Thursday, January 13, 2011

When reality is what it is...

I haven't written here for a while - not because I am forgetting, but because life has enveloped me like it sometimes does, casting its goose down over me at night as I dream of things I forget as soon as I wake, and sweeping me along like a feather in the daylight hours.

I feel I should write here more though, now, because there's something I never did tell you when it happened. It wasn't the right time, and for a while I was in denial of it. A long time. Then, I was in denial of being in denial. Now here I am, and I'm treading a path that is both new and a little bit frightening.

The thing is, people grieve differently. At the beginning of our journeys through this pain of losing a child, we all come together - we wounded parents and families. We stumble blindly ahead through the dark. Someone shut everything off - clinging to each other was all we had, so that's what we did. Groping blindly for the edge of a pit, we supported one another and sometimes even dragged one another along until we were in twilight and could continue on a little more steadily. We saw stars and imagined our little ones somewhere out there, beyond the reach of our aching arms and vacuum hearts.

Then of course, there were choices to be made. Sink into a mire of depression; start to administer blame; remain in a mentally vegetative state for an unspecified amount of time or begin to have hope that things would lift. People do, you know, throw things around in moments of terrible sadness - literally and figuratively. I remember on Halloween night of 2008, crying so uncontrollably that I went out into the living room and took two Percocet as a means of calming myself down. I passed out and woke up at four o'clock in the morning because the sound of my own breathing had awoken me.

Maybe I came through the way I did because I refused to become depressed. I'd been there before and never wanted to go there again. So I threw out shards of light - like missiles - everywhere I could - I roamed the world with every ounce of my available energy channeled into healing and hope. Others feel that is idealistic - I've been told to take my rose-tinted glasses off on more than one occasion. But who can say I'm wearing any, really? It's just a point of view - and it's even available to those who have lost a child.

Still others begin to hate the world and everything in it. They get angry with everything. They continue to apportion blame because for them, the grieving process has become stuck for one reason or another. I'm not talking about real blame - individual circumstances are different - but blame to try to heal their hearts when really, that won't help. Angry blame. Hateful feelings toward individuals - particularly positive individuals. Deep, huge pain within themselves. It's a double tragedy in so many ways.

Sometimes, the two halves of a couple who have lost a child end up at polar opposites of the grieving spectrum. Sometimes, everything breaks down.

It's not a lack or an over-abundance of God, or religion in general. It's no good going to church on a Sunday if you want to explode out of the roof at any given moment. It's useless, praying, if you are dreadfully angry with the entity you're praying to - peace is nowhere in sight.

It's very easy to rip your reality apart if you're angry - furious even. You can reach out with the hands that once stroked the heads of your wife and children and tear the fabric of your existence apart. You can fuel it all with alcohol. You can shout at the ones you love. You can hide away in a hole with a bottle of liquor, away from everyone, until they are all gone, your eyes glowing with tears and a raging, unbearably bitter fire. You can blame the woman you love, telling her things would have been different had she been in hospital, when both of you and the doctors know that isn't true.

She would have died no matter where I was, H. There would only have been three minutes to get her out if they'd even noticed. It took them eight minutes to get in there even under the emergency circumstances. I'm so sorry she died, H. It wasn't my fault. I wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. I'd give anything to have her back, H, but she's not coming back and everything else is sliding away like sand into the ocean. Please, stop now. Come back to your children, who need you.

The list goes on. The children cry. The woman co-exists. The situation is desperate. Long evenings are spent alone in separate places. Fear, terrible loneliness, darkness and desperate heartbreak coat all the surfaces in the house like thick, heavy dust. The scent of tragedy permeates everything, even when there's bread in the oven and perfume in the air. Both parents grieve, each differently. They are both hollowed out and dreadfully sad, but cannot reach one another across a deep chasm.

They don't understand each other any more. One cannot deal with the other. One on the attack; the other on the defense. One strives to die; the other to go on and survive. There are the children, in the middle of this tragedy of epic proportions, being subjected to the whole ordeal at the most formative time of their lives. So much love, but nobody knew what to do.

Something had to change. And it did - last April. All the good intentions had come pouring out across the garage floor, or been eaten up by the emotional rescue missions every day: the cleaning up of literal and proverbial messes. I'd shed enough tears to fill the Olympic Stadium by the time I left. I can't get any more specific really, since I don't want to deliberately cause other people pain, no matter how I have been treated. Two wrongs never make a right - except for in mathematical circumstances, of course...

So here I am, admitting to it all. I couldn't make it better. I could not control it; I could not rescue it; I could not mother it; I could not love it into healing. But I tried very hard, and my love was true.

In April, therefore, I will have been a single mother for a year. I've been very fortunate to have the support and the love of dear friends and family - and so, of course, has Bella. We're not the only family broken by a tragedy - we're just one of many, unfortunately.

I continue to hope for the best for all of us, and hope for healing and strength and joy - happy days ahead. Perhaps 2011 will show us a few new doors to tread through. A lifetime goes by very quickly, and you never know when your last day might be, so it's important to live as well as possible. It's all about the continuity of life. It's all about spreading a legacy that casts a glow around as big an area as possible.

I think we are all more interlinked than we imagine, not less.

H, if you ever want to know what you didn't want to know before, I've written it all down for you here. It's all here, every ounce of it - my heart and soul, split open and scattered across these posts. I hope that you read this, one day.

With that, I leave you a picture of my little rainbow girl, on her first birthday - what a milestone. I am grateful for every single second of every single day of her life. You can bet I am.