Today's post is the first from a new contributor to the Glow in the Woods family: Jen of There's a New Monarchy in Town.
Jen is a transplanted Canadian living in London, England, and a first-time mama in the first raw months of life without her daughter Sadie. She came on board as the 7th full-time medusa after writing to us to say 'thanks for being here', and 'I've completely lost my writing mojo' ...at which point we ambushed her to join our motley crew.
Please join us in giving Jen a glowing welcome--we're grateful to have her voice in our midst, and we hope you are, too.
I look back at photos from our four days in Vienna last month. Austria is damn nice, yes. And who knew it was so good at wine making? I loved the cathedral concert at dusk: Mozart and More. The end note of each song hanging in the air like it was up for grabs.
I like the tucked-away bar we stumble onto. The music is good here. The ceilings low, arched, stone. Peanut shells on the floor, wine savvy staff. We decide to sample the local stuff only.
Let’s have another.
We sit in a tiny room on tiny pastel sofas surrounded by four tiny white walls. Three, if you consider the one behind me is all windows. The view is the Thames and Big Ben. If you were in a restaurant you’d be pleased. Here, it’s nothing short of stifling. If you were me, across from the specialist who took care of her in those last hours, you’d want to scream back. He takes off his glasses to look at me squarely, Australian accent thick, and I wonder if he barely remembers. His words are clinical. I’ll bet the farm his own babies are alive and well.
“I don’t care if you believe it would have happened anyway. I would have taken however many more hours or days or weeks we’d have had with her if that nurse hadn’t moved her.”
It’s what I want to say.
Instead, I rock, shuddering through my sobs, conscious of the three sets of eyes fixed on me as I struggle to recover. I yank two, three more tissues from the box beside me angrily. I stay silent. I feel weak and my voice has forgotten how to work.
I am comfortable enough now that my confidence has grown as steadily as my indignation. I am here to work. Why are you looking at Facebook? Why are you complaining about someone else before you’ve even proven yourself? Why can’t someone give me the answer?
I smile. I put in 11 hour days on occasion. I think about the possibilities. I dream of what I was meant to be doing.
She would have been six months old on August 20th. I tried in vain to not imagine what she’d look like, what milestones she would have reached. I am okay, then I’m not, and then I am again. Okay being a different, different place these days. Grief, like an unwanted tagalong, saunters alongside me daily. She is vindictive in the way she chooses the most inopportune times to surface. I thought Sorrow was only a word used in love poems that include, ‘hither’ and ‘unrequited’.
Not so much.
If you have ever wanted to see what damaged goods look like, look no further.
We have been sitting in the garden for five hours or more, and the table is now a sea of glass, empty and full. I look from my brother to my friends and back to my husband. I laugh heartily and often, and realize in the back of my mind that this is where hope lies: among family and friends, new and old. I am grateful and then in the next breath I am homesick.
I am the luckiest unlucky girl.
While I took the four hour round trip to Luton and back to reclaim my passport, he went to our favourite place. Waited for me, had a beer in the pub that was once a jail. He is proud and a bit secretive of the contents of his shopping bag. I am always in awe at how much this process pleases him.
Later, he serves a stunning plate of monkfish wrapped in bacon. I fold my pajama’d legs under me and tuck in. Tastes like lobster. Baby squash, peppers, asparagus sauteed next to the sweetest new baby potatoes I’ve ever tasted. I wonder if there are two people in the room who have missed their calling. He raises his glass.
‘Cheers. To the future, whatever it may hold.'
Fleeting moments of "happiness" continue to catch me off guard. Do you remember the first time you laughed, or felt hope for the future, after your child's death? Did you feel guilty for allowing yourself to do so?