I have reminders of your life that was cut short everywhere.  In your room is a packed diaper bag.  We must have been planning a trip to grandma's or grandpa's because your tiny little bathing suit is in the bag.  I see a blanket in there covered with elephants and a small toy peeking out.  I can't bring myself to unpack it.

In our room is your jumperoo.  You loved it.  Your face would light up as the music would play and you would jump up and down over and over.  It stands on a brightly colored puzzle playmat that I just put together for you the week before you stopped breathing.

When I open the drawer in the kitchen for utensils, I see your blue and yellow spoons staring at me.  Your blue teething ring is in the freezer.  Your bottles are stored where our tea is.

Your washcloths sit neatly folded in the bathroom drawer, your infant medications - gripe water, Zantac, and your infant tylenol are all lined up in the medicine if the nosefrida to clear your stuffed nose.  The bathtub looks empty without your big blue whale tub in it (we finally put it in storage).

Every reminder cuts through me like a knife.  I am suffering and in so much pain without you.  This new life of mine is agony.  I love you with my whole being Max.  Every minute of my life hurts without you.  You made me so happy.  I wouldn't trade a second of it.  I just don't know how I am doing this.

A reader posted a comment on my blog that I want to respond to because it is so important.  She asked how she should respond to her friend who is grieving. It scared her to ask me.  Assuming you care about the person and actually want to maintain this relationship, it is important.  I feel like throughout the last six months I have written pieces here and there of what I want but most people have ignored my guidance, which is why I have simply given up.  But, I would simply say this: everyone is different BUT keep checking in with her.  Many mourners go into hiding after the funeral and then the people who care about them disappear and never reemerge.  It makes sense, you feel pushed away.  She may be in hiding.  She may not want to talk to you, she may not pick up your calls or write you back, but it will mean a lot to her in the long run to know that you still care and haven't forgotten her.  Even if you annoy her in the short term, she will remember that you stuck by her.  So, keep sending texts, emails and leaving voice messages.  Just say, "I think about you and (whoever she lost) every single day and I will always be here for you as soon as you are ready".  Instead of saying, "if there is anything you need, please let me know" is fine and the sentiment is very nice but most likely, she isn't going to call you and give you her grocery list.  But, you can offer to do concrete things (if you actually want to) - offer to pick up or drop off dry cleaning, many friends have offered to go to Target for me since they were going themselves, offer to make a grocery run, offer to bring over lunch or dinner, offer to walk the dogs or babysit the baby.  I have some friends that have offered to be helpful in non-errand ways as well... to teach me to sew or knit, to teach me how to use my fertility monitor, to teach me a new card game, to quilt something in memory of Max, to help us organize our event in his memory, to participate in anything that your friend might be organizing in memory of their loved one.  (I forgot to mention my cousin Laurie the other day, who is always offering to help us with Team Maxie stuff).  If you offer to do something for her and she accepts, don't forget or flake out (if at all possible).  Things happen -people get sick, cars break down, people have to work late etc...We know that, but it feels embarrassing and like we have been forgotten when you just flake or forget.  We already feel isolated and forgotten so this doesn't help (and for the love of god, if you DO forget your friend, don't post photos of the awesome thing you were doing instead on your Facebook page - ouch).  If you DO see her or talk to her, don't try to cheer her up.  She may not be up for it.  Your job is not to take her out on the town or get her to laugh or make her feel or do anything she isn't up for.  Ask her what she is comfortable doing - if she wants you to come over, find a time to do that. She may not want to leave her home, it may not feel safe.  If she wants to go out, ask her what she is up for.  I don't know who she lost but the world can be scary - I know I get very sad when I go out and see lots of babies so I try to go places that I am less likely to see them.   Don't be afraid to talk about the person she lost.  We are scared you will forget the person we loved so much.  It can be as easy as saying, "the world is not the same without so and so" or "It must be so hard without so and so" or "I am so sorry you are having to do this with out him/her".  If you didn't know the person or only met them a few times, you could say, "I'm so glad I got to meet him that one day", "I wish I had been able to have spent more time with him", "I am so sorry I never got to meet him.  It sounds like he was a wonderful baby/person".  If you really knew that person - you were an uncle or a neighbor or grandparent - tell her how much you love and miss that person too (assuming you do).  The worst experiences I have had have been with people who treated me like everything was exactly the same as it was before Max was even born.  They greeted me happily, gossiped at me, never once mentioned our loss, kept going business as usual.  Terrible.  At least ask, "How are you holding up?"  and then LISTEN.  Do not immediately start talking about your problems.  It feels like you are trying to prove that everyone has their issues.  Losing someone to death (or being sick of a serious disease oneself) is much more dramatic than any drama you are having at work, with your girlfriend, with your parents, even financially.  (A friend of mine who had cancer told me how painful it was when a girlfriend came over to visit and went on and on about her boy drama.  This friend would have given anything to get out of bed, stop all of her cancer treatments, and just have a little boy drama).  It is important to you to feel like a relationship goes both ways, we understand, but be patient, we'll get there.  Try to be there for the griever and not for you for a while.  It will feel unequal for a while (and I am sure I sound selfish even saying it) but your friend will eventually come around and be able to focus on you again.  In fact, your friend will probably really want to focus on you down the road because you were the one who stood by her in her darkest hours.  Relationships ebb and flow and sometimes you put in more than you get out of them for a while.  If the relationship/person means a lot to you, invest in them for a while with no expectations.  Don't try to convince them of the "upside" - whether that is "he/she is with god now", "you will have more children/ you will find another husband and get married again someday", "he is in a better place", "everything happens for a reason".  There is no upside for those of us who have lost someone we love.  You just need to accept that.  Be gentle, be kind, throw your expectations out the door.  I hope this helps.

1 comment

Jennyro22 said...

The Abby I've known so far seems like a wonderful friend! Thoughts with you and Max tonight.