This morning I got on the elevator at work. A coworker I don’t know very well came in after me. She’s in another department and I really don’t know who does and doesn’t know about my situation, so I tend to avoid people’s eye contact like the plague, hoping we can all pretend things are normal during the 20 second ride up. Well, she couldn’t.
“How are you doing? Are you feeling better?”
“Nope! Not one bit.”
“Well, you look great.”
She looks at me reassuringly. “It just takes time.”
Going through this hasn’t been tolerable for a second, but it seems that lately things are worse. It’s been four months, which I have found is time enough for the shock to wear off and for you to settle into your new life. It is always hoped that grief moves in a linear fashion, and that one would surely be better at 4 months than you were at 2, but sadly that isn’t the case. Maybe that happens on a yearly basis. I’ll keep you posted. For now: still horrifying.
One of the reasons for this is that while you as a parent are still reeling from what has happened, some of your caring friends/coworkers are no longer reeling. Some people reeled for maybe 5 minutes, and then they were all done reeling. It is their hope that you’ll be all better so that we can all just get on with our lives. Most of the people in this group aren’t ones you see everyday, but people on the periphery who have not seen you inches away from losing your mind.
Another reason is that things just don’t end. One thing ended, which was our old life, but things continue to pop up all the time that remind us where we are and why we’re here. We recently got an invitation to attend a memorial service at the children’s hospital where our son died. It brought up a bunch of stuff, obviously. Just looking at the invitation with his name on it was incredibly difficult. Someone will text me who I haven’t heard from in awhile, and the last thing I sent them was a video of Jay way before he died. Every time my daughter rings the doorbell for fun, my first thought is, “Don’t do that, Jay is napping.” I attend therapy as well as my daughter, so that means I’m going to therapy appointments twice a week, the sole reason being because Jay died. I know that I’m known by a lot of people at my daughter’s school as “The lady who lost her son.” It’s like going through life in a full-body cast. Can’t really get around it, can’t forget about it, can’t even drive, eat, shower or laugh without being consumed with it pretty much all the time. But people see you walk into an elevator and smile and think, “Awesome, so it’s all back to normal, right?”
I’m sure when I post this, some people are going to sigh and think, “Shit, not another sad post.” I don’t know how to get around that. I used to post about breastfeeding and sleep training. But I posted about those things because that was my life. Now I have a different one. I like the idea of writing as a way to connect with other parents who have also lost a child, but I also hope to give people some insight on something that I hope they’ll never, ever experience. No one ever talks about this stuff. It’s one of the millions of reasons this is so hard.
The other day my daughter was in the bath and asked me, “Mama, can we have another baby brother?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. Maybe we can try, but I can’t say for sure if it would happen. And it might not be a boy. What if it’s a girl?”
“A girl? Well that would be OK!”
You know, if we did have another one, it wouldn’t be Jay.”
“Because they would be their own person. Every baby that comes out is different.”
“Well, we could NAME them Jay!!”
“No, we actually could not do that.”
“Because they are their own person, baby. They need to have their very own name.”
“Well you could give them my name because my name is going to be Daisy now.”
She still is the same beautiful light of my world that she has been every day of her life. I am so thankful for her. Because I lost my beautiful son, I am terrified of losing my daughter, and probably always will be. But I have her now. I have her today. And today is all we have.