Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time Marches On

I have always been a little dismissive of people who like to wallow in the bad, who love to bring up the terrible things that have happened 5..10..15..20 years ago no matter what else has happened in between.

I still don't believe that is the best way to live my life, but I guess I have a little more sympathy for those who live in the past, because time flies whether you are having fun or not.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who just lost a grandparent.  One thing she said she was most surprised by was how quickly life moved on as normal.  I know exactly what she means.  My birthday this year was a week after Rip died, and to avoid seeing anyone we knew my mom, sister and I went to a Burger King to grab lunch.  It felt so unreal, how could I possibly go through the most horrific thing I could think of just seven days ago, and today sit here and eat a cheeseburger?

It's the best and the worst part about grief...life goes on.  Your insides very rarely match your outside. You don't really get a definite point where life stops and then you move on, you carry it with you.

So I understand why the need is there to bring up the past, I hope I am talking about Rip's life 5..10..15..20 years from now...but that he is remembered as what he was, pure joy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

You've Got to Cry a Little...

Crying is a necessary evil, whether you are grieving or not.

There are plenty of reasons why I don't like it- I'm not a pretty crier, my eyes inevitably end up looking like little brown M&M's when I'm finished, I usually end up exhausted or with a headache (if not both), and it makes my mascara run.

That said, I've learned over the past year that it is so much better to cry than not.  It really does release something inside that needs to get out.  Each tear I've shed has been with a purpose. The times I've tried to hold back lead to a huge cry fest somewhere in the near future, but the times I give in I find myself strangely peaceful afterwards.

In high school, my friends and I used to call a crying session a "mental breakdown"...but honestly I think releasing tears builds you up more than it breaks you down.  Crying is just another step helping you to look life in the (albeit puffy) eye.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There is a time for everything...

Lately, the issue of timing has come up a lot in my life.  I have about 3 or 4 major life-changing events I am trying to get started (I subscribe to the "go big or go home" way of life) and as I mentioned, patience has not really been my strong suit lately.  I've also mentioned general distaste for time as the answer for all things.

After Rip died, one of my first thoughts was that I could not go home and see the nursery.  My family spent the month I was in the hospital getting it all ready for us to come home, and I didn't know if I face something else that was supposed to be happy and would now be just another sign of our loss.

I eventually decided to leave the nursery as it was, and I have been so glad that I did.  For the first month all I could do was go there to cry.  Eventually I started sitting there, in my great-grandmother's old rocking chair, and talking to Rip.  Over the past six months I've been visiting the nursery more frequently, recently I even took time to look at the baby clothes I'd never seen, and it felt like some loose end was finally being tied.  As the months go on, my eyes are opened to what I can handle in that room, it's been a huge part of the healing process for me.

So, I think there may be a lesson I can learn about time and timing from that nursery.  I still don't believe that time heals all wounds,some are just not meant to be healed...but maybe if I can learn to trust that time, and timing, will open my eyes to what I need when I need it-and not a minute before, patience (or at least less impatience) will follow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Social Butterfly to Roly Poly (and back again?)

My whole life I have kind of been groomed to be a social butterfly...cotillion, debutante, sorority...you name it, I've done it.  I've always been on the quiet side, but before we lost Rip, I rarely found myself in a situation that I could not talk my way through.

It's different now.

As time goes on and I find myself at more and more social events, I feel more like a roly poly than a butterfly.

Sometimes it's because I see someone I saw when I was pregnant, don't know if they have heard about Rip, and feel like I have to hide to save us both from an uncomfortable (and sometimes upsetting) conversation.

Other times it's meeting someone for the first time and steeling myself for the "do you have kids" conversation...even if it never comes I spend the whole time wracking my brain deciding what I will say if it does.

And even when it is the people I know best, I can be in the middle of a conversation and be hit by a memory I'm not prepared to deal with.

I feel like I am curling up in a little ball each time, using some invisible protective shell to keep out anything that may inflict pain.

I guess the best way of putting it is that I feel vulnerable.

I can't use the whole metamorphosis metaphor here, I don't know many roly polys who turn into butterflies...but I guess I'm hoping to be the exception.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patience: A Virtue I No Longer Possess

There is an old favorite family story that I have been told many times over the years.  Evidently, when I was approximately two-years-old, my parents went out and left me with a babysitter.  For some reason the babysitter sat me in a rocking chair and told me to stay while she went and did something for my baby brother...and promptly forgot about me (we can only hope this was the last time this particular sitter was used).  Anyway, about an hour and a half later, she realized her mistake...she found me still in that rocking chair, just happily sitting right where she left me.

I don't know what happened between now and then, but patience is a virtue that I no longer possess.
Over the past six months I find myself increasingly impatient with people, places, and things.  Nothing seems to happen fast enough for me,  I want things to be constantly moving forward and pity the person that should stand in my way.

There are probably all sorts of psychological reasons for this, but I'm sure I don't know what they are...I also know all of the sayings about slowing down, taking it day by day, but if you've found a way to do that successfully please fill me in.

I don't have an answer or solution for my impatience, its just how I feel right now...and really, there are worse things.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chapter Two

When I was in the hospital on bedrest, someone gave me a little journal with bible verses on each page.  While I was there, I used it to record what I ate (grilled cheese ice cream, grilled cheese, chocolate pudding), and who visited me each day.  It was the way I planned to remember my hospital stay...food and good friends.

After Rip died, I had this little book and no idea what to do with it, it felt wrong to abandon it, just leave it unfinished after all of the memories I'd poured into the pages of those five weeks.

So I started using it as a prayer journal, every single day since the week Rip died, I've written my prayers in this little book.  This Saturday I came to the last page.  It was bittersweet...I have poured the very worst times of my life into that book...and yet there is a lot of happiness in there too.  To me, it represents a beginning, an ending, and then beginning all over again.  I look back through it and see that through everything, there was always hope, that I was never left alone, by God, by my family, or by my friends.

So...on to Chapter Two...and whatever (or, hopefully, whomever) it may bring!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Step One

One of the things that has been hanging over my head for the past six months is all of my unwritten thank-you notes.
I bought stationary months ago.
I bought stamps months ago.
I started looking up addresses months ago.
And yet...I just couldn't write them
I think there may be two reasons for my procrastination.
First, and probably most of all, before now, writing all of the notes and having to confirm to myself all of those times that Rip was really gone was just too hard.  I think maybe I needed to reach a certain place in this healing process to be strong enough to face this task.
But also, I think maybe it is hardest to write a thank-you when you mean it so much.  I am truly so thankful to all of those people who have been there for us that I almost don't know what to say.
So many of these people have also said not to write a note, that they were not expecting that...and I know that they mean it...but I think this is something I need to do, another step in the right direction.
My hope is that writing about it here will be the final nudge I need to take that step.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Day I Remember

Today it has been six months since Rip was born.  In some ways it feels like forever, but six months seems like nothing when I think about it.  It is so hard for me to believe he was here only six months ago.

For some reason, I only think of Rip in terms of his birthday, that date- 11-11-10 - is forever etched in my mind...the day he left this earth was the 18th of November, and even though I know date, I rarely think about it.

I guess it just makes me feel better to concentrate on his life, rather than his death.

Whether it is six months or sixty years, I will always love him just as much as I did that first day.

Love you so so so very much, Baby Boy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Way It Goes

Some of Mother's Day was hard...I cried a few times, I missed Rip the whole time, I wished things could be different, like I do most of the time.

Some of Mother's Day was nice...I received text messages, phone calls, Mother's Day cards, and sweet gifts.  I ate good food, I spent time with my family.

It was another "first" that we survived.

In short, it was a day full of good and bad, just like most days.  And there some comfort in knowing that is the way life goes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Speed Bump Ahead

I was sitting here, trying to think of something positive and hopeful to say about Mother's Day...but to be honest, this is not a day I am looking forward to.

It's not that I don't consider myself a mother...I do.  And it's definitely not that I don't think we should have a day to celebrate mothers...I've had two great-grandmothers, two grandmothers, a mother-in-law, and most especially my own mother who were and are the greatest women in the world and make me want to throw a parade just to show off how fabulous they are.

But Mother's Day is one of those visible speed bumps in the road of grief for me...I see it coming, I know it's going to jostle me around for a bit, and I'll be glad when I make it to the other side.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seeing is not always believing

I love babies, always have, always will.  I also, for the most part, love seeing the babies grow that were born around the same time as Rip.  It makes me so happy to see them getting bigger and staying healthy, I say special prayers for all of them.

Sometimes seeing pictures of babies, especially those born around the time Rip was born, is really hard.  It hits home that I don't know what Rip would have looked like at 2, 4, 6 months old.  We have a handful of pictures from his short life, and those are the only images I will ever be able to close my eyes and see.

But I try to remind myself that I knew, and know, that little boy right down to his very core.  I knew him (and knew it WAS a him) from the first moment of his existence.  I knew he was a night owl like his daddy and loved chocolate pudding as much as his mama.  I knew that my voice and my touch calmed him like nothing else in this world, both inside my belly and out.  I knew that he was just a stubborn as his daddy when it came to doing something that did not suit (both inside my belly and out...the nurses very nicely described him as "feisty").

So I know that when the day comes that I get to hold him again, even if I don't know what he looks like, I will know him...just as I always have...right down to his little core. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy

For the first 29 years of my life, I took happiness for granted.  In fact, when nothing was going wrong, I thought up things to worry about.
Then we lost Rip.  It was worse than the worst of my worries.  Something had happened to me that was almost literally unimaginable.
But there is a certain "safeness" in the worst happening.  In those first few months, I was allowed just to float through life in my misery, in the knowledge that this is as bad as it gets.  Nothing could touch me, because nothing would ever hurt as bad as losing my child.
And that is still true, I can't imagine anything happening that would ever hurt as badly as Rip's death did, and does.
But as time passes, you start to feel again.  You start to notice that things are happening around you...and some of those things are good.
And that has been one of the scariest parts for me...I think it will be a very long time before I can trust that something good happening doesn't mean something bad is just around the corner.  To be able to trust that something beyond my wildest worries is waiting for me just up ahead.
I would never want to live in a world where misery was my only company...but it's going to take a while for me to call a truce with happiness.