Monday, October 3, 2011

This Quiet Grief

We made it through the first year and beyond. We have a new baby who has brought us so much joy. Soon, we will pass the point at which Hudson will have been gone longer than she was here. The grief remains enormous. On some days, in some moments, it is still unbearable. And yet it has changed. I am reminded of one phrase from the Aeschylus quote Ed wrote about here not long after Hudson died:

And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart

Drop by drop.

At the beginning, the pain roared, a ferocious flood carving its way ruthlessly through my insides, strewing debris every which way and leaving nothing unbroken in its wake. That I even managed to survive it remains a mystery to me. Now, it is more like water torture, the soft drip-drip-dripping of which I can’t escape, no matter how hard I try to plug my ears or shield myself. Left untended, of course, it creates its own hollows. Only it is more subtle.

Thankfully, there are many good days now, often in a row. There are far fewer bad days than before, but they still come, unexpected and unannounced. And yet underneath it all, underneath every day, every moment, is the drip, drip, drip. It never goes away. Even in my sleep. It quietly taps its steady rhythm until I have no choice but to pay attention to it. And when I finally turn my head its way, I remember. I remember the flood that preceded it. In Technicolor.

This quiet grief, the steady drip—in some ways, it is harder than the flood. I don’t quite know how to manage it or whether there’s any point in trying. The flood was fast and furious, but then it subsided. It took no prisoners, and all I could do was allow myself to be carried along with it. But the drip is so much stealthier. I can’t pay it proper attention all the time. No one could live that way. I have to keep living my life, for me, for Hudson, for Jackson, for Ed. But still it tap-tap-taps away, and before I realize it, there’s another hole to deal with.

And yet it is almost a companion. It’s like white noise. It’s reliable, familiar. I wouldn’t know how to live without it. And because it is my most tangible link to my precious girl, I wouldn’t want to.

God, I miss her. I understand why the constant dripping is a form of torture. Because it has no discernible end.


  1. Oh, Mandy. It's all still so unbelievable. After reading this post, I spent some time re-reading previous ones and my heart aches for you. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your precious Hudson. It is so wrong. Many hugs, and bearing witness to your grief.

  2. Speechless.
    I send many hugs.

  3. This...
    "And yet it is almost a companion. It’s like white noise. It’s reliable, familiar. I wouldn’t know how to live without it. And because it is my most tangible link to my precious girl, I wouldn’t want to. "
    takes my breath away...

  4. I am not sure what to say, but just to let you know that I'm here, listening.


  5. You nailed it...the constant awareness that something is not as it should be in our world, awareness that is present even on the best of days, even in the most precious, almost happy times. And sometimes, with the right trigger, the awareness escalates and takes my breath away, draws me back into that dark place where all I can think of is that he is gone.

    The other day Lauren and I were in NOLA having lunch, and sitting right next to us were a Mom and her 20-something son. Such a routine thing to be doing...having lunch together...but something I will never again do with MY son. I wanted to go over and shake her, to make her understand how precious this moment was, how easily he could be taken away, so that she would be aware, would never again take moments like that for granted. I didn't do it, of course...what I did was finish my lunch and barely make it back to the car before I hit the bottom. Such a small thing to provoke such a reaction---but such a strong memory of those moments that created the fabric of our lives together, his and mine.

    So if anyone is reading this (other than you,Mandy, who has learned this lesson all too well), PLEASE---go hug your children---understand how precious your time with them is---see them for the treasures they are. Don't it NOW.

    I love you, Mandy~

  6. A perfect description, drop by drop. Thinking of you and your dear Hudson, so very loved and so very missed xo

  7. You are so strong and so brave, and I wish it were all easier.

  8. Hi Mandy,
    You don't know me but somehow I made my way to your blog. I lost my beautiful daughter almost 3 years ago to a very rare disease. She had just turned 2. I have never read anything that so precisely describes how I feel as your post, "This Quiet Grief". I'm sorry for your loss, so sorry. I, too have a new baby, her name is Grace.
    Thank You for sharing and I will continue to read.

  9. So profound. Thanks for this. It's just something that is always there. Somewhere. Just there. And we put on our masks and keep going - as we must.