Fathers Day Round Up

Ted's grieving is so private, I felt I should get his permission before I told you anything in this post.  I feel so protective of him.  I don't know why it upsets me so much, but when I hear about some of his interactions with people, I get the feeling that they don't think Ted is grieving Max - or at least, that he is over it by now.  Ted doesn't seem to really care what anyone else thinks.  I admire that.  So, why does it bother me?  I guess I want him to feel supported.  But, I suppose what he needs to feel supported is not what I need.  He also doesn't need many people to support him.  In fact, I think he doesn't want support from everyone.  I keep hoping that through my blog and visits with me, those closest with me will have an "a-ha moment", where they finally understand how tragic it is that we lost Max.  Ted knows that most will never understand and he feels no urge to try and explain it.  It's the old gender thing I guess.  I crave intimacy in my relationships.  I want those closest to me to want to understand.  Ted doesn't have as many expectations.  His closest people are people that serve different purposes in his life - those he talks about sports with, those he like to hang out with, those he likes to drink beers with, those he grew up with.  They will never understand, he says.

So, despite my husband's disinterest in sharing...I am sharing a little bit about this weekend (with his permission and I hope I don't cross the line).  Perhaps it is selfish.  I still think there are people out there who genuinely want to know how Ted is doing and especially, how this weekend was for him.  I cannot pretend to know what goes on in his head but I do know that this weekend was hard.

I should start by saying that I take full responsibility for poor planning in the sorting of Max's room.  It didn't occur to me that the day before Father's Day would be especially hard for Ted.  Every day is so incredibly hard for me, for us.  But, when I think about it, the anticipation of Mother's Day, was almost worst than the day itself.  I had a full melt down the night before and a day or two afterwards.  I should have known better but he always seems so strong to me, he doesn't tell me how his emotions are fluctuating.  I just wasn't thinking.  Next weekend is Max's headstone unveiling and the next week I will be 36 1/2 weeks pregnant, which is when we delivered Maxie, so I guess I felt like I wanted to get the newborn clothes sorted and the 9 months clothes packed away sooner rather than later.  Plus, every time I brought up going through Max's room, Ted would say "I'll handle it.  Don't worry about it".  In my brain, I actually thought that somehow this task wouldn't be as hard for him.  I am so sorry Teddy.  I should know better than anyone that everything that sounds like it is going to be hard - will be.  It was SO hard.  And, it isn't like we sat in his room and bawled our brains out.  In fact, I felt closer to Max at times than I had in so many months but, you see, that is hard too.  Plus, we really got into it.  We washed the car seat cover, cleaned out his closet and organized it, went through all of his things.  Thank god my mom was there taking charge.  It couldn't have been easy for her either.  What can I say?  It just sucked.  Every step we take is an extra painful stab in our hearts, which are already bleeding so profusely.  Every step we take is a step away from Maxie.  I could actually see the pain in Ted's face.  At times I wondered if it wasn't even harder for him than us.  He told me later that having to do it during Father's Day weekend was extra difficult.  Of course it was.  We should have waited.

There were no real plans for yesterday.  Ted knew he wanted to go for a bike ride and wanted to watch a basketball game in the afternoon.  We took the dogs to the dog park in the morning and then went to breakfast.  Somehow we lucked out big time at breakfast and managed to hit the only restaurant in America that didn't have a bunch of families celebrating Father's Day.  We came home and relaxed a little bit before Ted decided to go out on his bike ride.  I asked him where he planned on going.  Ted likes to go on really long bike rides.  Because the traffic is so bad in LA, he often gets to places that feel very far away and then back again, quicker than it would take me to do the drive.  Recently, he rode out to where the 405 and the 101 met, I asked if he was going back.  I suggested that he ride to my dad's house to say hi...a LONG ride.  He told me he had other plans.  I knew what he meant by the expression on his face.  He was riding to the cemetery to visit Max.  Ted gets comfort from the cemetery.  I don't.  Another way in which we grieve differently.  Of course he wanted to spend part of the day with his baby.  Please make no mistake friends - Ted FEELS this loss deeply.  I think he spent a while there.  He sent me a photo of Max's headstone that he designed and that is now in place.  It is so perfect and so incredibly wrong at the same time.  Eleven months later - this doesn't feel real.  Our baby is gone.  We are still (permanently) living this nightmare.

When he came home, he suggested we walk to a nearby bar and have lunch.  It was a longer walk than we expected - about 2 miles.  I was getting overheated and lots of round ligament pain - plus, Little M started kicking his face off during the last few blocks.  I so wish that pregnancy didn't slow me down.  The last few months for me seem to be pretty physically brutal.  They were with Max too.  Anyway, I'm glad we went.  The bar we went to has a million games and we sat and played a weird gender based (read: sexist) trivia game that made us laugh.  We ate a "bad choice" lunch that gave us both heartburn later. We talked about Max and grief and relationships.  We talked a lot about what I wrote about up top - about caring whether other people understand or act sensitive.  His expectations are much lower than mine and probably a whole lot more realistic.  That being said - he gets hurt feelings too.  He also has been let down.  He has people that he doesn't feel as close to since losing Max and others who have really risen to the occasion.  He is just not as surprised by it all as I am.  He says he can't expect anyone to understand how he feels and likened it to the "not knowing" about parenthood that came before having Max.  Very true.  I guess I just feel like whether you understand or not, you've got to know that we are in deep soul-crushing pain and I just can't believe how few people are sensitive about that.  The elephant in the room is that we are barely getting through this difficult time.  It has taken its toll on every part of our lives.  We took a cab home and then sat on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. He watched the basketball game, I read my book.  We talked a lot about Baby M yesterday....a lot about Max...a lot about life.  I worry that I make him talk too much.  That is what wives do.  And he doesn't always want to talk (that is what husbands do).  We connect so deeply but what we need is so different.  That can be really hard for both of us.  "What are we going to do?" I sobbed as we got into bed last night.  "About what?", he asked.  "About this life we are living.  We can never be happy again".  "You don't know what the future holds.  You don't know we will never be happy again.", he replied.  "I can never really be happy if Max can't be here to be happy with us".  He sighed and took deep breaths.  "I'm sorry", I said.  I had intended to keep it bottled up as best as I could, at least for yesterday....at least for Fathers Day.  I failed.  "When you talk about your life, you are talking about mine too, you know", he said.  "Ya, that's why I asked 'What are WE going to do?'", I replied.  The "conversation" ended there.  There are no answers.  I don't know why I ask the questions.  It feels so helpless.  We went to sleep.

Tomorrow will mark eleven months since we lost Max.  We have gotten through a lot of "firsts" in that time - birthdays, holidays, memories.  We still have a few more firsts to get through - the hardest being the year mark.  While some things have gotten easier, some things are so much harder.  I think Ted would agree.  I am sure if you asked Ted about Fathers Day, his story would be very different from the one above.  It would probably go something like this "Took the dogs to the dog park, went to breakfast, took a bike ride, got some lunch, and then watched the game".  The best I can do is give you my perspective.  I hope I didn't give too much information.  Every day that passes, we are a little further away from our last memories with Max.  We are handling it.  Differently.  But, we have made it this far and we will continue to muddle our way through this together.


Susan Ireland said...

Oh Abby - big, big hug for you and for Ted (though he doesn't want one!). I promise you that things will get better. It is a certainty. This is the worse of times. The shock has worn off. The pain is unbearable. The fear for the new baby is palpable. The joylessness in our lives seems permanent. But this too will pass. I promise.

The best thing about my husband is he is the only person who remembers Catherine as I do, who misses her as much and who grieves as hard. He gets it like nobody else can. Even though we have tackled this very, very differently, as you and Ted have. I suppose the downside is you struggle along together. Does your husband want to hear you feel the future is without hope - shit no - but on occassions you know he feels it too. You will pull yourself through this together. Just keep going. xx

NikaM said...

Have you heard of the Grieving Dads Project? Most guys don't like to show or talk about their feelings...or feel that they aren't supposed to because of that "being the strong one" idea. It might be worth a look though. Kelly is an awesome guy, and we've found it pretty helpful, even if it's just to help me understand the hubby a little better.