Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Our second without Hudson. Tomorrow I will start my Days of Thanks again. I will continue them until Christmas, and I will try to let gratitude be a balm on the still-so-raw places in my heart that throb so during this time of year.

But today, I needed to wallow. I needed a whole day. As it turned out, I got about ten minutes while I was in the shower.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has five different definitions for “wallow.” I found each somewhat fitting in its own way for my state of being during those ten minutes in the shower:

1: to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed, or ungainly manner (e.g., leaning my forehead against the wall of the shower, shoulders collapsed forward, rolling from side to side)
2: to billow forth: surge (e.g., my tears, snot, and saliva pouring out of my eyes, nose, and mouth)
3: to devote oneself entirely; especially: to take unrestrained pleasure: delight (e.g., allowing myself those few awful moments to do nothing but fall apart completely and practically relishing the terrible accompanying release)
4a : to become abundantly supplied: luxuriate (e.g., becoming awash in waves of grief that I so often have to shut out)
4b : to indulge oneself immoderately (e.g., focusing only on the giant hole in my life to the exclusion of all the beauty that surrounds it)
5: to become or remain helpless (e.g., being absolutely unable to control any of the above)

During the days and months just after Hudson died, I remember so well the physical pain that I felt in my chest every day. I would tell Ed that it felt like someone had their foot planted right in the middle of my chest and was just pressing and pressing and pressing down. During last night’s drive down to Chapel Hill, where we will spend Thanksgiving, I felt that feeling again for the first time in a very long time. And then the traffic was terrible and we didn’t get home until 2AM. And then Jackson woke up and we couldn’t get him back to sleep until 3:30. And the only way we could get him to sleep was in the bed with us, which meant I slept only very fitfully on about one foot of mattress. Then he woke up again. Then he woke up for good at 8AM. Then he was fussy from being too tired. Then I couldn’t get him to nap. When Ed finally took a break from working around lunchtime today, I snapped at him for the first time since I can remember. Being the kindest man on earth, he overlooked that and took Jackson from me. And I got in the shower. And wallowed.

I could sit here and list off all the things I am missing so much right now, all the things that feel like a thousand tiny knives poking me all over, all the things I imagine we’d be doing with Hudson during these days, all the things we’ll never get to do with her again. The list would be so very long and so very sad, and it would all sound so very familiar to you by now—only the details would change.

But what I have been feeling most this past week, what has made up the bulk of the foot pressing into my chest last night and this morning, is resentment. I resent all of you who have never had to feel this awful. I resent all of you for whom these days are filled with nothing but the shimmering, joyful anticipation of the coming holiday season. I resent all of you who get to spend these days with a totally intact happy family, all of you for whom every family photo is complete, all of you who get to hug all of your children tonight before bed. I love all of you, too, but I resent you. And I’m so sorry.

This resentment isn’t new. I’ve written about it here before, but back then I called it jealousy. Jealousy sounds so much more human and so much less awful. But jealousy and resentment are really just two sides of the same coin.

I don’t want to resent you. I don’t want to resent anyone. Even acknowledging that resentment is what I really feel is hard for me. Especially during this season. But as I have said so often, it is what it is.
But I don’t want to live in that place all the time. Or even a little bit of the time. I want to “like” your holiday photos and be happy for the birth your child’s new little sibling and not cringe when I read what your almost-three-year-old is doing.

And so I wallow. But not for a whole day. Not even for an entire hour. No, just for ten minutes, in the shower, alone, where the scalding water will mostly hide the evidence. For those ten minutes, I roll about, I billow forth, I devote myself entirely, I become abundantly supplied, I indulge myself immoderately, I become helpless.

I wallow. And the foot on my chest lifts.  Not forever, but for now.


  1. I so feel you. sometimes I find it so frustrating I can't put my thoughts and feelings into words... To explain to some of the "lucky" ones just how lucky they are...

    Breaks my heart our family photos won't ever be complete again. :( Thinking of you momma.

  2. Thinking of you, grateful for your honesty, heartbroken for your loss, hopeful for the tiny bit of healing you may have gained from wallowing.

    And as always, loving you.

  3. I know this resentment. I feel it too. Still. Sometimes resentment is paired with relief (a baby born healthy, alive). It's ugly and I hate that I feel it, but I do. I've called it jealously and bitterness mostly, but that's what it is. I believe that saying (writing) about the dark feelings thoughts you don't really want to admit to helps—doesn't eradicate the feelings, but doesn't let them take root as strongly, doesn't let them fester.
    I'm going to jump right into the days of gratitude and say that I'm thankful to have met you on this journey.

  4. I have commented here before how gracious you are, and that grace just emanates from this post. I can't imagine not being resentful, but yet, you are still gracious in mentioning it, in owning it.

    Peace to you, Ed and Jackson on Thanksgiving.


  5. Lots of love, Mandy, and missing your girl. I wish more than anything that you weren't without Hudson. I'm so sorry.

  6. In the fleeting moments where grief lets them in, I wish you friends and family who marvel at your courage and grace that allow you to live through your loss in the way that you need. My Allyson witnessed a soldier surprising his little girl at school the day he safely returned home. My anger at the thoughtlessness was simply resentment. It should have been should be Hudson. I love you.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mandy. I hope you and Ed and Jackson find joy and hope this holiday and all the other ones you have to celebrate without precious Hudson.

    love, Kate Z.

  8. Mandy, I often wondered how it was that you did not feel resentment at those of us who have been lucky and not suffered such a tragic loss. I don't think you should feel bad about it--you can't help what you feel. I hope today is a better day than yesterday.

  9. ...and while you are wallowing and resenting, you manage to make all of us, the ones who are so lucky, remember to never forget. Never forget your precious daughter, and more than that: never forget how fortunate we are. You have heightened my awareness of the luck in my life, and I thank you.
    I'm sorry.

  10. In the brief time I've known you, one word that continually pops up in my mind is fierce. You are a fiercely intelligent, fiercely loyal, fiercely dedicated, fiercely LOVING person.

    Adj:(of a feeling, emotion, or action) Showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.

    That intensity cannot exist without a counterbalance - anger, fury, resentment, jealousy... to acknowledge and allow yourself to feel those couldn't be more natural or necessary.

    And hearing you say these words makes me exhale ever so slightly the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding, because I know: "I resent all of you who get to spend these days with a totally intact happy family, all of you for whom every family photo is complete, all of you who get to hug all of your children tonight before bed. I love all of you, too, but I resent you. And I’m so sorry."

    We know. And you continue to be a fiercely powerful force in all our lives.


  11. Mandy,
    Another eloquent and accurate description of yet another other of the very uncomfortable emotions that grief brings.

    Again, thanks for your writing.

  12. Mandy, those feelings like jealousy and resentment can sure add insult to injury with the guilt that accompanies them. In my experience, shame and guilt can be just as distressing as the jealousy or resentment itself, and I have found that sometimes simply acknowledging them either to myself or out loud to a loved one can take the power away and alleviate some of the weight. I'm sorry you had to experience another holiday without Hudson.

  13. You are so honest, Mandy. And so gracious to let us into your world of grief. I am so sorry you have to wallow, and yet, glad that it lifts the foot, if just for a time.