“You are on the floor crying, and you have been on the floor crying for days. And that is you being brave. That is you getting through it the best you know how. No one else can decide, what your tough looks like.” – Clementine von Radics
This weekend, I unpacked two boxes.
I say this triumphantly.
I say this with pride.
I say this, as if two boxes made a dent in the unpacking process.
Because, this weekend, I unpacked two boxes of Addison’s things. This weekend, I held baby clothes in my arms, put hangers in the closet, collected toys in a bin. This weekend, I took a small step forward. I began to allow myself to feel the tingles of excitement for the room our daughter will have. For all the love we have to give her, for all the moments we will one day share. I allowed happiness to enter into our home in anticipation for her arrival.
But this weekend, I also cried. I sat sobbing on the floor of our nursery, hands clasped around a Christmas bootie purchased at the dollar store. It is one of a set. “My Very First Christmas” written in white on cheap red cotton. Tears streamed down my face as I remember constantly putting the booties back on, as they slipped off Addison’s tiny feet. I remember our Christmas photos, the excitement, the acknowledgement that this Christmas would be “more fun” for her, as she would’ve been older. I remember all the Christmas’ to come, ones that she will never be present for. My heart aches. Richard joins me on the floor of the nursery, and we sit in silence together until I place the bootie back in its’ box. Two boxes unpacked is enough for one day – No one else can decide what your tough looks like.
“Loving you changed my life. It should come as no surprise that losing you has done the same.” – Chloe Frayne
Life in grief is different. Each day a silent battle, each moment a dangerous minefield to navigate. Somedays are simple. The sun rises and sets, life continues in your absence. We are learning to walk again despite the storm. We are learning that we can experience joy despite our pain. This is what it means to be grieving. This is what it means to be living. At 26 weeks pregnant, memories of you are the calm in my storm. The reminder that there is beauty despite the darkness. How blessed I was to have been your mama. How blessed I am for the lessons you’ve taught me, both in your life, and in your death. How lucky I am to be able to open my heart to love once more. What a beautiful 6 months we were given together. How grateful I am for the time we shared.
This pregnancy is different, and yet the same in so many ways. At 26 weeks, my body aches constantly. Peanut is a fan of sticking her feet into my ribcage, and she does so often. She is a nocturnal being, waking me at 3am. I remember these moments from my pregnancy with Addison – for some reason, my girls love the night. Perhaps it is because it is the time when everything is quiet. Or maybe they just like waking mama up. Who knows. My anxiety during this pregnancy however, has reached an all time high. Every question I have is followed up by 50 “what if” scenarios, every slight discomfort becomes a cause for concern. I spend a great deal of time quieting my own mind. Reminding myself that my anxiety is valid, but I do not owe it a response or reaction each time. It is difficult, and exhausting. Oftentimes, my fear wins and I find myself googling statistics on SIDS, on pregnancy complications, on stillbirths, and more. It is a complicated situation, where I am reminded constantly that I need to have faith that things will be okay. I say complicated, because when your worst “what if” has already happened, quieting those questions is hard.
Tomorrow, I will unpack two boxes. I will hold Addison’s memory tight to my chest. I will allow the leftover love I have for her to spill out when needed. I will put away clothing. I will make the bed. I will allow my excitement for Peanut’s arrival to continue to grow. I will continue to be gentle with myself, as we navigate through waters we never expected to go through. I will allow the light that her arrival brings to shine through the darkness. There is no map we can follow. No textbook directions on how to grieve, how to navigate through this loss. How to continue forward, while still treasuring our past. We are the writers of our own script, the makers of our own map. It is a journey with many twists and turns. A journey of courage, of fear, and of love.
“Grief, is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”