Sometimes, when I am holding my husband in bed, I worry that lightning will strike us. In those moments when we are so intensely in love, so happy together—still, despite our loss—I think we are asking for trouble. I expect a tree limb to crash through the roof of our bedroom right then. I picture a horrible cancer suddenly taking hold of one of our organs just as I am kissing him. It scares me. So I end the kiss, I pull away, thinking crazily that this might save our lives.
The same terror runs through my body sometimes when we put Lilly to bed. Will this be the night that the dryer lint catches fire? Will she wake with meningitis in the morning? What if the tree limb falls on her bed instead of ours? What if something happens to Brian, and she is taken away from me?
I love my husband. I love my stepdaughter. I don’t want whoever is running things "up there" to see the unbroken parts of my life, for fear they will be broken too. So I have become superstitious.
Blythe. That's how I was before the death of my baby. Even having seen my parents’ long and bitter divorce, my own quick and dirty divorce, a series of unsuccessful career starts, a few personal tragedies among those I love, I still felt immune, protected, special. I still didn’t know. You know?
It’s probably for the best that I had my bubble burst. Nothing about my daughter’s death is for anybody’s good, but at some point I did need to come down to earth. To learn suffering, compassion, humility, and my own unspecialness. I hope I am less of a brat now. And moments of happiness have become so dearly precious to me. The people I love, so much more valuable.
I worry that they will be taken away from me. What if this lesson in humility does not have me on my knees enough? (Lessons in humility don’t really make me humble. They make me humiliated, which makes me mad.) What if I haven’t been sufficiently broken yet? What if there is more to "learn"?
Feeling happiness is a dangerous prospect these days. I used to avoid it, because really, who wants any of that when your baby is dead? But it has crept in. It has persisted. If I claim it, will someone see and take it away from me? No, no, that's not for you. Not any more. Should I love in secret, to protect the objects of my affection?
Shining and contented moments used to make me feel in tune with and supported by the Universe. Now I’m not sure the Universe is on my side. Now when I feel happy, I feel it defiantly. My burning love for my man, my stepdaughter, my gorgeous little nieces and nephews—it hurts. It could break my heart. I think out into space, Please, don’t take them away from me. Or sometimes, Screw you, Fate. We are still here. Then I hush myself. I don't want to attract attention.
Maybe it is safer to pull away from happiness, safer not to chase it. But this summer my husband and I will don wax wings and try to fly to the sun: we will do IVF. Fate will probably be too tempted by this. We should keep our dreams small and quiet, but I’m angry, as well as scared, and not ready to give in. My wings will likely melt right off. My husband? He thinks we’ll soar, and that’s fine with me as long as he doesn’t say it too loudly and maybe throws a pinch of salt over his shoulder, too.
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What is your relationship to happy moments (or the future prospect of them) these days? Do you have any quirky habits (of thought or action) that help you to cultivate a sense of safety in the world since your loss(es)?