A month to the date. We mourn. We grieve. It's deep. And persistent. Exhausting. Raw. There are also incredible experiences of grace. Grace that is helping us keep steady for Lil, for each other and for Gwen. Grace that is giving us something to look at and turn to and keep our eye on so we don't get swallowed up whole. Grace that sustains us - we are being held up by so, so many - so much so that in some ways, we simply have an obligation to all the prayers and care. We cannot to not go to crazy town - less all that love and care would be in vain. I've also experienced Grace in little synchronicites that tell my heart our love for Gwen and Marie still is in the present tense. And it will remain that way.
Then, of course, there is Lillian. Our love for her helps us to live through this grief and motivates us to work at navigating it well and carefully. For her sake we can't just fall apart. Instead, for her sake we have to actually feel it all and stay standing. We can't push it aside, either. The energy to "not feel" would drain us into a sate of depletion. You can't parent from such a place and we'd teach her only about how awful the world can be. But, oh how we don't want to feel it.
Notes on Where I've Been
We are somewhat existing outside of time. Swirling around looking at the ground, thinking about landing. But we don't really want to. I don't like the space, the boxes on the calendar, that keep increasing between when she was here, with me, in my arms. I don't want to join time again. But, slowly, we are becoming boxed up and planning our life again (and laughing at the idea of "making plans"). We're putting things on our schedule and therefore admitting that this is where we live now.
It's weird, because you could describe us as "back in the future." This all would have seemed totally normal to us, say a year ago, when we were just a family of three. And yet it could not be more uncomfortable, empty, and not normal now. A month ago we had two children, two little girls, here in our house. Lillian was a big sister. We had a miracle baby. We witnessed a world of amazing children and their parents, that we never knew existed. And then one day, like a switch, we were back to just us three but with a loud, empty place in our world.
The worst part for me, is how I now know, my heart knows something horrible about the world on a real level. At night or quiet moments when thoughts are allowed to run free I think about Lil. I want to know for sure she will live to be 102 and live well and fully so... but that thought has no place to go, no place to settle, I can't trick my brain into any assurances anymore. So, I just hope I love her enough while I have her, I desperately hope.
I feel my small brain struggling - between two poles of experience as I move in this thing called Grief. One side, is in the tangible world where my subconscious keeps searching for my baby and then registering with my conscience brain, "she's not here," with disbelief and shock. That's when I get a sinking sensation, for the ten-hundredth time. I note to myself often, how that is an interesting phenomenon, "a stomach falling" - it is interesting. Where does that response come from? Why the stomach? Why a "sinking" feeling. Wonder if that's been studied? This is what happens, I guess, as Grief becomes a familiar, non-threatening friend. You start to ask it questions, you may as well, since it's not going anywhere, for a long, long, long, long time. May as well get to know it more formally. And, you know, Grief means no harm, it is only here because of the love you for those who left, you wouldn't want it any other way.
So yes, as you'd expect, there is sadness and missing her intensely, to the core. But, also I'm finding that the depth of the pain really does create an open channel in the other and opposite direction. To try to explain, simply put, it is this sureness I have, that my Gwen is okay, Marie is okay and there is Love and Joy and they are okay.
Now, that said, I still, even with this gut feeling or strong sensation, or whatever it is, that assures my heart "it's all good"... I still long to just have it all back the way it was... because that is how small-minded and myopic I am. I'm still confined to my point of view. I live here, in the tangible world. So, while I do believe God's got everything, in the final analysis, He's got it covered and as comforted as I am by gut-assurances of their "okayness," would still just much rather have my sweet baby back here, my old life, my alternate reality back. We don't want to have to get used to daily life with only memories vividly playing out in front of us. But, I know, I know, somehow we are lifted by Gwen and Marie's love in a most unexplainable way. I know of eternity, I feel it's tug, as I am half there.
Getting back to this new "friend," Grief, as I mentioned, I'm almost a student of it now, in the most partial-of-observers kind of way. Of the most interesting things I've learned is the social history of grief. In this country we rank pretty horribly when it comes to our acknowledgment and acceptance of what it means to grieve. I'm guessing that will change a little in the years to come, as the Internet, as you can see here, if offering a more public venue for Grief and perhaps allowing a more communal experience.
Also, as a "student" I felt some relief when I learned that the stages are not linear, the idea of "closure" especially when a child dies, doesn't apply and you can't compare one loss to another, each loss is personal. I mean, think about it, it is an entire person gone from our world - that is no small thing, no matter how long they were loved here and graced us with their presence.
All the above laid out...Guilt is still part of the Grief. But, even as I still have "that day" in my mind and we still have no clear answers as to what happened...I'm finding the Guilt something that, is almost becoming boring. It is there, but it's lost it's voice. It's there, it is is staring at me. But it's lost it's edge a bit. So thank you, you know who you are, who've been praying that it would begone. In the end, even the Guilt just doesn't touch my love for her and how much I miss her. I don't have room nor the energy for it. It will have its days I'm sure. But it's not going to take lead.
Just Shy of Two Months or Just Shy of Twenty Years; Both A Lifetime
A two-month old can change you forever. She did. She penetrated my soul. I learned that we live in denial of how much we really love one another and our children. Denial is not just an aspect of the grief experience, its part of our shared, corporate experience of daily life. It's for our own protection and it's one of the limitations set upon our brains. Because, if we lived everyday with this knowledge, with this feeling, of how much we love each other we couldn't function. We get annoyed easily at one another and overwhelmed with child-rearing almost as a default to drown out the connection we have because it is too intense for our senses.
Grief opens you up to that a little, you become so raw. You feel open. You are bleeding from your soul. But I believe it is, somewhat ironically, the intensity of the loss makes you also aware of the Love on the actual scale that it exists. And, in my experience, I know the connection is still there even as I can't hold her in my arms (Gwen) or laugh to tears with her (Marie). The love is requited. When you feel how much you love those you lost, especially when it is your child, you can scarce imagine the ultimate Source of the love. Grief is exhausting in part, I believe, because of how intense the feelings due to the rawness of the sate. It's too much for our simple minds and bodies.
So what is a "lifetime" - it it when you connect in the deepest way with the world, and most of the time, I think we don't even know how much. They lived a lifetime.
Meeting with Doctors Today
Today, we will meet with her pediatricians to go over what happened one month ago. I have some questions and I just want to have as much clarity as possible on what happened - especially about when we were not there at the hospital - when her heart stopped. It's not going to make us feel better or worse, it's neither here nor there. It's just something I have to do as a responsible parent. I need to know what happened that day. I don't even know what time she died. I do need some closure about "that day."
Final Note on the Eternal Question of Why?
To end today's ramblings of an aching heart, I'm posting a poem that speaks to me. It may seem a bit out of place or odd. But it fits. I have a lot on my mind these days regarding Faith, and the "Why" and how could this happen? This poem is one "answer" to that; in particular this line;
"Talk faith. The world is better off without
Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt."
In short, to the question of suffering, the question of "WHY?" I ask, did you not see the world we live in? Did you glace at the newspaper stand today? We, Myers and I, in our specific horror and loss, simply live in the real world. And pain is pain is pain. In response to the state of the world, you can take the easy way out and say, "nope, no God here." Or you can, since the world is so awful, defy it, and choose to at least look in the direction of some kind of Faith, even if that is all you ever do is turn and look. At least you are taking one act of defiant beauty in a horrible world. And then, hopefully, you'll try to go into the world and connect and love even on the days when you feel only the heavy wight of care.
Sometimes when I'm looking, at Faith and Grace, I'm so sure, but the rest of the time, it is what it is, Faith, in the "leaping" sense of the word. I could spend forever and a day trying to understand why, why, why, but who has the time and energy? Regardless, the world keeps moving on around me and things keep happening, good and horrible. Time itself is a force not to be reckoned with - and if I'm facing a force I can't reckon with, then why not open to the possibility of a force even greater than and beyond time, and believe it to be all Faith claims, and then humble myself to how little I can comprehend of God? And then, get on with my business?
We are only here such a short while and I can live with Grief. I still miss both of those that we lost....what can I say? It hurts to miss someone that much and it really isn't any different day to day. One day hurts as much as the next, in regards to missing them. But, I'm not the first person on the planet to "suffer" and I can't deny all the good I see and experience.
This poem is not me saying I'm not going to tell you on any given day that this world isn't a hard, hard place. It is. One of my favorite quotes reads; "Beyond the Mountains are Mountains Again." And wow. Has that really been the case lately. I'm in no way suggestion in Grief we must "buck up" - that is impossible for me anyway, and destructive I'd suggest, at anyone attempting. But, instead, this poem is my answer to WHY? ("Why ask?" is my reply. Feel the pain when you must...it's there, and real, and searing. But Why doesn't matter, has little power, and only glues you more to the pain and sends you in circles because no sense can be made.)
Gwen, I love you. You left when we blinked. Ditto to you, Marie. But you filled us so full...and that we are sure of. I'm lonely for you always. I love you always.
Talk happiness. The world is sad enough
Without your woe. No path is wholly rough;
Look for the places that are smooth and clear,
And speak of them to rest the weary ear
Of earth; so hurt by one continuous strain
Of human discontent and grief and pain.
Talk faith. The world is better off without
Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.
If you have faith in God, or man, or self,
Say so; if not, push back upon the shelf
Of silence all your thoughts 'till faith shall come.
No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.
Talk health. The dreary, never-ending tale
Of mortal maladies is worn and stale.
You cannot charm or interest or please
By harping on that minor chord disease.
Say you are well, or all is well with you,
And God shall hear your words and make them true.
- ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
"You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far."