Thursday, December 8, 2011
Today is the day. The day I dread each year. I wake up and feel heavy, gray, melancholy. It's not like some days, when you wake-up feeling fine and enjoy a few blissful, unaware moments before sadness washes over you. Today, there is no space between waking and feeling. I am sad today, I miss my baby. I just do. The things that make me grateful, and joyful when I think about Hart every other day of the year, just make me sad today.
Seven years ago today, my heart was shattered. I cannot even begin to describe the pain. Honestly, I was totally caught off-guard by the depth of the agony. I was prepared for Hart to die. I was prepared to be sad. We knew that he was going to live an abbreviated life. I had done everything that everyone (from experts to well-meaning "folks") told me to do in order to prepare for his death. Steadfast husband and I made a deal that we would live each day of his life without regret. We didn't want to have "should haves" or "would haves" cloud Hart's memory or create needless guilt. We tried to eliminate everything that makes death so, well- devastating. I was convinced that if the only thing I had to mourn was the days I would not have with my son, I could deal with it. I thought if my grief was pure sadness, not mired with regret and anger, that I would have an easier time losing Hart. But, there is no such thing. Losing your child is just ... indescribable.
There are two important things I learned when Hart died. First, there is no way to make the loss of a loved one easier-grief is all consuming-and for the person experiencing it, it's the worst grief there is. You cannot know the grief you do not feel, there really is no, "it could be worse" (despite the myriad of platitudes you hear)-when it comes to grieving, because it is the worst. You don't stop in the middle of your anguish and think, what a relief, I am only experiencing 82% grief-phew!
I also learned that it's easier to be angry than sad. When you are sad, you feel like the victim, as though you have no control over your own emotion. You cannot "work it out" or "set it aside" or "agree to disagree". You are in a vortex of darkness, at its mercy, waiting for it to tire of you and thrust you back into the light. When you are angry, you feel some power over your situation-a sense of control. You can work it out, resolve the situation, or take action. When Hart died, I longed for a reason to be angry, a cause to embrace, a wrong to make right. But there wasn't anything to fight against, I was just sad and had to find the momentum to make it through the day.
People told me, to just keep moving forward, continue putting one foot in front of the other, it will get better. And it is true, it does get "better", but there were so many days that I felt like I was on a treadmill, and no matter how hard I tried, I would be at the same spot at the end of the day that I was at the beginning. And to be honest, often, that felt like an enormous accomplishment.
Since that day, seven years ago, when my heart shattered, it has mended-or at least come back together. But it's not like in a cartoon, it hasn't been suddenly rejuvenated and made whole again-throbbing with renewal. It feels more like it has been scotch-taped together. The parts war-torn and scarred, drifted back together over time. Most of it is held together like taped Saran wrap-it may not look good, but it is strong, secure, and protects-but there are parts that are like sandcastles-they look lovely, but are easily knocked down and the tape just doesn't stick very well.
So, on December 8 each year, I honor my sadness. I wallow in my grief. I miss my son and for one day each year, I allow myself to let the sadness of my loss outweigh everything else.
The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears. ~John Vance Cheney
Posted by the cottage cheese at 9:06 AM