an incredible idea.

So, where am I?  

Damn good question, I feel like I've been asking myself that a lot the past few weeks.

In the full existential sense of the question.  Where am I? Where has the "me" that I used to recognize gone?

I am wordless, most days.  I don't blog nearly as much as I did in the early days.  I feel like everything would be redundant right now.  I miss Otis. I can't believe he's dead. And yet, I can.  I do.  This knowledge does feel somehow more integrated than it used to, that's for sure.

I don't cry every day.  I cry maybe once a week.  And even then, it's usually not big, sobbing, wailing cries.  Sometimes I miss those. These cries sneak up on me, out of nowhere, and bubble out.  A song on the radio, a pass by his dresser and a glimpse of his photo...they can still get me. They show up, they pass.  Life goes on.  Or it doesn't.

I was talking with my therapist the other day, and mentioning how my grief seems to have shifted.  In the "early days" (note: I still very much feel I am in the early days, but I'm talking early-early days, maybe the first four months...) I felt like I was in a horror movie.  Running from a masked killer, who was chasing me down.  I was breathless, terrorized, frantic.  Afraid to stop running for fear my grief would consume me, swallow me whole...

Now though, it feels less frantic.  My grief pops up and it's like, "oh, hello.  there you are.  was wondering when you were going to show up again."  Without fully even grasping the imagery, I shared with my therapist that my grief now sort of feels like a baby that I carry with me...  Baby starts to cry, I pick the baby up, hold it, love on it, acknowledge it, cry with it sometimes....It's something that lives with me, that is always there, sometimes it needs to be loud and bossy and other times it's just *there.*   I don't run from it anymore.  

My boy brings me joy in ways I never would have imagined.  I appreciate the delicate opening of a flower in a different way. I blow almost every dandelion that I come across, making wishes and sending the seeds out to my boy, while at the same time thanking him for showing up at that moment.  The fragility of my heart makes me gasp and cry way more often than it did pre-September 12, 2010; but I don't recoil from that truth, I appreciate it.  

But that's a little more, I don't know, global perspective, big broad brush stroke perspective, than the nitty gritty ugly details.  What about right now? Right at this moment...I still feel very lost.  Angry.  I can't be around others' babies, I don't want to hear about children and families.  I get indignant a lot, and find myself to be a lot more self-righteous than I'd like to be.  I am not good with social commitments.  I am working again, masquerading as a "normal person" a lot of the time, but there's so much under the surface still.  I worry about friends, family, loved ones and pets dying pretty much all the time.  I wake up several times a night to make sure my dogs are still breathing.  I can't watch small children eating because I see them choking.  My husband got some kinda scary bloodwork results back yesterday and within seconds I had planned his entire funeral.  Fear and anxiety have made themselves part of my everyday patchwork in new and vivid ways.  I am spacy and take a lot of comfort in brainless TV or movies.  I've only read a few non-babyloss-related books since Otis died and even then my attention span wanes considerably.  I just don't care about a lot. This is sometimes good - some things roll off my back in ways they wouldn't have 9 months ago.  But my friendships are suffering, and I am not always comfortable just "not caring."  I hear people complain about something and often it's like this endless refrain in my head, "Oh yeah?  My baby died." And then I feel guilty.  And sad. Meh.

I am also pregnant again.  Almost 20 weeks now.  Theoretically "halfway," though I don't trust that this pregnancy will go to term and I also don't know what exactly I am "halfway" to.  Death? Perhaps.  Birth?  Seems unfathomable.   I love this baby already so much, but so differently than I remember loving Otis during my pregnancy with him.  There are moments of joy and hope, don't get me wrong, but there have also been so many moments of terror, of anxiety, of desperate loneliness and longing.  I can't imagine parenting a living child.  I don't know how I will.  I worry that this child will always live in Otis's shadow.  That I could never love this child anywhere near the amount that I love Otis.  Please don't try to convince me otherwise, logic and reason just don't apply here.  

If there's one thing I can trust these days, it's that life is fluid and changes, unpredictably, all the time.  Sometimes the surprises bring a light into my eyes and a smile into my heart.  Other times, the surprises cause the floor to fall out and leave me panicked and shaky.  My hands hurt from "white knuckling" sometimes; gripping onto this imaginary something so hard as if it could somehow control my life, control the future.  Other times I walk through the world and realize I have never seen colors so bright, smelled flowers so fragrant, felt love so true, and I know I have my son to thank.

Thank you, Otis.  

I love you so much.  I miss you so much.  As high as the sky, as deep as the ocean, forever and ever and ever.


30 comments:

Brooke said...

This is so lovely. I am having such a hard time articulating where I am right now at not-quite-six-months away from Eliza's death. I feel so much of what you describe--less and more of certain things. That vacillation between my desperation to control things and my willingness to accept what happens because I've been through hell already so what's it matter? The back and forth between my heart feeling shredded to bits and feeling bruised and tender but also big enough to love my husband and some friends and family more than ever. I'm just as sad and angry as I ever was, but it's livable now in a way that it wasn't just a few months ago. It's a terrible place to be, no matter what, and the only thing that makes it bearable is finding the other funny and irreverent and amazing and insightful people who are here, too.

Ceil said...

Sarah, You've been on my mind and I really connect with this post. Eloquent, heartfelt reality. I walk a fine line between hope-full and hope-less, and I'm never sure how I'm going to feel. One thing I am sure about though is that on the journey I takes comfort in not walking alone.
<3

katherine said...

What a beautiful post... Thank you.
Thinking of you, always...

erica said...

I love the way you capture the strangeness of how the big-picture, big-lesson parts of grief and loss are incorporated (or not) into the day-to-day realities of getting through life while grieving. Thinking of you, and sending thanks for sharing this.

Shell said...

Beautiful and poignant post. I really enjoyed reading it. I feel the same way, things that used to bother me don't even cross my mind anymore. I lose things much more now and also really "take in" nature and enjoy being outside more than I used to. Thinking of you, Otis and your babe on the way.

still life angie said...

I have to say that where you are--nine months to one year and 20 weeks pregnant, that was the worst time for me. The immediacy of grief in the early days was something that forced me to pay attention. It was like survival, and then the anger and bitterness settled on me. I really was not in a good place. I imagine you know what I mean--just this stifling unhappiness and ennui and anger. Oh, the anger. Thank you for being honest with where you are right now. Thank you for sharing.

Christine said...

beautiful , honest post. I can relate to grief popping up...embracing it, dealing with it, setting it back down again.. waiting.. remembering Otis...

Missy said...

Very beautiful words mama. Thinking of you and sending love and strength your way~

cullensblessings said...

Thank you for sharing Sarah... thinking of you and Otis always and walking right along with you....

Shaina Gadow said...

Sarah, I am much earlier in my process then you, but I feel like I can relate to so much you said. I actually wrote about a few of them tonight on my blog. Although you still feel all the hard parts of grief, it gives me hope that you can see the beauty in life as well.

Hope's Mama said...

Yep, for 8 months out, that sounds about right to me. We have certainly shared many of the same feelings and thoughts.
I too found it hard to care when it came to friendships and to be honest, I still do. Of course with the very good friends, I do care, but with those friends who simply did not get it or did not even try and somehow tried to make MY loss about THEM, I got them out of my life, and my life is now the better for it.
I think the first year of grieving is much like the first year of raising a live baby (at least that is what I've found out). The highs and lows are so distinct and obvious and the milestones and hurdles to clear are frequent and often hard to navigate.
I know you can't imagine parenting a live child. And I certainly don't expect you do. I know when I was right where you are, I couldn't. But one thing I can do for you, as so many ahead of me on this path did for me, is imagine it for you. You can do it. This baby will make it. And you're going to be absolutely fantastic at it.
Much love to you, dear mama. Your words have a special place in my heart.
xo

TracyOC said...

Firstly, so sorry that you lost Otis and sending many positive wishes for the next 20 weeks.

Different circumstances but I can still relate to a lot of what you're saying in this post. I simultaneously parented a living child and a dead child and I often thought that the same skills applied to both situations. It's just much harder to walk away from a dead baby than a live one. The minute I extricated myself from C's grip, there was R, front and center. I did a lot of crying at my desk in those days.

My New Normal said...

Whenever I hear people complaining about stupid things I always think to myself, "Well my baby died so top that." Glad to know I'm not the only one.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

æ said...

thinking of you with so much love, and feeling quite persistent and dedicated to you. waving with you has been so tender.

Roccie said...

You broke my heart wide open with this post.

Do not fear that your second child will live in Mr. Otis' shadow. I think it is that miracle of motherhood - somehow there is enough room for everyone.

kate said...

I love what Roccie said... "somehow there is enough room for everyone" - so true...

Loving you & Otis so much.

Kate xx

Sara said...

Growing a baby while grieving another is exhausting. Be kinds to yourself. And, yes, "If there's one thing I can trust these days, it's that life is fluid and changes, unpredictably, all the time." Thank you for sharing. I hope the rest of your pregnancy is healthy and uneventful and that you bring home a healthy, living baby in about 20 weeks.

bibc said...

this is a beautiful post, i totally get the fluff tv and not wanting to read/keep up with much. i have been there and still am in some respects.
thank you for sharing a little piece of your grief with us, and a little piece of your boy as well. i am about 20 weeks pregnant myself and hoping, just willing things will be different this time.
thinking of you and Otis.
xoxo
lis

Tess said...

So much of what you have written resonates with me Sarah. The knowledge that life if just so frail is a big one for me; the randomness, showing more love, the shift of priorities and beliefs, hiding myself in distractions and not wanting to face a future unknown.
It is lovely to hear the flip side from you also; seeing the colours so bright, smelling the flowers so beautiful and feeling the love so true...

Beautiful.

Whenever I see a dandelion that needs blowing I think of you and your Otis. Sending you love and strength Sarah, to E and Otis' little brother also

after iris said...

The grief baby. Oh that is... I COMPLETELY get that. That is how I feel to this day. Like sometimes my grief needs some nurturing, attention and it's screams louder if I don't pay attention to it.

brianna said...

Masquerading as a "normal person." I so get that and I still feel like I do that most days. Now, though, I feel like it comes more easily. I'm not sure that it is a good thing or a bad thing but it is what it is.
Oh, how I wish for you that Otis was here. Such a beautiful, beautiful boy with a beautiful mother. Love to you.

roark said...

Hi. I love you. Always here, on your side. Always, always rooting you on, sending my big heart full of love over to you and yours. XO.

little vitu's mom said...

Every word you wrote..is so true. I'm not pregnant again. Don't know when I will ever be or will I ever be, but the thought of mothering a living baby is strange and I too don't know how I may handle it.
I wish everything goes well for you- at least this time. You deserve a happy ending. Love to you and your Otis and his little bro.

butterflymom said...

My biggest hope for you as I was able to read your post is that you know that you aren't alone. Everything you are feeling is similar to what other's have said about a subsequent pregnancy. It's hard to let go of that fear after losing a baby. What happened to you in the first place wasn't normal...so how can you let go of that and believe that everything will be okay. Otis is your first...and always will be. He plays a special role as does this new baby. A rainbow is a very magical thing. Either way, be gentle with yourself and do what's best for you. Sending many hugs your way.

Fireflyforever said...

Firstly, I am so sorry that Otis died. I love, love his name - it's gorgeous.

I was reading along and nodding. I remember so many of the feelings you write about so beautifully. I miss the big racking sobs too, sometimes - the catharsis of them.

As Sally said, this community is so good for holding the hope when you can't hold it for yourself. I truly felt so much love and positivity directed at my rainbow baby from other mamas when I was growing him. I wish that for you, too.

Virginia said...

I can identify with everything you've said here: the fear of not loving the baby after Ben enough, that he would live in his brother's shadow, that everyone around me would die suddenly and unexpectedly (I still hold that fear). All of it. It will get better. I'm 7 years out, and James is not his brother's replacement, he is just James, exactly who he is supposed to be, and I can't compare him to Ben. He's his own person. The fear? The tears? I missed the tears for a long time because they connected me to what I'd lost.

It gets better. Really. But not yet.

Josh said...

I found this really beautiful, especially the baby/grief metaphor. We are only three months out from our loss, so I am slowly working my way through all of the posts in this project...thanks so much for sharing and I'm so sorry for your loss.

æ said...

Josh, I'm so sorry for your loss. Margot June is such a beautiful name.

namastemom said...

I remember that lost feeling. As many have said, it does get better, in a while. Hold on to each other, keep your marriage strong, it does get better.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, it's Jen. I can't believe I am here, reading your beautiful words. I will call. Thank you for reaching out. Sending you so much love.