Happy new year!
She is still gone.
Best wishes for a terrific 2018!
Why am I the only one who remembers him?
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Oh fuck off.
It's almost incomprehensible to move through the ruthlessly unchanged world after your baby dies, isn't it? This is the cruellest of the post-loss sentence. Everyone else still runs for the bus, drops a half-full latte on the sidewalk and curses, spends days agonizing over what to wear to a job interview.
And there you are.
My baby is dead
Oh god, that happened
My baby is dead
Everyone watches me
Nobody sees me
Everyone is leaving me alone
Nobody is leaving me alone
In grief, we become some sort of public property that belongs to everyone, but that nobody wants. Like a stray dog in the town square.
That poor mangy thing again
Leaking and bitten all over from fleas and streetfights, fur falling out in patches, burrs tangled up tighter and tighter, pinching. Barely-living proof of creatures falling through cracks in a society that disavows the existence of cracks.
That dog should go somewhere else
That dog is an eyesore
Someone should do something
They move along, pulling their children close, running for buses and fretting over coffee and job interviews. They move along.
We are among each other, even when it feels distant. We pass each other on the street, sit next to each other at concerts and potlucks, perhaps never knowing. Sometimes, with a plate of barbecue on our laps, we blurt out something we generally try not to, and the other doesn't flinch but puts a hand on our forearm and says Oh my god, you too? Uncooperative bodies and recurring nightmares, c-section scars, syringes full of gonadotropins for polycystic ovaries, urns we can't imagine either keeping or dispersing.
We are us.
What is the new year to someone in grief? What are we to vow and manifest? What shape can optimism take when we can barely manage breakfast?
I humbly submit Resolutions for The Emotionally Infirm, The Crushed, and The Weary:
- In 2018, I could worry less about how well or not-well I am performing my grief. My grief is my own private, ongoing (wracked, unreconciled, agonized) conversation with death. It is nobody else's other than mine.
- In 2018, I could pay more attention to who and what I'm paying attention to. Because most often, I am wasting my attention. I resolve to shrug more.
- In 2018, I could take care of my pain instead of trying to make it presentable. It's a big change, thinking of it like this. We are supposed to grit our teeth in the face of pain—to bear it with an unbending kind of resilience. Despite all that happened, she hasn't changed. She is positive. She is still herself. Huzzah! Bullshit. What would taking care of my pain look like? Like allowing it to be pain. Normal, ordinary pain is the by-product of abnormal, extraordinary loss. Before it ebbs, it has to rage. Anything else is a lack of health.
...There are lots of things we could resolve to do more or less of, profound or vain, from brave life change to deep conditioning and facial exfoliation. Whatever is fourth, fifth, or sixth is unique to you. In grief, the first three matter most, adding up to this:
Be okay with not being okay, darling. Start here. That's all.
What do you resolve for 2018?