My house is like one of those carnival attractions where you walk through this maze of fun house mirrors and everything looks distorted, you feel disoriented and it can be difficult to find your way around.
Basically, that does sum it up. You can't imagine what it feels like to be me. I am heartbroken. Tired. I am pregnant. Joyful. I am still an on Mommy duty 24/7. Exhausting. I am married to a man who lost his first son. Challenging. I am heartbroken. Heartbroken.
I don't know how this "I lost a child" thing is really supposed to look. I hear so many people saying, "I don't know how you're standing up!" or "I would just want to go to bed and never get out if it were me." So many of the options and the ways that people assume they would handle it if it were to happen to them... are just not how it looks for me right now.
Sure, I don't like to answer the door. Yes, it's true that I don't want to answer the phone. I definitely don't want to socialize or go to the grocery store. But I still have to wake up and get Brian dressed and fed and drive him to school... and three hours later I drive him home. He asks a thousand questions - one leading right into another - and I try to answer every one until I finally have to say, "Let's be quiet for five minutes." And he says, "Why?" And then we are back to the beginning. He still wants to read and play and he still needs to be bathed and kissed. And every night, the three of us climb into Gavin's bed to read a book. Then, we all take our turn tugging gently on the "Invisible String" hanging on the closet door. Brian always goes first. He closes his eyes, pulls on the string and says "Goodnight, Gavin. I love you." Then it's my turn. Then Daddy's turn. I could never, because of my own grief, deprive this sweet child of days like these. Even though I'm not as animated as I was a month ago, I'm still here... present... and in love with Brian.
Finding out I was pregnant was - at first - like a sucker punch. The timing seemed like a cruel joke. All those years that we were trying and trying. Then, we stop trying - we give up - I give away ALL of our baby things. To know that I was pregnant on the very day Gavin died was just too much to take. But then, on the other hand, we were both thrilled... overjoyed... filled with hope. The early days, during the viewing and the funeral, many people hugged me and looked into my eyes with great concern. "Please take care of yourself," they would say. I wanted to reply, "Trust me. I will. You have no idea how I will." I also had to go to the bathroom so bad and stood there through 400+ people which, I'm thinking, should qualify me for some type of an award. These days, I am trying to balance pregnancy exhaustion with Brian's "I am never tired!" attitude with grief with pregnancy paranoia with trying to just stay calm and believe. I am determined to BELIEVE this baby BORN in December. If all goes well, Brian will share his birthday month and become a big brother all at the same time. I am BELIEVING this baby born. I got another glimpse of "Project Hope" this morning and all is well. Growing appropriately, heartbeat strong, and looking like I'm a little over 7 weeks along. I'm just going to believe.
I have heard and read that marriages take a hit after the death of a child. That divorce rates, which are already ridiculously high anyway, go up 10%. This is not... and I repeat NOT... an option for us. Ed and both realize something important. We both lost a son. But each of us lost something different. We both had a unique relationship with Gavin and because of that, we will grieve for him differently. It takes an extraordinary amount of patience to sometimes put your needs aside to help someone else. I might be in "box throwing in the garage" mode while Ed is in "I need to cry and talk" mode - but sometimes we need to postpone our need to sit with the other. And that is just fine. And sometimes we need space - and we need to remember it's not personal to the other person to say we want to be alone. It's a dance - and we're constantly trying to keep it smooth and not step on each others toes. I am devastated for Ed. He misses his buddy so, so much. Ed loves big - and hard. He often got choked up just saying goodnight to the boys. This is a very hard time for him. And Ed struggles with how to help me, too! I don't often talk things out much. I save it for my writing. When I write everything out - almost stream of consciousness - it's my therapy. It always has been. I write and write and write and then walk away feeling lighter. It doesn't really matter what comes after - the feedback part - because my writing is rather selfish. It's all for me. I have always felt that writing is so much better than a conversation. If I sat across the table from someone and spilled my guts - it puts an unspoken pressure on the other person to "say" or "do" or "fix" something.
The truth is... no one can say or do or fix anything. Gavin is dead. And he has left us here to learn how to survive in a way that will completely honor him. Any other options will not be entertained.
Tomorrow will be yet another hard day. It is the three year "birthday" for our precious daughter, Darcy. Brian and I will go shopping in the morning for three pink balloons... one for Daddy, one for Mommy and one for him. We'll also get a cake and have our own little birthday party. No, I'm not in the mood... and no, I don't want to celebrate... but it's not about me. Not tomorrow, anyway. So, we will eat cake. And sing Happy Birthday to Heaven.
That is what it feels like.