Monday, April 1, 2013

A Day at the Beach

It's a beautiful day in Cocoa Beach. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The breeze is gentle and cool. Mike and I are visiting friends down from New Jersey. We started out on the beach and have since moved to the pool of their rental. I, of course, have to forgo the water because none of my bathing suits fit, so I am writing this blog post on my ipad instead.  This morning I had a slight meltdown when I tried to find something to wear. Meaning well, Mike brought me a sundress from the closet when he pulled out his own clothes. A sundress that barely fit Before. There is no way it's going on me now. I finally found a big, flowy dress that could work, but I needed a strapless bra, none of which fit me either. So, that's fun. I know pregnancy changes your body. I know it takes time to get back to what might be considered normal, and I plan on beginning an exercise regime as soon as I can. That's not the point. The point is I am fat and doughy, nothing fits me, and my baby is dead. I had a baby but I don't have a baby. Somehow, I imagine the body issues seem less irritating when you're nuzzling the soft skin of your baby's chubby legs. You see a woman on the beach with a saggy belly and a baby, and you think to yourself, "Oh, look! She just had a baby. Good for her! She looks great!" For some reason, I feel the need to explain myself. "You see, I'm not normally this gross. I just had a baby. You wouldn't know that, of course, because she's in a vase in my living room, but I did. It doesn't look like it now, but this body served a great purpose. That purpose was taken from me, so now you can't tell. But it happened, I swear!"

There is an attitude of indignation that mothers of loss feel when we see life carrying on with out us. Here, at the beach, families are having picnics, splashing in the water, making sandcastles. They are untouched by my grief. Their lives continue without my baby, and it ticks me off! They chat. They laugh. They live. Why aren't they as devastated as I am? Why hasn't the entire world stopped to mourn her? Why does everything continue as normal? It's not right. If I have to feel broken and empty, everyone else should too. And then I wonder, how many of these people are just like me...looking at the world with hollow eyes. Appearing to be okay on the surface, but a river of sadness just a thin layer below. How many people are walking through life with a mask on? A mask of normalcy and social graces. How many of them, like me, want to take that mask off every once in a while and shout into a crowded room "Hey! I hurt! She's gone and I can't stand it!" How many of them are tired of holding back their tears so others don't stare? How many never go anywhere without a stash of tissues and big sunglasses? How many of them are tired of pretending that seeing other people oblivious to their pain destroys them inside? I'll bet you it's more than you think.

Again, it's all about survival. We are all surviving. We all do what needs to be done to carry on. What would the world be like if everyone broke down whenever they felt like it? We just can't. Donning that mask every day is a part of this new life. I put it on before I go out into the world. I secure the ties nice and tight so it doesn't fall when I need it the most. Like when I am talking to the cashier at the grocery store, buying eggs to replace mine that expired on my baby's due date. Or when I'm eating lunch in a restaurant full of people who have no idea that I am dying inside, and that I want to be anywhere but here. We all pretend. We pretend we don't hurt. We pretend we aren't about to burst into tears, or that we haven't just done so. We pretend that we don't feel completely alone in a crowd. Whether you have experienced loss or not, we all pretend at least every once in a while. Every last one of us. Some of us just have to do it every day.

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