Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Normal

It has been ten months now.  I wish I could say I'm completely resolved to again trust God & pray as before.  I am better.  I am beginning to pray a little from time to time though I can't say that I am actually sure who this version of God is yet.  And quite frankly I'm not real sure what I can pray for anymore.  But I'm trying to make a conscious decision to trust and have faith.  I am trying to find my way back from the darkness.  Some days --too many days-- it still overtakes me.  I am now closing in on that magical "one year" mark.  I remember reading over and over that "The first year is the hardest."  Leading me to believe it would be better after that first anniversary.  Ten months in I realize I can stop looking for that.  No miracle is going to suddenly take place and magically erase all the pain and emptiness that has become my constant companion.

In the beginning that is all I could think of --getting to the place where that would happen - muddling, struggling, hanging on by my teeth and toenails just to survive it and make it to that magical first year mark; which of course I knew would be very difficult in and of itself but after that very difficult day - I'd be all better.  We could finally move.  We could sell the house.  I could make major decisions again.  I could sleep.  I would stop eating myself to death.  I could stop sobbing at random.  I could be in crowds or attend social events again.  I could go through the kids things finally.  I would be healed.  By then, I would have learned to live with this horrific loss.  I would be able to trust, pray and find comfort in my faith again.  I could rekindle my shaky relationship with God.  I could enjoy family functions, holidays and vacations again. I would find purpose in all this pain, realize that something good has come from it and be able to thank God in it - not for it - but in it.  And all of my friends would come back - sounds kind of like a country song in reverse doesn't it?

And at one time, I actually believed all of this.

I now know better.  And I know that I am at least five months of "sitting in the bone marrow clinic" behind in the process.  And I know that since I pretended my way through most of the first year I have postponed any first year progress I might have made but besides all of that I have come to the realization that "this" will never be over.  There is no magical point in time that is going to make me not want Brian back again; no appointed date that will make me okay with never seeing any of them again.  There is no set time when I will not ache for that baby and want him back in my life and back in my lap again; no day ever when it won't matter to me what really happened. 

There will likely come, as there are now, days that I will be able to get through without dwelling on it, outwardly grieving for them or crying for them whenever I'm alone.  But I now realize that those days are fluid.  They are not here as permanent fixtures but only as much-needed reprieves.

The misery will return.  You adjust to the reality of the truth.  You do integrate the loss into your world.  You get up and you function inside the misery.  Sometimes giving in to it and sometimes not but you do not wake up one day and it is just gone.  There will not suddenly come a day when you are fine and you function just like before.  You are not the same person.  This is not the same life.  It can --I believe, I hope, I pray-- be good again but if so it will be a long, long time coming. 

I can no more be "healed" and have the same life I had before anymore that I can go back to being a five-year old again.  That ship has sailed.  I cannot go back to the innocence of childhood and I cannot go back to the innocence of life before this catastrophic loss.  I am not that person anymore.  Just as I am not that five-year old anymore.  My view of the world, my faith, my version of God, my trust, everything not only in my world but inside of me --has been forever altered. 

Whatever I next grow to believe and whoever I am when this shakes out - will absolutely not be who I was a year ago.  I may be better and I hope and pray that I am but nothing is going to magically restore me.  It may be new but it will never be normal.

Monday, June 15, 2015


There was always something different about my relationship with this child.  It began in the dream that I had of him before he was even conceived.  I knew him.  I loved him with everything I had in me.  But I did not know even whose child he was in the dream.  I just knew I loved that child with a love that was beyond anything I had ever known. 

Not a big baby-lover as a general rule – so feeling this kind of love for a child I did not even know – was definitely memorable. 

When he was conceived and I knew he would be a reality I still felt kind of “nothing”.  I tried to be excited for Kara’s sake but I wasn’t really so much.  Her mom, my daughter and I gave her a baby shower and normally I detest those kinds of things but instead I embraced it with fervor.  Weird.  We decorated cupcakes that looked like baby faces with pacifiers (funny I did not know at the time how appropriate that would be.) And cupcakes that looked like baby rattles.  I made a "diaper cake" and strung a clothes line across the room and had new baby outfits and socks pinned to it with clothespins.  I had the best time doing something I normally hated.  I attended the sonogram to see what sex he was going to be – as if I did not already know. Which seemed weird considering I actually already knew what he would look like.  But I went and pretended to be surprised when they saw the "package" and announced to the rest of the world that they were having a boy.  I took "baby belly" pictures with bows tied around her.  I crocheted tiny heirloom baby booties.  And when she went in labor – I was there.  I took pictures.  Lots of first pictures.  But still my reaction was very subdued inwardly.  Outwardly, I was doing all of the appropriate things but I felt pretty much like I did with any other baby.  He was my grandchild, I would of course love him but for the most part I expected to be able to take him or leave him.  I was excited for them but he was our 10th grandchild so this was definitely not my first rodeo.

I bought a port a crib thinking that would "do" in the event they were here and he needed a nap or on the off-chance that I ever babysat.  However, before long I had ditched it and shuffled furniture around and replaced it with a full size baby bed and wicker rocker in what would become “his” room.  "This" I did not see coming.

As I’ve mentioned before I kept him as a newborn while they worked on the house.  So he spent the first few weekends of his life with me where I fed and changed and bonded with him like a parent.  I loved him of course.  I loved them all.  But the love that I felt in that dream – was so much more.  I went through the motions.  I rocked him.  I sang to him.  I took dozens of pictures.  I bought little outfits, blankets, socks and hats, shoes, pajamas and cuddly toys and somewhere along the way and I can’t actually pinpoint when it happened – he totally stole my heart.

I kept him regularly – something I had not done in 23 years since my first grandchild.  I took him with me wherever we went; to Sunday- School and Church even wrestling with a car seat and dragging everything he owned to do so.  And I bought for him – Oh my - did I buy for him.  Not big stuff ever – but lots and lots of little stuff.  And he seriously did not need one thing.  He had so much stuff that Kara began to give things away for lack of space. 

My husband thought I’d lost my mind.  I could not walk in a store without coming out with something for him.  I don't know why.  As a general rule, I just don't do that.  It was way out of character for me.  And still today I have a hard time going in a store because I was so habited to buying for him until it is a huge trigger for me.  I recall shopping for baby shoes (yet again) and the child had more shoes than I do and my husband looked at me with a puzzled look like “Seriously? More shoes?” and I distinctly remember barking at him “What?  This is what I work for! I work to buy for him. Okay?”  I said it as a joke but suddenly I realized at that moment that it was nothing but the truth.  That day I realized that almost everything I did – I did for him.  Suddenly, he had become the primary focus of my life.  When did that happen?  I really didn’t know.  It slipped up on me when I wasn't looking - but there it was staring me in the face.  When had I stopped playing the role of “Nana” and become the grandmother everyone hated to see coming with the photo album? 

Out of ten - he was the first baby that I ever sat up half the night to just watch sleep because I was so fearful he would stop breathing, smother in the blankets, get cold, get wedged between the rail and imagination went wild – all the time.  I was terrified to give him a bath afraid he’d slip out of my hands and drown.  He was the first time I ever put child proof locks on my cabinets or safety plugs in my electrical outlets.  

For the first time ever I let everything in my house go and stopped to just play with him not for an hour but for the entire weekend I had him.  He could lead me anywhere and con me into doing anything.  He could shove me in a tiny linen closet to play hide and seek or have me in the floor on my hands and bad knees chasing him around the couch.  For him I ran up and down the 650 foot driveway in 100 degree heat because he never tired of pushing  his little toy up and down the driveway.  I never told him no and the first time I even tried – I said, in a deep voice to get his attention, “Boy, your Papa is going to get you.” as he was turning all the knobs on the stereo equipment – it was so unusual that he naturally assumed I was playing a new game and he yelled back at me --also in a deep voice, “MUHH!” (his version of “Boy”) and from that day forward that was our new game.  He went through the house yelling “MUHH” until he almost drove Brian and Kara bonkers with it.

He had me; hook, line and sinker.  He had me. 

As I sit here tonight and write this with a 20/20 hind-sight perspective,  it seems very clear to me now that somewhere deep inside me there had always perhaps been an inner knowing.  I would have never allowed myself to even think it but from where I sit today looking back; the nervousness I felt with him after having children in and out of my life and my house for over 40 years; the constant fear I had of some unforeseen danger and the feeling like I should not waste a moment that I had with him - it certainly seems clear to me now that somewhere deep inside I had always had an unspoken inner knowledge that he was not here to stay.