I have driven past the cemetery where Ella is buried countless times since my last visit. Part of me is ashamed to say I don’t remember when I last stood there and looked down at her stone, her name etched in granite. Jason and I even bought some metal flowers to put at her grave two weeks ago, and we still haven’t gone. A few times Jason has even asked me if I wanted to go, and I’ve always replied, I do but not now. Its hard to explain the way I feel about losing Ella, and about this second year without her. All I know is I feel different.
I find myself saying cliches a lot more. Life goes on. It sucks that she’s not here but it is what it is. I find myself accepting her absence. Part of that acceptance is REALLY hard to swallow for me. Maybe I’m in some sort of denial or shock again. Lately there has been two cases of infant death and stillborn –two sets of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings lives that are changed forever. When I heard about the first birth I cried. I felt sick all over again. When I heard about the second one, I just froze. I thought about this sweet baby and family constantly. Quietly angry and annoyed. Annoyed sounds strange, but that the only word I can use to describe my very agitated state. I could not cry though. I still haven’t really cried. Part of me really wants to dig in deep to the grief that is forever a part of my soul…part of me wants to move past it…kind of like moving it from the forefront of my perspective and life to the background. It will always be part of the incomplete picture of my life, just no longer the focal point.
I remember when I was still in the very beginning of my grief journey and I begrudged parents who seemed so callous at the loss of their babies…I wanted them to stay in that devastated place forever–with me. Because thats where I was, I didn’t understand how they could really laugh, or how a day could go by without tears. Now, I understand to a degree, but I don’t really want to.
What I am comfortable with is breaking down. Being raw, weeping. Missing Ella so bad it hurts. Looking at her pictures and her footprints. Writing sad songs about her.
What I am not comfortable with is NOT thinking about her every hour of every day. Going days without tears. Not mentioning her name to my husband daily. Not feeling some sense of righteous indignation. Not feeling anything much. Not feeling angry. Accepting. Moving forward…not moving ON.
Having my son Beck is part of my journey. He is the reason I can no longer immerse myself in mourning for my daughter 24-7. He makes me smile. He fills a hole in my heart only children can. He genuinely brings me joy.
I don’t want Ella to only be thought of in tears. That’s so hard for me these days. Almost like a sad chapter to our lives that is over, and people just remember it as a hard time, that has now passed. When an unborn baby dies, or even a young baby part of the devastation is that you have no memories with their faces in them. Only sad ones. Only memories of eyes closed, skin cold, heart stopped. It makes remembering and honoring them very painful and difficult. You have no heartwarming phrases of “remember when she used to do this, or she loved puppies, and ice cream.” No one can say remember when. Only me. I am really the only one who knew her weight and her person. I, and I alone carried her in life and death. That is such a loneliness. The magnitude of my desire to remember her, and love her is at the highest velocity emotionally. But I don’t know how to deal with it right now. Part of me wishes to be immersed in tears and sadness…it was good for my soul. It felt natural and comfortable to me, as strange as it sounds. Life going on, and no tears feels unnatural to me.
When you are young and have not experienced loss, you say to yourself if my parents died, I would kill myself…or I would become an alcoholic and not know what to do, or how to handle my grief. Then you get married and you play out the same scenario in your head, and you think maybe you would just drop off the grid, become a hermit, and possibly lose 40 lbs from grief. You would tell yourself you would waste away to nothing. Then you have children, and you say to yourself, I would SURELY die from the agonizing pain of losing my child. I would possibly lose my faith, I would isolate myself, I would never get out of bed again, and yes I most likely would self-medicate my imagined unbearable pain by becoming some kind of addict.
But this is what I have seen. My Grandma wakes up every morning without the warmth of my Grandpas body beside her in bed. She eats without him. She carries on without his presence…she goes on living. She fights to keep her joy. But the sun is still rising and setting, and she has to go on living…not just existing without him. She has to make her life count still by serving her family and loving the best way she knows how. And she loves immensely. My mom goes on living without one of her parents there to cheer her on. She was most like my Grandpa, and he lives on in her intense personality. She raises children and now grandchildren without her father looking on in pride. She loves the best way she knows how, and she loves immensely. I wake up every morning without my daughter, in her place instead a son. A son who would not be here without her death. A fact my mind can never reconcile. I eat, exercise, pray, talk, laugh, and enjoy my son without her presence here. How can that be possible? The young me, the old me would not know the woman I am today. And thats what is so difficult for me. I want to always identify with and feel the intense loss of any parent who loses a child. But I cannot stay there anymore. This makes me so sad. Acceptance is harder to feel than agony and anger.
Once again I’m not sure if anyone will be able to understand this mess of words and heart–but I hope it touches someone. And maybe this clumsy articulation will be the words that you’ve been unable to speak, but always wanted to say.