Wednesday, September 29, 2010

There is No Road Map for Grief

It’s been four months since our baby boys grew their angel wings.  The people that surround me wonder silently why I’m still sad. Some even ask the question aloud. Four months, isn’t that long enough? Yes, little by little I am healing, both emotionally and physically, but there is no road map for grief. No start and finish. No timetable to direct my feelings. I have dug myself out from under the rock. My loving mother nursed me during my time of darkness when not just my heart but my whole body ached in sorrow.  When the only place I wanted to be was in my bed, nestled safely under the covers away from the pain of the real world.

I am better than I was yesterday, last week, and last month. My husband and I have found ways to reconnect. Maui’s sunsets and relaxing beaches. Breck, our new puppy. A fall camping trip along the Arkansas River. I've returned to work, and I am beginning to rediscover my passion for teaching, and my love for awkward middle school students learning to navigate their social worlds.

Nevertheless, there are still times when the world around me seems like it’s spinning too fast. Overwhelming moments of sadness catch me off guard. I often have to step away. I appear quiet and withdrawn, or the opposite, excited and overbearing,  a coping mechanism to stay afloat.  I must hurt before I heal, and the reactions I am having are normal. I am working very hard in my recovery, but grief does not go away, it simply dulls over time.

It's like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The first step in is teeth-chattering cold. As you wade in your body begins to numb, and eventually you forget you were ever cold in the first place. Unless you step out a moment, and are shocked by the instant freeze you feel flash through your body upon re-entry.

I don't blame you for asking why I am still sad after four months. I wish very much that you could understand my loss and grief, my silence, my pain, but unless you have been through this you can’t. And I pray that you never will understand.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It is here that I must begin to tell my story.

I tell my students to just write what comes to mind. Keep your pencils moving. Simply put your thoughts on paper. Yet I can't do it myself. I've spent many hours tossing around ideas, pondering where to begin my story. I've constructed several strong leads, only to discover they weren't as powerful as I first believed. I am a tortured writer. Nothing seems to flow easily. My thoughts race faster than I can type or write. I agonize over every word I use/employ/utilize, revising as I write. But I have to start somewhere, and so here I am, fiercely holding onto Eleanor Roosevelt's words, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

This May, a good friend gave birth to a healthy baby boy in New York City. Over a year ago we met to have lunch before my husband and I made our move to Denver. I vividly remember that day. Sitting outside, soaking in the early summer rays, and talking about pregnancy. She revealed to me that she had had not one, but six miscarriages in her quest to bring a child into her family. I wondered out loud how how she had the strength to keep moving forward. It was simple, she said. I have to keep going. My desire to have a child is greater than the pain I endure. I couldn't understand this positive outlook, this optimistic view. Until now. Until this reproductive life became my reality.

A missed miscarriage. A late pregnancy loss. Another early miscarriage. All in a little over a year's time. I thought it would end after the first miscarriage. I allowed myself time to heal and renew hope within me. But it didn't. I thought I had endured the worst of the pain upon losing our identical twin boys this May, and forged ahead. But it didn't. It's been a week since the last miscarriage, and while it was an early one, it has been heartbreaking nonetheless. And so, it is here that I must begin to tell my story.