This time of year is really good at hitting me while I’m down.
There are a string of dates that, starting around Valentine’s Day, tend to make me feel as though I’m on the losing side of a boxing match. Chronically blurry-eyed and a bit battered, I’m just dragging myself to an upright position as the next blow is dealt, reminding me precisely where my weakness still resides.
I cower, hands shielding my head, praying for time to fly.
My husband’s birthday,
Sadie’s birthday on the following day,
Three weeks of in-your-face marketing that culminate with the UK’s Mother’s Day, and
Pulling up the rear – last but not least – the anniversary of her death.
Next week, two years will have passed.
I bought myself pink and yellow tulips last Sunday. A Mother’s Day present to myself. I still have my first and only card from my husband, telling me how great I was going to be.
I really need April to just get here already.
There are some things that have gotten a little easier for me, with time.
Saying it out loud, for example. In the first year after she died, saying the words was physically impossible to do without a full-on breakdown. To respond to the question of whether or not I had children with a no felt like a betrayal. Yet for the longest time to respond with, “We had a daughter, but she passed away,” was akin to reliving the day she died.
Living quietly with it has always been easier than actually forcing those words out into the universe. Now, while the lump in my throat may not be any smaller, talking around it no longer renders me speechless, or awash in tears.
Hearing pregnancy news from friends has also grown easier, if not the source of excitement it once was. And who’s kidding whom - I doubt it ever will. I remember thinking many times that people were no better than we were. That they hardly deserved the joy that had been so cruelly and unexpectedly taken from us, over us. My anger knew no boundaries, from friends and family to, curiously and in particular, strangers on the street.
Then out of nowhere came the realisation one day that one had nothing to do with the other. Absolutely nothing. Instantly and surprisingly, it became easier for me.
But whoa boy, there are some biggies that haven’t changed.
To me, and much to the chagrin of my husband, I still cannot be around newborns. As in truly INCAPABLE. I learned that lesson the hard way over and over again in the grocery store, at the office, and on the riverboat I occasionally ride to work. The soft newness and the quietly opened-wide eyes do me in. What they do, when I really sit here to think about it, is send me back in time. I can feel them without touching them, and I can smell them without getting too close.
Every last fibre in my body tenses up with the physical equivalent to missing. I miss her. I miss miss miss MISS her. More than I could ever adequately describe and I know that in this space I don’t need to. Extended exposure to newborns = one really fucked up Jen.
Working up the nerve to try again remains my biggest of biggies.
It’s on my radar. I know that people in my life who I love very dearly are waiting for it. If I had to have eleven kids or none at all, I’d be signing up. If only someone could tell me that it wouldn’t happen all over again.
It’s a tough subject. It’s truly amazing what lengths I've gone to in order to distract myself from it. Or how many times I've nervously asked the universe to not write me off while I sort myself out.
I have learned to put one foot in front of the other and survive. There are even some areas of our life together that have thrived. Yet I have no way of knowing if that switch will ever be flipped with honest conviction. From all talk and no action to real life and taking the leap.
Perhaps all I need is a shove?
What my distracted mind can surmise with the modest reflection that I allow myself is that two years on, I remain a work in progress.
I can live with that.
For those of you more than a year or two out from your loss, will you share what’s gotten easier for you, if anything? And what hasn’t?