Monday, January 17, 2011

The Middle Road

It’s been a few days since I’ve written, one of the longer stretches I’ve gone without writing since I started this blog almost a month after Hudson died. I’m not sure why—perhaps some exhaustion after last week, or nothing really new to say, or just no major inspiration to write. But in that time, I’ve been thinking a lot about my posts from last Wednesday and Thursday, the first of which seemed so despairing, the second taking step back from that and trying to fill in the spaces around it. I talked to Jess the next day and (as usual) she shed some light on something important for me. She said that if all she knew about how I was doing was from reading the blog, she would have a very different picture of how I was than she does, but since she and I talk and email regularly, she has a much fuller sense of things, and therefore worries less. 
I had to think about that for a moment. No, I had to think about it for a while. Why am I giving such an incomplete picture here on my blog of how I am? Yes, the blog is primarily a space to express and process my grief, but part of my original intent was also to continue to share and honor Hudson’s spirit by embracing the lesson of One Good Thing. Why am I so reluctant to share happiness and joy here whenever I find them? I realize that I have certainly done that, but honestly, I have great difficulty sharing posts that do not somehow mention or allude to Hudson. Anytime I find myself writing a post that does not somehow include her, I backtrack and see if there is a way to fit her in to the picture of that particular writing.

Looking back over the last week, I see that these things are all related, and they connect to feelings I have written about many times here before. It is so hard to recognize and embrace happiness without feeling like I am letting go of Hudson somehow—the grief keeps me so intimately connected to her that I don’t want to let go of it. What’s more, I worry that if I don’t speak my grief every time I write here, then people will start to forget about it, and in turn, and much worse, forget about her. I know this sounds crazy, but on those days when I do share good news here, I almost dread reading people’s inevitably enthusiastic and positive responses, because to me, those are the days that give such an incomplete picture of what is going on with me. And worst of all, I fear that when Jackson arrives, joyous event that it will certainly be, some people will assume that we are all better, that we are whole again, that our family is complete, and that we should now move on. And while I have absolute faith that Jackson’s birth will help us continue to heal from our devastating loss in a much different way than we have been able to until now, I also have absolute confidence that we will never be all better, that we will never be whole, that our family will never be complete, and that we will never “move on."

But I know in my heart that there is a middle road here. In fact, the middle road is what One Good Thing is all about. Yes, sometimes, even often, terrible things happen, good people suffer for reasons that no one will ever understand, and lives are changed irrevocably, as ours have been. But somewhere, seemingly buried in the rubble of earth-shattering tragedy, there remains hope, goodness, love, beauty, and yes, even joy, just waiting to be noticed, retrieved, embraced, and celebrated. It is only when we fail to perceive these gifts, when we allow ourselves to be blinded by our own sorrow and grief, that true despair and hopelessness set in. So in the spirit of Hudson’s One Good Thing, I am going to try harder to cherish what is, to keep digging through the rubble to find the many gifts that still remain obscured from my sight there, and most importantly, to embrace and celebrate those gifts here and elsewhere. I owe that to my sweet Hudson, to Jackson, to Ed, to everyone who has supported us through this awful time, and to myself.

This morning, many of my Facebook friends were posting quotes from Dr. King in honor of this day we set aside to remember his legacy. I wondered what Dr. King might have to say to me today. And I found this, so perfectly in tune with this post I was already planning to write:

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream.


  1. Mandy-

    It is always good for me to read what you write, whether joyful or despairing or a combination of both. I have faith that you are healing while still knowing that your wound is forever.

    I'm glad you are reminding yourself to sift through the rubble, but know that I will be reading and thinking of you and holding you up no matter what you bring here to share.

    Hold on to hope. I know you already are.


  2. Anytime I read a post where you share some happiness, I rejoice and marvel at your courage. It takes courage to feel hope and joy after such heartbreak - and you have it.

  3. Mandy,
    I can understand (without pretending to know) how you would worry that celebrating joy might cause Hudson's memory to be pushed back. I can understand how the fear of people forgetting her is like a stab to your heart. I can hear and feel your roaring pain, and the whisper of joy that works its way through when something good happens. But you're right: this seems to be exactly what One Good Thing is all about-finding the gem amidst the rubble. Keep searching, keep scraping, and keep hoping.
    I hope with you, every single day.
    With much love and support headed your way,

  4. This article made me think of you:

  5. "There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
    A shattered-ness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
    There is a sorrow beyond all grief
    Which leads to joy.
    And a fragility out of which depth emerges strength.
    There is a cry deeper than all sound
    Whose serrated edges cut the heart
    As we break open to the place
    Which is unbreakable and whole."

    --Jalal Al-Din Rumi

    And so we will "go on, in spite of all..."


  6. You just captured the meaning of life, imo. Olivia

  7. Mandy, usual people come on here to give you a sense of hope and to let you know that you are not alone.
    Today, you are the one giving me hope with what you wrote. Life is difficult and sad for me and my family right now but you are spot on when you wrote:

    "It is only when we fail to perceive these gifts, when we allow ourselves to be blinded by our own sorrow and grief, that true despair and hopelessness set in."


  8. Mandy this is an amazing post.. for so many reasons. I know that people who only know us through our writing get only a slice of our complete picture- but I often feel that it is the biggest slice, the one that truly represents all of the hard shattered remains of what is left on the inside. On the outside there are other emotions, sometimes smiles, and the trials of daily life that together contribute to the 'whole' picture. So in short, i think you have it exactly right here- it is hard to see everything just from these writings, but the writing is still very indicative of what we deal with every moment of every day. I guess it is why I actually feel that sometime the people who know me outside of my blog don't get the whole picture- that they see the infrequent smiles, hear the laughter that sometimes escapes my lips, they see me 'functioning' in the real world- and they forget how much pain and grief I am walking with. Sometimes it feels like a double edged sword.
    I think you do an amazing job of reminding you readers about the good things that you experience- I often find myself searching for them myself after I read your words. I thank you very much for that- for sharing Hudson's legacy, and for reminding moms like me of the light that is always there behind the dark skies.
    love and light....

  9. Mandy -- Your post here sums up what I have wondered about for a very long time.......and you have articulated it here so beautifully and completely. And, everyone's comments today are so interesting and wonderful to read. You, Mandy, have hit the nail right on the head -- my sister told me once that 'the best we can hope for is ambivalence' -- I laughed at her at the time, but as the years pass, I see that she wasn't trying to be funny. I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating: you are an amazing person, a strong person, a person with such demonstration and capacity for love -- may you continue to heal and move forward -- and your beautiful girl will be in your heart most definitely as you do that. You have hope because of your beautiful Hudson -- you know how indescribable and amazing being a mother is because of Hudson -- your hope for joy in the future originated with the joy that Hudson personified. (((hugs))) -- Mariann

  10. Please don't fear that we forget your grief or Hudson's life when you write of times of joy. I think you've said before that you're glad to have the blog as a place you can bare your soul. I hope you can continue to do that--whether it means writing of grief or writing of happiness.

  11. Mandy,

    I so understand - everything that you so beautifully said! As I was reading, I thought of MLK's quote on hope, and was so happy to read it at the end of your post. So perfect.

    Also, I love all of Hudson's photos - so, so sweet. Her beautiful little face reflects all of your love. She knew she was adored, she knew she was treasured, that sweet face says it all.

    With love and understanding
    Carol Herrmann, Caroline's mom

  12. This post reminds me so much of an excerpt from an earlier (July) post of yours:

    "Dr. X said, 'You know, it’s always really nice when something good like that can come out of something terrible.' And we agreed. And then he continued, 'But it doesn’t change the fact that it is really fucking terrible.' Indeed."

    I admire so much that you are honoring Hudson by spreading her message of One Good Thing. It is such a fitting way to keep her bright spirit alive. But don't beat yourself up for using this blog to work through your grief. It is here for the good days and the bad.

  13. Yes, people will think you are "all better" once Jackson is born. They will desperately want to think that. You won't be, but you know that already. But yes, he will help you heal too, in time. A new baby after losing one definitely produces complex emotions, but ultimately, much joy. Thanks for sharing all that you do, and as the previous commenter said, don't beat yourself up. You've been to hell, and are there still, but you won't stay there.