Bravery

An open letter to anyone who I have hurt or has hurt me over the last seven months:

Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Acquaintances,

I am sorry for any hurt I have caused you.  Losing Maxie, my son, has brought out the very worst in me at times and for that, I am not proud.  Sometimes in life there are instances that bring you to your knees and you forget that most of the people around you are still bouncing along.  That you are not in the pit with me is something I forget and when I remember it, I just feel envy.  I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.  At the same time, I forgive you for not being brave all of the time, because I think that is what it comes down to: Not being brave enough to say, "I'm so sorry that Max is gone"; not being brave enough to acknowledge our loss; not being brave enough to acknowledge that there is no "bright side" to our losing our child.  I am sorry that I have not been brave enough to put on a happy face and just ignore the elephant in the room.  I am sorry for reminding you of my loss and pushing Max down your throat when you just wanted to check in on something much more benign or enjoy a casual lunch.  I forgive you for having not been very brave and only asking about the "easy stuff" - like - how my job is going...how the renovations are coming along.  I hope you will forgive me for not being brave enough to really answer.  Sorry that I put superhuman expectations on you when you are just a normal person.  That wasn't fair.  I am sorry that I haven't been brave enough to face friends, go to my office, care about how uncomfortable my situation makes you, or find the silver lining.  I am sorry that I have been searching for answers and have become frustrated and angry with those people who haven't had or haven't been willing to give me the answers that I need.  I am sorry that I have become angry with those of you who have given me answers that I don't want to hear.  You have meant well when you have tried to talk sense into me (that I can still have other children and things can only get better).  You just had no idea that you were trying to reason with someone for whom logic went out the door when the baby died.  I forgive you for putting on your biggest grin to greet us at our lowest point, when I felt you should have been holding your arms open to embrace us in our pain.  I understand now that you just weren't brave enough.  It was enough that you were willing to be near us.  I know it was something that probably scared you.  You were brave to just keep talking to us.  Some weren't as brave...and I forgive them too.  I am sorry that I wasn't brave enough to return your gigantic grin and play along.  I just didn't have it in me.  I have known all along that it is my job to be the braver one.  To brave through this heartache and to make you feel ok about your lack of bravery.  Again, I haven't been courageous enough as of yet to take on this role, which is why you haven't seen much of me.  I haven't been ready to live up to my end of the bargain - where you get to smile and gossip or tell me about your troubles (which sometimes seem blown out of proportion to me) and I act like everything is right in the world or where I act as compassionate as I keep hoping you will be.  I am sorry that I have been judgmental about what you are going through - I am sure that I was more sympathetic before my son died.  I wish I could be fun and smiley or a good shoulder to cry on.  I am working my way towards finding the strength for that much bravery...but it is hard.  I have been depressed, angry, sarcastic, and argumentative.  I am sorry.  I'm still not sure it warrants having the cops called on me, but I still apologize.  I'll take responsibility for making you so upset that you felt threatening me was your best move.  I have wanted to wipe the grin off your face - hoping to bring you to the pain that I feel.  That isn't fair.  This isn't your burden to carry - even if you are related to Maxie.  You weren't his parent.  I understand that.  I also recognize some of you might actually not really care that my son died.  You didn't know him.  Maybe you hardly know me.  I have wished you to be more empathetic and human, by my definition, not yours.  I can't control how you feel, even though I have tried.  I have wanted you to know how perfect he was and to feel closer to him so that you would feel his loss more painfully.  I have wanted you to feel as much pain as I do - ALL OF YOU - our parents, our friends, our colleagues, our siblings, our doctors, our everyone...  I acknowledge that nobody will feel the pain like we feel it.  It was unreasonable to think that anyone else could even come close.  Some of you have pulled away and made it clear you don't want to know how wonderful he was or how painful this is.  That's ok too.  Like I said, I am not proud.  I haven't cared what you have wanted.  I have been singularly focused on Max and MY pain.  I hope to one day soon pull out of that place.  I think that at some point, I may actually come around to the point of smiling with sincerity.  I hope one day that it will be organic and not something that I have to force.  I hope that I am coming to the point of recognizing that the world continues to spin on happily without my most precious love monkey.  I hope that someday I will be the person you once knew - sort of funny, adventurous, outgoing, and somewhat loving.  If you know me, you know I had a dark side before Maxie died too, so I don't think it is going away entirely.  I just hope that one day the light inside me shines brighter than the dark now weighs me down.  I know it will be some time still.  I hope that as I find the bravery inside myself, that you too, will look for the bravery that I know is inside of you.  Let's both be brave....and if you really cannot, I will do my best to hold up my end of the bargain and be the brave one for both of us.

* As with ALL of my posts, this is not directed at only one person or one encounter - but rather to a body of people and encounters.  Perhaps if I include this disclaimer on more of my posts, I can save myself and you a lot of heartache.

7 comments

Lesley said...

Oh Abby, It pains me that you have to apologize. At all. To anyone. You shouldn't have to. The fact that the cops were called sickens me. Your honesty is raw, your love for Maxie unending, your fierce protection of what you hold dear unbridled. Forgiveness is important, but apologies unnecessary. You are a rare soul taking ownership of her feelings, and most people can't do that on their best day, nevermind in their worst hell.

Rose said...

I totally second Lesley's comment-- with all my heart and soul. Your honesty and your ability and willingness to look within at this painful painful time is amazing. You and Ted are living with the loss of the person you hold most precious, and there truly is no bright side. How you grow and carry on with life is what you are bravely (I think you are brave) figuring out now. May you find strength any way that you can. I love you.

Lindsay Pickering said...

I love you Ab and I think about you and Maxie everyday.

Melissa Rossi said...

Many friends of mine (not close friends, but friends) will ask why I follow your blog everyday, and I always tell them it is because I am waiting for the "something" good you deserve. I don't know what that means for you, but I am waiting for that post. I hope you know that there are some people out there that while we cannnot empathize, we can sympathize with the nightmare of trying to deal with losing your baby. While I think I might be able to imagine the nightmare of the loss of a baby, it never occured to me to think of the nightmare of DEALING with people after the nightmare. i don't think anyone can really "get" losing your baby-even if they've lost their own- he was only yours... but anyway- some of us out there are waiting for your "good" news- not to replace/forget/diminish Maxie- but because we (I) have to believe you deserve it.

Melissa Miles McCarter said...

Dear Abby,
I am a long time reader of your blog and I relate because my daughter also died of SIDS -- I have a link to your blog, as well. I have actually wanted to write you for awhile--but this post really struck a nerve for me ... I am editing an anthology on motherhood and loss and am in the middle of the publishing process and wondered if you would be willing to let us include this post in it--if you would like to talk to me about it, my email is fdfarmpress@gmail.com

Peter Howard said...

I don't know about Abby but I can say that dealing with the aftermath of the my son's death in regards to people and what they said and did and how they made me feel was, in many ways, as bad as losing my child. I often felt like I was dealing more with other people than I was with my grief and in and of itself made me angry. Tragedy seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. I've thought about writing a book and calling it "Losing My Child and Surviving Everyone Else."

I, too, and waiting for Abby's good news because she deserves it.

Peter Howard said...

Abby, I know you're not there yet but the best day post-loss for me was when I was able to look at people and think, screw it. I don't have to be brave for you or make you feel comfortable or justify anything. And I actually meant it. Intellectually, I knew it all along. Actually feeling it was the most liberating thing I have felt. I felt soooo guilty for running off (my phrase) people that I loved for being too negative or too sad or too whatever. The day that I was able to let go of everyone and what they thought or felt and just think about MY feelings was the day I started feeling a better sense of hope. I discovered a thread on DS called the "Bite Me" thread and that was a turning point for me. It gave me permission to feel the anger and frustration at other people (and even commercials) that I had been afraid of before.

And yes, this is Rebecca. I'm signed in under Pete's name and am too lazy to sign out.

I looked at your fundraising pages. For some reason, I had never put the dates together. Maxie died on July 21,2011. Toby died on August 21, 2010.