Monday, November 8, 2010

The Missing Piece

As we're walking out of the Haymarket, a tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop on Main St in Northampton, Jenni poses a question I've never thought of before, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
"So who's your group of peers?" she asks.
"You support all these people. But who supports you?"
This gives me pause. I'm on the stairs, on my way up, and I begin to speak, but stop.
I feel so well supported. There's everyone in the group, there's the loyal readers of the blog, there are close and wonderful friends who love me and hold Charlotte so dear.
"I was thinking about it," she continued, "I don't know anyone else who's 7 and a half years out."
Come to think of it, neither do I.

I don't feel unsupported, I don't feel like an island. But when I break it down to that, it's really true. I don't know anyone else who is just where I am. And when I have a night where the three living kids are running me ragged, I don't know anyone else with three living kids and an almost eight year loss under her pillow who I can call and cry to. There isn't anyone who ever puts her arm around my shoulder and knows what it's really like to have these three kids plus one more, not somebody who actually knows. I think I miss that person in my life. I just hadn't realized it.

And while thinking about this could seem like a bit of a downer, or maybe nearly alarming, for me it came almost as relief. It gave some real structure to the feeling I get sometimes, late at night, when everyone else is asleep. Perhaps I am leaning over my computer, trying to draft a letter to the director of the childbirth center, or maybe I'm e-mailing a newly bereaved mom and trying to think of just what to say. It's always late, the packed lunches are in the fridge, the house is almost clean, and the kids are happy and dreaming. I've taken time to read to them, to scratch their backs, to sing to them, to lie with them. Meanwhile the meeting for tomorrow night is planned, I've sent out the reminders, and I need to get on the website and update something. The next conference in the works, and the volunteer project for the nursery school is halfway done. I have plans to go into Liam's school tomorrow to help with writing workshop, and my friend's child will come over in the afternoon so she can go to the doctor. As the minutes tick by, and the caring-for-others continues, I have moments, sometimes, where I do what all moms do: I wilt, I fall, I wither, and I cry: why doesn't anyone ever care for me? I just want someone to take care of me. I am tired, weary, bone tired, of caring for others, of giving my time, of running around in circles over and over and over again. I want somebody to do something for me.
This is selfish, greedy, wretched, I accuse myself.
Because what in life brings me the MOST satisfaction?
(a question that need not be answered, I pray)
And I think of all the people, the big, huge circle of amazing babylost people in this valley that I have discovered, and they DO hold me up, but they don't know it. And they are not my peers. But I think that sometimes, that is just what I wish I had. I wish I had someone who was where I was, who could relate to the vague distance and alarming normalcy of my life; who could understand the random tears and even laughter over the other kids lighting the memory candle at dinner, who could be part of the wrath of the overtired mother and the overtaxed heart when the anniversary time rolls around.
I have survived without her this long; and I will continue to. But knowing she is missing from my life gives me a little pause to take a breath and say, it's hard to do it without her, and I feel almost braver for it.


Hope's Mama said...

Such a good point Jenni has raised. I read a lot of loss blogs, but most have had losses in the last couple of years. I don't really know (in real life or in blog world) anyone else either who is as far out from their baby's death as you are.
You have been such a huge support to me, whether you know it or not. Through your beautiful words here, your heartfelt emails and on FB. I hope in some small way, on some days, I have been just half the support to you as you have been to me.
And like always, I wish we lived a whole lot closer! Like get-rid-of-the-Pacific-Ocean closer! I may not be seven and a half years out, but I feel I am on a similar path to you, just a few years behind. As tragic as our starts to motherhood were, I do hope my story continues like yours from now on.

Kimberly said...

I really hope you find her.

Much love,

Kimberly Schildbach (from writing group many years ago) :)

lesliedispensaperlman said...

You are braver for it. I cannot imagine where I will be 7 years from now. Yesterday I wrote myself a letter to the 16 year old that I once was. It made me wonder what I would write to myself then years from now.

I am thinking of you- I know you crave the support of someone who is as far out as you are but know that I am sending you support from a different place, and that I value your writings more than you can know.

Love and grace- l

Jenni said...

i feel like i opened a huge can of worms for you, carol. sorry about that (i am sometimes too inquisitive/analytical). but i'm glad to read this post and hear how you really feel about it. sending love.

also, i remembered - i know - very peripherally - a woman who lost her first baby girl 5 years ago. she gave birth to her third child just this morning. i don't know if these are useful commonalities, but i am happy to connect the two of you. xo

Charlotte's Mama said...

Can of worms, schworms. I love to mull over this stuff. I thank you for it.
And the thing is, I DO feel so supported by everyone.. and even go so far, esp. with people like Sally whose circumstance match mine almost exactly, to feel just absolutely like peers-- but then it's true that there's this five year gap. Which in 20 years won't mean much, will it, Sally? (by then we will have visited lots- ocean be gone!)

Anonymous said...

We lost our daughter,Nevaeh, almost five years ago. I was just telling a friend yesterday I could not believe it had been five years. It seems like such a milestone. I still pause on the 9 and 10th of every month... I think I always will.

Time has been so intense. I still have days that I cannot move and others that I am so full of joy and happiness. Our son loves his sister and it warms my heart that somehow through all of the pain we have been able to provide him with a place to have a relationship with his sister.

My blog is only about three months old. Being a new blogger Im connecting with more families that are in the beginning stages of their grief. When I read some of their post my heart breaks and I am back holding our girl for the last time. I feel the devastation on such a raw level. I hope that they can read my blog and find some piece of something to hold onto...

time does not heal the heart it simply puts space between that which have lost and that which we currently have.

Your children are beautiful. I am sure they are proud of their mama and all she is doing in this world.


Laurithree said...

Today I met a woman at my postpartum doula training who lost her baby 40 years ago. Since then she has been a grief counselor, postpartum doula, birth doula, and now getting certified as a lactation consultant.

Her first question to me when I told her of my loss was, "Do you have people in your life who support you?"

Ya Chun said...

This is something to mull over.

But then I also thought, if this were something that you really really felt you needed, you would have googled it and found *that* blogger.

I do feel lucky in that I got to walk this path with many mamas on a similar timeline - many of my fellow bloggers now have subsequent children the same age as mine - but also have stopped blogging due to time! The more active bloggers in my circle tend to be the ones still struggling to get pregnant again- and I sometimes feel like an interloper leaving comments for them.

So, I don't know. Perhaps it is more important to have support in thought and orientation, not in time.