Monday, July 12, 2010

I Do Not Want This Life

Last night, on a whim, Ed and I went to see Sting perform with London's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at a big outdoor amphitheater in Virginia. It was a beautiful night—still a bit on the warm side, but a clear sky and slight breeze made it more than tolerable. Sting’s performance was amazing—the symphonic arrangements of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Russians,” and “Every Breath You Take” were mesmerizing. I’m glad I got to see it. 

But, like almost every other thing I’ve undertaken to do since May 13, it just felt wrong. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have been at home, watching TV or reading a book, while sweet Hudson slept peacefully in the next room. There are so many things we can do now that we could not do before May 13, and the fact that we can now do them makes me not want to do them at all. We can go to concerts or out to dinner on a whim, we can work out in the mornings without complication, we can run off to Europe. But who wants to?  “I can run all the way to Texas but my daughter can’t.” (I will save for another post how much I have always loved Steel Magnolias, how accurate I find its portrayal of a mother’s grief, and how sad I am that I will probably never be able to watch it again).

The first time I felt this sense of utter wrongness was either Friday or Saturday after we came home from the hospital. Ed and I took a walk alone around the block with Bess, just to get some fresh air and be by ourselves for a few minutes. There was no stroller for Bess to avoid. There was no Hudson delighting in “holding” Bess’s leash. We got about halfway around the block before I stopped walking, said, “I can’t believe this is our life again,” and began to cry. Ed took me in his arms (as he has done over and over again since this happened to us, that dearest of men) and we stood embracing for a long time on that corner, wrecked with the beginnings of realization that this was our new everyday reality.

I felt it keenly again when we were in Ocracoke. That Friday night, just two weeks after Hudson died, we went to a bar that had five-cent shrimp hour between 9-11PM. We ate a lot of shrimp, surrounded by a bunch of loud, fully grown drunk people and an NBA playoff game. As we walked back to our house, I said, “What are we doing? This just isn’t right.” And cried again.

And I feel it almost every moment of every day. Every morning that I get to sleep in past 8AM. Every time I go out for a bike ride or a row or a yoga class, all things I never had time to squeeze in before. Every time we leave the house for an outing and don’t have to pack a diaper bag and a cooler of milk and snacks. It’s all so very, very wrong.

I do not want this life. I want my old life back. I want every precious, inconvenient minute of it back. I want Hudson back. I do not want this life. I do not want it.


  1. I read your blog and I weep for you. I hope, that in some way, for every tear I cry on your behalf, that is one less tear you have to shed in your ocean of tears.

    "A Pair of Shoes"
    author unknown

    I am wearing a pair of shoes.
    They are ugly shoes.
    Uncomfortable shoes.
    I hate my shoes.
    Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
    Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
    Yet, I continue to wear them.
    I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy.
    I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
    They never talk about my shoes.
    To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
    To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
    But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
    I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
    There are many pairs in this world.
    Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
    Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
    Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think
    about how much they hurt.
    No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
    Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
    These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
    They have made me who I am.
    I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

  2. Love you, Mandy, Thinking of you every single day. Lots of love and healing to you.

  3. Mandy, I've read and re-read your last posts, and started over and over again to comment, and then stopped. I keep hoping that somewhere there is a magic wand to wave, with the right words that will make everything bearable and make this all go away. But there isn't.

    I wanted to tell you about the time when John Harper was three weeks old and he began to run a fever just a tenth of a degree under what they told us meant a full newborn panel (spinal tap, chest x-ray, blood cultures.) I took him to the doctor, and he brushed me off, told me I was over-reacting, to go home. He was very angry that Grady, aged 23 months, was crawling under the exam table. I went home, and watched while JH began to suck in his sides while breathing, turn blue, stop eating, stop wetting and dirtying diapers. The doctor had told me he was OK, and although I didn't believe him, I felt like I shouldn't go in again. I called the nurse, and she said if the doctor said he was OK, he was OK. The next day, after his temperature rose that pidling 1/10 of a degree, we found ourselves in the ER with a blue newborn who was projectile vomiting, unable to breathe, and blue all over his body. Nobody would look me in the eye when I asked when he would get better. I've never known fear like that, before or after. He had pnemonia, and by the grace of God he did recover. I feel guilty that I have two healthy children and you don't have your sweet girl. I feel angry and helpless that what Hudson caught was something so much more serious than pnemonia, and that nobody recognized it until it was too late. I know that my fear and pain is a micro-drop in a bucket compared to the ocean of your grief, and I don't know if I should even share this with you. You were so much more proactive than I was in seeking answers when you knew something wasn't right-- it's just a horrible, cruel, down-right wrong thing that what you were up against was something so much stronger than a tiny child, even one as strong of will and heart as Hudson was. You still remain one of the strongest and bravest people I've ever known, and I'm so grateful to you for sharing this terrible journey with us. I continue to think of you many, many times a day, and I send up tears and prayers and wishes for peace for you.

  4. Sweet, sweet Mandy. It is so wrong. All I can do is quote Steel Magnolias back to you when Truvy says "I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence." We are all crying with you and want so badly to take your pain away.

  5. There are no words I can come up with either. Through Hudson, you are changing lives. God Bless.