I am now past the point where it makes sense to still be pregnant. I can't keep pretending she's still on her way, even for one blissful second. She's not. By now, I should have a baby. A baby who should be anywhere from 6 to 3 weeks old. A baby who should be keeping me up at night, who should be sleeping in her crib and squirming in my arms. I should just now be putting her in her stroller to go for a walk around the block. Yesterday, Mike and I went out to lunch because I had a Panera's gift card and we needed to get out of the house. We sat outside on the patio. Again, it was a nice spring day. The sun was shining and a soft breeze blew through the bushes. All I could focus on was the empty space next to the table. The space where the stroller should be, but is not. I spaced out and lost myself in my thoughts for a few moments. Mike noticed and tried to call me back, but it was too late. I had already spiraled down into sadness. My lunch was ruined. I was no longer hungry, and I didn't really care.
After lunch, I needed a haircut. It's been a while and my wavy mane had gotten seriously out of control. The last time I went to my hairdresser, I was pregnant. So, that's out. I'm not explaining myself to one more person. A walk-in salon was nearby, so we stopped in. The girl who cut my hair was very sweet, and a little younger than me. She was a typical young hairdresser with jaggedly cut streaked hair and some forearm tattoos. As hairdressers do, she began friendly chit chat. We talked about our husbands and our weddings. I described my quirky shin-dig in St. Augustine and she told me all about her intimate getaway to Cancun. Then, she asked me if my husband and I were "thinking of having kids". In a way, I knew this was coming, but I was still taken by surprise. I said we are going to start trying late this summer, which we are. I am so very glad she worded it the way she did because that enabled me to skirt around the issue. If she had asked me if I had any kids, what would I have said? What can I say? "Yes, I have a daughter." But, I can't leave it at that because then the questions come. How old is she? What's her name? Who's watching her? So, then, what do I do? Do I say what actually happened? Is that really something you do to a stranger who is just trying to make conversation? Does saying nothing mean I am betraying her memory? I sat in the chair while she cut my hair and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Sophia, who is 2. She showed me a picture. My heart split right down the middle, but my mask didn't crack. I smiled and told her that her daughter was adorable. And then, the coup de gras, she said "Having children is great. It's a total bonding experience with you and your husband." If my head wasn't tilted down while she cut my hair, she would have seen all of the light leave my eyes as I switched over to autopilot. No longer was I trying to hold it together and make conversation. I checked out completely. She finished the haircut (she did a great job, by the way), and I paid her and left. I am sure I was polite and friendly. I'm sure I smiled and said thank you. My mask was secure and she never knew that inside, I had died. I die every day at one time or another. And every time, I bring myself back to life as best as I can. A kind of defibrillator for my soul. Don't ask me how I do it, because I don't know. I just do.
But, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm tired of being "strong". I'm tired of picking myself up again and again and again. I'm tired of pulling myself together enough to pass for human and then have one tiny moment be my undoing. I'm just plain tired. I look to the future with hope in my eyes, but it's still so very blurry. Through various grief boards I read or am a member of, I am able to catch a glimpse of what I might be like in the future, and it saddens me. While most of these women have moved on with as much grace as they can muster, they are still a little broken. They will always be a little broken. And so will I. It's hard to accept the fact that I will always hurt. Maybe not with such intensity, but it will never go away. I can continue on with my life. I can have more children. I can do all the things I want to do - but she will always be missing. Always. I will always have a hole that aches for her. The thought of this stretching out for the course of my lifetime is too much for my heart to bear. But, I will bear it because life goes on. As weary as I am, life goes on.