Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In The Company Of Waves

In a parallel universe, in approximately 24 hours, I would be giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Emily.  She would have dark brown eyes, have my complexion and would surprisingly be even balder than when her older brother was born.  She’d show us how strong her lungs are as she cries out and announces she has arrived but I would also notice how calm she is as she first latches on to me to feed.  This time, I know better than to fuss and worry too much.  I know she is well and I will enjoy this moment of being able to hold my lovely daughter in my arms for the very first time and simmer in the sense of wonder and peace.  Everything is well and soon, her loving brother will see and kiss her head, ask his questions and be in awe.  Daddy’s heart is flooded with love and gratitude that once again, we had been blessed. 

Unfortunately, the roads forked and this consciousness is located in this universe, this one where I do not have her, this one where seven months ago they told me her heart stopped beating, she stopped growing and later found that she had trisomy 22 and had no chance for survival.

I am much better now but I’ve clearly learned something very important about grief.  I now know that it is not a stage, but a pavement that is laid upon the road you trek each day.  It’s not some place you visit, like ‘Griefsville’, and then leave behind, because in truth it never really leaves you.  Yes, it gets better in time and you get better at focusing your energies on what you have and what you can be happy about.  But you know that your pain is still there, and the slightest reminder can tip the scale.                                                 
I still ache for her, specifically her and not just the possibility of having another child.  As a matter of fact, I have declared numerous times that I no longer want to conceive.  I don’t think my body can still take it (all the hormone shots, the pregnancy itself, the stressing over the whole thing and the thought of taking care of another child when my joints are aching).  More importantly, my heart has lost all courage to try again and risk being shattered.  I simply cannot bring myself to hope again.  I have done away with it, have made peace with it. 

However, in all honesty, I don’t believe I’ve fully made peace with my God.  Something happened when I lost Emily and the faith I thought I deeply possessed melted and was swept away by the flood of tears and sorrow that flowed through me.  For the most part, I’ve stopped talking to Him and don’t even know how, or if I should, or if truly there is ‘someone’ to talk to.  Occasionally I whisper some thoughts to bless others, especially my loved ones, but the certainty that what I am doing makes sense or would make a difference had vanished.  The void I feel is palpable, the questions stronger than ever.  My only hope now is that my search for answers grows even stronger, for I believe the presence of any desire to find answers, then fueling a search, is still better than surrendering to the void.  Behind any act of searching lies a hope for finding something…anything.

I’ve always said that 'carrying the past with you' and 'letting it get in the way of the present' are two different things.  By virtue of that distinction, I can honestly say I am moving on and have moved on.  You cannot tell me that I have not, if moving on means letting your life unfold and actively participating in it, engaging in what confronts you.  I’ve moved on in that I’ve done my best to not further fuel the bitterness that sits in the crevices of my heart.  But as with any significant experience, losing Emily has defined me.  Grief tends to do that as it comes and goes, ebbs and flows.  Even rocks are defenseless against strong crashing waves…             

33 comments:

  1. Joy, I'm speechless. Your post resonated so deeply with me, and with issues I have tried to deal with (grief, questioning my faith) and all I can say is...nothing. There are no words.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and helping me to feel less alone in mine.
    ~cath xo

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  2. Wow. I don't know what to say. This is oh so powerful and sad. Grief is such a complex, endless thing that is really always with you once you have it. You ARE a strong woman.

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  3. Joy, I too am speechless. This is a beautiful post and so powerful. I have struggled with similar feelings of loss of faith in grief and crisis. I think you are so beautiful and my thoughts are with you!

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  4. This so heartfelt, Joy. We all miss Emily, even though we've never met her in the physical sense. I am happy that you are able to move on and enjoy what life has to offer. Let's keep on moving on.

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  5. The others have said what I might have so I'll just say thank you for sharing this part of your journey. Your wisdom is deep.

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  6. Joy my heart is with you as you grapple with what it is to grieve the loss of your precious Emily, such a short time ago. You will ache and continue to ache, and your questions will be flung about furiously as your faith is brought under scrutiny time and time again. I dont think any mother who loses a child is unchanged by the experience. As you have said it defines who you are in a way that nothing else will. Your writing so poignantly describes what grief is and the emotional onslaught it leaves after the rollercoaster has tumbled its way through a life. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story. I'd love to share it on my blog as a guest post if you are willing.
    Hugs xx

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  7. I'm so sorry to hear all that you've gone through. Grief is a tough one but I so appreciate your line that its a pavement vs a stage. Excellent point. Thinking of you during this tough time.

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  8. I am so sorry for your loss Joy. A similar thing happened to me 7 years ago and I honestly thought that life was going to stop for me. I was lucky enough to fall pregnant again, but I still think about my baby every day. Here is a poem I wrote at the time:
    To my unborn baby
    Whom I'll never know
    My star my angel
    Where did you go?
    Who decides and why?
    I couldn't even fight
    And make you come back
    I'm left here alone
    With a dark secret
    And my lost love
    Let's hope that one day
    I will be in peace
    Able to accept
    Able to forgive
    And be more human

    All the best Joy

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  9. Significant experience does define you, doesn't it? Somehow makes you stronger but also more vulnerable at the same time. Sorry for you loss. xx Josie

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  10. I'm sorry for your loss. *HUGS*

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  11. I'm so sorry for your loss Joy. I think everyone else has said what I would have said. Thank you for sharing. To Muriel also. Your poem is very moving. Hugs to both of you, Mary x

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  12. Hugs to you, Joy. Some hurts seem so unfair.

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  13. Hugs to you Joy. So sorry for your loss. xoxo

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  14. Sending a HUGE HUG your way. I'm so sorry fo your loss. A friend of mine just loss her baby too and I've been struggling to find words to comfort her. I'm going to send her a link to this post. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

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  15. I really am so sorry for your loss. But no matter how much we say and try to offer comfort words; the pain will be there; Emily will always be missed and we couldn't stop wondering "What If".
    Hugs

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  16. Thank you Sam. And I'm sorry to hear about your friend's loss too. It's never easy to find the words in these situations. You may also want to send this to her....http://www.joypagemanuel.com/2010/12/please-hear-me-with-love.html

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  17. This is a very touching poem, Muriel. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it. I REALLY appreciate it and am so sorry to hear too that you've gone through the same.

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  18. Thank you for your comment and insights Maureen. Yes, I am willing and honored to be part of your site. I know that you reach and help a lot of people in grief and I would love to be able to help somehow, if I could. Thank you again.

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  19. Thank you for your touching comment Kathy. Thank you....

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  20. And thank you for your 'company' too.

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  21. What a beautifully written, amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us. It is SO TRUE. I have always thought that the human heart never - NEVER recovers, it merely goes on, and a river of sadness runs underneath those of us who have experienced loss or deep pain, one that we only need dip down to draw from. But we go on.

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  22. This is one of the most heartfelt and moving posts I've read about grief. I loved the way you expressed grief as "It is not a stage, but a pavement that is laid upon the road you trek each day." True words of wisdom. For me, your post evoked a similar long ago event in my life. Sometimes, I think if she were alive today, she would be this age and a mother herself and so on. I can almost see her and imagine a life that she never got to live - or maybe she did, the same as you, in a parallel universe. I'm sad for your loss but I thank you for sharing your own experience and bringing back her memory.

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  23. What a heartfelt message. I know what you mean when you say that experience has shaken your faith in God.

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  24. Thank you for your words, Penelope. Some healing always comes when I know other strong people like yourself have gone through it, share it and continue to be survivors. Hugs to you....

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  25. Wise words, Sophia. Thank you so much for that insight.

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  26. Hope everything's going well TV. Take care!

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  27. Thanks Thom.

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  28. Hi Joy -

    I hope you have found peace of heart, spirit, and mind since your grieving stage has passed you by. I also hope you find your peace with your God again. :)

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  29. Joy, I don't know how to express how sorry I am for your loss. What has come out of this post is the role that Emily continues to play in your life and I think it can be something beautiful. =) I so, so appreciate your honesty in this post, Joy.

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  30. That is nice of you to wish, Charlie. Thank you, seriously. That is also my hope.

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  31. Thank you Samantha, and I appreciate your support too.

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  32. Stopping by from the Alexa hop! Would love a visit back :)

    Kristen from http://wishfulthinking247.blogspot.com/

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  33. I seem to have lost my comment. Let me try to reconstruct it.

    The more I read your older posts, the more I learn about you. You have shared a great loss, along with your very personal and intimate feelings about that loss.

    You seem wise beyond your years. Perhaps experiencing tragedy and triumph at an early age gives us that wisdom.

    I feel for your loss. May this find you well along the "pavement" of grief, and if you have not reached the end of the pavement, may this find your heart so filled with joy for what you have, that there is little room left for sorrow and regret.

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Let me know your thoughts!