Distilled Sorrow

Distilled Sorrow

This is long,sad and morbid — perhaps too much, please just skip over if my situation is wearing on you or if you think I need to get over it and get on with it.

It may not seem like a lot, things you do every day, have to do every day.
But it is a lot.
I’m going to take a shower, try to get dressed and leave our room today.
It’s funny how scared that makes me.

This last week I couldn’t. The inside of my head was so loud, so full of grief, anger and pain I couldn’t move. And my body has been sick and hurting too.I’m tired and weak from the whole process, nightmares physical and emotional.

I managed to get the Bean dressed and brushed most days. Told James what she needed to get to school.. Helped her a little in her playroom. Snuggled her, tucked her in. Fold laundry brought to me. But I could only do this in small pushes. Everything is so difficult. It took me two days to work up to a shower. I haven’t managed to fix my hair at all, even wash it.

Those of you who know me in real life, know how bizarre this is for me. I border on being a neat freak and I’m meticulous about my grooming. Small things, but everyday things.

We’ve been lucky this week. J has a good boss finally, with three kids of his own. J also has so much time off built up he could take a day a week and not run out for over a year. He took the last two days off because of the snow canceling nearly everything in Fayetteville(which I still find a little humor in, considering that in Chicago this wouldn’t even qualify as snow)and could look after the Bean. He’s had to be Mom and Dad this week. I know how hard that is, having done that while he’s traveling. And he had to take care of me. I didn’t care enough to drink water when I got thirsty, but he cared enough to remind me and put the glass in my hand.

When Emily goes to sleep I have to check her, make sure she’s breathing. And James has to check her too. I’m so terrified something will happen to her. I’ve been glad for the snow days the last two days because I know where she is and what she’s doing every second. I’m not like that normally–we’ve worked hard to help her be a fierce, independent little person.

The Bean knows a few things–that the Baby decided it wasn’t ready to leave Biscuitville yet (it’s ok mommy, I heard her laughing last night in biscuitville, she says everything is happy). That I’m sad and that I’ve been sick this week. I’ve tried really hard to focus every time she’s come in the room. I’ve tried to snuggle (that isn’t so hard, yet at times when I think of how it’s more than likely I’ll never have all the wonderful moments with another chlild that I’ve had with Em, it takes all of my resolve not to fall apart) and talk to her and make up stories. I’ve told her how happy and grateful I am that she wanted to be a real girl and live with us. And she pats my face and says “oh yes mommy, real girls get to snuggle the most.”
When alone, I have such flashes of rage and sorrow I think how much I want to hurt myself, to tear my hair from my head and pull the flesh from my arms. Wild emotion has always been so hard for me, part of the reason that grief pushes me towards being so screwy. Wild emotion is danger. But what do you do when you have to feel it, when there isn’t a choice? I see blinding fractals of horrible grief, disfiguring pain when I close my eyes and try not to get lost.

I wake up at night crying. I go to sleep crying. The sky is too bright and everything is so loud.

I keep thinking that now I’m old, now the rest of my dreams have to stop and I suppose I should find new ones. I’ve been told several times “oh but now with just one, and she’s getting older, you can travel more easily, do more things.” Except I did that already. I had that extended youth. I dreamed, not of adventure finally (though I had so much of that) but of having the family, the safe and loving home. Being the one who encircled our small tribe with love, silliness and tranquility. Some people want to visit Tibet (a worthy goal) I wanted to be a feminist mom at home –being the always there, always loving, always safe arms 2 kids needed. Not glamorous and certainly not important for some, but it is what my heart wanted.

But there aren’t two kids. And those dreams I started having at 24, but put away again until 34? They look unlikely. Very much.

I know the statistics for miscarriage in general and in specific for my age. That they are actually much higher across the board than previously thought. I marvel that children are born at all and have tortured myself these last two days with all the things that go wrong , early, middle and late in pregnancies. I’ve read stories of SIDS and birth defects that take lives only a week old. It’s morbid and frightening and I’m not sure why I’ve done it. To scare myself away from trying this again? So I won’t have to feel this loss again and so J and the Bean won’t have to either, or to watch me hurt. To find how others deal with grief, how they survive things even worse than this. I keep searching for clues in the devastated and stonelike faces of Victorian women preserved forever in their daguerrotyped memories of sorrow. I feel a twisting sadness as I think of how their names are lost, but their grief still exists, a sepia jewel.

There is a reservoir of duty in me, that I cannot give up entirely, however much I want to. I have James, Emily and the kitties to consider (Bartleby and Teatime have not left my side and have paced me each time I’ve gotten up, never leaving me for more than a quick bit of food or other catly duties. Small furry protectors of my soul). I couldn’t have a more wonderful husband, so patient and loving, knowing my foibles and still being gentle with me.And the Bean, our greatest joy and such a good small person. She gives me her linus (our name for her security blanket) every morning to help me get better. And she runs up to find me after school to give me extra hugs, because I “need them to get better soon and play with her more.” For all of them I have to find what to do now. For myself I don’t want to try,except for missing them.

I feel like there is more behind me than ahead of me. I had a plan and more than likely that’s not how life will look. I feel hopeless to accomplish much else than that plan. I have thought about going to school again, but when I think about trying to achieve again I despair. I think I’m not that person anymore, that overachieving and eager student. And even with encouragement (and some good opportunities here) I wonder if the writing, except for this narcissistic blogging, is done for too. . I can’t face the animal shelter and those kitties that are put to sleep from week to week and there are no other shelters here. All my cliched eggs were in the basket of making and caring for this four person, four cat family that will now likely just be three people.

I’m very lucky to have you here reading this and the friends here who have called and come over, sent flowers and cards. I guess I know there is a web of love around me, though I feel unworthy of care. I’m very lucky we moved here, I think I’d feel more lost elsewhere. Can you feel more lost in blind darkness? I think that’s possible. When I felt like this in 1991 I didn’t even have a loving husband,much less a perfect Bean, only the cats and school and a few very new friends. I’m in a better place, though without something like school to keep me anchored. Or even the hope of something like it. I believe I’m unsuited for much now. Once I did some very cool, very ambitious things. Now? At least, up until recently ….well that direction, my ambitions to create a certain family, those ambitions are amputations now.

I have to find a way, a new path or the strength to try making a baby just one more time. There’s a mountain and I think I left my climbing equipment in that apartment I lived in in 1993.

But here’s a small hill, in the form of a shower and clothes that aren’t pajamas. And another, walking down the stairs. That’s today.
My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
Emily Dickenson