Sunday, December 30, 2007
I have to be fair though, and say that before any of this happened, I would have been happily treading along in my own death denying existence too. I routinely shielded Evan from the topic of death, choosing instead to tell white lies, and skirt the issue. Case in point: my friend's dog. He was hit by a car, and when he wasn't there last time we visited, and Evan asked where he was, I told him the dog had gone to live with someone else. Save him the trouble, you know? Well, suffice to say, he now knows what happened to that dog, and anyone else whose life has graced ours, and since passed. We have books, he knows what death is, and though it's god damned awful that his baby sister died, I'm glad he knows what death is. It will help him deal with it in the future, instead of being broadsided and immobilized by it like me, and the rest of the death denying world.
I love and miss you sweet baby girl. xoxoxo thinking of you all. the. time.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Christmas itself was as good as I could have expected it to be. There were moments of mild chaos (what Christmas would be complete without that though, really?) where I felt I needed to excuse myself periodically. There were moments of fun; we played games, reminisced about Christmases past. We thought sadly about what 'would have been', had Isla lived. That she'd have been dressed in a beautiful holiday dress, buckle shoes and tights. A little red bow in her hair. She'd have sat at the table with us, and entertained us all with her 3 month old antics. It was quieter than it should have been, even with Evan's electric guitar blaring away... How can a home that's never been graced with the presence of a missing family member feel quieter than before they were even born? Yet it did. Though Isla never came home, her absence was palpable. We missed her like crazy, and knew exactly all the wonderful things she'd have been doing. It would have been perfect with her there, and I don't think I'm romanticizing or idealizing one bit.
I've been visiting a website/message board for bereaved parents. Mostly moms, but some dads, which is nice. One mom went into her older child's bedroom when she was sleeping, and placed her palm on the child's chest, and felt the heartbeat...it was a beautiful feeling to her, one that she'd never stopped to appreciate before, yet such a precious thing. I can relate to this new gratitude for something so seemingly insignificant. Last week, I went into Evan's room when he was sleeping, and bent down near his bed, and just watched him breathe. I listened to the gentle, even inhaling, and exhaling of breath from his sweet little mouth, and watched his chest softly rise and fall. His skin and lips were pink and rosy, with life flowing through him.
Something so trivial, that most would not think twice about has become a sacred thing for me. The simple fact that my son's chest rises and falls with life is a gift beyond which I can be grateful for. I held my daughter while she died, never to take a single, sweet breath on her own. I see the gift in Evan that is life, and I treasure it like nothing else. If it is true that grief is a cleansing of the non-essential of one's life, then that has never been more apparent than here. I have never stopped to appreciate the sacredness of the fact that I have created life, from my own self. That a separate entity thrives, and craves life solely because of me. Watching this part of me live and grow and 'become' is nearly more than I can bear sometimes. What a gift my little son is. I love him more deeply, more fiercely than I ever thought possible. I am glad to know that the maternal ties between us are as strong as they are, but saddened for the reason I must discover this. Perhaps this is one of the 'gifts' Isla brings. A tangible appreciation for that which I cannot put a price on. A 'thing' that is not really a 'thing' at all, but rather a whom. There is no replacing a loved one, once they've gone. And I am learning every day, every hour, to hold dear that which I cherish the most. My family, the people I love, are more important than any 'thing' will ever be. I must continue to try not to get caught up in competitions of affluence and greed. I want my son to know that the best things in life are not things at all, but rather, the people we share our lives with. The loved ones, family and friends who enrich our lives, and give us joy and laughter, share our tears and tragedies. This is the rich meaningful stuff fulfilled lives are made of. That is what must fill that hollow nagging 'need' that exists in so many people's lives. It is meaningful relationships that make meaningful existences. The most special joys in life are much more special when shared, and the tragedies, more bearable when the weight is distributed among many. When George Carlin lost his wife, he wrote the following commentary, and I've revisited it often, and find it resonating with me more and more.
by: George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but
shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more,
but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and
smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more
problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too
little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our
possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and
hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to
life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but
have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer
space but not inner space.
We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air,
but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold
more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small
character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of
two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one
night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer,
to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the
stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time
when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going
to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to
you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your
Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only
treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember,
to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all
mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep
inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday
that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak
and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
I firmly believe that we would be a much happier, healthier society if we just reached out more, and allowed ourselves to be reached out to, instead of isolating ourselves in bubbles, unwilling to take chances, extend a hand to a stranger, put an arm around a hurting friend. We are a society full of fear of nearly everything: weirdos on buses, old people who may want to talk too long in the grocery aisle, bratty kids and their negligent parents....lots of people we'd rather not bother with. So we often end up alone, isolating ourselves from everyone. It can be a really lonely world sometimes, and the worst part is, it doesn't have to be. We bring it entirely upon ourselves. Life could be so much more fulfilling, if we just let down our guards, and allowed ourselves to love, and be loved.
So many people (myself absolutely included) spend a lot of time and money searching to fill a niche that cannot be filled with junk from Wal-Mart, or food from McDonalds. There is a hunger that is for human companionship, relationships, and community, that is insatiable by other means. As a society, we keep trying to 'better' everything... have more, make more, use more.. more, more, more. I think actually, that the answer is less. Less stuff, less crap, less distractions in life preventing us from achieving true happiness, which I believe, is to be found in loving, fulfilling, meaningful relationships with others. It's not a big house with fancy furniture. It's a young child, climbing into your lap, telling you you're his "best mom"... you cannot buy that kind of pride and happiness. It's not a shiny car, or fine china... it's holding hands on a walk with a little boy who thinks the world of you, and vice versa. It's shedding a tear for a part of your life that's gone forever, that you miss, and ache for, because it meant so much. It has nothing at all to do with money or wealth. And though I am glad to know this, and know it well, I am sad for the reason I must know it.
I miss you so much sweet baby Isla. You would have changed the world, even more than you already have. I love you more every day. Thank you for being my baby girl, you are so very special to me.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I am just one of those people who are constantly second guessing themselves. I don't trust myself enough, I don't believe in the legitimacy of my emotions. Somehow, when it's bad, I panic and seek respite from the pain, and when it's good, I worry that I'm not grieving properly, in that I'm able to feel good, and all of this will come back to haunt me, because I'm not doing it right. Yes, it's lots of fun inside my head.
As my grief journey is progressing, and some of the black, deep, despair is (thankfully) softening, I am finding I do have some control over the acceptance, and expression of my mourning. This is good and bad. When Isla first died, I was shattered, unable to function at all, unable to do anything but immerse myself in her death, and try not to drown. Now that I've found some footing in this experience, and am incorporating this loss into my life, I am more able to choose when I wade into the sadness. The problem is, a lot of the time, I am just choosing not to at all. I know it's the wrong thing to do, I am fully aware of when I choose to deny an impending grief outburst, or stifle tears in an inappropriate (and sometimes, appropriate) situation. It's not good that I am doing this. This is not honouring my daughter, this is not working through the grief, it's working around it. This is the bad way. Many books will say there is no 'wrong' way to grieve, but I believe there is. Yet, I feel such a sense of relief in my ability to exercise some control over my emotions. It's empowering, and gives me some strength, some hope, and it's hard to deny it. I relish this newfound control. Perhaps it is okay... I don't really know. I assume that because I am human, and doubtlessly loved my daughter, that the grief hasn't disappeared at all, rather, it is ebbing, as grief is apparently wont to do. My emotions swing broadly to and from the extreme ends of the spectrum, and I can't assume that because I am currently in a place of tranquility and hope, that I won't swing back to despair eventually. Not that I am inviting such a self-fulfilling prophecy, but just that maybe I can take today for what it is, and try not to ask too much of myself, or question my own experience too much. It is, after all, my own unique experience, and sometimes I forget that that doesn't make it right or wrong, it is just mine. It is sacred and unique, to me.
A wise friend of mine, who also tragically lost her infant daughter, told me that it's not forgetting, it's not stopping grieving, it's 'moving along in my grace'. I don't know exactly what she meant, but it sounds good to me. I think it means something along the lines of me being human, suffering an insufferable loss, finding a glimmer of hope in the dread. Embracing it, and letting it embrace me, for I need this, and I deserve it.
And so come the tears.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Last week was really tough. I don't know what, if anything, sparked it, but it was a few days there where I felt very low. It's the kind of day that I know is going to suck as soon as I wake up. Before I even get out of bed. There's a real "who cares" feeling to everything, and an inability to give a shit about anything, let alone pretend for the sake of others. I know that makes it hard on Tim, that some days I can't be a good wife, and hold up my end of the household, marriage and all that, but at those times, I just don't care. Those are the days I can't really get motivated to do anything; eat, shower, play with Evan, go out... I'm reduced to my bed or the couch, with a book for quite a few hours. I find it quite debilitating, and realize that I'm being completely unfair to Tim and Evan, but at the time, I just don't feel well enough to care.
The last couple of days have been better. Had a birthday celebration with friends last night, at a big sports bar. About 2 hours in, I started to fizzle. I was mentally burnt out from all the happiness around me. There were several staff Christmas parties going on, so lots of laughing, hugging, wishing each other Merry Christmas. It was fine at first, but after a couple of hours, I'd just had enough. I wanted to shout out to them that they had no right to be this happy. That they didn't realize how much pain I was in, or how their happiness made me feel so alienated. We left, and in the car, Tim kind of deflated right away. I think the night was about an hour too long for both of us, in spite of having fun with our friends. It's still hard to see others having so much carefree fun. I know that I don't know what's going on in their lives, or what the future may hold for them, but I know this: I am not happy and they are, and it's not fair. It's a constant reminder that they have something I don't; the blissful naivete that everything is great, life is wonderful, and tragedy is something that happens to other people. I was one of them, who didn't realize that all around me might be people hurting and trying their hardest to get through a night full of happy people while they quietly suffered alone. I'd go back to it again in a selfish heartbeat, and give up every ounce of 'being a better person' and all that bullshit. It is an incredibly lonely place to be when you're aching for something so badly, and everyone around you is laughing, enjoying themselves fully, not a thought in the world about all the things that could go wrong. I even managed to worry about Evan, though he was in quite capable hands. I often worry that he's going to suffer a major allergic reaction, and no one will know how to use the epipen, or he will get some incurable childhood cancer, and I won't be able to do a damn thing about it. While out with the women from my infant loss group today, every one of them called home on their cell phones to see how their other kids were, though we were only gone a few hours. They confessed that they too often worry about their surviving children, and think something equally tragic will befall them. What a damn rip-off that is. Jesus, we've already lost one child, and now we uncontrollably worry about the ones we have left. It's not fair, and I hate that I think about this all the time, while other moms are thinking about decorating their homes for the holidays, shopping etc etc... I am a prisoner to my thoughts , and right now, there's not much I can do about it.
I found out a good friend of mine is expecting her 3rd child. I knew this was coming, and wasn't sure how I'd react. It was much harder than I expected it would be. When I found out, my whole head went fuzzy. Like that feeling of being on Tylenol 3s... kind of foggy headed, "this isn't really happening" sort of thing. I felt immobilized and numb for a few seconds, before I could muster up some words. I told her that if I cried, it was okay. And I did cry, briefly. I'm happy for her family, absolutely, but it's such a tangible reminder of another person who gets to have her baby, while I don't. We should be sharing in the excitement of her new pregnancy together, while enjoying my newborn...instead, I am grieving my baby's death, and imagining how wonderful it will be for her when her new baby comes. It all just makes me feel empty, useless and ripped off. As glad as I am for their family, I am just so sad it's not me, with my new baby. I am sad for our friendship too, because I think it will suffer as she goes on in her pregnancy, and nears her due date. Though we won't live here anymore, I still hope to be close, and I am afraid I won't be able to be a present, helpful friend at the times she'll need me the most. In fact, she may not even want me around...maybe it makes her uncomfortable to be pregnant around me. It probably would make me feel that way. Maybe she's secretly relieved I'm moving, so she won't have to worry about the awkwardness of our friendship growing as she does. I don't know, it's still so new, and I have no firm grip on any certainties. Except that I feel like I'm rambling here, and not sounding very coherent, which is always a sign that it's time to stop writing.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The other thing about grief I've been thinking about is how it reminds me of a wave. Like I'm in the ocean, and far out I see a big wave coming in. I see that it's building in strength and intensity, and I speed up to get to shore before it reaches me. In reality, I could escape a water wave, and get safely on the shore and continue merrily on my way. But I can't escape this. There is no safe shore to run towards. The wave just keeps building, and I keep running, faster and checking over my back to see if it's still there. By running from it, and refusing to allow it to wash over me, it somehow seems stronger and more powerful, and might consume me. But, inevitably, since I know I cannot outrun this wave, I acquiesce. I turn into it, face it full on and let it crash down on me. This is my grief. No matter how much I try not to think about Isla, keep her door closed, read books on trying again, try to run from the suffocating grief or whatever, it does not work, and this wave smothers me. So I let it, eventually. What choice do I have? And yet, once I am soaked in it, once I've screamed, sobbed, wailed and somehow squeezed every bit of emotion out of me, the wave ebbs. It's power is gone, it skulks back out to sea, until the next time. I am left battered and wrung out, physically exhausted and spent. Yet, in some odd way, it's kind of empowering. I'm no longer running from this wave; it's relented, for now. I've beat it once again, and come out alive.
I think the anticipation of a heavy grieving experience is worse than the actual experience itself. The dread of coming face to face with the anguish and despair is awful, but somehow, during my sobs, looking at her pictures, listening to sad songs, it isn't as bad as anticipating it. Somehow, this is my way of 'being with Isla' if that makes any sense. It's an intimate time, between her and me, and I actually kind of treasure it. That must sound so odd in light of what I wrote Friday, but whatever, I'm not above contradicting myself, if that's what it seems I'm doing here. In some weird way, these times where I grieve Isla so intensely, while they hurt like nothing I've ever experienced, connect me to her in a very intimate, maternal way. It feels worse to spend the day dreading the impending blowout than actually enduring the blowout itself. I probably won't feel that way next time I have one, or hell, even 5 minutes from now, but if I have to live with this grief the rest of my life, which I do, then I have to find some way to reconcile it into my every day existence. William Faulkner once said "given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief." I thought this was preposterous the first time I heard it, but I think I understand: While not a pleasant emotion, grief is a connection to something, a feeling that represents a certain depth of love, in pain. So for me, if the choice is to be connected to my daughter in pain, or not be connected to her at all, I choose pain. As awful as it is, I will take it. Sweet dreams baby girl, mommy's missing you tonight.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The name of my blog, Mi Isla Sola, is Spanish for My Lonely Island. A few other translations came up for that as well, but this one suited my headspace the most. I feel like I am on an island in a way. Alone. There's the rest of the world on the mainland, and they're looking toward something. From my island, I am looking toward the same thing, but we see it very differently from our separate vantage points. Though I am near the people on the mainland, and can hear them, see them, and them me, I am not "with" them. I am removed in an almost physical sense, from the rest of the world. I can participate in the mundane every day realities of life, but I don't really 'feel' part of it all. I don't know how I feel about it really. On one hand, I appreciate this new way of looking at the world, like I have bullshit glasses now; in that I can spot all the bullshit in the world, quickly, and not bother myself with it. I've gained a sense of what's important to me in life, and it's not stuff and things of material worth, but love of family and friends, and precious times with them. But it's a lonely place, feeling isolated from the rest of the world; a place in which everyone seems to have some place to go, some people to see, something funny to laugh at and enjoy. I get angry that I don't have the naïveté I once did, with nothing but the weather to complain about, nothing but a few bills to worry about. It's all so trivial now, and I find that I compare everything in life to the loss of Isla. It's not very productive, or conducive to healing, I'm sure, yet I do it anyway. For example, when someone I know recently complained about her broken arm, and the hassle it presented to her, I was enraged that she could be so shallow and unappreciative of her life. How dare she complain about such a minor inconvenience. I'm trying not to compare everything to my loss, because really, if I do that, I will win every time. There is truly nothing worse than enduring the death of your child, I'm convinced. Yet I must realize that everyone's experience is their own, with value and worth in themselves. I, like many others in the world are coping with a bum deal, and I should embrace, not reproach them for their experiences. I want to become a better person, not a bitter one. Eventually.
I started journaling a couple of weeks ago, and I'm going to copy and paste those entries here, retroactively, so the dates will be weird for a bit.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Today was so hard. This was the last day Tim will be taking Evan to playschool, as he goes back to work next week. I went with him so I could ease back into the whole thing. As soon as I saw the teachers, I started to cry. They both hugged me. It's so hard to see people for the first time, who last saw me pregnant. I don't know why this is, but somehow I know they know what happened, they feel awful for me, and I just lose it. So that was hard. I worked at the daycare right across the hall as well, and dodged a few staff walking back and forth. That was really hard. I don't want to talk to them, I don't want to have to put on a smile, feel their pity, I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, After that, I had coffee with a friend, a mom from the playschool, also whom I hadn't seen since summer. She cried with me, I brought pictures of Isla, she let me talk, vent, and show her Isla's album. It was emotionally draining, but didn't feel bad to do. It's nice to talk about her. She's always on my mind anyway, may as well say some of it out loud. After that, we had some errands to run, and at the dollar store, there was a woman in the parking lot who I knew from playschool and I dared not make eye contact, though I'm sure she saw me. Probably wondered where the baby was, but I walked quickly away, into the dollar store... where another playschool family was shopping. Oh the joys of a small town. I hid in the back section until they left, or I thought they had. I managed to slip past the mum, who I'd seen shortly before going into the hospital. I know it must sound so odd to be freaked out about seeing people. I mean, the "worst" that could happen, is they'll say "I'm so sorry".. no biggie.. it's the whole ordeal, really. The "Oh! You must have had your baby..." And I have to say "Yes.. [awkward silence] ...and she died"... And then I have to deal with the reaction, and almost console them. It's just an interaction I'd rather avoid, indefinitely.
Tonight, Evan and I were in the bath. We brought the Potato Heads in to switch it up from dinosaurs. We realized the small potato heads fit perfectly into the storage back ends of the big potato heads, and so we started talking about having babies, and pretended the little potato heads were being 'born'... Evan said "Now, this potato head is going to have a new child, a new baby will be born..." and then he said "and it's not going to be a dead one, it's not going to be a dead child"... I reeled inside. Not in a sad way, really, just more of a "holy shit, I can't believe he said that" kind of way. I mean, I'm glad he feels he can talk about it, because I don't want Isla to be a taboo topic for him, which he initially thought it was, I think. He asked where she was once, early on, and immediately put his hands over his ears, which he does when he feels scared/threatened/in big trouble... I realized then that we had to talk, and get her 'out in the open'... so, I'm glad he felt comfortable enough to bring it up, and I guess I'm glad he realizes that most babies aren't born dead, or die, and that babies can be born healthy. He wanted to name the baby potato Thomas, which was our boys name, and when later, a girl was born, I asked him if her name should be Isla, and he said "no, we already have an Isla". I agreed, and we moved on. I'm glad he recognizes too, that we "have" an Isla. Even just in spirit, he recognizes her as a part of our family, and that makes me happy. She is, and always will be his baby sister, and he will know all that we can share with him about her as he grows up. Evan would have been an amazing big brother to Isla. I picture the two of them all the time, in the car, in the bath, at the dinner table etc etc... I think it's part of the grieving process, that I fantasize these scenarios, and they're not always horribly sad. Sometimes, I imagine Evan complaining about Isla taking his toys, chewing on things or whatever, and I hear him in my mind, and I laugh at the thought. It gives me hope that one day, Evan will have a baby brother or sister to complain to us about. Hope is a hard thing to come by these days, but I know it's out there somewhere.
I love you my baby girl, miss you and wish you were here every single second.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I wrote to a friend tonight, and in it I tried to explain how I was feeling. I'm copying it here because it sums it up pretty vividly for me.
My world is kind of a ball of confusion right now, with very little feeling certain or guaranteed. Basically, I'm killing time. I wake up dreading a whole day to fill with meaningless crap until bedtime. I remember getting excited as a child on Christmas Eve, when it started to get dark, because it meant Santa was coming soon. I hate that now I feel excited (for lack of a better word) for dusk because it means I've licked another day.
I'm so terrified somthing is going to happen to Evan now. Now that I know how cruel life can be, and I only have one child, I am certain something awful is coming for him. I don't know if it'll be in the form of an accident, or an incurable disease, but somehow, I can't shake the feeling that I'm not meant to have him for his whole life. I feel awful, like some whackjob bereaved mother writing that, but it's true. I feel like I can't hold on to him tightly enough, can't rub his cheek enough, hug him enough, kiss him enough, tell him enough times how much I love him. I feel scared I'm going to lose him, and it sickens me, and sends waves of panic through me often.
I really wish I could be anyone but me right now. :(
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Ah baby girl I am missing you tonight. What a hard day, all the baby girls at Old Navy... about as old as you would have been. The adorable little clothes you should be wearing... Some days it seems to be bearable, and I can take in a full breath, fully fill my body with air, And others, there is such a weight on my chest, I feel suffocated by it. I cannot fill my lungs, the emptiness inside me is unfathomable. I am starting to feel angry about what happened to you. Angry at Barb, angry at the doctors, angry at myself, my family and just anyone around, really. I feel so cheated out of being your mom. You were so cheated out of living a full life... becoming this amazing person I know you would have. I've just had another birthday, my 34th. I have lived 34 years, you lived half a day. It is so unfair. So unbelievably unfair. I feel sick when I think about how it should have been me that died, not you. I would put myself in your shoes in a heartbeat. God how I miss you. Everything feels so unnatural without you here... How can a mother go through life living a life of 'should haves' instead of doing them? How can I get up and go on with my life every day when my beautiful daughter has died after 12 hours of life? I can hardly imagine how the rest of my life will play out. I miss you so much my baby girl, god I hope you are out there somewhere and that someday I will have the chance to hold you again. Know how loved you are sweetheart. The other day your big brother Evan told me "Mom, I think you're special" and I smiled and said I thought he was pretty special himself. Then I asked him what he thought 'special' meant. He said "special means the best!" And certainly, he is pretty special himself. You, my darling angel are special too. You are my best girl, and no matter what always will be.