Fifth anniversary reality check

Perhaps you imagine me, on this morning, smiling and wistfully sighing, my eyes knowingly turned upwards, as I think about my child's spirit dutifully watching over us.

Perhaps you see that we have three beautiful, funny, and perfect children that bring us so much joy every day (the absolute healers of our souls).  You see that I have a really solid marriage to a truly awesome guy.  Maybe you've noticed that we seem to be doing well, despite that unfortunate "incident" that happened with our son, Max.

It brings you peace to see that life has become good again for us. I am no longer blogging every day about my deep unrelenting pain and if you spend any time with us, you recognize that our senses of humor are back in place as are most of our social tendencies.

I wish all of this were true or at all really indicative of what is in our hearts. The reality is a lot uglier than that. Five years later, I still find myself feeling completely lost and alone most of the time.  Five years later, I feel like I am somehow still waiting to see how this loss gets "resolved".  Five years later, we just don't talk about it all that much with anyone other than each other anymore.  When I do, I often regret it. I think that I have finally learned that most people don't really want to hear my thoughts about my son, and, I don't feel the same need to push it that I once did. Where once your discomfort felt like a slap in the face, now it just feels like human nature....and I mostly get it.

Ted woke up this morning and reminded me that he had said he'd shave his beard after five years - the beard he began growing on July 19th, 2011 - the day Max stopped breathing at daycare. The beard that was meant to be the outward representation of the changed Ted - the guy who went from a fun loving, glass half full, excited new father - to someone more deeply contemplative, more cynical - someone who'd had the "glass half full" half punched out of him. He's not ready to shave the beard because he's still that "afterwards" guy. I'm not ready for him to shave it either.

It seems crazy now that we really believed after five years, we'd be back to our old selves. We now know that we will never be the same people we were. Never.

The good news is that I've sort of stopped listening to the unhelpful stuff people have had to say.

For years people told me that we are lucky Max "was only a baby".  Those same people are now posting photos of their babies all over social media, they are the same people who kvell about the birth of their new grandchildren, the same people who cry about not having babies of their own. 

He didn't live.  And it wasn't because we didn't love him enough, or he wasn't tenacious enough, or he wasn't "a fighter", or we didn't pray enough. I know nobody ever said those things - but I read between the lines.

I know, and don't necessarily feel the need to always remind those who make the comparison, that Max dying while at daycare was not like your dog dying, or your miscarriage, or your ninety year old granny passing peacefully after a long a beautiful life. I never said those things aren't sad.  I was very sad with my first miscarriage, very sad when my grandparents died, and still feel a deep longing for my sweet Jake. Those things are all very, very sad.  But I get it now that you'll never really know that the comparisons make no sense....and aren't really helpful.  "To compare is to despair", said our grief counselor all of the time during that first year.  I didn't really get it then.  I do now.

We are still grieving...maybe even more in some ways than in the beginning...but the trauma isn't as paralyzing. We are still angry, and sometimes the most unexpected and slight thing can turn it back on......but it's not like it was.

That being said, we still think about him all day every every moment that you think we are not: whenever we hear of a new pregnancy, whenever a new baby is born, whenever a child turns nine months, or ten months, or five years old, or graduates from pre-school, or starts kindergarten.  Whenever someone shares photos of their baby on Facebook (even though they are "just babies"), Whenever we hear how much a child who's going away to camp, or college, or a sleep over will be missed. Whenever our living children play together, or play with other kids, or play with kids that are the age he would be...or was.  Whenever we see pictures of you cuddling your child that is the age our child would be, should have already been by now or once was. Even if the thought is sometimes only a flash - it's always there.

I really don't think we are ever not thinking about him.

In the beginning, I wanted everyone to know that he lived. He was here!!!  He was special. He was mine. But, I now recognize that it only matters that we remember him, that we love him, that we continue to find ways back to his heart. There is nothing I can do to make him important to anyone else in the whole world.....and that is ok.

After all of these years - which have felt like the blink of an eye and an eternity at the same time - he feels too special to share outside of the safe wall we've built around our little family. Just because you hear of him less, doesn't mean he is any less present for us.

Max was our everything.

He was everything. He was our everything. And, it still makes no sense at all.

My sweet darling boy -  You are my heart

I will be searching for you in everything that is and will ever be
I love you more than any feeble words are able to say
Everything that you are and were is in me forever
and the thought that I might see you again is what keeps me going.
I love you Max - to the moon and the stars and beyond.

"You and I will be together until the Universe dissolves". - Rumi


Carina said...

Abby, sitting here in tears for you, your husband, your family, and mine too. Your son Maxie should be with you. This post is so true, I am four years into this. Thank you for writing.

Abby Leviss said...

I love you Carina.

TamaraL said...

Your words are beautiful and raw. Although I don't know you or your family, I send my thoughts and best wishes to you all.

Chantel said...

Beautifully written. Still so sorry for your loss...

jessica said...

Maxie wasn't "only a baby". He was a promise, a son, a brother, a best friend, a partner, a father and so many other things that he doesn't get to be and, most of all, your everything. It is still so unfair. 5 years and it is still so, so unfair. I am sorry that your beautiful boy isn't here with you and with us. He is remembered, loved and missed every single day. I know that doesn't help but we will never forget him. I love you. xo

Egreeno said...

This week, this day, you will always be on my mind more than usual. As long as I live I vow to remember Maxie. I love you and your four amazing, beautiful children!

robyn said...

my heart break for the life that Maxie was not allowed to live and for the sadness he left behind. i love you and think of you and maxie always. you, maxie and your whole family are in my thoughts and always in my heart. i love you abby!

Unknown said...

As I sit here and read this I know max would have been a good big brother to myla...I now know in my heart I made the right decision cause shr us not only healthy but she is very happy and loved.... I hope that we always stay connect forever and always... sorry for the lose... love always Reevah

Abby Leviss said...

She is such a gift in our lives. She makes us laugh every day. She is funny, and sweet, and loving and so so so so cute!!! Thank you for trusting us with her. She is beyond our wildest dreams!

Unknown said...

You are so very welcome... I hope me and you can have a long last relationship with each other... you are the best mother I could have asked for my child... I still have my bad and good days but my heart is very content.... love always reevah

Unknown said...

Abby I am so sorry for your loss...I'm glad we crossed pathes! You are an inspiration! People often get caught up with the smaller obstacles they face in life but here u are going through this hurt and still able to inspire us all. You guys are amazing parents and amazing people to be around! May your sweet Angel Max continue to watch over you all and fill your hearts with warm memories! Love u guys!

Susan said...

Bloody hell - this is all so true. Feels like I could have written every word. Huge hug - Max (and you) are special to me Xx