Lessons

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I spent most of the day in deep reflection on Sunday.  Reflection on Maxie's life and the lessons of his death.  How unprepared we were for our lives to have been turned upside down.  How impossible it was to lean on each other (and often still is) because we are both so full of grief.  How isolating and lonely it was to be thrown from a perfectly normal and wonderful life into the depths of hell.  How hard it would be to simply accept that Max is gone.

I've learned that there are some wonderful people in our world.  Some who came out of the shadows to walk by our side.  I've learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.  I've learned that in good times and bad, I have the most wonderful and loving husband.  And, I've learned that life is hard....so incredibly hard sometimes.  I also learned that people will disappoint me and that eventually, those people don't matter so much.  Relationships evolve...some grow and some disintegrate...and that's ok.  Something very important that I want to pass on is that when people have counted my blessings and tried to force joy upon me, they have actually succeeded in doing nothing more than pushing me deeper into my grief.  My instinct, as Maxie's mother, has been to prove how deeply wounding it is to have lost him....not to pretend like everything is ok.   I have wanted everyone to know how dark my life is without Max...because it really is (and because Max was so incredibly special, that nobody's life should ever be the same without him).   What I realized yesterday is that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks at all.  Nobody who hasn't lost a child will ever know the darkness of our loss.  People will always try to put a cheerful spin on it or ignore it entirely or be so horrified by it's magnitude that they will stop talking to us completely.  Only I know what Maxie's death has done to my life....to my heart.  And, even though I continue to write about it here, I know that my feelings go deeper and are more real than anything that I have ever been able to (or will ever be able to) express in words.  Nobody will ever truly understand.  My pain, my love, my sorrow, my joys, my memories - they are sacred to me and they are all I have left of my baby boy.

And it IS so unfair.  It actually really is!  But, "it is so unfair"  - those are just words.  Words are inadequate.  They have been failing me since this nightmare began.  Not only is it a loss, is it a loss of an amazing boy who I love madly who never got to have a life, and the loss of a baby who was the center of our universe.  It is also a tragic loss, not of an old person who got to have a lifetime of memories and experiences, but of a baby who only lived nine and a half months and died at daycare.  A loss that makes people so uncomfortable that they have awkwardly made small talk with us, acting like nothing at all happened.  A loss that makes people so uncomfortable that they quietly slipped out of our lives.  It is a loss that few are sensitive and equipped enough to talk with us about.  It has sometimes made us feel excluded from normal society and conversation.  When people ask "What's new?", they want to hear about everything BUT how we are really doing.  I'm not sure what else really even matters.  This is why I kept myself hidden for so long.  I feared that if I came out of hiding there would be people who would whisper behind our backs or wouldn't say a word.  I knew there would be people who would say hurtful things to me and my skin wasn't thick enough yet to handle the disappointment.  When I put myself out there, my worst fears were often realized (and frankly, my skin STILL isn't thick enough but what can I do?)

On Maxie's birthday, I decided to make a resolution to live the remainder of my life as best as I can as an example of triumph despite adversity.  I am not saying it will be easy for me.  It will be more challenging than anything I have ever done in my whole life.  My fear is that instead of you realizing how much strength and courage it takes for me to start putting myself back together, that you will say, "Isn't that the woman that lost her baby?  Looks like she is over it!"  Or that you will think I don't love Maxie as much as you love your child, because if it was your child, you couldn't handle it.  I will never be over it....no matter whether I smile at you, or joke with you, or eventually laugh my ass off and totally rock out with you.  A gigantic piece of my heart will always be missing.  Believe me when I say that it would be easier for me to continue on as I've been these last 15 months - wearing the same sweats every day and sitting on my couch (which I still plan to do in large part).  It would be easier to continue hiding out.  But, people keep calling me strong and a part of me feels like it is time to be that.  Maybe there is a reason that we were given this broken life.  Maybe we were meant to be an example.  The truth is that I don't want to be strong  and I definitely don't want to be an example.  I want to take the easy road - but the easy road is no longer an option for me.  I've been fighting facing the music with every fiber of my being.  It took me almost the full first year to just absorb that this actually happened (I still haven't fully absorbed it).  That Maxie is actually gone.  But nothing I do will bring him back and I can either let his death ruin my life or I can hold my head up high and honor his memory by living my life out loud.  I am so proud that I am Maxie's mother.  He was the greatest joy of my life and I will not hide anymore.  It is important for Mo and our future babies to learn how to appreciate every minute of their lives no matter what their challenges are.  I have to lead by example because life isn't always easy and sometimes it is just downright shitty and a complete nightmare.  I have learned that for sure.  I will be kind with myself, knowing that it won't happen overnight.  I will need to take baby steps.  

I am more convinced every day that I will be with Maxie again and that, in the big picture, this life is just the blink of an eye.  When I see him again, I want him to be proud of me.  When we are together again, it will be for eternity and I want the time in between now and then to pass quickly.  Life moves so slow when you are in the dark like me.  I think I can get to him quicker if I learn to enjoy life again while I am here.  I am pretty sure that I can do anything if I know that he is there waiting for me.

I'm not talking about major changes here.  I am talking about getting into an exercise routine, having friends over for dinner once in a while, maybe getting out of my sweats once in a while (or at least getting a couple of new pairs).  But, these would be big things for me.  I have been shell shocked - unable to move.  It's time for me to move whether I want to or not.  Please listen to me though.  There is a lesson to learn here from someone who has been in the pit of hell.  If you really care about someone in your life who is grieving - let them grieve.  Don't make cute jokes.  Don't tell them that everything is going to be ok (it already isn't!!!)  Tell them how sorry you are, ask them how they are doing, and then just listen.  If you don't.  If you insist on trying to pull them out of their sorrow.  If you act like what happened is no big deal, they will feel cut off and misunderstood.  Just because you act casually, like it is no big deal - doesn't make it no big deal.  It might be catastrophic (For me - it is beyond catastrophic - off the charts) .  They will feel dismissed and defensive.  That isn't right.  Don't dismiss their greatest heartache - it's just cruel.  You must let them decide when it is time to rise from the ashes.  AND - for those who are currently in the pit, stay there as long as you need to.  Whatever tragedy has befallen you will take time to recover from.  Be kind to yourself.  Take naps, read books, cry your eyes out, scream and yell if you need to (you will probably need to), be angry if you want, and surround yourself with people who will validate your feelings.  Don't keep people around who keep hurting you if you don't have to.  People keep telling me that the only way through is through.  It's true.  It won't get easier necessarily but you will get stronger.  You WILL get stronger.  If I can figure out how to live with this pain, you will be able to also.  That is my hope....for me and for you.


10 comments:

Z said...

Believe in yourself. What you do to try and live the rest of your life as best you can, for your sake, for Ted's sake and for Mo and Maxie's sake has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. You are doing this for you, and you need not prove anything to anyone. Parenting is like that too. There will always be things about our children that people will judge us for and judge our children for too. You have no one to answer to. NOONE> just your yourself and your family. That is all that matters. Keep them close and safe and waste no energy on worrying what other people think. It is so painful to think that you might have to deal with people that might hurt you because they don't get it but I think a lot of people will know that deep down you are just doing to best you can. lots of love. Z

Tamar said...

This is a beautiful, honest and helpful post. Sending you lots of love.

Taryn said...

Amazing as usual. Brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing your journey and hard-won wisdom.

Z said...

God! and in my usual "posting remorse" I need to say that I am not meaning to sound like I am telling you what to do, but more trying to support you in what you seem to already be trying to convey in your post about how you are feeling. Being a parent brings on all sorts of judgement (you of all people would know that best) and so, I am meaning to just say, that I support you and I am sorry that you are so sad and I hope that nobody feels they have any say or influence in how you make your decisions from now on about how you are trying to live. I completely understand that you are sharing this because this is where you are at and not because you want to share any positive news so that people can share their opinions and ideas. Thinking of you.

Yael said...

Hi again, Abby.
What a choice, to honor your son by slowly moving forward, by trying to live a life out loud. I hope that spirit will continue to guide you through whatever comes, as it comes.
There is a book that helped me immensely at a difficult time that I'd like to send to you and Ted. I believe it should be a gift sent with care, not something to buy for yourselves, or I would've simply sent the title. Would you please consider sending me your mailing address? You can find me at yael.prizant@gmail.com whenever/if ever you might be ready to have it.Love, no matter what,Yael

SadMama said...

Thanks for your post. I hope to someday take baby steps, as you are doing, and learn to integrate this tragic loss. You are setting an important example for Mo and any future children about how to live and cope with life. You are also setting an example for those of us who are new to this path.

greg said...

Thank you Abs.

anniefred said...

Love you Abs. Sending you big hugs. xo

Jayden's mommy said...

Im glad for the baby steps, I havent accepted this loss yet and it hits me constantly. Thank you for sharing this once again it makes me realize Im not crazy, Im not doubting myself tonight, because it its so real and so painful.

melindac40 said...

Abby,

I am sorry. I do want to listen. Tell me about Max!

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