…Death put on its steel-toed boots and mounted a restless stallion who then jumped on the back of a pissed of rhinoceros who, in turn, hijacked an overheating Mack truck and ran me the hell over.
On June 12th, 11 weeks ago today, I said hello and goodbye to my little girl. On that day, I saw the very deepest depths of hell and – I’m not gonna lie to you here – the PCA pump of Fentanyl that I had access to during my 30 hours in the hospital was nice. It is unquestionably easier to deal with the overly-lifelike aspects of life while you’re high as a kite and floating somewhere above your physical body. When that pump was shut off I was left here on Earth, gravity fully-engaged, with nothing more than an opiate hangover and an empty and confused belly.
I spent the remainder of June and July soaking in the mild early-summer sun and trying to move on. But I didn’t grieve. I kept moving and I avoided pregnant women like the plague. It’s not that I felt anger or jealousy about their pregnancies, it was more that pregnancy no longer brought with it an assumption of coming joy. When I saw a pregnant woman, my mind was reeling with the knowledge of the things that can and do go horribly wrong. In the past 11 weeks I have seen countless images of dead babies and each and every one of them is breathtakingly beautiful. But not in the same way that beauty is assessed by anybody who has not seen their own dead baby. There are more of us who have witnessed this beauty than you can even imagine and I will not go into the “fairness” of this because, as it all turn out, our mothers were right. Life isn’t fair. And although I suppose it’s all relative, there are millions of people in the world who are suffering greater injustices than you or I. I just heard a story yesterday of a woman in my area who was told that she had advanced stomach cancer. When the doctor performed the surgery to remove the huge tumor, he found that she was actually just pregnant. He “removed” the baby without telling her in hopes of covering up his own mistake. Not all doctors are good and I have learned this lesson in a most unfortunate way.
I have a beautiful, intelligent and loving 4-year-old daughter and she is almost the whole entire world to me. Watching her sleep is a joy that, prior to knowing her, I didn’t realize existed. In the grief community, people often say that their baby was “born sleeping.” I don’t care for this term because, let’s be honest, we would all prefer that our baby be born kicking and screaming, with a beating heart. Why sugar-coat it? Many well-meaning people have told me that I’m lucky to have my living daughter. And I am. But children are not interchangeable. Don’t they know that?
Being a mother has a way of tethering us to this earth. But what happens when one of your children isn’t on this earth? What then? I imagine that you’re stuck somewhere between the earth and the sky, in a sort of dyslexic purgatory.
August has been a blur. Sadness finds me every day and deep sadness brings its own share of physical pain as well. Apparently our bodies like to remind us that things have been shitty, and that things are pretty shitty still. Thankfully, fall is coming soon and I will be here greeting it with open arms. I welcome the break from the sunshine and the beginning of the Pacific Northwest’s long rainy season. I won’t get my baby in October but maybe I’ll get a chance to grieve her in the cool, damp darkness. Because, as Bob Dylan sang, “I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal.”