I really wanted to participate in Capture Your Grief this year but if there's one thing I truly suck at committing to, it's doing something everyday. At least right now. My husband is still smack in the middle of his busy time at work which means a lot of chaos, late nights and running myself ragged -- which doesn't make for the best recipe for writing inspiration. Most days, I'm more drained than usual. Still, I've really wanted to participate in this project and so I felt the best way to make this happen was by doing one (blog) post per week, completing all of the topics intended for a week in one big collective blog post. Bear with me and, maybe, one day I will be organized enough to actually do things on time. (I'm funny, huh?)
I took this photo on September 22nd, on the way home from Orange Theory. I've always been a morning person, at least until I had children. I've never exerted so much energy during the day before and it isn't until I've become a mom that I understand the desperate need for each moment of extra sleep and now I'd say I do my best work at nighttime. Still, I find myself setting my alarm and waking up when it's still dark outside to go work out a few times a week. I complain about it until I drive home and realize how oddly peaceful it is to watch the sunrise appear in the sky. That brief (four or so minutes) drive home, watching the sunrise is a little bit of peace for me before the day actually begins. The blazing, hot sun of the perpetual Florida summer is a reminder in many ways that Wylie isn't here. The sunrise is sort of a break from that.
Where do I even begin with this one? My daughter had a broken heart. Her heart was incompatible with human life and I'm still trying to make sense of that in my mind. I've sat in more specialist offices than I ever would have imagined I'd have to, listening to doctors tell me that her heart was broken and to what degree. My mind has warred with reality over this. I refuse to admit that my daughter was anything less than perfect, that it was her body that serves as the reason she isn't here with me anymore. Instead of posting one of the many echos or scans that depict her heart being broken, I have chosen to share the tattoo I got in her memory instead. I knew from the moment that we were losing her that I wanted a tattoo that depicted her heart whole and beautiful and perfect as it should have been. Her heart is whole now and it is only mine which is broken. I can accept my own imperfections before I can hers.
Before we lost Wylie, life was changing. In a good way. In the best way. Life was a whirlwind of registries to be made, rooms to paint, baby items to take out of the garage. Ethan was having a sister and I couldn't wait for him to understand what that meant (though, in hindsight, I am grateful now that he didn't grasp it then). Before we lost her, I wasn't afraid of much. I helped my mom order baby shower invitations and discussed Pinterest plans with my best friend. We let Ethan know his future sister's name and I decided our biggest worry was how long my husband would have off from work. I was nervous but only with excitement. I see now that there was so much naivety, too; naivety that no longer exists.
Now I fully understand what it means to live for your children. Some days the only reason we eat dinner is because Ethan has to eat and he begs me to help him whip something up in the kitchen. I've lost my motivation for a lot of things that were once routine and mostly because I feel zapped of energy or too distracted with thought or worry. I have always been a little (well, you know, maybe a lot) neurotic but it's sort of intensified in a weird way. The old me took Ethan to the ER when he fell on the playground or vomited more than once. The new me does the same, of course, but then also calls the doctor when he has a cold, or says his knee hurts, or when his bugbites swell. The new me wakes up at midnight to make sure the alarm is on and that the windows I've never opened are still locked and that Ethan is breathing. Without me even asking, Ethan's pediatrician listened to his heart for a long time at his three year visit to assure me that it was perfect and beautiful and the way it should be. For about a week I was relieved and then I began to worry she had overlooked something.
My journal is this here blog and I wasn't sure which photo to use, so I used this photo taken just the other day at the Jolie Bloom Pop Up Shop. I used this photograph because pretty much everyone in it is a blogger so it seemed the perfect representation of the blogging community. In addition, I'm not the only mom in the photo who has lost a child and that helps signify the sense of community that the blogging world provides. I'm an over-sharer and sometimes I wonder if perhaps that's not such a good quality to have, but then I get an e-mail from someone who is in the process of losing a baby themselves. Someone who has had a child diagnosed in utero with a severe illness, someone who is preparing for delivery of a child who isn't awake or someone who has been in the same shoes before I ever was. I get e-mails of thanks, or a plea for help, or someone who wanted to let me know that I helped them feel less alone and then I realize that my over-sharing is the right choice. I am grateful to have this space to write whatever it is I am thinking or feeling because I'm not me if I let the words stay cooped up in my brain.
An author I love and follow on Facebook promoted this book when it was in it's preorder stages and so I preordered it. It arrived when Ethan was 2 and only a few months before we decided to try for another baby, I sat down and read it. There was one passage in particular that stood out to me even then. The author had written that she couldn't imagine her son as an adult and looking back, she felt she always knew. Throughout my pregnancy with Wylie, I couldn't imagine her as an adult. Hell, I couldn't imagine her as a little girl. I blamed this on my legitimate fear over raising a girl in a sexist, oppressive society but tried not to analyze much despite the fact I had always been able to imagine Ethan as a teenager or an adult. This book is one of the first things that popped in my mind when I learned Wylie wouldn't be coming home with us awake and I still think of it often only now, I don't know if I possess the strength to reread it.
7. SACRED PLACE
For as long as I can remember, our happy place was the skatepark down the street. It began when Ethan was little and would be absolutely captivated by the teenagers doing tricks on their skateboards and bicycles. He could spend hours there watching them before he could even speak and, from there, it just became our family's special place. When Wylie passed, a group of our friends got together and had a tree planted for her at the skatepark. They had a plaque with her name on it placed at the base of the tree. This made our special place into a sacred place indeed, a place where we can go whenever we need peace and complacency and togetherness. Sometimes if I'm driving, I like to take a meandering route home just to pass by and see her tree there.