I had an appointment with the psychiatrist today. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I felt before going in and while I was there and how I feel is this: I feel like I have a normal life. It is not everyone’s version of a normal life, but it is mine. I have two living children and one dead one. I experience joy and sorrow daily, hourly even, and I carry a weight with me everywhere, one that fluctuates, that is easier to carry on some days than others but that is always there. I expect to experience periods of more intense grief than I am currently experiencing and I expect to experience less intense periods and I think this is normal, too. Normal for me, now. Normal for the rest of my life. There is no getting around grief or going back to a time when grief wasn’t part of my everyday life. There is no getting better or recovering and I don’t want to get better or recover. There is only this life and it is normal, for me, and it will change, constantly, and that change will be normal, too.
At least that is how I feel today.
While I was at the hospital, I went to see Anja’s baby tile for the first time. Most of the baby tiles are mounted on the walls of the main entrance to the hospital and in the maternity wards, but Anja’s is in the waiting room for Labour & Delivery. It was so strange to stand there, today, amongst expectant family members, with Marco on my shoulder, taking pictures of her tile. I felt so conspicuous. My baby died and I was here to remember her in a room full of people waiting for babies to be born. I remember standing in that room waiting for a nurse to take us to the room where Anja would be delivered. We stood so close to each other, R and I, our eyes red and swollen, and the nurse, when she came, could not look us in the eye, fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger and glanced repeatedly back over her shoulder. ‘I’m sorry,’ I wanted to say.
I’m glad the tile is up. I’m glad her name is there. 19 months later, I still feel the shock of her death, and standing in that waiting room, could conjure without difficulty the fear I felt on January 13, knowing and not knowing what was ahead of me in the next 24 hours.
Today I worked on my syllabus for the class I start teaching in a few weeks. I took E to daycare. I fed and changed and snuggled M. I had coffee with my mom. I saw the psychiatrist. I visited my dead baby’s memorial tile. I did groceries. I sent emails. I visited with neighbours. This is my normal life. This is it.