Almost three years after the death of my daughter and it feels like all the kid gloves are off. People don’t walk on egg shells anymore. People don’t ask about my grief…much. A new kind of grief and ache sets in and I am no longer the zealous mother who needs everyone to recognize my hidden and secret pain.
I’m pregnant for the third time. My second girl. I have cried for my little Ella more times then I have smiled for my new baby. It’s still very hard. The emotions are still very real and raw. I’ve gotten so good at making others think I’m ok most of the time. I don’t know when I started pretending…but it was in the little things. I stayed silent. I pursed my lips into a tight painted smile. I said nothing. Only to myself did I silently acknowledge my own pain, then as quickly as I thought it– I sent it flying. Changing the subject in my mind. Only in solitude do I allow myself the full gamut of my emotions, in the privacy of my own grief. Hidden in morning rituals of putting on clothes and makeup. Tears that fall freely, and quietly at the end of a long day. I tuck away all my silent frustrations, exclamations of “ouch” that hurts, to be felt and dealt with alone, later. Maybe I got tired of being the weak one. I’m sure I did. Maybe I felt bad for making others feel bad, or uncomfortable or sad. I’m sure I did. I’m sure I do.
After all, there is nothing anyone can say anymore. It is what it is. It’s sad that she’s not here, its tragic really…but no matter what we say or acknowledge it won’t change the fact that it’s over. That she is someone who is not with us right now. That she is silent. That she stays silent. I still hear her silence as I watch my son play. I thought maybe once he was here, I would miss her less. I don’t. I miss her more. I wish she was here to watch out for her little brother. I wish they could play together. I wish he could know her. I wish I could know her. There are lot’s of little things and ways that I try to keep her memory alive, but sometimes they feel so hallow.
I have her things, her clouds, her hair ribbon, the songs I sing about her–but I don’t have her anymore. Ella is and was more than just a memento, symbol, or article of something she left behind. But I don’t know what that more is. I know I’m not saying anything new here, grief still stings, and it still sucks.
I just feel less able to communicate the pain and sorrow to anyone in person really. It’s lonely, and I know now that there isn’t a conversation, or phrase, or kind word that will make it less so. This is the reality that I have to live with. Sometimes I wish I had the luxury of being honest again…of saying “you know this is all too much for me to handle suddenly.” I know I seem ok. I’m not. I’m scared. I’m scarred…after all this time I’m still confused and angry at times.
And strangely, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m tired of the same reactions, the distant stares, the sad eyes, the cliches of hope we cling to. It doesn’t matter anymore if everyone knows my pain, or recognizes it–because recognizing and knowing it hasn’t changed it. I don’t want anything from anyone anymore..I just want to know that it’s ok if I’m not so heart on my sleeve vulnerable anymore. I can’t really take it. Feeling the need to express my sadness has circled back to anger for me. I’m angry because I’m powerless. I’m angry that I can’t speak up anymore. I’m angry that all I have left of my daughter are things. Not memories…things. I’m angry that there should be three children in my home and there isn’t. I’m angry that I have to feel these emotions at all. I’m not thankful for this grief right now. Its not tidy, predictable, or safe. Its confusing, hurtful, tragic, hopeless and sad. I don’t see much meaning in it right now…and that has to be ok.
I’ll leave you with a few ideas/lines from a song I’m writing called Histories.
Looking at each other we can’t always see the places we’ve been…we can’t see the loved ones we’ve left behind–but we’ve all got history, the parts of us that they don’t see, if you look back you’ll see the ghost of me…and what might’ve been. I carry all my history, like petals pressed and sweetly kept…the secrets known, the tears I’ve wept. Oh we’ve all got histories, I carry all the dust with me, from where I’ve been…