The Old Me

If you asked me to describe myself before Maxie died, this is what I would probably tell you.
I love laughing and funny people.  Sometimes I like to count myself among the funny.
I love dancing.  One of the things I love most about my husband is that he is an AMAZING dancer.  I love dancing to R&B, pop dance classics, old school hip hop, merenge, get the picture.
I am pretty social and outgoing.  I like meeting new people.  I am comfortable with new people (MOST of the time).  There are odd times where I feel totally insecure and out of my element and they are rare and inexplicable.  Mostly I do pretty well in social situations.
I am a very happy person with a close family and large group of close friends.
I think of life as an exciting adventure and am always planning my next experience.  I like traveling, learning new languages, doing new things.
I am cautious but I don't let it stop me from living.
I am sensitive and my feelings are easily hurt.  I usually get over it though.
If I had to describe myself since Maxie died, it would be like I was describing a totally different person - even though my old self is still in there.  It is like I am unintentionally suppressing her all of the time. It is totally exhausting and it feels like there is nothing I can do about it.

I still love laughing and funny people but they are hard for me to be around.  I'd rather watch them on television then be with them in person.  I don't really count myself among the funny anymore though Ted can vouch that I still sometimes land a good zinger.
I can't imagine ever dancing again (even if Ted and I DID once do the Roger Rabbit and Running Man on our deck to "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe earlier this year).  I can't imagine going out for a night of salsa dancing.  I can't imagine rocking out at a wedding.  I was ALWAYS on the dance floor at weddings.  I used to like dancing more than cake.
The idea of being in a room full of strangers is so scary to me.  What if they ask me if I have children?  What if they want to know how many we have?  What if they already know who I am and talk about me behind my back in front of my face ("there is THAT woman whose baby died").  Lord help me! Gone are the days of just talking to people.  Everything feels so loaded.  I am tired.
I never leave my house - so life isn't quite the adventure that is used to be.  It's no fun anymore.  Traveling still sounds fun to me - but I can't imagine ever going back to my favorite places - like Costa Rica, where we have a vacation home.  The last time I was there was with Max.  We sat on the beach in the spot where Ted and I got married.  I fantasized bring him back every year and camping out in our spot.  Eating fish tacos and building sandcastles and watching monkeys in that spot.  That spot breaks my heart.  The place where I imagined all of my dreams coming true is a reminder that they didn't.  That in fact my worst nightmare came true.
I can tell I have some kind of anxiety disorder but I am not sure what it is.  I am overly cautious.  I have a feeling of impending doom all of the time.
I am more sensitive than ever.  I do not forgive as easily.  That is too bad.  Forgiveness is important but some of the stuff that I have experienced this year I will never forget.  I can't imagine forgiving some of it.  I really don't know if I will be a big enough person some day.  Today I feel miniscule.  It won't happen soon.
That being said, most of these things I feel will evolve with time.  I can't be sullen forever - it isn't in my nature.  And, I truly laugh with Ted and Mo.  I even catch myself laughing with other people sometimes.  I won't be suppressing it forever.  It is too hard.  I'm sure we will dance at weddings again.  We will probably have to go places and meet new people and they will surely ask us how many kids we have and we will have to answer and scare others with our sad, sad story.  That's just life.
We will probably go back to Costa Rica with Mo one day.  We will probably sit in our spot.  Or, maybe we will pick a new spot...but we will still be able to see our spot.  It will be painful and bittersweet.  As we watch the monkeys play, I know we will think of our sweet Maxie and wish that he were with us (as we will always do).  The new Abby won't be this Abby forever.  There will be a newer Abby too and then a newer one after that but all Abbys will long for Maxie.  All Abbys will remember the me that came before losing my Max and this faded and broken version of myself that came after.


Michelle said...

I don't know if I've ever posted but I've been following your blog for many months now. I hate that this happened to you, and I hate that you have to live without your Maxie. My family unfortunately are on the same journey, and it frustrates me when people say 'oh you must be back to your normal self by now'. There is nothing normal about losing your baby. There is no normal to go back to. You have been through a terrible thing and I'm so sorry. Please know that the 'new' Abby will always have people like myself to talk to.

Sarah P. said...

Beautifully written, poignant, and utterly heartbreaking post. I am so sad for you. It is so horribly unfair and wrong.

Anna Hynek said...

Dear Abby, thinking of you, Ted, Maxie and Mo. Who you are now, who you were and who you will be are all Abby and there is never a need apologise for being who you are. The journey that your family is on is one that most people will never ever travel. One quote that has always stuck with me through different parts of my own journey is from To Kill a Mockingbird: "you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them" People may not understand your journey. Good friends and family may be hard pressed to relate or know how to connect. You may feel tired of explaining and feel isolated. But the people who matter most are you, Ted, Maxie and Mo. And you all know intimately the range of colours that intense grief and incredible happiness and unconditional love paint. A friend of a friend writes a column for McSweeney's that I think you might find interesting Sending you a big hug and much love. xoxo

Rose said...

Thanks for everything you write Abby. I read faithfully, and think of you and your family with love.

Susan Ireland said...

Morning Abby

I read this and felt sufficiently worried about you to go and have a flick through my own blog from the posts I made about a year after Catherine died. They were pretty similar.
I suppose the inescapable thing is that Maxie died and you did not. It used to seem inconceivable to me that despite the weight of my unbearable grief I would continue to exist. Yet I have - and as time has passed, first function returns and slowly I have come back - that person that Catherine would recognise as her mummy. I am surprised by how often I do things that Catherine would have loved - and how much easier it is to do than I anticipated. Wanting to do things with or for Miss M is a powerful pull.

Still - I do wonder if you need a plan? My prejudice (and what do I know about you and Ted) is that its not good to sit in the house. I do think these things are difficult at first, but I have a hunch that you need to tackle them and get past that before they get easier. Why not take a baby class and get out and at least be around other mums? If you pick one where the focus is on an activity (eg. swimming, singing etc) rather than sitting round chatting, then you'll probably find that easier. You don't need to tell anyone about Maxie - you can tell white lies if you want. I tell them all the time now.

If you can afford it, I think you should take a vacation too. The first time we went away without Catherine was hard, but the pain has eased around that for me. I find myself able to contemplate going to places we went together. Costa Rica sounds wonderful - in time I reckon you will be there watching monkeys with Mo and remembering Maxie warmly, without the raw pain. Maybe it isn't the right place to go now though. Why not go do something completely different? Go some place that the old Abby would have loved maybe? What about Venice or Paris or Victoria Falls or ..... there must be somewhere that sounds at least a little tempting to you?

Trust it will get easier xx

Rebecca said...

I just wanted to add to what Susan said and say that I agree. I don't know that I will ever be able to return to Nashville again (okay, realistically I know I will, but the thought feels sad) but getting out with the kids, doing the fun things that we did with Toby, and putting forth that effort helped me through the worst parts of the pain the most. Looking back, it was hard at first with Iris to do the joyful things that used to come so naturally. But, in hindsight, I am very glad we did them and that I tried. When she is an adult, she will look back on her baby pictures and see a family that loved to travel, dance, pick pumpkins, decorate the heck out of things, and laugh. She won't know how much effort that took and how sad we were when we did them. The same with Sam...three days after Toby's funeral we took him to the circus. We didn't miss anything that year. Most days I wanted to crawl under the bed and stay there for a week. but I put on a show for him. After faking it for awhile, it started to become easier and that was better for all of us.

greg said...

Old self, new self, next self...You will always miss Maxie and always be surrounded by people who understand that. As a friend, I hope to see you on the dancefloor again and I hope to see Mo on the beach in CR and I hope to see you laugh the way you did, but I don't EXPECT anything. I'm just glad you and Ted are still here, with Mo, and the memory of Maxie in your every step.

Marla said...

Greg couldn't have said it any better.