It begins again.
Losing Emily is finally hitting me. Grieving is no prettier the second time around, either.
Yesterday we accepted an offer from one of our favorite neighbors to come over for dinner. They have two children, the second a little girl named Annabelle born two months before Anna. So while I really want to develop a solid friendship with them because we like them alot, they are also... tough. The last time we saw them was several minutes after Emily was taken back - we were supposed to go over for dinner that night too. But instead we went and I cried on my friend and another neighbor until my head hurt so much I thought I would throw up or explode. She sent us home with the dinner they’d planned for us, along with a couple of welcome beers. Good neighbors, great people.
I was fine with the plan until I left work at the hospital at 5:45, but found myself in tears within minutes, apparently spurred by knowing I wouldn’t be able to look this friend/neighbor in the eye without seeing in them ‘I’m so sorry, how are you, I’m so sorry’. And suddenly how much I really do hide from people and how much of a refuge I make our home became very transparent. (How easily it is to fool yourself into thinking that you’re really doing fine. Bitter maybe, frustrated, and yes, sometimes sad but overall okay - after all “It’s not as bad as losing Anna was”. HA! So stupid...) I tried to pull it together in the peace of our backyard, but found I could hardly talk to Brad nor look him in the eye, so overwhelming were my emotions. I encouraged him to go over and represent us both while I had the meltdown I couldn’t suppress, which he reluctantly did. And then...It Came.
Suddenly there I was again on the floor of the nursery, curled into myself, rocking, moaning, shrieking, my insides pouring out onto that pretty pristine Pottery Barn rug. I pulled out the sweet new purple and green cloth bin that my friend Sarah just couldn’t stop herself from buying even though she’d already bought too much, that week we were able to pick Emily up. It houses her swaddle blankets and burp cloths, and those were the items that tore me up this time. With Anna the triggers were the clothes she never got to wear. But we used these things - we got to use them- every day. I have more connection to her in these than in nearly any other ‘baby armament’ items - I knew which blankets were so stretchy that she’d wheedle one or both arms out within minutes, I knew which burp cloths she’d violated the most, and especially which ones we used our last 7 hours when we never put her down.
By the time the worst of it was washing away I could hardly see for my swollen eyes and my upper lip was tender, fat and hard. I don’t recall another time that my face became so distorted, like I’d been physically beat up. Three hours later I was still startled by my reflection. Grief is never convenient. Even now it’s unnerving how quickly it comes up, seemingly out of nowhere, a force unto itself that won’t be denied and doesn’t care what else you have going on. The irony is it’s usually the thing you have going on that forces the tide into consciousness. And the cruelty that you can’t plan ahead and reschedule so that no one knows. Grieving is embarrassing. Doesn’t fall into typical realms of social acceptability. The kind of thing to be done behind closed doors. When it leaks out... ooh, the vulnerability.
I was lucky my neighbors are people who can handle leaking. The husband just gave me a hug, The wife didn’t comment about my face but rallied up and joined me in a stiff drink, treated me like a normal person but was willing to go to the dark place if still warranted. Thank you, guys.
I am astonished we 'get' to do this again, with a different child. Astonished.