You can't write and cry at the same time. I wrote that sentence, or something like it, back when I first started blogging. I think it was part of a post trying to justify -- to myself and to the world at large -- my inability to see anything larger than my own anguish, the posts choked out of me like sobs.
I say "or something like it," because I can't be sure exactly what it was that I wrote. Though I try to be reasonably scrupulous about checking those things I can check, I can't bear to go back and read through my early posts. Even imagining them triggers a shuddering claustrophia, terror of going back to that dark and narrow place.
I feel a little of the same fear when I read blogs written by the newly bereaved. I'm less wary of those who, like me, started blogging only after their losses as a way of channeling their grief. On those blogs, the words tend to be weighed and filtered, the pain veneered with prose.
More difficult to read are the blogs by people who've been chronicling a pregnancy, when suddenly everything goes terribly, unexpectedly wrong. I start those stories at the end, then go back to read the earlier posts, viciously ironic in retrospect: the heartrate at the first ultrasound, a link to the options for changing tables.
I read those older posts like a novel, seaching for clues that might foreshadow the coming disaster. But, of course, real life doesn't work that way. We're always being blindsided. We're always unprepared. Life is a run of discontinuities and the gods have a weakness for the O.Henry ending.
When I come to the end of the posts, I feel helpless. I want to give something, but when I look down I usually find that my hands are empty. My experience -- however similar to theirs -- is valuable mostly to me. All I can do is watch and, once in a while, say something that I hope is, if not exactly right, at least not too blatently wrong. Because if it's hard to write and cry simultaneously, to read and cry at the same time turns out to be no trouble at all.
Do you read lostbaby blogs? Do you comment on them? Are there specific things you try to say or not to say?