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.”