Life in stories

photo by  Katrina Yu

photo by Katrina Yu

For years, questions flooded my brain asking what went wrong in our daughter's early embryonic development. The questions were necessary for the process, but not my companion. I replayed over and over the doctor's appointment, how we were angry and annoyed on the way, and the abrupt and cold delivery from the ultrasound technologist. I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered who this unrecognizable person was, and if she would ever again glow with any kind of familiarity. I debated whether or not I wanted to get pregnant again. I looked at women who were on to rainbow babies with a simultaneous aversion and thick jealousy. I didn't want to "try again"... not really. So I did something that felt more like me, the day we decided to adopt.


It's 3 years from "diagnosis day" for Agnes, and I can tell you one thing: time is your friend. When you're in the midst of tragedy and trauma, time is agony. And then one day, perhaps on a milestone, you look back and realize time has been serving it's purpose, and largely, your only real chance at a good life of something else

I still feel shame, regret, and so much anger, but with less frequency and intensity. I can't wash my daughter's bloody blanket from delivery, and hate visiting the cemetery so fiercely I simply don't go, and sometimes, unexpectedly become triggered to the point I forget to breathe. I still hate pregnancy announcements, and wait for one of my friends or family members to also lose their baby (it doesn't happen). I wait for the other shoe to drop. I'm still all of these things, and yet I live the majority of my life in a series of mostly ordinary circumstances, somewhere in between extremes.


I used to think our lives were a series of stories; everyone talks about them as such. It's evident as people frantically search their minds for a spiritual explanation when something horrible happens; it's difficult to let something just exist as it is. We're a people obsessed with redemption in the face of adversity and great loss, but our life stories do not have a beginning, middle, and end. They build, they jig and jag, and weave in and out of each other until you can't tell where one ends and one begins. Yes, we have our defining moments, but even the sharp and dark line of before and after wax and wane into the overall, neverending story that is the whole of our life.

It's never okay, but there is more than today, and time will bring it to you, or you will go find it. It's a version of life I didn't ask for, but it's mine, and I will live it.


If you were talking to another person in grief—perhaps someone earlier on in their loss than you—how would you finish the sentence, "It's never okay, but..." ?