If I am having a tough day missing Kenley, someone will inevitably say something to the effect of "Bean will be here soon! Smile!" It's really not that simple. I can't push my sorrow aside to be happy instead. I can be both - and I am learning how to do that - but I can't just shut out missing my oldest child because my youngest is on her way. I think so many people just don't understand what it's like to live without your baby. While I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone, it can sometimes be very frustrating living in a world where so few people really "get" how I feel.
There's a massive split that occurs in your life when your child dies. A bifurcation of your heart and soul. At the beginning, this gaping hole oozes and bleeds. It hemorrhages and screams in agony. The pain is so great and immense that you think there is no way you can ever learn to live with it. Surely, it will kill you. But, it doesn't. You live. You heal. Except, you heal in a way that is unexpected.
Instead of your heart and soul fusing back together into one whole entity, each heals into two pieces, like a pronged fork. And now, they also function differently than before. Emotions are now, in a weird way, more streamlined. One half of your heart processes joy. The other, sorrow. Simultaneously and forever. Everything in your life that should bring you happiness and light also brings you sorrow and darkness. And you learn how to deal with these conflicting emotions as they flow through you.
Sometimes, you wish you could ignore the part of your heart that makes you sad, but you can't. It's just part of you now. You will forever straddle the line of joy and sorrow as both will flow through you in a constant stream. Sometimes, one will outweigh the other and sometimes they will level out. But, the fact remains they are always together.
Despite my fear surrounding this pregnancy, I am so very happy about Bean. I am grateful for my ability to get pregnant. I am full of hope and joy for this new life growing inside me. But, to tell you I am not also so very sad that Kenley is not here would be a lie. For every piece of joy Bean brings me, my heart will also feel a twinge of sadness for the little girl I will not get to raise. It's not an affront to Bean or an obsession with Kenley, it's just the way it is. My heart is no longer whole. It will never be again. I will process everything in this world with this duality for as long as I live.
As Bean grows, I will watch her with joy and happiness. I will celebrate all of her milestones and rejoice in having her here with me. And, at the same time, I will be missing Kenley. When Bean says her first word, I will smile and gush, and I will also wonder with a twinge of sadness what Kenley's would have been. When Bean goes to kindergarten in her new clothes, I will swell with pride. And I will also think about what Kenley would have chosen to wear for her first day. Every day for the rest of my life, I will celebrate one child while missing the other. There will always be a little bit of sorrow in my life - a slight haze around my sun.
You might want to say to me now, "Well, I'm sure time will ease that." And I'll respond to you like this: If one of your children died, how long would it take for you to stop thinking about them? How long would you go before you stopped missing them? I'm sure if you immersed yourself in your other children, you'd feel so much better, right? There is no end to this. There is adaptation, but there is no resolution.
Joy and sorrow are no longer two separate emotions for me. They are twisted together in a knot that cannot be untied. One will always accompany the other. And you know what? That's okay. In our society, we have this strange need to clean up messy emotions - to sweep away sadness and conceal pain. If someone is hurting, we will do everything we can to make that hurt stop - and if we can't make it stop, we throw platitudes at it to make ourselves feel better. But, let me tell you that there is nothing wrong with being sad. There is no shame in feeling down.
We will all be sad sometimes, and in allowing ourselves and each other feel that sadness, we are giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable - to be human. So, yes, I feel sadness daily. But, I also feel joy. And hope. And love.
So, on days when I am feeling especially low and sorrow has laid an extra thick blanket over me, just remember that it's okay for me to be sad. You don't have to try to fix it. In fact, you really can't. It's just the way things are. Thinking of Bean won't cheer me up. Joy for her isn't a subsitute...it's an addition. And while I'm still learning how to gracefully feel both at the same time, I'll get there.