On January 19, 2012, Brie's daughter Madeleine died at twenty-two weeks of a rare chromosonal disorder called Triploidy. Brie is an artist and writer, sharing her keen insights on her blog Inkling Post. She wrote this post late last year. We are so pleased to welcome her as a guest writer today on Glow. --Angie
I’ve been sitting in Death’s company for most of the last year. Ten months. A company whose presence makes the air thick and tar like to breath at times. Some breaths feel like they could be my last, they feel like the air won’t make it through my passage ways, but somehow an air bubble always pushes through the thick syrupy blockage ways, and I endure and survive the nights I thought I wouldn’t.
My grief is evolving. I’m missing the same things, I’m missing some new things, and then there are aspects where I find myself not realizing what I’m actually missing. I saw a Facebook photo of a four month old last month with a caption that read, “She learned how to sit on her own,” and in moments like that I’m reminded of specifically what I’m missing each month. Other times I experience it in an overheard comment by a stranger mentioning in passing that the child in the stroller is five months old, and I can’t help but turn to study the little body. I wonder how much it weighs; I study the size of the head, the bulge of the belly, the wisps of the hair. I know what it should feel like, what it should smell like. And although I don’t know what my daughter would have smelled like, I feel like I do. I knew the scent of my milk, and for some reason it lingers in my memory as some placeholder for her. Like when the brain makes the connection of a misspelled word if the first and last letters are in the correct spots, the brain connects the middle and you read the correct word anyway. I feel like my brain has jumped ahead in making connections to know things about my daughter. Or maybe it’s my mind’s way of trying to make sense of all the disconnected elements, as I come to terms with the simple, yet complex, fact that there are some things in life I am just not supposed to understand.
Grief these days often feels like the inhalation and exhalation of a balloon. Sometimes it feels light and transparent, and other times it feels dense, dark, and deflated. The light and transparent days and moments are those in which my grief is still very present, but it doesn’t weigh me down so heavily. It’s in the moments when I can talk fondly about Madeleine and my pregnancy and the memory of our travels during that time. I miss so greatly the ability to talk with casual ease of my fondness of her, but it seems to make people uncomfortable when the conversation ends with, “She didn’t make it,” so I hold my tongue most of the time from ever engaging. I met an older woman recently who had her name, and my instinct reaction was to say, “Oh I love your name, it’s my daughter’s too…how do you spell it?” I so badly want to talk about her with ease of unprepared sentences. But I seem to either lose my bravery or lack the grace for eloquence in those moments, and I hold back most of the time. Maybe that is part of my journey in this grief…I aim to be more like the full balloon, light and transparent.
The dark and dense days are the anniversary dates and ones like them. The days when perspective scales back, and I take those moments to feel everything. Days like my second wedding anniversary that came and went, and I calculated our lives together. Married for twenty-five months, parents for fifteen, grieving the loss of our daughter for ten. I look in the mirror and feel so aged. Dark circles shade my skin a greenish tint under my eyes. Lines seem more prominent in their shadow. My hair darkens to an ashy version of blonde with my emotional ups and downs, and my natural golden highlights dim to a matted sheen from their original shine. I look at our wedding photos and see different people; two people who had no idea what was in store for them. I let my deflated self feel the density of my being, I breath the thick tar like air as I sit with Death, because I know they are not every day anymore, and I don’t want to lose that perspective. On the lighter days, Death is still here, I don’t escape his presence, but I guess I’ve just transitioned into a new mindset as I endure his being in my home. I’m learning to accept that life can be both sad and joyful simultaneously, and I’m seeking contentment in that space. But most of the time it is a practice of just breathing in and breathing out, much like the inflation and deflation of a balloon.
Does Death feel like a person in your home? How has His presence changed you? How do anniversary days affect you now? How are the lighter days?