Today is my birthday. My Facebook wall fills up with hopes that I will have a ‘wonderful’ day, an ‘awesome’ year, and I want to shriek back: ‘have you not been following along? Did you not notice the posts about my dead baby? Dead babies do not tend to make for wonderful birthdays, for awesome years.’ But Facebook is only for pretending that everything is so much more than fine; my grief does not belong there and no one wants it to.
I go through the motions of a birthday. There are presents left by R on the table in the morning though he is already at work and E rips enthusiastically at the paper while I pretend to be excited. We meet R later at the playground before we go to my mom’s for a birthday supper. He and I are careful with each other and I am beginning to see how lovers lose each other in the face of this loss, how easy it would be to close ourselves up, immure ourselves in our separate sorrows, drift slowly, subtly, irreparably apart. My brother and his girlfriend and their dog come to the supper. There is cake. More presents. As usual I pretend to be okay so that nobody else has to feel badly. Why do I do this? It is a trait that is deeply engrained in me; I’m a people pleaser through and through.
‘A sham,’ I want to yell. ‘A farce.’ I want to put my head in my hands and cry. Wail and moan and keen. If I start, I don’t think I will stop.
After a period of seeming to function, of managing the day-to-day and even enjoying some of it, this week has struck me down. She is not here and she should have been. I yearn for both the plump little two-monther I should be holding and the dead little ghost girl I did hold. I mourn them both. I mourn our family and the new spaces between us. Loss opens up great chasms, holes we will fall head first into if we are not terribly careful, and in all our eyes a new wariness has appeared. We are not our old selves and we are only now beginning to realize that we never will be again. I think that is what’s happening now: we are realizing that this really happened to us, that this really is our life, and the weight of this realization sits on my chest, at the back of my throat. I am exhausted. I am empty and scared. And I am angry. Enraged. I look at my beautiful E, and want to cry for all she has lost: the Baby Sister she so badly wanted, but also her Mommy, the one she had no reason but to think would always be hers but who was so suddenly hollowed out by shock and grief. She never knew insecurity before this; she knows it now and that breaks my heart, sometimes almost as badly as the memory of her dead sister’s weight in my arms, of leaving her behind, alone, in that silent hospital room.
I notice that in the title of this blog I have written ‘Spring, without her,’ as if somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that there would also be summer, without her, and fall, without her, and winter, without her, and then, again, another spring, without her. She is never coming back. Our happy ‘before’ is over and everything from now on is ‘after.’ After Anja.
Some new feeling is building and building inside of me and I am terrified.
And I wonder if I am crazy to be writing this all down. What do I want from this? Will I regret these words, this space, this public outpouring of my very personal grief?
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[Edited to add:] I want to post this to Angie’s project, but as I read through other postings I think: I haven’t captured where I am the way others there have. Is it because many are further along from the loss? Does the ability to articulate come with time? Right now, I think the best way to really articulate where I am would be an animal howl, a shuddering sob. I cannot do it justice in words or find the right images and metaphors. I can only ask in the most prosaic and primal way: what happened to my baby? To us? To all our lives?