What does grief feel like when you are this many years out from the day you said both "hello" and "goodbye" to your precious one? When the world has forgotten, but your heart still remembers? The number one thing people tell me about this blog is that it allows them to see what grief looks like through various stages. So, when Facebook reminded me that it was on THIS day, eight years ago, that we announced we were pregnant with our second child, I made myself sit down and write about my precious Gabriel.
Here’s a riddle. What do playdates and doctor visits have in common? They both want your childbearing history. I can’t tell a doctor I only have four kids, because they need to know that I birthed five. If you’re not a momma, this may not make sense to you - But let me assure you, after talking with a variety of doctors this past year about my dislocated tailbone, they ALL asked for my complete prenatal history. So for anyone who thinks his memory should have been buried along with his tiny body, the medical community would disagree. The details surrounding Gabriel - conception, pregnancy, and birth - are ingrained in both my medical files and my heart.
In the same way, it’s too difficult to tell a new friend I only have four kids when they innocently ask about my family. After all, if they're going to be any friend of mine, they will most certainly hear about each of my precious little ones. Bonus Tip: I have found that to complete strangers, it is easy and efficient to simply say, “I have four little ones at home.” As I’ve said before, this phrase allows me to tell the truth, without revealing my sorrow, which inevitably activates their Sad Eyes. It’s the best thing I’ve come up with after all these years. So, you’re welcome.
This period feels like an emotional Tug of War. Some days, my mind wins. When the craziness of life buries the energy my sadness requires. When I'm lost in the mundane schedule of being a stay at home Momma. But some days my heart fills with such heavy sorrow that my mind never stood a chance. Just this week has been full of tugs. Monday I attended my Bible Study, spent the day feeling encouraged. On Thursday, everyone was celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss and sharing his most precious quote, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Heart TUG. Friday was crazy busy with doctor appointments, driving all over Washington County. Then today, Saturday, I log onto Facebook to see I missed the Angelversary of dear friends who are mourning the third year without their son. Push, pull. Push, pull.
It is exhausting, draining, difficult. But this is the "normal" that Infant Loss Parents know. We’re all just walking around trying to figure out how to “move on” without “getting over” and still keep their memory alive. How to muster up the strength to put on that fake smile until the real one emerges with genuine joy.
Michaela Evanow is a sweet Momma I follow on Instagram, who started the hashtag #MamaGrief. She’s simply amazing; you can read her story on her beautiful blog HERE. Everything she writes makes me hold my breath as I soak in her raw, healing words. So I’ll end this entry with her thoughtful remarks...
“And so it begins. March. Another birthday month, another year without my Florence. She was born on March 7th and the first week of March always hits me HARD. Harder than May, her heavenly anniversary. Birthdays are much, much heavier for me. I can't believe she would be turning 5 this month. I see other 5 year olds and my head spins. I know she is three and I'm not sure how heaven works, but I hope she is three when I meet her again. I don't want to miss a thing.
I know I don't have a 5 year old, but my body remembers. And my body tells me, right down to the tingling in my fingers and the awe in my eyes as I watch other 5 year olds that were born around the same time as her. Hello... I feel my bones whisper, hello little big one. What a miracle it is that you are here. What a miracle it is that I gave birth to one like you, and then birthed her back to heaven and yet I am still standing.
Death demands miracles on a daily basis from the parents that are left behind. Stand up. Breathe. Eat. Work. Laugh. Somehow, life pulls this from us, and we begin to thrive again until we walk right into our walls of grief. We face them, Davids against our Goliaths; sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But our children will always give us a sense of victory, no matter how the battle is waged. For that, I am grateful.”