The due date

It’s coming. In six days. When Henry was supposed to be born.

I’m observing myself.

How do I feel? Am I okay? How should I feel?

And there aren’t any roadmaps here. It’s desolate, and hard to see three feet in front of my face. I don’t know what’s there. I don’t know how to prepare myself.

There could be smooth road, or there could be a giant pothole, like a swimming pool, and if I’m not careful, I could drown in it, or at least wallow for a while.

My non-pregnant self is desperately scaling the walls. She wants to have a baby in her, this womb of mine. It was supposed to have a baby in it, but genetics had a say about that and took away motherhood after we thought we were in the clear.

And now the due date approaches. It’s going to come quickly. Fiercely. Ruthlessly. For this son of mine who was already born. A due date for a dead baby who already has a birthday.

There’s no logic for this. Babies aren’t supposed to be dead. They’re supposed to pass milestones and make friends and learn and grow and laugh and cry and change and be hugged and loved and taught. They’re not supposed to be dead. But mine is. The Grim Reaper was beside me the whole time. Waiting to collect what was his. And now he has Henry, and I’ll never get to hold him again. Aside from his ashes, worn around my neck, close to my heart.

The pain is part of me

Not to sound melodramatic, or like I should write 90’s goth songs, but, yeah, this pain is now a part of me. Like shoving an octagon into a small, square box. It bulges at the sides. It’s a silent pendant. It’s a presence lurking about shoulder-level. Some days, it’s more omnipresent than others.

The reality of this shadow hit me over the week while I was vacationing in Cuba with my mom (a sweet gift she gave me to get away from my dreary life). I didn’t tell a soul that that’s why I was on holiday. I didn’t do anything more than participate in inane chit chat with the strangers at the resort. I’m sure everyone had their reasons for needing a break.

The pain is never going to go away. I’m simply living with it – though there is nothing simple about it. Being away from home really let it sink it. It’s part of my personality. It’s part of my face when I smile and laugh. I am the sad clown. I’m in the background, front and centre. I don’t need to talk. I don’t need to participate. I also don’t need to announce my passenger or cease to experience and live life because of it. It’s just always there. I don’t need to wear it as a badge and centre a room around my pain. No. It’s just part of who I am. I don’t need to draw attention to it any more than I need to discuss my eye colour, or the clothes I wear. But if you look closely, the pain is my most prominent feature.

My life as a ciché

I have always scoffed at cliches and generalizations. You can’t lump a life’s experience into a few simple catch phrases, and you can’t assume anything about anyone else’s life, minimizing their joys and pains to something that can be more easily digested by others who probably have no clue how you really feel.

But occasionally these very arbitrary socially acceptable nicknacks can help you stay afloat when life’s circumstances are too unimaginably painful to look straight in the face. Like losing a close friend, a parent, a child, a beloved pet, your home.

So here’s a couple that have been swimming around my mind that I have accepted as true for me, right now.

It’s the little things that count. There are only little things. That’s most of what life is, I find. Little changes that accumulate to become significant shifts as time goes on. I realized this last night when I reached for my head massager that’s always on my nightstand, right next to my box of tissues. The tissue box is the closest thing to my head as I sleep, but last night, when I took up my massager for the first time in a dog’s age, I switched both of them around. Now, the massager is closest to me. It’s a small thing – just one of a small avalanche of changes that are probably taking place that I pay no heed.

Tissue box = always crying = living in continuous pain and grief. Head massager = relaxation = relief = closer to peace, and now, physically closer to me. This little thing has some significance, and I only recently noticed it, and I accept it as an important event.

Fake it ’til you make it. There is no.way. I will ever be okay with my child being dead. Never.ever.ever.ever.EVER. I could choose to stay and wallow in my misery. I’d be within my rights if I never left my house again, never saw friends again, never tried at life again. I would also be within my rights to never smile again, never be happy again. But that’s not how I am. Despite this shit storm, I’ve managed to laugh with honesty, smile with sincerity, and find moments of happiness and contentment despite living in a veritable, unbelievable hell. These moments don’t happen every day, and normally, I would find this catch-phrase a dishonest way to go about life. But I’ve been drawn to it, I seem to be hearing it everywhere, and I can see how it could be good advice in some situations.

How faking it until you make it works.

Most days, I am sad, irritable, unhappy. But I’m starting to feel ready to push myself just a tiny bit, at my own pace, and i see an opportunity to really test how this will go with Christmas not far off. While I’m nervous about the holidays, and have nothing to celebrate this year, I’m going to fake it. It’s an important time of the year for my partner and his family, so for Tyler, I’ll put on a brave smile and go through the motions of happiness and celebration. I’ll choose not to forsake the living for the memory of the dead. I’m still going to be sad. Very sad. Which is why it’s called faking it. It won’t be sincere happiness. It won’t be genuine laughter. I’m going to be artificial, shallow, and just do it to get it over with, but then maybe, over time, my fake emotions might convince me that I might actually be having a good time. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Time heals all wounds. This is very similar to what I just wrote about faking it. I’ll never be truly happy, for reasons that are obvious to me. It hasn’t even been two months since we said goodbye to Henry, but I’ve managed to crawl out of bed to feed the bunnies, eat because I was hungry, and shower because I knew it would make me feel good. I went for a massage, saw a clairvoyant, and ate chocolate because I liked it and these things brought me comfort. I actually craved comfort. This is only possible with the passage of time – bringing me both farther away, and closer to my son. My pain feels less raw, my wounds not as fresh. I’m gently pushed along as the days pass by. If I had the choice, I would forever be in the delivery room, holding my child, but that’s not the way things work. I’m here now, feeling less fragile over time. It’s not a staircase of progression, though – it’s an evolving circle, so I know I will revisit misery. It’s just becoming a familiar, Everest-sized bump in my healing journey that gets less devastating to re-climb as time goes on.

Memorials, anxiety, and the bunny

We were showered with love this weekend. We held a small, private memorial for Henry. It was my first social event since mid-September, and I was really happy to see friends and family, some who traveled quite far to be with us. We have been so well supported by them and others, and we were able to experience that in person. It was magical – and the wine helped!

I feel so comforted that my son was acknowledged and embraced this weekend. He has been a catalyst for love, and it means so much to me that he will be remembered.

And today, we went to the SPCA to adopt a new bunny. It was SUCH a difficult decision, mostly because I was ridiculous and wanted to see several rabbits before making a decision (BAD IDEA!!). It was stressful, especially with the accumulated emotions of the last little while. I probably didn’t need to go through that, and I kindof wish that I just went with the rabbit I thought I was sold on. I’m absolutely over thinking this. But we decided that once Thea – our new bunny – is settled, we will be fostering Penny (rabbit choice #1 who we didn’t adopt), so we’ll have both at least for a little while. With Wilbur, this means that our house will have an adorable bunny infestation!

Welcome, little Thea!

As good as this weekend was with getting a new bunny, seeing our nearest and dearest, and honouring sweet Henry, I’m feeling a lot of anxiety. I’m trying to identify why I feel this way while remembering to breathe. I’m not used to seeing people, for one. I did get a small taste of ‘regular’ life, and maybe I am just at the limit of what I can tolerate emotionally. I also feel really guilty for not taking Penny, especially since she reminds me of Sweetie (my poor, recently deceased bunny).

I’ll just digest this slowly, maybe take a bubble bath and drink some tea to calm my nerves, and get to know Thea. It’s nice to have something positive to focus on right now after losing two precious ones in such a short period of time.