Why I write

Friday, August 10, 2012


In the days and months (and weeks and year) following Maxie's death, my previously clear communication with family, friends and colleagues became completely muddled and unintelligible. I know they stopped understanding me because they said so all of the time "I can't imagine"... "I can't begin to understand..." etc...and I stopped understanding them also.  I kept hearing them but I didn't listen very much.  Their voices repeating the same meaningless phrases - meant to sound comforting but giving very little comfort - and sounding more and more like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. They were doing their best, and I was doing mine- presenting a "happy" and welcoming face at the funeral and Shiva, trying to make people comfortable in my pain. I was being my most inauthentic self. I felt ashamed and misunderstood. I felt I wasn't doing justice to my most beloveds memory.  Nobody who felt as worthless and devastated as me would really be worrying about cold cuts and small talk.  I craved understanding - both to understand what it was that the people around ms really felt about this loss of our Max and also, of course, to be understood. I had lost Max- the person in my life I was least likely to lose.  The person I had waited my whole life for, who I loved more than life itself or anyone else in it, was gone in an instant.  I couldn't see one minute in front of my face.  I wanted to be with him.  Honestly, I wished I was dead.  Life had betrayed me and to go on felt exhausting.  I remember looking outside the window at the trees and the birds and the sky and thinking that the earth had betrayed me.  There didn't seem to be any point in anything anymore.  And while all this was going on in my head and heart, people were trying to "drag me out" to "do lunch" or go bowling or to get drinks.  I could hardly make sense of my own existence, but I was bottling it up and nobody even came close to understanding how much I wanted to be done (nobody except Ted of course).

The words people were saying to me hurt so much, the easy dismissal of my pain. At the height of it, Ted was hospitalized and I feared I would lose him too. I remember friends coming to visit Ted in the hospital, a week after Max's funeral, and they played on their blackberries and iPhones and made small talk while I literally wondered from second to second if I would keep breathing.  My life felt totally over.  Just another day for everyone else was a completely crushing experience every minute for me.  It may sound dramatic but why would I trust that Ted would be ok after my perfectly healthy nine month old baby just stopped breathing for no reason two weeks before?

I remember Bianca mentioned blogging.  I don't even know how it got brought up but I thought - If they knew how I felt- if they could have even a glimpse into this darkness, maybe they would try harder.  Maybe they would stop hurting me so much.  I naively believed that if I could give them a window into my pain, they would be more gentle with me- and stop pushing ms to "put one foot in front of the other", stop talking to me about idle gossip or the current stressors in their lives (that usually amounted to a girlfriend who watches too much tv or a planned vacation that didn't look like it was going to happen). If they had an inkling of what a beautiful soul my Maxie was, maybe they would stop acting like some generic baby died that could be replaced when I had more children (something that they made sound so easy.  I just had a new baby and nothing about conceiving, carrying or birthing him was easy). Maybe if they knew Max a little they would understand better the depths of my loss.  (Even though the ones who knew Max best and loved him the most participated in the minimizing of our pain - certainly I could not paint a more accurate picture of Maxie than the one he actually lived for his family and caretakers).  

But, I started writing and I decided to do it every day for a year.  I hoped to protect myself from the hurt by giving the most authentic picture of my pain possible.  If I put it all out there, maybe it would help me release the demons.  If you knew how terrible it really was, maybe you would stop acting like nothing happened, like any day of the last year was just another day. Because in fact, no day of the last year was just another day for us.  Every day was a complete struggle to get through for both Ted and I.  It was a year that tested our faith, our relationship, our friendships, basically everything we know.  I thought that if you knew that, you would acknowledge it.  I also knew that if I made it through that year, I could make it through anything in this life.  I wanted an account of my journey to remind myself that I had "made it" when I was further along.  I also wanted to record as many memories as possible of my sweet Max.  I still haven't done that.  There are still memories that hurt too much to write about and I am afraid if I don't get them down that I will forget them.  But, I think that I know now that that isn't possible.   I just didn't quite realize so early on that I would be struggling, loving and remembering for my whole life, not just one year.

I don't think my blog really protected me.  In some cases, it opened me up for anger and criticism.  But, I know now that it is impossible to protect yourself from all of the things that people say.  I am not even sure how i thought that was possible.  But, I do know that it gave some people pause.  That some people really thought about what they said before they speaking to me.  So, there's that. I also think that the blog has helped me to connect to other bereaved parents, some of whom have become people that I have developed relationships with - people who I actually really care for and whose children I never met but I love.  How strange to love a child you have never met...but I do.  I love Charlie, and Julius, and Madeline, and Catherine, and Toby, and Jayden and Lucy and Mackensie and Cora.  I really love them and I think of Maxie with them somehow.  It brings me a little comfort for some reason.  The blog has helped me keep Maxie's memory alive as well.  That is my biggest gift and one that is surely evidenced by all of the candles that were lit in his memory (I added all, if not most, of the candle photos that people continued to send me in the days following the post).  Writing the blog has given me a purpose each day to keep going, even when I just woke up and posted a picture.  I have felt, in my darkest moments, like I had to keep going because there were still stories of Maxie to tell.  I needed to keep waking up each morning to tell his story and ours.  Again, I know I am sounding kind of dramatic but, it is honestly what I thought.  I knew I needed to stick around to ensure his memory was kept alive.  I have felt he was counting on me, even if it was just me counting on me.  

So now a year has come and gone and I have not stopped writing, just as Ted did not shave off his beard as he originally planned on doing.  We both thought that something would change in a year...and while so much has (especially now, with the arrival of Mo), much has not.  Our love for Max has only grown, as a parent's love does.  My longing for him deeper with every day that he is gone, which would make sense I suppose.  And while, I don't feel like dying anymore...I am still looking forward to being with my Max again and trying to learn as much about where he might be until that day comes.  After a year (plus), I still feel compelled to write here every day.  And, I am not sure how long I will continue to do so but I guess I will just keep coming back here every day until one day I don't.  And, when that day comes, please don't think I am fixed, please don't think I am "better".  What I have learned for sure is that things change, whether we want them to or not, but the love of a parent for their child lives forever.  I will never stop loving him.  I will never stop missing him.  I will never stop feeling cheated that he didn't get the life I wanted so badly to give him.  He is always on my mind.  He is always in my heart.  I will love him forever and ever.  He is my baby. He is everything to me.  

5 comments:

jessica said...

I am sorry that you have felt so alone and misunderstood, especially in the early days after Maxie passed. It breaks my heart to think about how much pain and devastation you and Ted have had to live through this last year. It breaks it again to think about how you will feel this for the rest of your lives because your perfect, beautiful, sweet and loving Maxie is not here with you. You have done justice to and honored Maxie's memory so beautifully with your words here. His memory will live on in your words, your actions, your family and, most importantly, your heart forever. Maxie is, and always will be, with you, Teddy and Baby Mo. He is also, and always will be, in my heart. Maxie passing away was devastating, unbelievable, incomprehensible and awful. Seeing my beloved friends in so much pain (that word does not even remotely do it justice) was, and still is, heart wrenching. You, Ted, Maxie and now Baby Mo mean so much to me (and so many of us) and I will love all four of you forever and ever. xo

greg said...

I never ever imagined I would need a blog to understand one of my closest friends, but I did. Missing Maxie was a window into the truth of your life this past year - and even though it was sometimes strange to admit - I needed it to understand what YOU needed. And I know sometimes I didn't call enough to check in, but I never stopped reading and thinking of you and Ted and little Maxie. So thank you for doing this Abs.

jkbrumbaugh@gmail.com said...

Abby, we definitely have gotten to know Maxie through your writing. His memory is alive and I can't think of anyone after following your blog just forgetting about him. We love Maxie he will forever be in our memory. I have much to thank you as well for your understanding. And Baby "Mo" will be always love as well.

Egreeno said...

I too want to thank you for this blog. It has helped me know Maxie better, understand what you are going through and has even helped me help a friend of another bereaved parent. It is so heartbreaking to read of your pain but I am so grateful that you have let us in to know what you are experiencing. You are such an important person to me, and many others, and so having a way to hear/read your voice each day has been a gift to those of us that worry about you and want to know how you are doing. I wish with all of me that you had no reason to write this blog but I will be here reading as long as you keep writing. You are a very skilled writer and I hope you will pursue other forms of sharing this and other life experiences you've had in writing.

Susan Ireland said...

Don't know how I missed this post before. Thank you so much for writing about Catherine and Madeleine. It is lovely to see their names together. It happens so rarely. I think about Maxie and Catherine being together too. It is weird - but at least we are all the same weird :) xx

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