Friday, February 15, 2008

I don't know how you did it, some people say.
Of course, the truth is, I am still doing it. Because on May 13th I will bake a cake with five candles in it, and swirly, pink icing, and there will be nobody there to blow out the candles. So it's not as if the job has been done.
But I did rebuild my way to sanity, I peeled myself off of the floor, I unfolded my arms and legs from around my slack, empty belly, I raised my eyes and met the faces of others, I walked back into the world. It took a long, long time before I really was part of that world, at least most of the time. But I did come back.
Because I felt it. I felt the sadness, the despair, the all-consuming, body-wrenching, agonizing, flesh-tearing, searing pain that started somewhere in the middle of my gut and coursed with my blood, up through my heart, out through my fingertips, then circling my brain, and finishing right down to my toes. I didn't know any other way to do it. How could I run away from something so collassal? Something that called to me from every corner of my silent house? The pain that dripped off the drooping lilac bushes with the spring rains that would not cease?
I had the "gift", if you want to call it that, of time. No responsibilities. No work for Greg or I until the next school year began. No other children (was this a good thing?). Nothing to distract us or remove us from now. We sat there, and we sat, and it happened.
The pain happened, and we felt every stab of it. We did what we needed to. In every decision, I acted robotically, either chosing to do or not to do any given activity purely on my gut. The phone would ring. Can I talk? Yes. Answer the phone. I am in the store, grocery cart half full. Can I make it to check out? No. Turn around and walk out of the store. I am buying an emerald ring. I am about to cry. Lean over counter of expensive, fancy jewlery store, and cry (the ring story is a good one for another day). This was how I operated.
It worked.
If you are in those shoes, I highly suggest the robotic, wade through the pain technique.
With this in mind, you feel what you've lost, and she (or he) just becomes part of your landscape. As the pain becomes less searing and you start to look up more often, you see your child all around you, and you begin to trust that you will never leave her (or him) behind. Your history becomes who you are. You can then move forward, bringing all of your past with you along the way.
You are strong, you are weathered, and you are back.

Here's a favorite poem, by Ellen Bass

The Thing Is

To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, how can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say yes, I will take you
I will love you again.


Aimee said...

Thank you for that poem again, and the author. You sent me that poem just after I lost Sophie and it really made me think and helped me just ride the waves of guilt, grief, fear and anger. I am going to print it out for our group up here! Carol, just to tell you publically, you are amazing and I wouldn't be as "okay" (for lack of a better word!) as I am without you!

Birdie said...

said so honestly.
thank you.

Team Harris said...

Carol, what insight! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. You know, it made me think about my miscarriage. I never got to meet my little boy or hold him (the pregnancy was very early). But I think my greatest fear about it was that somehow I'd forget him. Somehow I'd forget that he ever existed because I never got to lay eyes on him. I never had any mementos or pictures or anything. But you are so correct. As you begin to heal and you begin to smile again and look up more often, you realize that you will never forget and that child is as much a part of you as your other children. How could we possibly forget? How could we? I almost think he's more a part of me now than when he was in my womb!

Becky said...

That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

katie said...

That poem is beautiful. I have been dealing with a different type of lose that has caused devastation, dread of waking up in the morning and starting a new day. I have felt quite worthless and reading that poem rings true in my mind. I will try to read it every day till I start to love myself again. Thank you. Also I just wanted to tell you I think the way you put your words down and the honesty in your writing is amazing.

Team Harris said...

Where did the Happy Sad Mama go? We haven't heard from you in a week! Hope all is well with you!