Life's important lessons

For a long time, I thought that if I wrote honestly about how dark our world was, if I expressed just how devastated we are, as clearly as possible - that I could finally stop defending our grief and that perhaps people would be more patient and loving with us. I wrote and wrote and wrote and tried so hard to explain the bitter awful hell of life without our son.

I know that it has been cathartic for me. Even though the REALLY honest stuff has been written in my personal diary and not here, I still felt more "heard" than if I'd never written at all. I kept hoping that there would be an epiphany, that the people in my life who seemed to have difficulty with empathy would miraculously understand that I was clinging to life and barely getting by. If they knew how difficult every hour of every day was, they would approach us with compassion and seriousness instead of silliness, disdain or apathy.

As time has gone on, I've come to realize this can never be true.  Everyone is basically exactly who they started as - exactly who they are. My words have had very little impact. I continue to fight for my right to be aggrieved with all of the same people, just as I continue to be comforted by all of the same people.  The only person who has actually changed in this process is me.  In a million ways - I've changed, whether you see those changes or not.  And, one of the biggest changes is that I don't have any false expectation anymore (or, at least, very little).  This is probably part of what I have come to accept as "my new normal".  I wear a mask almost every day that says "It's all good.  Don't worry your pretty little head about us" and inside, I continue to die.

And while there are still times that I mistakenly turn to someone who I once thought "should" understand and comfort me, I usually try to remind myself when I am barking up the wrong tree. As soon as I engage with those folks, I regret it. They will never understand. It is a losing battle and it makes grief SO much harder than it already is.  Max's memory is much too sacred to be the cause of so much aggravation.  Realizing all of this has changed many relationships in my life. It doesn't mean I've had to cut everyone out of my life (although, I have cut out many).  It means that I've recognized that relationships are often easier when I just resolve to connect on the superficial level and keep it at that.

At Beth's house this week, before each of the Seders she hosted, she made a toast in which she expressed the difficulty of celebrating these holidays without Max. His photos are all over her house - they decorate the refrigerator, the mantel, the kitchen table, and many other corners. She never fails to mention him. She always acknowledges the experiences that we have that she knows might be challenging for us. She encourages Ted and I to go deep with her and talk about Max and how hard this all is - which is so important for both of us.  We don't have to spell it out for her - it's just in her heart and I guess I've just come to recognize that there are a handful of people, like Beth, who I can turn to...and the others are just not available. Instead of trying to make a support system where there is none - I lean where the support already exists.

Life would be so much easier if we didn't have to learn important lessons for ourselves - because certainly people told me to look for support where it came naturally and I didn't listen.  I wanted so badly to be heard by certain people who were incapable of that.  And, I believe that there is a part of me that will keep fighting acceptance of all of this - that Maxie died, that I didn't always have the support from the people I wanted/needed it from, that life has moved on for most, that I won't know whether Max and I will be together again until I am dead too.  It's incredibly hard.

I remember feeling very confused when other bereaved parents, whose writing I'd come to count on, would suddenly stop blogging.  Had they moved on?  Were they finally healed?  I now know that what happens is that the pain changes - as does the need to share it, as does the feeling of disbelief that everyone else's life simply moved on.  It moved on almost immediately for most, it just took me all of this time to get used to that fact.

I am not sure what this means for this little blog of mine - because Maxie is in my heart ALWAYS and sometimes I still feel compelled to write about it all.  I also feel compelled to be the proof for other bereaved parents that things will get better, because somehow, they do.  Stay tuned - and "follow my blog" if you don't want to check back here all of the time. Thank you for caring enough to read.

You are in my heart always
Your life is the basis of my soul
I will never, ever stop chasing your spirit
 and I can't wait for the day when I finally catch you
and my heart is complete once again 
I love you Maxie - forever and always and with every molecule in my body
I love everything about you - your beautiful eyes, your sweet voice, your perfect smile, the way you smelled, the fact that you were mine
To the moon and back again - five million times-
That's how much I love you baby


Em said...

I love the smile on his face under the playpen. I love fading your blog Abby but I understand how the pain changes. It's changing for me too but I still love writing my little blog.

Fiona said...

I love reading your blog too Abby. I know what you mean though. I stopped writing my blog when it stopped helping me but I do feel a duty to write that it gets easier than those early crippling months. I do want to help those who are starting out because that's what I needed to hear when all hope was gone.
I love these photos of your beautiful boy and I'm so glad that I got to hear all about him and 'meet' you.x

Abby Leviss said...

I am not quitting my blog entirely - just won't be around as much. Fiona - you know I love you and wee Jude. Thank you for sharing him....

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop writing. I am the one counting on it and I find support and understanding from this blog. I cut almost all the friends from real life, and blogs online are my new best friends now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abby - it's Susan (Catherine's mum) here...

Yes, yes - could just cross your name off the bottom and add my own, and I could have written this. I started wanting people to understand - but they can't or won't, and all you end up doing is wasting precious energy trying to explain to them.

The only people who get it, are the ones who are just in a place to go with you into that dark place in the first place - the ones who want to hear.

As you know, I stopped blogging too... It's not that your healed - I think it's just blogging doesn't work so well any more... you give words to these wordless things and your incrasingly finer articulation doesn't seem to help. You have got to a place where you understand absolutley what you mean - and you realise that however often or well you say it, that all these people who you so wanted to understand, never will. What was right for me was to redirect my energy into the Bar - that felt right...

It will come to you.. what to do next xx How about coming over to see us? xx

Chantel said...

I love your blog. Will keep reading anytime you post.

Egreeno said...

I'll miss reading frequent posts but I look forward to the occasional ones to come and I'm forever grateful for your honesty and openness in sharing Maxie with us through this blog. I pledge to remember your sweet boy every day blog or no blog.

Jayden's Mommy said...

Abby I know your blog your writing was a bit part of been alive today for me. I don't read very many blogs. I still do stop by this blog and read. I love seeing pictures of Mo. But we mentioned Maxie as if we have known him. You have kept his memory alive very much with us. Thank you. Those early stages of grief are very dark but it was nice to know there will be light somewhere ahead. Love, Kira

Auntie Mip said...

Abby, my mama has grieved for 46 years. She is happy. She enjoys life. But she has a hole that can never be filled. I just want to keep reiterating for you that this grief is NORMAL. If you lost a limb you would have phantom pains for a very long time. The brain does not recognize that the limb is gone. How can the brain comprehend the loss of a child? How can the heart? How can the soul? I will continue to pray for your healing. For your husband's. For more siblings for Max and Mo. That the real, not phantom pain of the death of your son ebbs away in time. Max is not forgotten. And neither is our David.

Taryn said...

Abby, I love checking in on you! I love hearing about Max and Mo. But, I understand that your needs change, and I think it is good that you are recognizing and honoring what you need. I hope you come back and share whenever you feel like it, but when you are away we will remember your beautiful Max. You have spread his light into the world through your blog.