It's complex - all of it

I was reading another bereaved mother's blog yesterday.  She was talking about her current pregnancy, with twins.  She was saying that she was glad she had been taken off bed rest, which she had been put on temporarily.  She was happy to have made it to 30 weeks and was relieved that the babies look very healthy.  She also talked about how hard this pregnancy has been, how sad she is to have to face another holiday without her beautiful daughter, how much she worries about her unborn babies.  There were only a couple of comments.  They said things like, "So glad that things are going well for you....".  All I could think was, did this commenter and I just read the same post?  Another blogger, who just commemorated what would have been his son's fourth birthday wrote a beautiful post about how much his son loved birthdays.  He included videos of his son singing happy birthday and helping to blow out birthday candles.  Tears were streaming down my face as I watched this wonderful boy relish the excitement of his second birthday party.  The first comment on that blog wished the blogger moments of joy on the occasion of his dead son's birthday.  Do you need to be a bereaved parent to know how impossible joy would be on such an occasion?  I get emails and comments like that all of the time and I wonder if somehow the point of my post was missed.  Likely in many cases, it is.  Yes, again, I DO know that most people are only trying to offer what comfort they can.  Much of the time, they really aren't up to the task of saying "I'm so sorry that your son died so young.  It is so unfair and my heart breaks for you, your son and your family".  I am lucky that I have so many friends and readers who do say those things.

Still, I feel that I often don't do a very good job explaining my feelings or what is happening in our lives.  A friend of mine who reads my blog every day and with whom I email quite a bit as well, wrote last Friday to ask if we thought there was some genetic reason for Maxie's death and wondered if that's why we are doing genetic testing.  I have been writing about it for weeks.  Since even before announcing Baby M on my blog.  How did I manage to not explain that, indeed, that is the reason why we are doing genetic testing?  I feel so silly.  I wonder how many other people didn't get that.  The posts about my fears and the trauma of every email and phone call I get from the coroner and the geneticist probably don't make that much sense to those of you who don't get it.  Sadly, I don't really feel like explaining the whole thing again so, it just is what it is.  Either you get it or you don't.  I thank you for even trying.

Sometimes I am cryptic, for sure.  Someone has said something hurtful (or acted inappropriately since the start of this horror) and I don't want to sell them out, but I want to express my feelings about the incident.  It comes as no surprise on those days when I get lots of confused emails.  Often I get emails from people who think I am talking about them.  Very rarely does the actual culprit actually acknowledge that it was their blunder (though, to be fair, very few of the culprits read my blog).  But, when a mother writes about her fears and the horrors of living without her child, even when she mentions a couple of positive things (that most of the population takes for granted) - like that both of her unborn babies look healthy at 30 weeks, she isn't really "doing well".   It's complex, I know.

So, speaking of complex - Ted and I are going on vacation this Thursday.  We will be gone for six days in Cancun, Mexico.  We are both so jazzed and at the same time, this isn't a regular vacation.  I know it is tempting to be "jealous" of us.  Maybe put it into perspective, if possible.  I think we are finally ready for a vacation from this life!  We weren't ready when we went to Catalina in September.  An island full of happy families with adorable children was a kick in the gut all day, all night.  This time, we are staying at an adults-only inclusive resort.  We will spend lots of time in the pool and ocean.  We will snorkel, eat and drink (real drinks for Ted and virgin daiquiris for me), kayak, soak up the sun, read (I checked out two "Life after Death" books and "Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul" from the library on Friday), and hopefully laugh.  We know that "wherever you go, there you are"...but going to paradise has got to count for something I would think.  There is something truly out of body about planning a Cancun vacation while mourning the death of your child.  You want to take care of yourself but it feels so incredibly inappropriate in some ways as well.  I am not sure if I will be able to blog (but I have a feeling I will find a way).  I am definitely NOT planning on checking email (something I was unable not to do even when I was away for my own wedding).  I am thrilled that there won't be any children there. That alone is worth the whole cost of the vacation.  Though, I worry that people will ask me about how many children I big pregnant belly is sure to be a conversation piece.  We have decided that we will just answer whatever questions come up.  Our story won't ruin more than a few minutes of someone else's vacation.  I plan on doing my best to contain my grief as much as possible while we are away but to forgive myself if it becomes to unbearable to ignore.  I'm sure we can't even imagine what scenarios might slap us in the face when we aren't paying attention.  I am hopeful that it will be an escape...and mostly that it will help the days go quicker, they always do on vacation. Ted reminded me that by the time we get back, there will only be a little more than 100 days left until Baby M gets here.  Still, of course we won't want the vacation to end.  Who ever does?  Vacation - bittersweet and complex- but definitely a welcomed distraction.


rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

I understand what you mean about callous remarks. I devote entire blog entries to them. :-) When Pete's mom had to have emergency brain surgery for her cancer (she died not long afterwards) we had to fly over there on a day's notice. The women in my office got bitchy about it. "Well, wish I could just take off and go to England. Must be nice." Um, no. We spent the whole time we were there either in the hospital or waiting around at his house. It was not a vacation. It was not fun.

With that being said...I AM jealous of your vacation. But, as a travel writer, I am jealous of people who get to go away to the next town for a night at a Holiday Inn. I love to travel. I hope you guys have a good time on your Babymoon because you deserve it. We went to the beach 6 months after Toby died when I was pregnant with Iris. It was hard but worth it. And I totally rocked my pregnant belly bikini. I mean, if nothing else, being pregnant kind of smooths out the cellulite and fat rolls for me and any other blips I can blame on the pregnancy. :-)

Meg said...

I read The Spohrs blog, as I think you do too. Heather wrote a post this morning about her fear of forgetting certain details about her daughter. There were a lot of comments that said stuff like, "You will never forget her! She is with you every day!" etc. I know they're well-intentioned, but they made me angry. Like, really, strangers, you somehow just know that her daughter is with her, and that she won't forget? You're just psychic like that? It just seems so LAZY to me--like, "I'll offer a few trite words of comfort, and I'll have done my part, and can go about my life feeling good about it." Meanwhile, I felt overwhelmed with horror reading that post. I haven't even lost a child and stuff like that makes my face burn. I can only imagine how angry and misunderstood I would feel if I were in your position. I'm so sorry people are so horribly insensitive. I hope it gives you a tiny molecule of comfort that there are people who don't know you but truly care about your loss. I think about your Maxie all the time. I think he's the most beautiful and special little boy I've ever seen, and I ache for your family from the bottom of my heart.

maxiesmommy said...

i DO read the Spohrs blog and I was thinking the same thing this morning. I worry so much about forgetting details and I think it was so brave of her to say that she was forgetting. But so many of the responses just ignored the gravity of that just saying "It'll be fine!" essentially. I think she probably has a thicker skin than me because I SO often think that the comments on her blog would send me into a rage and she is so upbeat. I have read and re-read the posts from the year after she lost her daughter and the comments are mind boggling. I guess it is nice that so many people care enough to even read.

maxiesmommy said...

Another bereaved parent being jealous of our vacation is different, right? You KNOW what this vacation means to us and that it isn't just your average getaway. Kudos to you on the pregnant bikini too! I will be wearing some very large one pieces.

rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

My husband is writing a short story about that right now. He calls it "Platitudes." it's about the meaningless things that people say without putting any real thought behind them.

The fact is, you DO forget things and there is a horror about that. I cannot remember how my son felt in my arms. I have to try really, really hard to envision his face. Sometimes, i look at pictures of him and it's like looking at someone else's baby. There are things that are so vivid and other things that are not clear at all. Part of that is time and part of that is grief. It's like your body not remembering pain. In the effort to erase the bad stuff as part of its defense mechanism it erases the good stuff, too. And that's a whole other can of worms that a lot of people don't understand.

For the people who say these things, "He's always with you" and whatnot...well, screw them. He is NOT always with me. He will never be with me again. I once wrote on FB that I was missing my baby and someone commented, offhandedly, and said, "But the memories will last a lifetime!" Yes, because obviously that's enough. I'd rather have my son.

I'm glad that there are people out there like you who understand this.

rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

Oh, I definitely understand your frustration. Someone said to me, "At least you get to go on vacation." I mean, WTF? Like we won a consolation prize or something? Ladies and gentleman, you lost your son but here you go...a nice one week vacation at the beach, complete with all the mini golf you want to play!

Seriously. People think I'm mean. But if they could hear the stuff that goes through my mind they'd REALLY think I'm mean.