It’s a slow tidal wave. But at least I can see it coming now. (Wait. . . is that better?)
March came and I found myself crying in the car again. Every time I was alone in the car, I was crying again. We learn quickly in grief that what feels like regression is just another wave. I thought to myself, “why am I crying in the car again.” It took a few days and I realized, it’s March. Last year, I was settling in to the last month and a hlf, 2 months. I was slowing down. Going into the internal state of pre-labor, pre-baby. Where there is so much blood and so little room in your body that everything slows down. There is a physiolocy and psychology and spirituality to these last months and weeks of pregnancy and my body was just remembering and my emotions were just responding because . . . still no baby.
Today I openly cried in three public places. The memorial tree planting, the kids indoor play place and, my all time favorite public crying venue, the grocery store. It was like the early days of my grief. The days when it just runs over and we still need to eat so I cry in the car on the way to the store and I cry while I push my cart and fill it with food I can hardly taste anymore. And I am met with wide eyes or avoidant glances or a checker who, wisely, doesn’t ask how my day is going, but focuses intently on her job and getting me gone. There is a freedom, though now, because I am also not afraid to cry and have begun to find it strange that more people aren’t just openly weeping as they go through their day. At first, I didn’t care what people thought or how I might be percieved. I didn’t have the energy. I needed to cry and we needed food and that’s all I could do at once. And I found today, that I still don’t care. Crying in our culutre is treated as something that needs to be stopped or fixed or avoided. Not so when your newborn son died. Crying is a means to an end, at best, and a necessity, at least. It is a way to move the heaviest, most impossible energy, grief, out. It’s a release valve. I want to ask each person who stares or avoids or ignores what they would imagine it would take for them to open cry in public, outside of bodily injury or assault. These are not tears that are asking for help or needing to be stopped. They are the physical manifestation of emotional overwhelm, of energy moving somewhere, anywhere else, out.
All of that said, I don’t really cry in public anymore, or alone in my car that much really either. So the last couple of weeks and today have taught me a new barometer about the waves of my grief, how big they are, how close or far away, if I’m surfing or drowning or bobbing. March is bringing this slow tidal wave of grief and so I am crying in front of strangers again.
I’m also remembering, seemingly with no conscious thought of investigation about the things that I was doing at this time last year. Today, I planted trees for my dead baby. Last year on this day, I split an irish coffee with Jenn at Huber’s and felt rather scandilous to be drinking at the end of my pregnancy. I remember the walking around looking for a place to brunch, the sun shining as Vesta ran up and down the street as we waited for a table and M toddled behind her. I remember our husbands came out and traded places with us. I remember the strollers were hard to negotiate and tuck away in the dining room. I remember the service was wretched and the food was terrible but I also remember I was happy. In an irritable, grumpy pregnancy, I remember feeling pretty happy being with my family and getting ready to get ready for Baby Brother, as we called him, to come.
I got an email today from Vesta’s school about the play the grade classrooms will be preforming. I remember waddling in last year, before Vesta was even enrolled, to watch the older children preform Snow White and Rumplstiltzkin and one other fairy tale. I remember sitting on the floor in the front of the room and Vesta trying to sit on my non existent lap. I remember wanting her to feel comfortable here since she’d be spending so much time here, away from me for the first time, and I with her little brother. I was relieved how comfortable and interested she was.
Last year, at Easter, I decided to make a big deal of it. Vesta was really into fance dresses so I bought her a new one, made her a basket and we hid the eggs we colored and hid them all over the house. She was delighted Easter morning to learn about the Easter bunny and all the treasures he had left her and the game of seek for the eggs. I remember feeling this was an important day. One of our last with just the 3 of us, a new tradition for our family that he would enter into next year. This year, I want to avoid the whole thing. Pretend it’s not happening. Pretend nothing has happened.
There are a million other things about the next couple of months, the next several weeks that will come to mind without any searching or wondering or forethought. Theses are the schools of fish and the seaweed and even the debris in the tsunami that is approaching. Our experiences live in our cells and grief is a vehicle that brings them out. People talk about years after the loss of a parent or sibling or friend that they feel sad and tired and sluggish before they even realize it’s an anniversary approaching or already here. But, true to form, out of either detemintation or stubborness or being human, I’m going to do all of these things anyway. We’ll do Easter without him and the school play with out him. We did today with out him and we’ll do tomorrow without him and everyday after that. We’ll learn to live with the waves that lap at our ankles and the ones that bowl us over. We’ll learn that grief always has surprises, that at least first and I imagine anniversaries are never what we imagine they will be. Grief is a dynamic process. One that like our lives and our stories doesn’t stop until we do. It reveals things to us through suffering and numbness and even joy at times. It’s a constant companion that is quieter now, it is not always yelling in my ear or wrapping it’s arm around me. But it’s always there. And this month and next, we will learn new levels of each other I’m sure.