Thursday, September 30, 2010


I don’t really know what’s going on with me this past week. I’ve had a hard time even thinking about writing. Maybe I wore myself out with Monday’s post and just didn’t realize it. I’m sure that coming to the end of my second full week of work is at least some of the issue, and I “worked” (I use that term lightly because it is nearly impossible to sustain my attention for anywhere close to a full work day) an extra hour each day this week to make up for some time I missed on Monday when my sweet niece was in town. I feel tired. I feel like I still have so much to say, but none of it is new—it is all simply a repetition of the same themes over and over again.

I am exhausted from what I call getting my thoughts “hijacked.” This is when, out of nowhere, I am struck, either with a specific memory or just a sudden overwhelming sense of the loss we have experienced, and I just immediately get pulled right down into the thickness of the grief. When it’s a specific memory, like something that happened today, it usually only lasts only for a bit, marked by a quick crying jag. When it’s the other, like it was this past weekend, it lasts for a few hours or days, marked by a seemingly unending malaise, where I feel like I am walking around in a fog—I am functioning and talking to people, but it’s almost as if I am outside of myself. It is utterly frustrating to have so little control over my emotional state from one moment to the next. Grief’s unpredictability is probably one of its worst features. And if it seems sometimes as if I speak of grief as a whole separate being, that is, indeed, how it feels—like its own entity that is just always with me, a most unwelcome presence everywhere I go, even in my sleep.

Today, I was brought to quick tears by a sudden memory of a Facebook post I made not long before Hudson died. I said something like, “I looked down today and realized that I no longer have to lean over to hold Hudson’s hand. Yay for my poor back; boo for growing too fast.” The naivete, the unknowing, the carefree quality of those words just shook me. Even more painful than the memory of the words was the fact that I could remember the exact moment earlier that day when I had the realization. Hudson and I were walking out of the front door of St. Ann’s after school one day. I was holding her left hand in my right, always keeping her on the inside of the sidewalk. She had gotten to the point where she sometimes rebelled against holding my hand at all, so eager was she to leave me and go play in the grass. I was starting to have to be firm about holding Mommy’s hand on the sidewalk. But that day, I just noticed for the first time that she was tall enough and her arm was long enough for her hand to rest fairly comfortably in mine without a stretch on either of our parts. I had no idea how we’d gotten there so quickly.

Now, I have no idea how we’ve gotten here at all. Where is my little girl? Why can’t I hold her hand anymore? Why isn’t she still growing too fast?  And it just spirals downward from there.

This is what I mean by hijacked. Now I will cry for several minutes and then go to bed.


  1. It is very hard to look back on the days before tragedy strikes and know that those were some of your last happy times before your world came crashing down. We went on a trip right before we found out everything about our baby, and I really have a hard time thinking about that trip or looking at pictures from it, because I am just constantly feeling like I should have known something or I should have appreciated those peaceful moments more. I can only imagine how this must impact your life every day, and for that I am so sorry. Thinking of you xoxoxo

  2. It's just wrong, Mandy, there's no getting around it. Sending fond thoughts for survival and more.

  3. "the loss we have experienced" -- it takes my breath away. I feel like my heart stops to think of it.

  4. I remember you writing that post. Both of mine were early walkers, less than 10 months, so my back had felt that leaning over pain as well. I thought how cute you had made it sound and totally empathized. So many of your posts were just about life, so simple. I'm so sorry you now have to endure this complicated life.

  5. Thinking of you and sending you love and support.

  6. Whenever I think of you and Ed, Hudson is naturally the next thought. I see Hudson's face in my mind everyday and shake my head in complete disbelief that she is no longer with us. I just can't seem to reconcile gone.

    We all hurt so deeply. Renee

  7. Oh Mandy, I remember that post too. This is all just so wrong. How I wish she were still here to hold your hand or rebel against it. Peace and love, Barbara.

  8. Oh yes, remembering those moments of naivete...

    Sometimes I remember those days before things went bad and I can remember so clearly what I was thinking at the time. I struggle with hating that person who I used to be because she so completely failed to be prepared for what happened and the result of that unpreparedness is this new, broken version of myself.

    Hijacking your thoughts is one of the things that grief does so well. And yes, I absolutely understand the the imagery of grief as its own entity. For me I see it as the puppeteer of life after the death of a child.

  9. Sweet Mandy. I read your words on glow and was compelled to learn more about your story and about Hudson.
    Your loss is unfathomable and I just wanted to write a note and let you know one thing- how much I admire you. I admire your strength, your spirit, your determination to hold on. I admire you for breathing, for standing, for walking in the "real world" and for functioning as a human being in general.
    Because I don't know if I could do all of those things. I am having a hard time right now adjusting to life without Cullen- it sis different but the grief is the same. the pain, the fear the heartache that we all share for reasons we will never know.
    I just want you to know that I am holding you up as best as my broken arms can right now.
    In the darkest hours of our lives we look to find a light. I have not found mine yet but you seem to see glimmers of yours- and I admire you for it. Keep looking- it can only get brighter.
    With grace- Leslie

  10. “I looked down today and realized that I no longer have to lean over to hold Hudson’s hand. Yay for my poor back; boo for growing too fast.” The naivete, the unknowing, the carefree quality of those words just shook me. My naive phrase used over and over again when people gave us clothes that were too big for Henry was "we expect him to keep growing." Of course we did. Now whenever I hear somebody say "They grow up too fast," I always think, "Ah, but that's better than not growing up at all."

    Your "hijackings" are my "triggers." They are so hard. In my experience, the hijackings have become less frequent over time. They still knock me out when they come, but they don't hit so often.

    I think sometimes we have to relive and go over and retell our story again and again as we work through grief, so if you have nothing new to say, say something again, or take a break and come back when you are ready.

  11. I feel like somehow I should have KNOWN---I am his MOTHER! How can it be that I didn't recognize the last time we would cook together...the last time we would walk around New Orleans...the last (and to be honest, only) time he would convince me to stake him to blackjack at the casino...the last time I saw him put on his fedora and tilt it "just so"...the last time I saw him at all...

    Tonight I got undone watching Jerry eat a hamburger---the last time Matt cooked at home, he fixed burgers on the grill. The grief, as you said, comes out of nowhere and takes charge of the moment...wipes me out. have we come to this??? Tears, tears and more tears...I get it.

  12. I read two things in an advice column yesterday that I found comforting and they made me think of you. They gave me hope that, while Hudson's death will always be a void in your life, the intense pain won't always be so acute:

    1. "Sometimes people need a reminder that horrible feelings pass. The body can't sustain them. Even in the worst case, when somebody dies, the pain lessens with time despite the fact that the loss remains constant."

    2. In response to a question about how to deal with the unbearable pain from losing a loved one:
    "There are going to be times when you have to push the feelings 'to the back of your brain,' because you have to function, even if you've reduced your responsibilities in the wake of [your loved one's] death. (Though if you haven't streamlined things temporarily, I urge you to; it's important that you be fair to yourself and lower your expectations of what you can accomplish through fresh grief.)

    There are also going to be times when you can't push the feelings away, and you're going to feel them all at once. The more you push aside the feelings, the less control you're going to have over when the emotions come on. I don't think it's realistic to hope for full control, but if you give yourself time and room to grieve fully, and if you accept the full awfulness of the way you feel, then you'll find yourself returning slowly to your old self. You'll be changed, for sure, but you'll get back your ability to laugh, to think of something else, to dream of [your loved one] without sobbing, things like that.

    The best way I can think to describe it is in terms of crying. When you have to cry but stop yourself, the impulse to cry stays with you, and you're more likely to keep tearing up throughout the day. If instead you have to cry and just let yourself cry, in big loud sobs, the impulse eventually passes and you stop crying on your own. That's the micro version of what you're going through with your grief. Find safe times to let yourself have big loud sobs, and you'll feel yourself start to heal. "

  13. Thinking of you with such empathy. The painful place you're in right now is one I know well. Thank you for sharing your feelings here. I know your Mama heart hurts. Be good to yourself.

  14. I think it's okay to say the same things over again. If you still feel like you have stuff to say, say it. We want to listen.