Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Healing Words

Today, I'm pretty excited to share something with you.  I have been working on adding a page to the blog for the past few weeks.  Mostly, it's been just a jumbled mess in my head, but I finally got around to organizing it onto the computer.

Check out the "How to Journal through Grief" tab at the top of the page.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Saturday Mornings

I remember Saturday mornings.  So used to getting up for school at 6, I'd wake up at 8 feeling like I'd slept in.  Mike would still be unconscious next to me - often times also snoring.   The cat and the dog would have put aside their mutual distain for each other to curl up together on the floor.   And it would just be the two of us.  Mother - daughter time in the soft light of the morning.  

I'd prop myself up onto the seven million pillows I had acquired during my pregnancy and look down at the blossoming roundness of my belly.  My little ninja moved all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  But, Saturday mornings were the times I could really stop and appreciate it.  The times I could push pause on the rest of my life and focus on just one thing.  How wonderful it was to have her there, twisting and swirling in her own private jacuzzi.  

I'd push my hands around on my belly, searching for my little girl.  Pop!  She'd push back.  "Hey, Mom!  Good morning!".  She'd flutter around, wiggling, stretching, kicking.  At the beginning, it felt like popcorn popping.  Like my belly was a hot pot on the stove and tiny kernels shot around inside, exploding into softness.   As time went on, her movements developed into different kinds.  I could feel her somersault from one side to the other as she tried to get comfortable.  It was a strange shifting of heaviness.  The solidness on one side of my belly suddenly became soft as she moved over to the other.  Sometimes, as she got bigger, she'd slide a knee or an elbow alongside me - and my stomach would ripple on the outside - like a whale surfacing with its fin in the air and then sliding back into the ocean.  Other times, she'd punch or kick in a quick, sharp motion.  One spot on my stomach would jut out for just a second and then snap right back.  

She moved like this often, but these mornings were my time to pay attention to them.  I loved these mornings.  I remember looking forward to them all week.  Just one more day of work and then it's just you and me, kid!  For an hour or two until Mike woke up, I would just lay there and smile as she danced around for her Mama.  I was so in love with her, it's not even funny.  I would imagine what she looked like - how beautiful she would be.   I imagined how her chubby legs and outstretched arms would look in a few months when I changed her diapers.   I imagined her laugh, her cry, her babbling.  I dreamed of the future as my future bounced around inside of me.  Those were great mornings.  

I could lament right now about how I want those mornings back.  I could tell you, truthfully, how there are tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.  But, I do not want to taint those golden days with sadness.  Those days are mine and Kenley's.  Those days were the days I spent with my baby, and they were the best days.  They always will be.  



Monday, July 29, 2013

Shifting

My grief is changing.  I can feel it.  It's shifting and transforming.  It's settling in.

At the beginning, everything is so raw and open.  Sorrow and rage and shock join forces in the dark and rush at you full force.  Grief stabs you repeatedly in the heart with the sharpest knives imaginable.  Blood pours, thick and metallic, from your wounds.  It bubbles up and out, choking your screams back into your throat.  The beginning is flashes of pain, thunderous screams, and gnashing teeth.   You lay on the floor, weak and beaten, helpless to do anything about the fact that all the light and goodness that once filled your soul is seeping out onto the cold tile.   You wait to die.  You are pretty sure that you will.  After all, what else could you really expect?  You have just been torn open like a gutted fish.   But, you don't.

As you lay there, bloody and broken, expecting the darkness to just take you away, you realize it's not going to.  You don't get to escape.   This is the first shift of grief.   The shift from painful chaos to sorrowed silence.  In this stage, you don't really do much of anything.  You've been ravaged by wolves and you're really too weak to even move.  So, you lie there.  Drained.  Empty.  Full of nothing but an echo of what once was but is no longer.   You wonder how you will ever get the strength to move, let alone stand.   Eventually, you do.  You wiggle your fingers and your toes.  You bend your knees and your elbows.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, you manage to pull yourself upright.  You are still a bloody mess, bits of you still raw and hanging.

This is the third shift of grief.  This is the part where you attempt to put yourself back together.  All of the pieces ripped away and torn apart - you gather them up and you try to shove them back where they belong.  Only, they don't really fit.  Some been stretched out and ripped to shreds. Other parts of you are lost forever, and you will never have them back.   So, you do the best you can with what you have left to make yourself resemble a human again.  This stage is never really, truly done.  Throughout the rest of your life, you will always have to rearrange your pieces.  Tuck things in, pull things out, move things over.  Nothing fits right, but it's what you've got.

Then comes the settling in.  Once you've figured out the basic mechanics of keeping yourself in place, you have one more thing to do.  You have to make room for your grief.  You can't leave that behind.  It's a part of you now.  It's a hard, lumpy boulder that you must fit into yourself somewhere.  You nestle it in among your soft insides, the weight of it crushing the air from your lungs.  It's heavy and cumbersome.  It makes you hunch over with effort.  Maybe one day, your muscles will gain enough strength to straighten up, but not yet.  For now, you are Quasimodo (which in Latin means almost, merely), misshapen and malformed.  You limp through your life, weary and burdened.

This is where I am now.  Carrying my grief inside like a rock.  Hard and unyielding - and as much a part of me as Kenley ever was.  It's exhausting.  Day in.  Day out.  Heaving this load around inside me.  I can't set it down.  I can't let it go.  I don't know what else to do except live with it.  So, that's what I do.  What I will continue to do until it shifts again.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Spotlight #16

This week has been really rough for me.  The Royal Baby was born on Monday, I saw my grief counselor Tuesday, I visited my grandfather in the hospital on Wednesday, Kenley's 5 month anniversary was Thursday, and I went to school to start the overwhelming set up of my classroom yesterday.   I haven't had much time to do anything of consequence to write up for today.   I did, however, manage to watch the 6th season of 30 Rock on Netflix.  So...yay?

As I tried to think of what I could write for today's post, I kept coming up blank. I didn't do anything but survive.   When I think about it, that's really all I've been doing all this time anyway.  Surviving.  Waking up every morning, getting through my day one moment at a time, going to bed, and then doing it all over again. 

So, today, I am going to focus this post on two things I am going to do in the coming weeks.

1.  I am going to go back to work.   August 7th is the first day teachers report.  Kids start the following Wednesday.   As uncomfortable as I am right now to start working again, I know most of that is just my anxiety.   Once I get through the stress of setting up the room and have my plans organized for the first few weeks, I'll be fine.  I know I am a good teacher.  I know I can do my job well - and I know that I enjoy it.   I just have to take a few deep breaths and relax.  It will be like riding a bike.  A little wobbly at first, but once I get my footing, I'll start to glide and I'll realize I really missed the wind in my face.

2. I am going to try for another baby.  August 25th will be 6 months since Kenley died.   6 months is the acceptable go-ahead for trying again after a C-section, and we are ready.   It will not be easy to be pregnant again.  I will be an insane bundle of nerves.  I will be completely terrified until I am holding a crying baby in my arms.  But, I can't let that stop me from trying again.  We did not have any difficulty whatsoever conceiving Kenley, so I am not feeling too much stress about that aspect.  However, that might change depending on how quickly we are successful this time.   It's so easy to think the worst once the worst has actually happened to you, but I will try to as hard as I possibly can to stay positive and rational.

Both of these things will affect the blog.  

Going back to work will mean I will have less time to write.  Most likely, I will not be able to post as regularly as I have been.  Six days a week will probably dwindle to about three.  Maybe four.  Although, some weeks, I might write more.  Who knows, really?  Posting will be irregular and unpredictable.  So, if you want to stay connected without forgetting about me, now is a good time to become a "follower".   You just need a google (gmail) account.    

Trying for a baby will affect the emotions and actions I write about in the blog.  My posts might begin to shift to the added stress of trying to conceive again.  When I become pregnant, that pregnancy will definitely be a subject of my writing.   I want to make it very clear now - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that this shift will in no way reflect any sort of dwindling memories or love of Kenley.  I will not love her less.  I will not think about her less.   I will not suddenly be "over" her death.   In the same way a second baby in a house with a living child does not diminish the importance of the first born, trying again does not mean I am forgetting about my little ninja.   When you are in a fancy restaurant and you order a delicious and decadent dessert, do you eat one bite and then put down the fork?  No way, Jose.   You savor every bit of that richness.   Kenley was just the first bite of motherhood.  I'm ready for more.  Kenley WILL be a big sister one day.   And Mike and I will be parents to a baby we can hold in our arms.   This story is far from finished.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to School

Today, I am going to my classroom to start getting things organized for the start of the school year.  It is not going to be easy.  The beginning of the year is always stressful anyway.  You have to sort through all of the randomness you shoved into cabinets a few months ago.  You have to figure out what you want to do the same and what you might want to change.  You have to decide what you might need from Target or the teacher's store to get the room re-organized and to set up a new group of students.  Every year, I spend anywhere from $300 to $500 in set up costs.   New folders.  New pencils.  New desk labels and cubby organizers.  But, before I get the joy of shopping, I have to go through the tediousness of sorting.

Normally, the first few days setting up a classroom result in a bigger and bigger mess before it starts to resemble anything of any sort of order.  It's always a little harried and hectic.   This year, it will be ten fold.  Because this year, I have to do it while carrying my grief on my back.   This year, I will hang pocket charts and cover bulletin boards with a piece of my heart missing.  
I am fully aware of how much of myself is available to the world.  Some of me is missing and the rest of me is wrapped up in holding myself together.  Can I do this?  Can I organize a classroom?  Can I still teach effectively?  Can I give the amount of focus necessary to do my job?  I hope so.   I know I will try my very best.  

I am nervous about what today will bring.  I am worried I will start pulling out posters and books and just fall apart.   I am worried I won't be able to focus on the decisions I have to make.   I suppose I just have to get in there, roll up my sleeves, and tackle it the way I have tackled everything else lately.  Head on and with a positive attitude.  So, here I go.  Diving back into the life I had before loss.   I just hope the water is still warm, and I don't drown.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Five Months

Today, it has been five months since Kenley left this world.   150 days.   150 times I have woken up to a world without her.  150 mornings that have greeted me with a harsh and bitter reality I would give anything to change.

According to a study I found, it takes people on average 66 days of doing something repetitively before it becomes a habit.  66 times for a behavior to become automatic.  I can feel the truth in that.  66 days is just over two months.   For the first two months, waking up in the morning was excruciating because I had to relive her death as soon as my eyes opened.  I had to pull myself from the foggy haze of sleep and into the sharp and piercing reality of the day.  My daughter was gone and was not coming back.   Every day, the shock of it was a little bit less.  The disbelief drifted further and further away from me.  After the first few months, I no longer woke up in a state of denial. My habit had formed.   I woke up knowing.  I woke up accepting.   She is gone.   I am no longer stabbed in the heart anew.  I wake up with the knife permanently embedded into my chest. 

I have been told that when you are getting a tattoo, at first, it hurts a great deal, but after a while, you become numb to the needle jabbing into your flesh.  Aware of the pain, but recoiling less from it.   I feel that is an accurate comparison to what I have become.  After 150 times of waking up as a mother without her child, my pain is no longer foreign to me.   It is not surprising or shocking.   It is familiar.   After 150 mornings, I know exactly what I am opening my eyes to.   An ache that my body and soul automatically shift themselves around.   An emptiness that is just as much a part of me now as she used to be.  

Every morning, I open my eyes and, by habit, I brace myself for the pain.  I am prepared for the catch in my chest, the deep breath of sadness that shudders through me, the heaviness that wraps itself around me like a wet blanket.   Every morning, I settle myself around the jagged pieces of my shattered heart like someone with too many packages may arrange themselves into a too-small subway seat.   I wiggle myself into place, pushing the broken pieces automatically into a manageable location, and I get up and face my day.  150 times I have done this, some days more successfully than others.   I will do it an estimated 21,900 more times if I live to be 95.   21,900 times (give or take) of waking up every morning without her.   

And I will always have to do this.  I will never again wake up and just face the world.  I will always have to play this game of Tetris - arranging myself into someone that most closely resembles a whole person.   The more I do it, the more efficient I will be.   As time goes on, it will take me less time and effort to do it, but I will still have to do it.  I am slowly coming to terms with this fact.   

I miss her.  Five months...150 days...3,600 hours....216,000 minutes....time does not change that.  It never will.  





Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Royal Heartache

So, the royal baby has arrived.  First Kim Kardashian, now Dutchess Kate.  I get to watch through green-tinted lenses as the entire free world celebrates the birth of one baby.    

Don't get me wrong, I am glad Kate had a healthy, happy baby boy.  I am glad she and William are able to bring him home where he belongs.  No mother should be where I am, and I am relieved she does not have to go through this pain - especially under the hot lights of press cameras and media scrutiny.   She was able to have what most mothers do.  She was one of the lucky ones.

Meanwhile, the unlucky have to sit and watch.   When we turn on the television or open a magazine, we are slapped in the face.  Forced to see what we cannot have.  There will be adorable photos released.  Probably with the baby in her arms while the two parents gaze adoringly down at him.  The media will scurry to capture him learning to crawl, his first words, his first steps.  He will be celebrated beyond measure.  The whole world will know him and watch him grow.  

Meanwhile, I scream at the top of my lungs for someone to recognize my baby.  Meanwhile, I have to accept that no one will know her - no one will watch her grow.  The only thing keeping her memory alive is me and the small circle of family and friends who put in the effort to do it with me - possibly the occasional passerby of my blog.

It's hard to see other people so effortlessly have what I do not.  It's hard to see so much attention showered on someone - attention my baby should have received, but did not.  I don't wish anyone ill will.  I don't mean to complain, but it's tough.   It taps that knife in a little deeper.

I suppose I'm just feeling extra sensitive today.  I miss her so much.  I want to kiss her cheeks and nuzzle her belly.   I want to watch her try to crawl.  I just hope Kate never takes even one second of her life with her son for granted.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Time Heals All Wounds

Yet another quote that is untrue.  I hate it when people say this to me.   It makes me feel like my pain is being dismissed.  "I know you are hurting right now, but one day you won't, so that makes it okay."  It's not okay.  It will never be okay.  No amount of time could pass to ever make it okay.  You could travel in your TARDIS to the origin of the universe and back again and it still would not be okay.  

Time heals nothing.   Time fixes nothing.  Time cannot make things better simply by passing.  What time does is give you the tools you need to make your pain more bearable.   Time allows you to work through your grief - to take tiny bites, to chew, to swallow, to digest, and then discard what you can't hold onto. 

A year from now, I will not feel better because a year has passed.   I will feel better because I have been able to learn how to better manage my pain.  If a person is in a severe car accident and shatters their leg, it is not time that heals them.   It is surgery and physical therapy.  It is their body creating platelets and reconstructing bone and fighting infection.  If they received no medical attention and their body shut down and was unable to do what it needed to do to heal, no amount of time would fix their injury.  Their leg would still hang useless and they would still be tormented by pain.   Mental anguish is the same.  Time does nothing but to provide the vehicle for change.   It won't take us anywhere unless we fill up the tank.  And even then, some things will always hurt.

With time, we learn how to manage our pain.  We learn how to shift our insides around the shards of glass wedged in our heart so they only poke instead of slice.  We learn how to control the deluge of tears that seem to always be on the edge of our eyes.  We learn how to move that river further down - how to shift its course.  Time allows us to figure out how our brain responds to triggers and how our emotions can be affected by the outside world.   We begin to understand how we need to approach our lives in order to function with greater purpose and less impulsiveness.  We learn how to walk again after being cut off at the knees.    Time doesn't do all of this.  We do.   Time just gives us the opportunity to do it.

So, no, time does not heal all wounds.  Some wounds do not heal.   Never.  I know people say "Never say never."  Well, I'm saying it.  Some wounds never heal, and this is one of them.  Time will let me discover how best to live with this wound, but it will not heal it.  It will not make it better.  It will not make it okay.  Nothing will make it okay.   But, with time's help, I can learn how to make it bearable.  



 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hell

"Everyone's hell is different.  It's not all fire and pain.  The real Hell is your life gone wrong." - What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson



When this movie came out in 1998, I was a sophomore in college.  I loved the vivid imagery used in the scenes.  The symbolism of the colors.  Blue for their children and loss.  Red for their love and journey together.  Green for the complicated emotions of grief.  I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't even know it was a book first until a few years later.   I read it in an afternoon.   Matheson's interpretation of life and death, love and loss is amazing.   It always struck a chord with me.  Now, it does even more.  

In both versions, one of the characters is stuck in hell.   She is not burning or being tortured by an outside source.  Instead, she is trapped in the most terrible version of her life.   Her house is dilapidated and falling apart.  The floor is covered in thick, black, cold water.  She knows something is wrong, but she can't figure it out.  She knows she is alone, but she doesn't know why.   She is scared and unable to see anything other than the fact her life is not what it is supposed to be.  Even when her husband, her soul mate, comes to try to rescue her from her own private hell, she does not recognize him.   She sees only a life that shouldn't be.

Do you want to know what hell is like?   Hell is living 8 bliss-filled months anticipating a new life and having that life torn from your body and then handed to you still and silent.   Hell is watching your husband crumple when he puts his daughter's coming home outfit away for the first and last time. Hell is seeing other people do what you failed to do -  bring their babies home.   Hell is knowing your daughter should be sitting up and working on learning how  to crawl right now, but instead sits on a shelf in your living room in a pretty pink vase.  Hell is never knowing what her first word would have been, what books she would have loved to read, or where she would have gone to college.   Hell is feeling that you have been catapulted into the wrong timeline - into a life you weren't supposed to have - forced to live each day without your baby.  Hell is the inability to do anything about it.

Right now, life is hell.  There is no point in sugar coating this.  It is what it is. I live every day in the best way I know how.  I try to bring meaning to her death with my blog and my volunteering efforts.  I work so hard just to feel normal, but I never do.   I always feel heavy and burdened with a tragedy I didn't deserve.  If I am not constantly working on something, I feel empty and hollow.   I'm tired of fighting so hard to distract myself from the pain.   This should not be my life.  But it is.  No matter how hard I pinch myself, I am not going to wake up because this is not a dream.  This is my life gone wrong. This is the life of a mother without her child.  This is hell.

If you've watched or read What Dreams May Come, you know that the story doesn't end in hell, though.  You know that the two main characters, who are true soul mates, choose to go through hell together rather than being separated.  As a result, their love pulls them out.   And then, they get to start over.  

Today, it's hard to see how my life will ever get better.   It's hard to see past the pain of being without her - the anguish of knowing that this isn't what was supposed to happen.  It's hard to believe I'll ever feel anything else other than despair and anger and jealousy.  But then, I remember that somewhere deep inside, there is another feeling.   A soft, fleshy nugget nestled deep beneath the sludge.  Warm and light and good.   Love.   I have love.  Love for Kenley.  Love for Mike.  Love for life beyond loss.   Love can pull me through hell.  I just have to be willing to hold on to it.




Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Spotlight #15

Evidently, this photography project is not as easy as I thought.  It involves looking for images in unique locations, and I have not yet found all of my images.   So...another week without the last installment.   I'm working on it!

Meanwhile, yesterday's post got me thinking more about my honeymoon and how much fun it was.  So much fun, in fact, I wanted to share it with you.  So, I made a video on my Ipad with photos from our week in Kauai and I set it to the same song by Dave Matthews.  

Mike and I watched it together before I uploaded it and smiled.  That was a wonderful week.  A week full of newness and adventure.  A week when our lives were simple and carefree.  

Sometimes, we all need to take a moment to think about what makes us happy in this life.  We all need to take a moment to remember the good times we've had - because at the end of the day, that's really all there is.  Memories.   Here's one of mine.









Friday, July 19, 2013

Craving Kapa'a

The more time that passes, the more I want to get out of this life.  (Don't panic - not like that)  At first, when everything was turned so upside down, I clung to things that were familiar.  My friends.  My family.  My house.  People asked me if I was going to go back to work at the same school, and I said "of course."  Because to make things so different on purpose seemed insane to me.   Why would I create even more turmoil for myself?  

I hear stories of couples who break clean away from their old lives after losing a child.  They move to a new city.  They get new jobs.  They embrace change out of necessity. Not because they are running away, but because they are running towards something else - something better, something lighter.   Sometimes, the past is too painful to hold on to, no matter how hard you try.  Sometimes, you need a fresh start.  I get that now.   If I had the financial means to do so right now, that is exactly what I would do.  I would move.   Far, far away.   

When Mike and I were on our honeymoon in Kauai, we took a day trip from Lihue up to the north coast.  On the way there, we stopped for breakfast at a coffee shop in Kapa'a.   Just across the street from the pacific ocean, the shop was a small wooden building painted sunshine yellow.  The original structure had been added on to over the years, making it look a little like someone was playing dominoes with box cars.   Inside, local artists proudly displayed their work.  Canvases thick with paint and inspiration covered the indigo walls.  The barista was a woman probably in her late twenties, who's tank top was covered in coffee stains and who's arms were covered in tattoos.  The breakfast crowd obviously consisted of regulars, as they chatted with each other and the employees with ease and familiarity.   The atmosphere was both electric and mellow.  As we ate our breakfast, surrounded by art and ocean air, I thought about what would happen if we just didn't come home.   What if we just stayed in Kauai?  I could work at this coffee shop.  I could paint some art for the walls.  We'd get a tiny bungalow on the beach with gray, wooden floor boards as wide as my open palm.  We'd sleep with the windows open and the sounds of the waves pushing onto the shore.   Our kids would be water babies, able to swim before they could walk.   In those twenty minutes at the coffee shop, I imagined a whole new life for us.  I pictured myself pregnant and swollen, wrapped in a sarong, walking barefoot on the beach.  In those twenty minutes at the coffee shop, I was ready to trade my life here to become a Hawaiian hippie.  

Now, I realize that was just the idealistic dreams of a newlywed.   My life with Mike had officially begun, and I wanted to conjure up the best one possible.  Realistically, I knew that would never happen.  I knew our time in Hawaii would have to end.  But, it was okay because we had our own pretty great life to come back to.  We had plans.  We had a future.

And then life sucker punched me in the gut - quite literally.  Just like that, the plans I made were gone.  The future I had envisioned disappeared in a flash.  And sometimes, I feel like there is nothing left for me here.  Everything is a constant reminder of what is missing.   Everything.  From the friend who was going to take Kenley to the zoo to the baby thrift shop I was planning to frequent.  I am surrounded by a life I can't have while being crushed by a life I don't want.  

I want to start over.  I don't want to be the mother of a dead daughter.  I don't want a life where I have to search for meaning everywhere just to keep myself from falling a part.  I want to grab Mike's hand and a suitcase - and just disappear.   I want to make art and coffee in Kapa'a.  And I want to look at the night sky with wonder and joy once again.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ups and Downs

Sometimes, I feel like my life is someone else's EKG printout.


I think I'm moving forward.  I think I am making progress.  Up.  Up.  Up.  "I only cried once today," I think to myself.  Only twice yesterday.  Maybe tomorrow, I won't cry at all.  And then, in an instant, I lose my footing and I plummet back down.  Splat.   And, once again, I am right where I started.  It's a constant cycle of upswings and downward spirals.  Chasing a carrot I can't seem to catch.   

I'm a child building sandcastles too close to the ocean.   I scurry around in the wet, slippery sand to build the sturdiest structure I can before the waves rush in and pull it back to sea.  I rebuild.  It is pulled under.  Over and over and over.  

It is exhausting to work so hard to hold on, knowing it is only a matter of time before I lose my grip again.  I don't know if I am getting stronger or getting weaker or not getting anything at all.  Sometimes, I feel determined to fight with everything I have.  Sometimes, I feel I can't possibly do this another second.  And then, other times, I feel nothing at all.  

I am sure my blog posts reflect this irregularity.  The post you read on any given day is only a glimpse into the moment at hand. Some posts portray my life as healing, progressing, and feeling positive.  Others talk about how I have lost hope, how much I miss her, how much this hurts.  Maybe you don't know which posts to believe.   Believe them all.  I am doing all of it all at once, and it is utter insanity.  





   


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Say Her Name

For some reason, some people will not bring up Kenley in conversation.  They will go to great lengths to steer the conversation away from her.   It has been almost five months since her death, and since I have not been a hermit, I have interacted with many people.  I have bumped into several people I know in the grocery store or at the mall, and most (though not all) conversations consist basically of an exchange of pleasantries, a well-meaning conversation about anything but Kenley, and then a "hey, you take care!"  And I always walk away with the realization that I just made someone very uncomfortable - just by running into them.  

None of these people are rude or insensitive.  None of them mean any harm. In fact, I am sure all of them have my best interest at heart.  They don't want to bring up painful memories or talk about things that could possibly upset me. I can understand that.  Here's the thing, though.   I am already upset.   I am already sad and angry and feeling terrible.   Even if I am smiling or laughing or joking around, underneath, I am still upset.  You will not bring up anything that will make me more upset.   You will not make me suddenly remember what happened - I didn't forget.  You will not stir up old feelings or open up old wounds.  Feelings of loss do not age and wounds do not heal.   There is only one thing you can do that will make me feel worse - and that is to not acknowledge my daughter - to brush past the fact that I am a mother, that I was pregnant, that this happened.   To ignore my loss - that is what will make me upset.

I want to talk about her.   I want to talk about being pregnant.  I want to talk about how beautiful she was and about how much I miss her.  I want to talk about how I am healing and what I am doing to make my life meaningful again.  And I want you to listen - without pity. I am not talking about her for sympathy.  I am talking about her because she is important to me.  I am talking about her because she changed my life, and I need to tell you how.   And then, I want YOU to say her name.   I want you to recognize her as a person.   A person with an identity.   She was alive.  For 36 weeks, she was alive.  She had a personality - even if I was the only one who got to experience it.   It was there.  SHE was there.  

It is okay to talk about her.  It is okay to talk about the fact that she was alive and now she is dead.  It is okay to talk about my feelings and your feelings regarding that fact.   Above all things, it is okay to say her name. Kenley.   Kenley Evelyn Wood.   She is my daughter.  She has a name.  Every time I hear it, my heart does not break - it glows.  It heals.  It uncoils a little from its spiral of pain.  Kenley Evelyn Wood.   Say her name.






Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Journal

When I discovered I was pregnant with Kenley, I began writing to her in a journal.  The intention was I would write to her throughout the pregnancy and then whenever I had time once she was born.  I would write about all the milestones and emotions that come with being pregnant and having a new baby.   When that journal was filled, I would simply get another one and continue writing to her - all throughout her childhood and her teenage years.  I would give her the journals- maybe one at a time, maybe all at once - when she was old enough to appreciate them.   Then, she'd be able to read all about how wanted she was.  How loved she was.  Even in times of frustration, her mother always loved and cared about her.  I wanted to leave her this legacy - her own story told through the eyes of her mother. 

Into that journal, I poured all my love for her, all my dreams for her future, all my joy for her arrival.   I told her about my swollen feet and heartburn - and how I knew it would all be worth it one day.   I told her about how excited I was to meet her and how beautifully her nursery was coming together.  I told her about all these things with the idea that she would read my words one day. 

As we all know, that will never happen.  I didn't get to finish even one journal for Kenley.   The one I started, a beautiful tan leather journal with sleek, blank pages edged in gold, is only filled about a quarter of the way.  It stops abruptly and with great heartbreak.  The rest of the journal is empty.  Pages and pages of nothing - of a future that never was.  That journal is tucked inside Kenley's memory box.  I placed it inside there the day after her memorial and haven't taken it out since.  One day, I might have the courage and strength to re-read it, but not now.  It's hard to think about reading those entries - full of so much hope and innocence - knowing how it all ended.  

Someone asked me recently if I will still keep a journal for my future children.  Absolutely!   Kenley did not get to have the life I'd planned for her, but that will not stop me from planning the lives of my other children.   My future pregnancies will be full of stress and worry, that's for sure.   But, I will not stop hoping and dreaming of their future simply because my first child was robbed of hers.   Imagine if NASA had given up planning for the future when their first attempts at rocket launches resulted in spectacular explosions.   Imagine if J.K. Rowling had stopped submitting Harry Potter when she was rejected the first of twelve times.  Imagine if Albert Einstein's family had believed the doctors when they told them he was "dim and slow witted."  Our world is made great by people who refused to give up on their dreams, who used their negative experiences for good instead of allowing their past to dictate the course of their lives.  I will not let my past get in the way of my dreams for the future.  

Kenley will always be my firstborn child.  She will always have a place in my heart, and I will always, always miss her.   But, what good does it do to shut myself up and keep myself from dreaming?   How is stagnancy honoring her memory?   It isn't.  The only way to give her life purpose is to bring purpose to mine.   The only way to truly honor her is to do all the things for my future children that I would have done in the first place.   I will announce my pregnancy with joy and pride.   I will trace my belly.   I will take maternity pictures.  I will get a nursery ready.  I will keep a journal.   Not in spite of what happened - or necessarily because of it either - but because it is what I want to do.  It is what Kenley deserved and it is what my future children deserve.   If my heart is broken again, then I will pick up the pieces again.   But, what if it's not?  

I am not going to live my life in fear.   I can't control what might happen to me.  I can't promise myself a quick conception, an easy pregnancy, or a healthy baby.   But, I can hope.  I can dream.   I can plan for the future.  Kenley will still be there.  Forever and always, nestled inside my heart, making room for her siblings to come.   

I already have what will be the first volume of their life story.   Smelling of clean leather and a fresh start.   



Monday, July 15, 2013

A Good Day

Saturday was "Cupcakes to Cherish", a Cherishing the Journey fundraiser I have been helping with for the past several weeks.   I have been putting a great deal of energy into it; writing press releases, securing a few raffle and silent auction items, and other miscellaneous things.  Mike and I arrived at 9:30 to help set up.  We made some signs to put out on the road and helped get the area organized for the event.   When it started, I was in charge of selling the raffle tickets as well as some baseball game tickets for another fundraiser in August.   For the entire afternoon, I was extremely busy selling tickets.   Several friends came by to say hello, which meant so much to me.  I am so honored that they would take time on their own Saturday to come support my efforts and to remember Kenley.  Towards the end of the afternoon, I spoke to the crowd about how much the memory box I received from Cherishing the Journey meant to me.  I was nervous because I thought I would lose it, but I think I held it together fairly well.   I wavered a few times throughout my speech, but I didn't go over the edge.  Mike stood behind me the whole time.   

The day ended with me completely exhausted.   But, I realized something amazing.  I smiled - almost all day long.  Except for the five minutes of my speech, I smiled.   For a good part of the day, I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Not permanently, but just for a moment. For a moment, I could breathe again.  For a moment, I could feel the sorrow slipping away from my heart.   For a moment, I felt like I had purpose again.   I felt good about what I was doing with my life.   And I realized something.  I am not beaten.

I am still in charge of where I am going.   My grief may have changed my course, but I can still chose my path from here.   For the past few weeks, I have been having a very difficult time.  The reality and finality of losing Kenley hit hard.   Once the initial shock of loss has worn off, you are left with an eerie silence.  Your heart has stopped its piercing screams, and instead settles into a dull and constant ache - and you begin to painfully realize that you will always battle the heaviness that accompanies loss.  That is a hard pill to swallow.  When you're forced to look down the road at a lifetime of hurt, you want to turn away in disbelief.  You want to throw in the towel and just give up.   What good is a life of pain?  What good am I with such a broken heart?  Saturday made me see that good.   My life is not at all what I want it to be - but since I still have to live it, I might as well live it the best I can.  I might as well bring as much light into it as possible.   Saturday made me realize that life can still be good - in spite of pain.   I can still find a place to put joy inside my broken heart.   It might slip through the cracks, and I might have to consistently monitor it to keep it from falling out - but there is still a place for it there.   

Everything that happens to me from now on is a falling domino from Kenley's death.   I realize this.   I can't change the past.   I wish I could - with every fiber of my broken being, how I wish I could - but I can't.  I'd like to tell you I can control my future, but I am not really even sure about that either.   What I am sure about though, is that I will not let either one of those defeat me.  I am not free of heartbreak.   My past will always hurt.  My future might have more pain tucked up its sleeve.  I don't know.  None of us know.   The only thing we know is that we are guaranteed nothing in this life.   But instead of allowing things to happen to me, I can choose to make them happen for me.

Working at Cupcakes to Cherish this weekend helped me to see the good that can be accomplished as a direct result of great sadness.   It helped me to see that I am stronger than my sorrow.   I will have bad days. For the rest of my life,  darkness and light will come and go.  For the rest of my life, I will have moments that bring me to my knees with a sucker punch of blinding pain.   I will have moments that open up old wounds, letting the blood flow freely from my heart.  I will have moments that make me feel like I have been beaten, like I have nothing left inside of me but razor sharp shards of a fractured soul.  For the rest of my life, I will fight this.   And, while it seems so daunting sometimes, other times it seems like a fight I can win.   And as long as I keep fighting - as long as I keep pulling my bloodied and broken self up onto the ropes - as long as I keep getting back on my feet - I will win.   I am not beaten.  I'm just catching my breath.







Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Spotlight #14

The photography project I have been working on is not quite finished.  It's more difficult than I thought it would be.  I will keep working on it and, hopefully, can have it completed by next week.   However, here is the journal assignment that goes with it:


One Year From Today

When you lose your child, it's hard to think about the future because what you want and what you can have are two very separate things.  You feel like your future has been stolen from you.  Ripped from your hands as you cry out in anguish.  Darkness decends - a thick, black curtain that keeps the future hidden.   You cannot imagine a future other than the one you had planned.  Anything else seems unnatural and insufficient.  The farther you get from loss, the more translucent that curtain becomes.   You can see what is ahead, but you aren't always brave enough to take the steps to get there.  Eventually, the curtain disappears altogether, and you can begin your hesitant walk forward.   Right now, I am still waiting for that moment.  I can see the road ahead, but I am still uncertain about it.  I still have a hard time walking that path without my daughter.  But, I am an optimist.  I have battled too much darkness in my life to surrender to this one.   So, I look ahead with positive trepidation - a fairly accurate oxymoron.  

The journal assignment asked me to think about my life one day, week, month, and year from now.   I'm pretty good at living day to day - so I cannot imagine tomorrow being vastly different from right now.  Since the remnants of Tropical Storm Chantal is sweeping this way, I imagine it will be raining.  One week from now, I will probably have spent some time with some friends, seen some babies in stores, and continued to miss my little girl.   It's when we get to the one month from now that things start to change.

One month from now, I will have started work again.  There are too many emotions surrounding this to confine to this post.  Starting work deserves several blog posts, but I'll try to sum up here.   I am nervous.  In some ways, I am even terrified of starting work again.  If I could, I would just never go back.   I am working on that on many levels, and I am hoping that by the time August 7th rolls around, I'll be ready.  But, ready or not, here it comes.  I'll make the best of it because that is what I do.  Two months from now will probably be better.   Often, anticipation is greater than the actual event.

One year from now is what I really want to focus on here.  One year from now, my goal is to be a mother to a living, breathing, healthy second child.  One year from now, my goal is to be doing the things I should have been doing for the last four months.  I am a mother now, and I am doing the best I can with what I have - which is a blog and a memory - but it is not enough.   Kenley showed me what it means to be a mother.  She opened up a chasm inside of me, which is filled (impossibly) with both emptiness and infinite love.  I can't imagine a future where that love is never able to flow to a living baby.  One year from now, I will have finished another school year, which was most likely not as bad as I thought it would be, and I will be enjoying my summer in the way that I should be now.  I will be taking my second baby on walks around the neighborhood.  I will be changing diapers and cleaning up poop.  I will be exhausted and sticky and I will love every minute of it.  No doubt, I will still be missing Kenley.  I will miss her until the day I die.  But, as many of you know, a mother's love isn't diminished by more children.  It is expanded exponentially.   I will love her more.  I will love her little brother or sister, who will grow up knowing they were not the first light to illuminate their mother's heart.  Like candles in the dark, the light of my babies will flicker forever in my soul.  Now, to be clear, I am not currently pregnant, but August officially ends my six month waiting period to start trying, and that is what we are going to do.  If timing doesn't work out quite right for a few months, one year from now, I will at least be pregnant.  Hopefully, ready to pop and bring an end to a stressful pregnancy and a year and a half of eagerly waiting for what I so rightly deserve.  

It's hard to look at the future with anything other than uncertainty.  I know all too well that nothing goes as planned, even the things you plan so carefully. I am nervous to even write all of this down because....well...what if?   What if I can't get pregnant again?  What if I miscarry?  What if my next baby is another not-so-stealthy-ninja?   You can't pat my back and tell me everything is going to be alright because we both know that isn't always the case.  But, I have to stay focused on my goal and its positive aspects.  I chose to believe the future I plan will come true.  I can't allow myself to give in to the "what ifs".  

One year from now, I will still be without Kenley.   I will still miss her and ache for her.  That will not change.   But, one year from now, I hope to be able to honor her with a sibling.   And to be the best damn mother of two I know I can be.







Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taking 5

I am going to take a break from the blog for a few days.  I have tried to sit down and get some things out, but it's just not working.  It's too muddled to try to sort through right now, and I'm too tired to force it.  I feel like I've hit a wall in my grief.  I'm trying to chip away at the bricks, but it's slow and tedious work, and I'm not getting very far.    I need some naps and some lunch dates with friends I haven't seen in a while without worrying about how my posts are coming together.  

Check back for the Saturday Spotlight.  



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hope

I am a member of a few message boards and online groups, and something about them all completely and utterly terrifies me.   Women several years out from their loss post about how meaningless and empty their lives still are.   They post about tears that won't sop flowing, hearts that won't stop breaking, and lives that can't move forward.   They post about how terrible their pain is.  How broken they are.   Years from their loss.  What am I supposed to do with this information?  Does this not get any better?  Does it hurt like this forever?    

What if this never gets better?  What if, in twenty years, my heart still gapes open like a gunshot wound?   What if, after trying so hard to climb this cliff face, I discover there isn't anything at the top?   Just a tiny plateau and another cliff to climb?  

I might put on a good front - a brave face - but underneath it all, I am still sad and broken and scared.  I have learned to live in this new life, but that doesn't mean I am accepting of it.  Every day, I shake my fists in anger.  Every day, I wipe away tears I can't keep in.  I keep hoping that the sharp edges of my pain will dull.  After all, I am working so hard to make that happen.  But, it hasn't yet.  And what if it never does?  

The thought of that terrifies me more than anything I can imagine.  A lifetime of this?  Could you do it?  Could you wake up every day with a part of you missing, knowing it will never be filled?  Could you walk around with daggers in your heart, knowing they will only keep slicing you deeper and deeper?  Maybe if you had a glimmer of hope.  A speck of a promise that it won't always hurt so bad.  It won't always be so hard.  

I cling to hope.   Hope that this pain will ease.   Hope that I will regain my footing.   Hope that my life will one day have color and light again.  Hope that moving forward is possible, that finding joy is possible, that I won't be stuck in heartbreak forever.   Hope is all I have.   And I am terrified that hope is a lie.   A soft, warm lie we tell ourselves so that we don't give up.  So, we keep fighting.  

But, what happens if there is no hope?  What then?


Monday, July 8, 2013

A Catch

It's a catch. A snag. Catching you by surprise, it starts in your chest, just above your stomach. It plummets into your gut and then springboards back up into your throat. That's where you try to stop it, but not before it pulls the tears from your eyes and the breath from your lungs. You push it down, hard. It's not the right time. Not now. You take a few deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. You close your eyes to keep your focus - and to keep the tears from falling and betraying the illusion of normalcy you've worked so hard to maintain. You purse your lips and hiss the air out. Slowly. Calmly. You clench your fists, flexing your fingers with each exhale. And it works. For now. Until the next time when the emptiness becomes too much for your soul to support and your heart breaks all over and over and over again.


It's exhausting to continually keep myself from crying at random - or not so random - moments. I never know when tears are going to overtake me. When a word will hit my ear wrong. When a memory will loosen itself within my brain. When a thought of a future that doesn't exist will stir my soul. "Oh, no, not again." A "normal" day can turn on a dime. 

When these moments find me, I want so badly to give into them. To surrender to the sobs and just let them wash over me like ocean waves. To let the foundation I am working so hard to rebuild crumble into pieces. A good cry is often what we need - but it's not always what we can do. If I let these moments dictate my actions, I would be perpetually in tears. I would sob uncontrollably when the woman at the airport lovingly fastens her baby into her stroller, or when the color of someone's shirt reminds me of the color of her nursery walls, or when I, for no reason at all, begin to wonder if Kenley would have liked to eat bananas. I push back tears on a regular basis. It's just what I do now. In the same way you brush your teeth in the morning, or use your turn signal before changing lanes. It's habit. It's life. 

Sometimes, I let myself cry. When I'm in a position to do so. Like at home or with friends. But, not at the grocery store, or at a restaurant, or doing the regular day to day activities I have to do. Sometimes, I cry anyway, despite my best attempts to thwart it. Sometimes, no matter how hard I push it down, the walls that contain my tears break and the flood gates open. And I am a sobbing mess in the corner booth, or aisle 6, or the next car over. It just happens. 

I don't know if I will have to be en guarde for regular crying jags for the rest of my life - or if they will slow down eventually. I hope they do because I am exhausted - and probably also dehydrated.

   

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gratitude

As part of the photography project I am participating in,  I have been assigned to write about what I am grateful for in my life right now.  I imagine the purpose of this is to get me focusing on the good things as opposed to the staggering emptiness of my loss.  This is something I try my hardest to do every single day, but it is often very difficult.  It is not easy to look at my life with anything other than distain.  Everything good that has happened since February has happened because Kenley died.  How can I be happy about something that is a direct result of my child's death?  How can I find fulfillment in joy that rises from such emptiness?  It's not easy, but I am trying.  So, so, hard.   So, here goes.  Things for which I am grateful (in no particular order):

My amazing support system of friends   
It's sad but true, nothing brings people together like tragedy.  When Kenley died, everyone pulled together like a drawstring bag, nestling in and holding tight.   I'm not just talking about the initial support of food, money, and condolences.   People I haven't heard from in years - decades even - pulled themselves back into my life to support me.   Friends who had lost touch made contact.  Not just, "Hey, I'm so sorry" contact, but "Hey, let's be the good friends we should have been all this time" contact.  I have rekindled real and true friendships with so many people, and I am so grateful for these wonderful souls who were so willing to hold me up even though we hadn't spoken in ages.  That is the mark of a true friend.  

I am also obviously grateful to those people who had strong footholds in my life before loss and have not allowed that grip to waver.  No one knows what to say to give comfort, but these people did not allow their loss of words to stop them from being there for me.  When their shoulder was soaking wet from my tears, they offered me their other one.  Words cannot do justice to the swelling of my heart that occurs because of these people.  

My family
I have never once doubted my parents' love for me.  Oh, there were moments in my childhood and teenage years when I was convinced they did things just to spite me - but beyond not being allowed to eat a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie or staying out past midnight, deep down, I knew everything they did was because it was what was best for me.  They are the parents I want to be to my children one day.  I am grateful they have taught me the true role of a parent and have shown me the full extent of a parent's love.   
When Kenley died, I became a child once again.  Weak, scared, and completely unsure of where to go.  My parents were right there by my side to help put back together their broken little girl.  They still are.

My sister and I have really found a support in each other during this time as well.  Our trip to Boston recently is a great example of that.  I am truly grateful to have a sister with such a big heart - especially when my own seems so small.

My husband
I can't say it enough.  He is my other half.  Despite both of our flaws, despite how this journey has left us exhausted and broken, we are in this together.  In the four and a half years I have known him, the one and a half we have been married, and the four months we have been parents, I have never once doubted that he is the one for me.  From our first date to this morning when I woke up with him by my side, I knew.  I have always known.  Loss is hard.  Loss changes you.   But what hasn't changed, and what will not change, is our love for each other.  We understand each other when no one else does.  We cling to each other in this tornado.  While the world spins angrily and destructively around us, we find sanctuary in each other's arms.  I am grateful that I have him by my side, now and forever.  

Community Outreach
Volunteering with Cherishing the Journey has been healing for me in so many ways.  It has given me a purpose again.  I am grateful that charities like this exist to help grieving mothers remember their babies - and I am grateful to have found myself a part of their mission.  When I return to work in August, I realize that less of my efforts will be spent on this cause, but I will give all I have to give because it is important to others and it helps me give meaning to my loss.

My blog and new friends
Like the pole a tightrope walker carries to hold her balance, this blog is what keeps me careening over the edge of my own emotions.  It keeps me sane.  Without the ability to write it out, my feelings would kill me.  I would be locked inside a maze I couldn't navigate.  I am grateful for my ability to sort through this mess through my writing.   Because of my blog, I have been able to grieve appropriately.  I have been able to work through my grief in increments I can handle.  I am certain I wouldn't be as far as I am now without my writing.  

In addition to helping me sort my own grief and find my new path, my blog has put me in contact with many women wading through their own rivers of loss.  My blog has made me feel less alone in this fight.  I have met sisters in loss who are fighting with me.  I like to think we are helping each other figure out how to live again in the face of grief.  I am grateful for all of them.

I have also forged some very strong friendships in the wake of Kenley's death.  Friendships that wouldn't exist had our children lived.  So, in this way, these relationships are very bittersweet.  Some women I have met in person and some I only know through facebook, blog comments, or email, but each of these friendships are invaluable to me.  Some of them have recently discovered they are pregnant with their rainbow baby.  Some of them are still waiting for that moment, myself included.   Even though it is sorrow that brings us together, it is hope that will bring us through.

Gratitude is a difficult emotion to grasp when your fingers are stiffened by sadness and grief.  It is hard to find things to be thankful for when everything that happens in your life is a result of your loss.  But, I cling to all of these things with every part of me.   They are the lights in my darkness, and they help me find my way.  












Saturday Spotlight #13

This week's photography project was 100 Steps.   My assignment was to walk 100 steps from a starting point and take some pictures.  The point of this particular assignment is to get us out of the house at a time it may be difficult to do so.  Had I started this project in March, this would have been helpful.  When you are first fighting grief, the outside world is terrifying.  100 steps doesn't sound so bad.  It's doable.  While this summer has not been at all what I had planned or even wanted, it has taken me all across the country.    For my 100 Steps project, I picked a few starting points during my trip to Boston and I took pictures where I ended up.   (The journal assignment to accompany these photos was to write about what I am grateful for.  I decided to do that as a separate post.  It's entitled Gratitude and should be posted at the same time as this one.)

My sister is training to run her first marathon in October, so she was starstruck by the Boston Marathon course.  One of her goals for our time there was to walk up Heartbreak Hill.  So, we took the T to Boston College armed with our smartphones.  Using a clever mixture of Wikipedia, Google Maps, and some helpful locals, we were able to find the start of the hill, at mile marker 20 of the marathon's course - and three miles from our train stop.  I thought it fitting that my 100 steps begin at the bottom of a hill named after the moment someone's heart was broken.   I snapped a picture of Kenley's Boston K at the bottom of the hill and then began to walk as I counted to 100.



100 steps isn't really all that far.  It was just enough to get about four houses up the hill.   In the corner of the yard where we stopped, there was an old, gnarled tree stump.  It reminded me of the trees I pictured while writing this post.  The only difference is the trees in that post were looming over me and this one had been cut down to a stump.  A stump is a defeated tree.  To me, this stump meant more to me than just a tree that once was.  It was a symbol of my grief.  Cut down to size by all of my efforts to heal.   I used black and white for this picture for the obvious reasons of how sometimes the world seems gray and colorless, and no matter how hard I might work to chop this forest down, the stumps will always remain.  For the rest of my life, all of my victories will always be bittersweet.  



Across the sidewalk from the stump was a round traffic mirror attached to a tree.  There are so many different ways I could take this symbolism, but I have chosen to look at it like this: the mirror is a reflection of myself and how I have changed in this journey.   It reflects down to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill.   It shows me where I have been, the path I have taken to get here.  The reflection is distorted, like memories are distorted with grief and pain.   I can look in that mirror all I want.  I can focus in on where I have been and how much it hurts - or I can turn away and focus on the road ahead.  I choose to move forward.



I took a few other pictures at this location, but they weren't all that exciting.  I do, however, want to tell you about a few pictures I took several hundred steps later.  At the very top of Heartbreak Hill.  The trek down to the base from our train was rainy and gray.  The mugginess of the air rivaled Florida on it's worst days.  It was oppressive and heavy.  As we crossed the street to begin the 100 steps, the air started to clear a little bit.  The thick cloud cover began to break apart like a crumbling cookie, and a cool breeze managed to find its way through the sticky stillness.   Walking uphill somehow seemed easier than walking down in the first place.  The top of Heartbreak Hill is crowned by Boston College.  Obviously, I needed to get a picture of Kenley here, so I did.  

But, the remarkable part of this trek up the hill was the sky when I reached the top.   The clouds had parted.  The threatening storm dissipated.  The weight of air lightened.   At the top of the hill, directly above me, was this sky. 




A parting grief to make way for the sunlight of days to come.  I am not finished with this journey.  I have reluctantly realized I will never be.  Heartbreak Hill is here to stay.  So, I'll lace up my sneakers and pound that pavement. I will walk this path until the day I die.  The road may smooth a bit.  The clouds may drift away.  But, I will still be here.  Walking.  Fighting.  Living.  



Friday, July 5, 2013

Worn Out

I scheduled posts through yesterday because I figured, surely I'll have some time before Friday to get something written.  I am exhausted.  Mentally and physically.   I have been running all over this nation for the last month and I need a nap.  

While I have had a wonderful time seeing friends and family, I also have been very painfully aware that none of these trips should have occurred.  Instead of traipsing through Seattle, I should have been nursing my baby.   Instead of taking a ghost tour in New Orleans, I should have been changing her diapers. And, instead of eating delicious lobster with my sister in Boston, I should have been rocking Kenley to sleep.  It is so hard to reconcile the life I am leading with the life I should have had.  How can I enjoy anything when it comes to me so tainted?  

I am tired of feeling I have to justify my actions to myself.  I am tired of living a life that shouldn't be mine - yet so cruelly is.  

I'll get there.  I am sure one day, way down this twisting path, there is a point where the life that has been forced upon me is the one I finally have made my own.   But, not yet.  Not today.  I still wake up every day with a feeling in my gut that this is not supposed to be the way it is.   I still feel empty and incomplete.  My eyes focus on a world where I don't belong - and I ache everyday to return to the one where I do.   This is not my life.