Fourteenth Month

Thursday, October 02, 2003

I think everything still is all about our babies. Everything is still processed in relation to them. The thing is that lately we have been able to associate some joyful things with our girls. And that feels good - and we don't feel like we're obsessing when they are joyful thoughts. But when they're sad or angry or morbid thoughts, we berate ourselves that we are obsessing.

Last night after church I was getting the kids in the car and I dashed inside to tell Steve I had both kids. And just after I said it, I kind of sighed that I had phrased it that way. It sure stinks that that even crosses our minds.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

I really hate this whole thing. I want to stop being sad. I want to stop feeling that physical pain in my chest. I want to stop feeling that sick, awful feeling when I hear about a healthy baby being born. I want to be interested in other things again; the little, stupid things that everyone else is talking and laughing about. I want to be able to laugh at (2 year old) K.s  antics without it being followed by that melancholy feeling. I want to be normal again! I'm tired of this.

This morning at church, our gospel meeting started, so we had a guest preacher starting today going through the week. He was preaching about when Jesus was crucified and Mary was standing there and he said, behold your son. And he said, "I don't know what that was like for her.." and I don't even remember what he said because that pain just crushed my chest. Why does this happen? Before that, I had been kind of weepy: one woman said that her grandson's baby had been born healthy - we had been praying for the baby for a long time because her granddaughter had been having trouble and was on bedrest, etc. I was glad the baby was healthy  but I got that feeling I just hate. I can't describe it - sadness? jealousy? pain? anger? - it's just that awful sick feeling that I hate. I wish I didn't react that way. When will that stop? So I was kind of emotional and Sarah was sitting on my lap and asked why I was sad. I told her I missed Abigail and she said I would be happy because we were going to the Senior Center (for a covered dish after church) and that Abigail would be there. So that just made me cry.

So I was talking with a visitor after church and she saw the kids go running by and asked, so you just have the two? And I hesitated and then replied, "yes, just the two." And then, of course, I was miserable. But I DON'T want to bring her up just so people will say, "oh, I'm sorry," and bring the conversation to a grinding halt. I don't always want to talk about the fact that she died. But I hate denying that she LIVED. But I couldn't figure out a way (in the millisecond I took to think about it) to mention her without having to say she died. Once again, afterwards, when the heart stopped pounding and the mind stopped racing, I realized I could say something about having a third child who's no longer with us or something equally euphemistic. BUT I JUST CAN'T THINK THAT FAST! There's too much of a physical reaction going on to think logically. I suppose I'll keep practicing something to say and someday I'll actually say it. But it probably won't be because I practiced enough but because finally the heart will stop pounding and the mind will slow down (it will happen someday, won't it?).

So, as we headed for the covered dish, I was unhappy and fighting the flashbacks to the times I freaked out at these during the past year. But I did well in that I started telling Steve's mom about it when we got there. And she is helpful; having lost her husband 20 years ago, she remembers the ups and downs and how long it took. So she told me I was expecting something magic to happen after the first year and that's why I had such a hard time the past month. And she said it wasn't good how I had to share Abigail's birthday with so many other things. And that really opened the floodgates; I told her I really WAS mad that it was so unfair that I had to share her birthday with those things and didn't get to take the time to focus on her. It was good to hear yet another person tell me that I am expecting too much. So I pulled it together a little and salvaged the lunch; I didn't have to leave and go cry, (I just stood there and cried while talking to her - I guess that's progress?). But then I did OK.

Sometimes, I feel like I have traveled miles in the past year. And other times, I feel like I haven't gone anywhere. Maybe I should reread my old journals to remember what it was REALLY like and I'll feel better. Or maybe I should just talk to someone much farther back, who still feels guilty about laughing and wonders if they will ever feel good again. When I think of that, I DO feel better.

Monday, October 06, 2003

I think I need a good, hard cry. But I canít seem to do it. I start, then stop before I feel like it did any good. How can I make myself stop and feel the sadness and cry? I feel like I am living my life on speed. Rush around from task to task, thinking about the next one while doing the current one. I donít feel like I have the time to journal, to take a walk, to go to the bathroom, to stop to eat supper. And if anything goes wrong that delays me at all, I totally lose it.

Today I left the house at 5:30am to drive to Cleveland for a meeting with some new customers at 8am. The meeting went ok, then we had lunch with them. I left around 1:30, planning to head back to the plant by 3:00 or so, work a couple more hours, then head to the kids clothing sale at 5:00, then to the gospel meeting at church at 7:00. And on the way home, not even 15 minutes after leaving, the car overheated. I ended up needing towed. Had to decide where to take it and how to get home from 80 miles away. Finally get hold of Steve and decided to try to rent a car. Car not available for an hour. Finally 3 hours later, I got on the road home. I end up going to the clothing sale, skipping the gospel meeting at church, and not stopping to eat or use the bathroom Ė not enough time.

The disruption from my schedule just freaked me out. I lost it in anger and tears. It was an excuse to slow down and just sit in the car and listen to CDís while I waited for the tow trucks and for the rental car. Something I love to do. But today it just made me crazy! Why? Because I didnít think I had time to do it. All I could think about was what I had to do and when I had to do it. And then I make everything into this big crisis. I need to figure out a way to take the pressure off. Quit pressuring myself to get so much done. Just chill out! Why am I totally unable to cope with these things? Is it the grief still? If so, why is it affecting me this way instead of how it used to? Because I am so much deeper into things? Because I think I am doing so much better (or SHOULD be) that I donít stop to deal with it? Is it really not so much sadness now as anger? Anger at the world that on top of losing my daughter some stupid little thing also didnít go right?

I hate being so negative and gloomy and crabby. I am taking everything so seriously now. I canít relax and have fun. I donít enjoy life any more. I have nothing to look forward to. I need to get together with A. Maybe that will be something to look forward to.

At the clothing sale, in the line, I was surrounded by moms with tiny baby girls. And, as usual, I canít take my eyes off them. Oh how I miss Abigail. I never got to hold her in the Snugli like I held Nathan and Sarah. After I left, I sat in the car and cried, and I thought maybe that would get it started. But it didnít. How do I get the crying started? And not just about anything, but about Abigail?

I canít seem to focus on anything for any length of time, much like in the early grief. Only now, instead of going back to the staring and daydreaming, my mind goes to the things I have to DO. I need a break!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

This morning maybe I let the dam burst finally. On my walk I started crying about Abigail, how much I miss her and how I wanted to hold her and see her smile and hear her get excited about daddy and call his name like K. does. And I got crying pretty good. And when I got back, Steve was up and I went over to him and he held me while I cried some more. I told him I want to be strong and inspiring and together, but Iím not. I just miss her. And he said I am, just not all the time. Then I cried just about all the way in to work, then I went in to see C. and cried some more. By the time we went in to the meeting, I could feel my eyes were all puffy and I must have looked terrible.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Yesterday J. said that she knows it feels like forever, but from her perspective, she says, ďItís only been a year. Of course youíre still really hurting, itís still very fresh.Ē Wow, it helped me to hear that. I realized how hard society and we are on ourselves. So I will keep that in mindÖ.itís only been a year.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Today Steve is preaching a meeting at a neighboring congregation and we are spending the afternoon in this really cool cabin - a retreat place that a neighboring congregation owns. There are all these old pre 1900 buildings that they collected and brought in so itís like a little town Ė schoolhouse, barbershop / dentist shop, general store, saloon, homes, etc. We had a great time just walking around looking at all the buildings. The cabin is so relaxing; itís like we are on vacation. Anyway, the theme of the meeting is the family. Last night I asked Steve what he was planning to preach and asked him to be aware how sensitive I am to how he describes our family. I told him how hard these things are Ė going to another congregation, meeting all the people, having a covered dish, etc. and I told him it could be a very difficult day for me. He told me he thought he would probably just introduce himself at the first and tell what we have been through right up front. I told him I thought it would be easier on me if he did that.

So, this morning, he started with a little intro and I just wish I could talk about it so easily as he can. He said we have 3 kids; ďyou saw Nathan and Sarah, and we also have Abigail, who is in heaven. We had her for 5 days last year, and sometimes we are still sad so we might cry sometimes, but weíll stop crying, too.Ē And then he taught class. Then for the sermon, C. (the preacher) introduced him and mentioned Abigail at length Ė how he had led singing at her memorial service and it was the hardest time he had ever had leading singing. Anyway, it really helped that he said that. So as a result, it has been a very good day so far, and I think it should be tonight, too. And now Iím getting to do this, which is wonderful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Wishes

My memory fails me,
I no longer see you in my mind.
But for the pictures
I canít remember your face.
I wish I could.

Your faint, kitten cry
So cute, a part of you
I hear it sometimes in anotherís.
But not often
I wish I did.

Your peaceful slumber,
Tiny breaths, gained with such effort.
I loved watching you sleep,
But no more
I wish it were.

I miss you, everything about you.
I want to see you, to hear you,
To watch you, to love you.
Up close, not from afar.
I wish I could.

All these things I miss
But I have one greater wish,
One unending ache
What I wish for most of all
Is one more touch.

Friday, October 17, 2003

My emotions have been much more up and down lately. I guess, more like they used to be, except for that couple of months in June and July when I was doing really well. I had started to think that those months were going to be my new normal, when really they were a stretch of really good days. Now I am generally more melancholy and down. I go up and down each day Ė angry and irritable with the stress of life, generally sad and melancholy about Abigail, and sometimes joking and lighthearted. I guess itís not nearly as bad as before, since I can slip more easily into the joking and enjoy it. Itís just that the enjoyment is so short-lived Ė I slip back into the melancholy. And I get overwhelmed very easily. I donít want to give up anything or say no to things. The problem is that I havenít been able to keep up with calling and emailing people and it makes me feel guilty and pressured.

And because I am still grieving and hurting more than I thought I would be Ė I think I thought I was going to ďskip aheadĒ when I had those 2 good months in June and July Ė be the exception who gets it together faster. I think I was starting to think that I actually was that inspirational, strong person people think I am. And I have fallen hard with the reality that Iím not. I donít want to admit it to those on the board, to others around me, and not to myself.

Wednesday I finally bit the bullet and put together what I want for videos and slide show for Abigail and for the Mountain of God video and I sent it all to a company in Iowa. I was really nervous about sending the originals by Fed Ex Ė I almost cried when the lady asked if the package had any value to declare and I said, ďno, just donít lose itĒ and she asked ďcan it be replaced?Ē and I said, ďnoĒ. I almost started to cry. I prayed and asked God to get it there safely. And it made it ok. So Iím hoping she can have it finished by the time we go on our trip to Toledo with the A.ís family on November 7. That would really be cool.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I have been so weepy today, especially tonight at church. Before going in and then during, I just couldn't stop crying and had to breathe really deeply to keep from totally sobbing. I've been talking to Steve about maybe not teaching my teen class again for a while. I'm not effective and it's just another thing I think I "should" do so I am but all it's doing is stressing me and it's really not benefiting them. But then I feel like I'm letting them and Steve down if I back out. Just like I feel like I'm letting everyone down by not going to ladies' class last week or the secret sisters dinner this week. Just like I feel like I'm letting everyone down by not emailing them or calling them like I used to. Just like I feel like I'm letting everyone down by not responding to a post where I have something to add. Just like I feel like I'm letting everyone down when I post about what's going on and they find out I'm actually NOT the inspirational, spiritual person they think I am from Abigail's website. Just like I feel like I'm letting everyone down when I tell them I'm doing fine but my eyes are red from crying and I can barely look them in the eye.

What makes me think I am that important that I have to do all these things?

A morbidly "funny" story: I was thumbing through Parents' magazine and there was an article about the different personalities that babies have. And the title caught my eye: "What type of baby do you have?" and the thought that immediately crossed my mind was, "a dead one". Don't think that one's listed, though. It is so bizarre the way I think now.

Friday, October 31, 2003

God has taught me some lessons from my back injury that relate to my grief, as they are really very parallel.

When I was first injured, all I could do was try to find a position that didn't hurt, or at least try to find the one that hurt the least. And I think that's the way it is with grief. At first, the pain is so deep, all the focus is on just getting through it. And occasionally we can find a little relief from it. But there's no way to avoid it. Then after a little while, I was able to start doing the prescribed physical therapy exercises. And THEY REALLY HURT! It was hard to believe that they were helpful since they hurt so much, but I did them. And I was tempted to stop, since I saw no evidence that they were doing any good. I think that equates to the "grief work" that is so often spoken of. All those painful experiences and memories and activities - like talking about or writing about our babies - just HURT and it's tempting to try to avoid them.

But I noticed something with my back. After a while, the exercises didn't hurt quite so much, and I noticed my back getting a little stronger. I was able to do things like sit up long enough to ride in the car, which I hadn't been able to before. Could it be that the exercises were having some effect? And I noticed the same with my grief. After while, I was able to do a few things that I couldn't before. Maybe I could make it through church sometimes without crying. Maybe I could talk about Abigail sometimes without crying.

And eventually the exercises strengthened my back to the point where I could begin to do more normal activities again. There was still a lot of pain, but my life got more and more normal. But sometimes I would overdo it, and the sharp, familiar pain would reappear. I think our grief is the same. We start to incorporate more and more normal things into our lives - social things, work - and for the most part we do ok. But sometimes we "overdo" it and the intense grief reappears.

And so today, over a year later, my back is just about up to full strength. But the effects are still there. There are some things I will never do again. There are ways that I move and sit and stand that are a direct result of the back pain I've had. I still have some pain most days, but not usually enough to prevent me from going about my life. But some days, still, the pain returns, sharply and vividly, and it all comes back to me. Likewise the grief. There are many ways my life has changed because of this experience. And in general, I can go about my life reasonably well. But at times it all comes back again, intensely and vividly, like the back pain.

So I guess my point is that the exercises were painful but they were necessary to heal and strengthen me. And I think that our grief work is the same way: we hate it but it's necessary to help us heal. But just as my back exercises weren't to be done constantly, neither is the grief work. We need some times to get a break, to let our emotions recover a little. But we need to "rehab" them with the grief work.

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