I am better now.
1/18/14 – 8 months, 20 days: Can you believe that the person you love most in the world can die right there in your arms and someday you can feel better? It isn’t right that we can laugh, look forward, feel better. It can’t be that life just goes on. That one of the worst things that can happen to a human happens and then time goes by and we adapt and integrate and keep going. That we become hopeful even, able to love, be grateful, feel joy again. There is something unjust about that, fundamentally flawed in this human phenomenon more like. There is not stopping it. Even if we resist and rail against and never leave our bed, we will improve. We can live on without an essential part of us and we can feel human and hope and dream and love and laugh and be thankful for each person, each deed, each event, each moment that has helped us through. It’s the most wonderful thing and it’s the most horrible thing. But, it’s better.
1/5/14 – 8 months, 8 days: My thoughts are no longer, at least for these last few days, not consumed with protest. By some miracle, I have stopped railing against this loss. I am coming to believe it happened. You were here and now you are gone and you are never coming back. I will never know anything more about you than I already do. My thoughts of protest have been replaced by thoughts of what I could have done differently: I could have scheduled an early c-section, for one. I could have asked for an MRI after the deep pain lingered for 5 months after Vesta’s birth, for another. My mind spends time pretending: hearing the midwife at Kaiser say “Oh no! You are not a candidate for a VBAC homebirth.” and I believe her. Someone getting my surgical records from Vesta’s birth and being suspiscious about some detail easily breezed over and taking action and you are saved. Never having moved to Portland or San Francisco and staying in my home town, never learning about home-birth or holistic health and just towing the line and having another c-section before my labor started. I imagine I was not the self-righteous, ingrate who just expected this baby would be born to her, alive and healthy, and set her back 3-4 years in her career again and woe is her. I imagine I was who I am now making decisions about your birth: humbled, afraid of the universe, aware of the fragility and fleetingness of our time here, knowing fully that nothing, not anything, is guaranteed or deserved or just given without risk of exploding her heart into a zillion tiny pieces. I imagine that I was that mother to you and you are saved. I imagine that you didn’t save my life and died right along with you and avoid this whole terrible suffering. It doesn’t sound it but it’s progress. And that’s better.
10/17/13 – 5 months, 2 weeks, 5 days: Sometimes, I am driving or working and I think of you, that you are gone, and I don’t cry. I will look out to the horizon or I will close my mind and for a second or two, it’s okay. You were here and you are gone and I’m okay. That’s better.
9/16/13 – 20 weeks, 8 hours: I want to crawl out of my skin. I want to slowly fade, disappear into the hole in my chest. I don’t know what to do with myself. The itch I can’t scratch, the wound that won’t heal. I contort myself around my emptiness, the endless protest, the continued disbelief, the incredible discomfort in an effort to get away, to get a break, access the illusive reprieve. But just some days, not everyday. That’s better.
8/17/13 – I’m not counting weeks anymore. So, that’s better. Your midwife had her baby and I congratulated her. I somehow knew the baby was born that day, so I looked on Facebook and there was a picture of her perfect little daughter. I was able to feel and express my happiness for her, though I cry as I write this. Though I want so much to have posted your picture, with your time and your date. When I think of her now, cuddled with her baby and her almost four year old, whatever joys and struggles they are having, I smile inside in equal proportion to my heart breaking. I have a level of genuine happiness for another mother and another baby. I have more than my own loss. That’s better.
7/20/13 – 12 weeks: I look up to see the shadow of the trees on the wall. The light is dancing between the leaves and the wind gentle rocks the branches. I look up and I see you, my dancing light baby, and I instantly smile, a “hello there” smile. My heart is warmed in your presence for a moment, maybe two, before I return to the sorrow, the ache, the yearning to see your toothless smile and not your dancing light through the trees, reflected on the wall, in shadows. That is better.
6/30/13 – 9 weeks: We went to the coast. I was not engulfed with hatred for and then crumble into tiny, heartbroken bits and then feel so deeply sad for myself when I saw other parents with babies. Yesterday, I had my first true relief because I also never crashed back into reality. I guess, truthfully, I hated them a bit, I crumbled a bit, I felt sad for myself a bit. But instead of being on top, it was just below the surface. For the first time in 2 months and 2 days, I could see these happy families with their babies, strolling on the beach, putting tiny feet into the sand for the first time, and I could feel neutral. On the surface, I could feel nothing and just observe. Just under that was the hatred, devastation and sadness, true. But my best guess is, that just under that is happiness for them, celebration of new life, and empathetic joy for what they have in front of them. I’m sure that’s there, too. Deep underneath. I’m sure of it like I’m sure you’re still with me, like angels exist. I believe it, but I could be wrong. That’s better.
6/29/13 – 8 weeks 6 days or 2 months 1 day: Tonight, I sang a lullaby to Vesta that I forgot to sing to you when you were alive. I did not cry when I remembered the song and realized you never heard it. I thought, “I will just sing it to my daughter.” I looked into your sister’s sleepy eyes and she into mine and I sang to her and I did not cry and I did not look away and my heart did not break a little more. I thought, “Someday, I will know how to sing it to Harvey.” That’s better.
6/18/13 7 weeks, 2 days: This morning, I did not wake to the crushing feeling of your absence. I awoke several times in the night and then this morning, worrying your sister was dead. She usually comes into our bed at some point but slept all night in her bed last night and I was sure she’d stopped breathing. It doesn’t sound like improvement, worrying that my daughter is dead rather than mourning my dead son, but it is. I am less consumed by your loss. I spent a couple hours writing about you and then got up to make breakfast for your sister. I put the bacon on, put your music on and began to pack her lunch. I realized then, listening and packing, that I was doing this with you. Here was a quiet moment, with a song that reminds me of you and I am taking care of your sister without crying. If you were here, I would have done the same thing this morning with you wrapped on my chest. Perhaps I would have sung to you instead of listening to Nat King Cole. I would have nursed you instead of writing to you and the terror that Vesta was dead in the next room, would have been relief that we had only one child to parent in the night. But I’m getting better. To have that moment of peace with you. That’s better.
“When the dark is at rest, the light begins to move.”
-The Secret Of The Golden Flower