It wasn't about you

Dear Friend,

We have not spoken in ages. I understand you were hurt by the way I acted after Max died. I retreated into myself. I did not always answer phone calls, emails or texts. When I did leave the safety of my home, I was very careful about where I went and with whom. I understand that you took this personally. I recognize that you tried to say the right things to me and found that I didn't respond, or even worse, sometimes those things you said upset me - even though you meant well. You didn't like the way I handled my grief - I wasn't very much fun to be around. Plus, you were going through some stuff too, and I wasn't really there for you in those early years after my baby died. I still sometimes don't seem to be "all there" - that's because I'm not.

I get it, dear friend. I understand why our friendship drifted away.You are not the only one who decided it would be easier to walk than to stick by my side. Still, I have been thinking a lot about it these past 5+ years and I just have to tell you (because it seems like you still don't really know this): it wasn't about you. The circle of people that made me feel safe was very small - I am sorry you weren't one of them. I had nothing in me at all to try and make you feel comfortable around me, because I was so uncomfortable myself. I just needed to be with people who naturally felt at ease being with someone in pain like I was. However that made you feel, it wasn't really about you. I am sorry that I was a drag to be around - it took everything I had in me to be around other people at all. I was fighting for my life. I promise, it wasn't about you. I know you tried to say the right thing, but for whatever reason, at that time, "the right thing" you said didn't resonate with me. It wasn't about you. Your ego was hurt, and I get that - but it wasn't about you.

So many of my friendships have been renewed since the really early days, most people realizing that my "rejection" of them wasn't really "about them". So many people kept their expectations of me fairly low, and didn't let their egos get in the way of supporting me. I am lucky because I know it isn't easy to stick by someone who is sullen, angry, and struggling. I am blessed to know real friendship, devotion and love. If I hurt your feelings after my baby died - I am sorry. I was, and continue to be, half the person I once was. All I can say is that I am working on it but it isn't so easy and also that it wasn't and still isn't about you. 


Auntie Mip said...

Oh Abby, I am so sorry this still is the case Oe thing I am learning in my aging, having suffered nothing so profound as the loss of a child, is that all one needs are a few close, loving and completely accepting friends. Beyond that it is all just too much work.

I love what your family looks like today I know this is what it is supposed to look like. I know you Maxie is a gaping hole. But there is something very beautiful and life affirming coming from those ashes. I hope between the ache of missing, you feel the joy of living. YOU are so strong. And Maxie is remembered. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy!

Ruby said...

I'm so sorry that your family doesn't look how it is supposed to look and that others still mistake what they perceive for what is. There should be another little face at the table every mealtime, another little body to tuck into bed every night, of course: Maxie's. There is nothing beautiful or joyful or lovely or life-affirming about the death of a child. Nor does it become any of those things with time. A loving parent will always want her baby to never have died.

Anonymous said...

I came here to see if you posted something new. I'm glad you did. Today is an especially rough day. It's rainy, dark and dreary. Last week, we survived a birthday, an anniversary and the first Thanksgiving. I'm three months into this lifelong grief journey. I have no desire to speak or hang out with anyone except my fellow grieving mothers online. I go to work. I put on a face. No one understands the enormous weight we carry. Abby, thank for sharing what I and many others feel.

Abby Leviss said...

Anonymous, three months is so early. So So So early. I wish I could say it will get easier...and I can, because it will....but it gets harder first. Nobody understands. To this day, five and a half years later, people think I am over it. Or, maybe they think it's a good way for me to look for attention. I don't want attention. I want them to understand that I am preoccupied with this loss day and night. I am haunted by his absence through every waking minute. I know you are too. At three months, I was barely a zombie all of the time. I am so very sorry. The worst part is the early part - coming to the realization that your experience mothering that child on earth is just over. Over. It's awful. Wouldn't wish it on the worst person on earth.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The day my pain fades is when I am reunited with my son and able to hold him again in my arms. He is also our first and was born in October (24th). He was 10 months old.

I wish people could understand that because child loss is uniquely tragic, there is no moving on or getting over it. Time does NOT heal all wounds. And just because we want to speak our son's name or share a memory, it doesn't mean we're looking for attention. What we want is compassion and understanding from our fellow human beings. Although I'm newly bereaved, I feel as though people are already thinking all the things you mentioned above.

Thank you again Abby. I'm happy for the beautiful family you have today. I'm also fully aware that the void in your life and missing piece in our heart will always remain no matter what. May your upcoming holidays be filled with peace, love and comfort.

Abby Leviss said...

I noticed that friends and family were particularly "bad" during the first year and a half - always trying to talk me out of being devastated, telling me to look at the bright side (which was what exactly??), taking personally my disinterest in making chit chat or inability to really feel deeply about problems and challenges people were facing that were not life and death. I am not sure what has happened in the years since - I think a combination of a few things:
1) Many of the people in my life who acted as if Maxie was something I should get over simply aren't in my life anymore
2) Those who are in my life have simply grown tired of trying to talk me out of being destroyed (mostly because they've decided that I am not "positive" so what's the point?
3) I care less about letting people in and when I am thinking about Max (all of the time), I generally keep it to myself. I honestly think people would be surprised to know how much I am thinking about him, missing him, and still trying to make sense of it all. They are telling me about how hard their day at work is and I am still trying to figure out how I am still standing. Honestly. I guess I've gotten really good at faking it.

Anonymous said...

Abby, I stumbled upon your blog via mutual friends and have been glued to it. I felt very compelled to comment. I have no words that can express how you must feel since losing your baby but I have to tell you that the strength you demonstrate, and that Ted demonstrates, is beyond admirable. You may not even think it's strength; in fact you may feel weak sometimes, but in my opinion you're still stronger than everyone around you whether you realize it or not. I went to school with Ted in our shared hometown (not sure if you publicize your exact location), but I didn't know him really. We ran in different circles, I guess. But I remember him as a nice guy. He likely wouldn't know or remember me. But to hear that this happened to him (and you, of course) was deeply saddening. However, it's really nice to know that his hometown where you decided to raise your family. I made the best friends of my life there and I wish the same for your kids, and mine. I have two toddlers of my own now and my fear of losing one or both of them is more than I can even consider. You're surviving and raising a beautiful family in spite of what you have been through. As a fellow parent but also just a fellow human, I feel grateful that you, Ted and your children have shared Maxie and yourselves with us. Thank you.

Abby Leviss said...

Thank you for this really nice comment.