Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turning a corner? Or the calm before the storm...

So, I’m not really sure what’s happening here. I’ve either turned a corner, or else this is an “up” time for me that is about to be followed by another “down”. I’m hoping it isn’t the latter.

How I feel right now contrasts so much from where I’ve been. About a week ago, I woke up, and I just felt completely different. It was the day after we attended a dedication ceremony and balloon release for our son, and it was just so moving and beautiful. We had so many friends and family in attendance, and I found the whole experience so incredibly meaningful and healing. There is now a place where our son's name is engraved alongside a butterfly in stone, and we can visit this place for reflection and meditation, and I love that.

I have read countless blogs in which women said something like this would NOT happen with grief. But I have to be honest, it was just like this switch had gone off in my head, and I decidedly wanted to LIVE. Over six months out, and I realized, you know what? I’m a survivor.

Let me interject here to say that I would give my life for my son to be here healthy and happy, even though my husband hates when I say that and always responds with, “So you’d leave me to be a single dad to raise twins?! No, I want YOU here with me.” It's just the love I feel for both of my children is so fierce, that I would literally do anything for them. I have dreamed of them since my own childhood. The love I feel is more intense than any other love I've ever known. I would trade places with my son without hesitation. But I don’t have that choice. I can’t go back, and even if I could go back, I wouldn’t have had that choice. And I am finally coming to realize that none of this is about choices I made. I know that when I am thinking logically, and I wish my heart would hurry up and catch up with my mind already. My instinct is to make sense of it, to push it into some sort of equation that all adds up, to categorize things again, fit things into boxes, see things as black and white, see the world fitting into my prior vision of a place of balance and justice and reason. I want to think there was a Plan. But now I know, things just happen.

Our family has suffered great heartache and tragedy, but for whatever reason, the rest of us are here. Our lives have been spared. And I don’t want to spend another minute in self-pity mode wasting this life that I’ve been given. Okay, that is totally unrealistic; I know there will be MANY moments of self-pity and guilt and all that darkness again. I know I am GOING to feel the horrible feelings again, the irrational thoughts will invade again, and I will sob and wail and as another blogger put it, “claw the carpet in anger” (I’m paraphrasing, here). So maybe for now I will just say, I don’t want to spend another DAY in self-pity mode. That seems much more manageable, doesn’t it?

Today, I’m okay. I've gone days without crying, actually. I had heard from others that this would happen but was in disbelief about it. I kind of feel like I am starting to “integrate" this loss as part of who I am instead of all I am.

It will never be okay that he’s gone. But maybe, just maybe, I will not only survive this because I can, but I’ll survive this because I WANT to. I’ll survive this because there are amazing people in my life, because I have a career I find fulfilling, because I have new aspects to my identity both inside and outside of parenthood (and parenthood should never be anyone's entire identity!), because I find such inspiration in all the incredible women I've met on my grief journey, because these women have added a richness to my life that I never knew before, because I have a daughter who deserves a mother who doesn’t mope and feel sorry for herself 24/7, because after all I've been through I know who my real friends are, because I want my son's legacy to be a positive one, because I have many, many, lessons to absorb from my wonderful son who just couldn't stay.

My son died.

I didn't.

It has taken me over half a year to realize this, fully, and to write it down so bluntly. Even now as I say it, I feel that stubborn old friend, guilt, gnawing at my heart. I feel guilty to be alive when he isn't. I feel guilty that I couldn't protect him. But the guilt is less today than it was yesterday, and I've reached a turning point where a bigger guilt threatens to overtake me - the guilt of having wasted the rest of my life. I can't let my son's death be the end of me. He died, but I didn't. And that is both a blessing and a curse. I have been focused on the negative of being here without him, how horrible that makes me feel, and how painful it is. Now it's time to take the same thing that causes me pain and realize it should bring me comfort. I am here. I am alive. I need to live my life to make my son proud. To waste my life would be cruel to my son's legacy. I know he doesn't want to be the end of me.

I will never be the same, nor should I be. Hell, I've read novels that have changed my life, so how could I or anyone else expect me to not be profoundly changed by the loss of my beloved chid? My world has flipped several times over the past two years, and it's still settling into place.

The pieces, slowly but surely, do begin to settle.

I know you never get over it, but you get through it, somehow.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll come out of all this somewhat recognizable, even.


  1. Wow, Lindsay, I just finished a blog post with a similar theme. I do believe so strongly that our son's would not want their death to be the end of us. And though it is hard to imagine going on living without them and eventually even living happily, this is truly what they would want for us. I too wrote about how I want to continue my son's legacy by giving back to others as he did when donating his heart.

    Something about deciding to live again is empowering. It feels good while at the same time there is always that bit of guilt that tells you it isn't right to do.

  2. I had one of these days where I realized I WAS strong and that despite me telling everyone that there was no other choice, I did have that choice. I chose to live and do so in a (mostly) healthy way. We are survivors and strong, even in our worst days. Many hugs to you and cheers for good days! :)

  3. This is one of the most moving posts I have read...to see how brighter your "aura" seems...loved reading!