5

“I wish it’d been easier, instead of any longer”–Patty Griffin

Well it’s been exactly a month since Ella’s first birthday. It’s taken me roughly 30 days to muster up some more courage, and take inventory on this heart and mind of mine. Initially I wanted my next post to be about Ella’s birthday, and all of the things we did to honor her. But I’m not sure I want to share that yet…it was special, and sacred..and not everything needs to be catalogued and recorded on the web. Some things can just exist in the hard drive of our hearts, and be encoded in the wire frames of our souls. I’m not a very disciplined person. I have many thoughts in a day, song ideas, and poems that I never write down. I think them, and for some odd reason that is enough for me. The aftermath of this “thinking only process” for an artist is usually catastrophic–and induces a chaos of thought that must be spilled out one idea, poem, lyric, and word at a time. I am ready to draw out the blood again in this wound. I am coming here to express the infection, the pain, the pressure…medically and metaphorically I am ready to relieve the pressure. It has built up again. 

I’ve had a lot of thoughts as the seasons have begun to change again. I wake up, look out my window…and think about how much I hate change. I hate that my grief is changing. I hate that it is inconsistent, and unpredictable. Change evokes a scene in my mind, where I am riding in the back of a flatbed truck, driving away from Ella. I strain to keep my eyes on her, and slowly she becomes indiscernible. The landscape begins to change, and I can only see a speck of where she stood. Do I even see her anymore? This process is hard to articulate for me. Fear of coming across “healed” or “better” frightens me to the core. Not that those aren’t good things to be, but I simply do not wish to be those things. I do not wish to forget. I do not wish my memories to fade. I do not wish for time to keep spinning on. My mind and heart are resentful of time. For a person to die as a baby, is for them to remain in that pure, unaltered innocent state for all of time. But babies are supposed to grow, and a year and a month are supposed to produce tangible, physical change. The paradox of time passing, but Ella staying the same to me–a hope, a dream, an un-song song is wearing me completely thin as of late. My grief like the seasons is changing, and even I am incapable of controlling it. That is what is so frustrating to me. I want to be able to control my own grief, and have it manifest in ways that I see fit, or ways that I want to feel. Acceptance is part of grief, and I feel it go down with a bitter burn with every swallow of a new day. Acceptance is hell for me right now. I can’t deny what has happened, I cannot change it, and I cannot go back. It’s a very bitter, lonely, quiet place to sit. Acceptance comes without tears lately, and this burns the most. Yearning to weep for myself, and for the lovely little girl I will never get to hold here–but I must accept, and the tears do not flow as they once did. I know I will cry again for her, I can even cry now–as I am expressing a great many fears, and sorrows…but I wish to ache for her at all times. I do in some regards, but like I said..it is changing. Unless you have walked through this journey of loss and grief, my statements may not make a lot of sense. The griever knows that time and change are a bittersweet friend that at one moment we embrace, and the next we wish to divorce. I am incredibly uncomfortable in this state of change, with nothing left but acceptance. 

 

Onto another thought, another wound. In the past few weeks I have thought to myself many times “Why did things happen in the way that they did?” Not the fact that Ella died, but the fact that she died right after my first niece was born healthy and alive? Why did both babies have to be born roughly within a week of each other? Why did they have to both be girls? I feel like things like that are in God’s control, so why did He not intervene? This month has been particularly hard to come to terms with because I now also have a newborn nephew from the same in-laws. After we got news of his birth, a wave of incredibly anxiety and certainty that this baby that I am carrying now will also die overwhelmed me. Honestly, I did not expect that. I did not even consider the fact that at this time last year, they had their baby and then a week later my baby died. One year later, they have another baby..and of course my psyche is replaying everything over again. I wish I could’ve seen that freight train coming, but I didn’t. If I had, I maybe would’ve been kinder on myself..like I am learning to be. The circumstances are unbelievable. They have a girl, we have a girl. They have a boy, we are pregnant with a boy. The question of why our circumstances have to be so mirrored is one that really perplexes me. They represent everything I so desperately want, but still do not have yet. I still feel like a loser. I still feel empty-handed. I still go to sleep with an empty nursery. I still must wait for what seems like an eternity–to have what my heart so desires. I know that some people probably assume that a new baby will somehow replace the one that died, this is not true. I still wrestle with anxiety, and pain everyday, and I have for every day of this pregnancy. Pregnancy has been hard on me. I have not endured knowing or clinging to a guarantee of a happy ending. No one on this earth or even in Heaven can promise me that at the end of it all, on December 25th I will bring home a healthy and alive son. Of course I hope, as much as I can–but I do not expect. I feel resentful at times when I feel that others expect and want me to abandon all caution, I feel it really discounts what I’ve been through. The need I feel to be understood, and known is great. I want my family to understand that while I feel happy for them, and I am so thankful at the healthy birth of their son, my nephew, and their grandson–the burden is heavier for me. I am unable to hold him, or see him, or to celebrate in the way that they want me to because of my fear, my loss, and my reality. I am unable to hold another infant, until I hold my own. The pain, and fear of losing another child is extremely great…and I feel my heart could not bear to witness another joyous completion until I am satisfied with my own. It is simply too much for me. If you are having a hard time understanding, just imagine that every breath you take you hold it in, for as long as you can–you are suffocating with expectation, hope, and fear. You cannot breath, and have not been able to take a breath for a very long time. When I can breath, I will maybe be able to give you what you want…or maybe I never will. The take home thought is, it’s not personal. I never want anyone in my family to make my grief into a weapon, or take it personally. It’s ok to not understand, but it’s not ok to make me feel guilty, ashamed, or isolated because I cannot respond in the way you want me to. As I continue to struggle with the many factors of the past year that made my grief and loss of Ella that much more difficult and painful to bear I dwell on the truth that God is a sovereign God. But why did He not make things easier for me? There is a song that I have been listening to on repeat that speaks right to my heart on a million levels, by Patty Griffin. The line that sums up my thoughts on the agonizing question in my mind is “I wish it’d been easier, instead of any longer.”

Advertisements
Video
7

24

Tomorrow we are at 24 weeks. I have been avoiding my blog the last few weeks like the plague. Afraid I’ll go on another rant, or find myself sobbing at the computer screen as I try to figure out how I feel. In fact, I’ve been avoiding a lot of things in my life lately. Avoiding awkward situations that I simply don’t feel capable of handling. Avoiding writing my feelings. Avoiding talking about them. Avoiding looking at little girls. Avoiding dreaming about the good things that can come from this new baby. Avoiding listening to the songs I have written about Ella. Avoiding watching the music video that is plainly our life. Avoiding her empty room. Avoiding opening up these very present and real wounds again. I’m sure it’s normal. All I can say is that I’m tired of being broken. Tired of being afraid. So damn tired of crying and missing Ella so bad it hurts every fiber of my being. I am avoiding myself…

So much of this pain is psychological…my last post was about the doppler. Well I have only used it a handful of times. This might be surprising but I find that since I have it, I don’t need it. When I have a moment of dread and panic I simply wait. I don’t do anything really. Just sit and breathe with my hands on my belly and wait. Baby always complies..usually within minutes. I feel bad sometimes for putting so much pressure on Him. I think that this whole charade is something about the control. If I at least have the illusion of control then I don’t have to use it.

Anyway…back to the avoiding. From 19 weeks to about 22 may have been the darkest time for me. I felt like I was “relapsing” which sounds ridiculous because I definitely should know by now that grief comes in waves, and you just keep going around and around. But it surprised me. The anxiety came back…and the sorrow…the sorrow so heavy I felt like she had been ripped from me yesterday. I think grief is so odd and beautiful.

Within that time period I also released my first single off of my new EP called Climbing Clouds. The single was released with a video that is entirely and incredibly autobiographical. Releasing that into the world so to speak was incredibly freeing, terrifying, healing, disappointing, and a myriad of other emotions. To say that things have been a bit tense with exposing myself in this way is a huge understatement. The need to retreat and hideaway has been the primal instinct ruling most of my avoidances. In between releasing the video I have also been touring a bit more, and with that–playing my songs for the public about Ella. Make no mistake, being an artist–someone who writes and communicates to connect is exhausting. I feel so burnt out and tired of being up front. I feel like I am exposed, needy, weak, naked, broken, and that I must continue to be these things in front of everyone regardless if I feel like it. This is my life. To share songs, and my life with others who are lost and hurting. Lately though, I really wish it wasn’t. The bottom line is I’m tired of being vulnerable. It’s getting harder. I am tired of being so blatantly honest to the many, many people who ask me if this is my first child. I’m tired of having bad days. I’m tired of sharing my story and I don’t know why. Other than the fact that being vulnerable is scary. Sometimes vulnerability and honesty are met with awkwardness and rejection. That’s a really hard pill to swallow when all I really need is love and acceptance. I know that by putting this all out now, at midnight no less–I am uncorking myself again. Opening up again. Releasing. Unclogging. Speaking honestly…but even as I type this I don’t want to go there.

Every morning for the past few weeks when I wake up and go to the bathroom I look across the hall and see Ella’s room..with the door wide open. Jason keeps opening the door every day…and every day I close it. It’s actually physically hard to close–the door gets caught on the carpet every time, but I close it every day nonetheless. I don’t want to look in that empty space. I don’t want to look my loss in the face. I don’t want to think about what could have been. And I don’t. I angrily close the door. I know that this action is a small manifestation on what is happening in my mind and heart internally. I don’t know what to do about it at the present. I don’t feel like sharing will make it better…but I guess it can’t make it any worse. My mom came over today and asked me how I was doing, and I just brushed her off and said I was fine. I might have been fine, but I don’t really know honestly how I am because like I said..I am avoiding myself. You know how I avoid myself? Distraction and busyness. I make sure there is never a moment I am alone with my thoughts and feelings. There is always constant noise, constant stimulation, constant fixation. Online shopping…work….pinterest…emails..facebook…youtube…cooking shows. It all leaves me feeling terribly empty and dissatisfied. Come to think of it, I’m avoiding God too. I don’t really want to think about Him at all. I don’t want to talk to Him, and I don’t want to tell Him how I feel, or what I want, or even what I need. Every prayer I have uttered for myself since Ella has died has felt like a small victory to me. It’s hard to talk to God. I don’t feel like I know Him anymore, and at times..most of the time I don’t feel like He is safe anymore. I’m afraid to admit this…but I think I must diagnose my true beliefs and be honest with myself..and probably with God too. Life has really lost its luster. The small things that used to bring me joy now seem pretty meaningless…with the exception of my husband and this baby. Baby has brought me little folds of joy…little quiet glimmers. I don’t think anyone but God knows how special they are to me, and how feeling him move inside me really brings me a little piece of heaven. I need that heaven, and with every day I abandon myself to the joy as much as I can. I’m pretty sure that is all I can do for now. But it’s all so sacred still. I really can’t be free to rejoice and smile and laugh and plan and think about the future with the world, family or even friends. We haven’t bought anything yet, decorated, or signed up for any classes…we will cross these bridges when they come. I know at some point I will no longer be able to avoid doing those things..but maybe avoidance has a time and place. I will try to avoid worry about the future and be content with the day I have been given. Ha, way easier to say than do. Anyway, I am going to share the video with you..because this is the time and place. One thing I can’t avoid is my undying love for my daughter…here is Ella’s first song…one of many.

0

Healing Through Creating

So the past few months I’ve been enthralled in production and writing for a new album. The process started before Ella died, and it has taken me and my producer a long time to get it finished. There have been countless times when I wanted to give up, and throw in the towel on these songs and this journey. Every morning I go to the mountain of depression, discouragement, and apathy. Every morning I get out of bed, and put one foot in front of the other. This project has literally been a thousand tiny baby steps for me. A few months ago I had an idea that really inspired me, and has helped me to complete this. I came to the point when I would listen to these songs, and sing them–and I would see them. I would see Ella’s tiny little hands, and see my husbands face…and all of the pain and heartache we have been through. And it donned on me that I need to bring these songs, and this EP to life through film. I think it’s such an important part of my healing journey, and the healing journey for other mothers–who will see themselves in these videos. Grief and loss is so hard sometimes to put into words–people who haven’t been through it don’t understand the extent of the loss. The fact that you had a million hopes and dreams for this child, and they are all dashed to the ground.  I want to show that. I want people to see a mothers grief in an empty room. I want to show a fathers grief in a burnt room. I want to show the child disappearing from a future that will never  be. Thank you for your support. I am in the final hours of this campaign and every little bit will help this dream come to life. Let’s do this for our children.

Video
7

Kerosene

This is a song I wrote about my feelings towards God, Ella, and the grieving process…How to have faith and hope in the midst of this anger and sadness.

Kerosene

Scratch that itch
God knows it hurts
God knows there are no words
God knows they run dry

Send your love
Send it wide
Cuz I don’t know if I can go another mile

Flickering
Oh my soul is withering
Your light is shining
But I don’t know if its getting in

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I burn like kerosene

Did you see?
When I wept in my husbands arms
I just want to see her
I just want my baby girl

Drink it up
This sorrow is a cup
And my soul can’t get enough
This poison is rough

Feel the heat
Rising in my very bones
This anger is a blanket
And you’re never coming back home

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I burn like kerosene

There you go
I laid bare my burdens
God only knows
If anybody’s heard them

The wind is blowing
Rain is coming down
I’m trying like hell
To not let this fire out

I’m just a wick
married to your kerosene
Only you know what fuels my fire
What keeps me burning

Oh like kerosene
I burn like something you never seen
I’ll be burning
Like kerosene