Two anniversaries down, one to go. And, yes, I'm still thinking about "that."
My grief and sense of loss has extended past the parameter of the accepted societal norm. Apparently, the shelf-life for sadness over miscarried babies is about a year. Anything beyond that is somewhat self-indulgent and really ought not to be acknowledged. Or at least this is what I gather from the way most people gloss over any mention I make of my loss and charge right on ahead with Topics of General Interest. (Usually of their own general interest, mind you.) No one told me that this would happen. No matter--if they had, I wouldn't have believed them.
I am blessed to have one friend (that would be you, Sarah) who still remembers that amazingly blessed Christmas of 2005 and that cripplingly awful January of 2006. Of course, ours is a bond that was forged in the fires of her own loss just weeks before. I guess those kinds of ties just knot tighter, somehow. Sarah is the one who is not afraid to close an email with a mention of the names we have given our missing children. She remembers ... where so many others can not or will not.
There are others in my life who watch helplessly as I bottom out on these anniversaries. Some seem to not connect A with B; they don't seem to realize that though I carry the weight of two years of mourning with a relative sense of peace through most days, there are other times when the burden makes any joy seem like a dim, elusive prospect that can never be as bright as it should have been to me. There are empty places at the table! I want to shout at them. But I realize that this would only come across as selfish. After all, my loss is not theirs. Their lives have gone on, just as mine has.
My husband--who has distanced himself from the pain in that typical manly fashion that allows for some long, retrospective glances without too much emotional involvement--sees me hurting and wants to help. He is gentle and careful of my heart during this time, especially, and I thank him for that. Even though he is not still grieving with me, he is more than willing to acknowledge--with words even!--that our family will not be complete this side of heaven.
Honestly, it's the lack of words that makes this remembering hardest. Two years later, there are so few people who can actually bring themselves to say, "I am so sorry that your baby died." I suppose it is too uncomfortable. They are probably just thinking that it would hurt me or, worse yet, send me off the deep end they fear I am already teetering on. Their hesitancy tells me that it would be completely inappropriate for me to ponder aloud what our Christmas card photo would have looked like this year, let alone give voice to how hard it is to see any and all children in the range of 18 mos. right now.
I walk through these anniversaries with awe at the depth of loss one person can feel when there are so many other brilliantly bright spots in their life. Am I depressed? I can honestly answer no to that question. I have been depressed and this most certainly is not what it feels like. There is no black hole threatening to swallow me, no darkness that light cannot pierce. I feel the Lord alongside me as I journey through the shadow of this remembering, and I reach out for His comfort when the sadness threatens to steal my peace. And there is peace here. It's a peace of knowing that some day, I will gather my entire family in heaven and see all my children dancing together. What I feel in the here and now is the loss of a dream that slipped from my fingertips, of a future not planned, and of a mother's heart bruised and battered, but not fully broken.
I guess that December and January will always give me pause. I will never again see December 12 on a calendar and not think of the positive pregnancy test in my upstairs bathroom, or the impromptu trip to the sporting goods store to buy the arrow I wrapped to signify my husband's growing quiver. I will never sit amongst the discarded wrapping paper on Christmas morning and not recall the pregnancy countdown calendar that I so carefully created for my children to both announce our news and to help them understand exactly when our family would expand, or the tears of joy Jo shed. And I will never celebrate Epiphany without remembering how far my emotional pain overshadowed my intense physical pain, or how startled I was to be saying goodbye so soon.
Perhaps I should be thankful that I have these precious few memories just to myself, and that I can feel their joy mingled with sadness on my own terms. Perhaps if someone else tried to comfort me, I would find myself saying, "It's o.k." or, worse, assuring them that they are o.k. There are worse things, in my opinion, than being forgotten--such as being fake.
So excuse me if I use this blog to muse over the raw spots that are too unseemly for the public at large. And pardon me if I revisit old hurts from time to time. While the official expiration date for my grief has passed, the feeling of loss itself has not. And I have to have a safe place to show all my bruised spots and tears.