Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I've been in a place of reflection today about this journey. In the beginning, I had the natural desire to rush and hurry through the hurt. When the pain you feel strikes your soul and leaves you breathless because you fear another breath will kill you, you know you've been giving more than you can handle. So, you handle it with denial, magical thinking, wailing, and the like.
But, there is no rushing grief. You have to pay attention. You have to work. And much of that work is denial, so you can catch your breath and so your body can catch up to your mind that knows she's dead. And magical thinking that some how the nurses will bring her back and lay her in your arms--and it never happened, so you can hope and feel that anticipation of holding your child again. And wailing, you must allow yourself to feel the bad this feels. I truly believe that.
I had a doctor suggest that I accept a prescription for "the depression." "You don't have to feel this bad." Well, I disagree. I think I did and I think I do. I have a right to feel how I feel and I'm convinced that I had to feel the full weight of Caitlin's death in my life, because that was and is the only way I'll know for sure that I am weaving her life and death into my own. I had to honor and acknowledge everything connected to my daughter--the joy she gave me and the pain of losing her--it's all love and I'm not giving any of that up by numbing it with a pill.
I feel the weight of her death now, but I'm stronger. I hold it with more tenderness.
Lately friends have been commenting about how much better I look and sound and seem. And the word they use is "better," I'm grateful, I haven't heard the dreaded "you seem to be over it" that other bereaved mothers sometimes hear. And it's true, I am doing better. I'm stronger to carry my grief. I've lost 30 pounds. I smile more readily and I laugh louder than I did before.
A woman remarked to me the other day, "I saw your son's name in the program at school." I replied with surprising ease, "no, that's not possible. I don't have a son. The only child I have lives in heaven." "Oh, I thought I saw your name," and she continues to talk. But, I'm not listening, I'm thinking about how natural that was to share that I have a child. And to share that she is dead.
That's important to me because that natural response was a sign that not rushing grief has helped me transform an otherwise debilitating exchange into one where Caitlin and her mother were a normal part of a conversation as any other subject would be.