I’m still here. Thank you if you are still here, too.
I am living in these bizarre in-between worlds right now.
There is the in-between world of having so much to say but no way to express it. It is times like these when I wish I had far greater command of metaphor, because literal expression has been failing me lately. I think of this verse from Sarah MacLachlan’s I Will Remember You (see? I have to use someone else’s words just to be able to adequately describe how I don’t have the right words):
I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep
Standing on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside but we can’t be heard
There is the in-between world of being a mother but having no child in my arms. I will always be Hudson’s mother and she will always be my child, but all I have left to care for and nurture is her memory and her spirit (a huge and important task, to be sure, but so very different from changing diapers and giving baths and reading stories and snuzzling). I am already Jackson’s mother, but as long as he is in my belly, my mother-role is in an odd state of limbo. I am caring for him and nurturing him and yet he is still so remote and unreal, in some ways still just a possibility, not a definite.
There is the in-between world of living every day with my sorrow and grief and yet trying desperately to begin preparing for a time, very soon, where that sorrow and grief will join hands with new hope and joy. I still have no sense of what such a life looks like. All I can do is hope that when it is upon me, I will know how to live it.
And more than anything, there is the in-between world of complete disbelief and slowly dawning acceptance. Every day, sometimes several times during a day, I fluctuate between these two states of being. On Tuesday, I turned 35. Hudson will never even turn 2. I still can’t comprehend how that can be. That day, I wrote the following in an email to Jessica:
I’ve been having a renewed wave of utter disbelief that this happened and that Hudson is really gone—again, I look at her pictures and remember our life with her and it just seems totally impossible that it is all over, never to return again. How can she just have vanished off the face of the earth? . . . It’s so hard for me to imagine that we have really lived without her for eight and a half months already. It really still seems like it was yesterday that we were busting into her room first thing in the morning with Bess, and she’d lift her head up off the mattress, see us and grin, and we’d start our day together. I picture her in so many different places around the house and in the car and it’s still just so hard to fathom that she will never be in those places again.
I try to imagine our lives in 30 years, sitting around with our grown children, having a glass of wine. I try to imagine how Hudson fits into that picture, that life. I try to imagine my adult children thinking about their older sister who will never be older than a toddler. And I just can’t believe that this is my life now, this is my family’s life. Living forever with one missing.
And yet, on Wednesday, that feeling of disbelief had subsided some. I found myself thinking (as I do occasionally), “OK. This is real. She is gone. And I just have to move forward.” Whenever this happens, I am reminded of a passage from C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed:
There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called “resources.” People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this “commonsense” vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace. . .
And then I’m right back to the disbelief.
I’m still here. Just living in between.