This is the world I live in now. Anything and everything can set me off totally unexpectedly, even the most innocuous of statements or the kindest of questions. In this case, I was just struck by the fact that making plans for my birthday should be more complicated than it is. We should have to think about Hudson, pick a specific night, and find a babysitter before we could even think about where we might go. Or, as sounds way better to me right now, we’d make a plan to celebrate my birthday with all three of us, maybe with my girl helping her daddy to make birthday cupcakes or some other such fun. And even worse, I shouldn’t be turning a year older when my girl never will. I live every single day in the world of “should have been.”
Living on the edge of falling apart is exhausting. I feel old, haggard, and so very, very tired. Physically tired and so tired of the grief. I’ve written many times about how wholly changed I feel as a result. My fellow grieving mama, Leslie, whose precious son Cullen was stillborn in September, recently wrote of an experience she had standing on the beach in a fog, where she found herself hoping to see her old self emerge from it holding her son, alive, in her arms. She said she feels like she lives in that fog now. Oh, how I can relate.
Here is what I wrote to her:
So beautiful, Leslie. I have struggled with this so much, as you know from reading. I remember in the two weeks after Hudson died, I posted on Facebook that I felt more like my authentic self than I remembered ever feeling in my life. I think about that a lot these days when I feel so unlike myself that I am almost unrecognizable, and I try to reconcile the two somehow. I think what I meant back in May was that when we suffer a loss so great, so overwhelming as the loss of a child, we are stripped down to our very core-- there is no pretense, there is no artifice, there is no silly gloss on an awkward conversation. We are only what we are, and in that state, we are capable of loving, of feeling compassion, of appreciating the life we have and everything in it like no other person is capable. I think in the shock of the immediate aftermath of Hudson’s sudden and totally unexpected death, I was able to see that for what it was and be grateful for it. Since then, as you describe so well, the grief has shrouded me in a fog, making it much harder to see and recognize and appreciate that essential core, for all I can see is everything that is lost, everything that is missing, everything that will never be again. But I do believe that core is still there. It is true that I will never again be the woman that I was before Hudson died, and I do miss that person very much-- I miss the ability to feel carefree, to smile without effort, to go through a single day, sometimes a single hour, without tears. But I also know that the different person I have become is a woman that I will grow to appreciate one of these days-- I will be a different mother to my children, a different wife to my husband, a different daughter to my father, a different friend to my friends, than will anyone else I know who has not lost a child, and I think all the people in my life will benefit from that. Another of Hudson’s gifts to all of us. Although I would trade all that back in an instant to have Hudson back with me, I know I can’t do that, so over time, I hope that the fog will lessen... it will never go away, but I hope that it will peel back just enough every once in a while for me to catch glimpses of the new person that I have become and feel lucky in spite of it all. I hope the same for you too, dear friend. Thinking of you so often.
On these days (which are so numerous) when I feel so run-down from it all, I need to listen to my own words.