Behind closed doors, I still touch her weighted rice owl - every day. I slide my hand across the fabric. I straighten the button eyes. When I pick it up, 5 pounds feels like 5 tons, and it crushes my heart.
Behind closed doors, I look at her belly tracing hanging on my wall. I remember making every new hill with excitement and innocence, and I'm angry that all I have left of her are memories and ashes.
Behind closed doors, I feel my heart skip for no reason at all, except that it's trying not to stumble over the hollow bit that rests inside.
Behind closed doors, I can only look at the shelf where her urn sits for a maximum of a few seconds. I can't bear the fact that my beautiful first born is encased inside a vase smaller than my closed fist. I think about scattering her ashes, but the thought of not having a physical part of her close to me makes me panic.
Behind closed doors, I wake up at 3 am to a silent house and I immediately begin to convince myself that my rainbow is not dead in her crib. Paranoia and I play a dangerous game of tug o' war, and I am usually pulled right into her room. Once I see her little chest rise with her breath, I finally let out mine.
Behind closed doors, I reluctantly slide Kenley's baby shower books into her sister's bookshelf. And when she brings me one of them to read to her, I push back my tears as I turn to the first page.
Behind closed doors, I check my "On this Day" hoping to find a status about her, just so I can feel her again. On days where I know the past is going to be especially hard to read about, I check anyway. I want to feel it. I have to feel it. And the tears that come are a purposeful release.
Behind closed doors, I know there are things I cannot say to everyone, so I say it to my friends who will understand, my friends on the other side of my computer screen who share my broken heart. The life I used to lead is gone, and we mourn it together.
Behind closed doors, I feel alone and out of synch. I can't relate to other moms and "normal" mom problems. Even when I myself am consumed with the daily struggles of making dinner and doing laundry, I still can't participate in a discussion where that's the biggest gripe. I often feel like a fake.
Behind closed doors, I get jealous when people have healthy babies with very little effort, and I always feel cheated. Why couldn't someone else be the statistic? Why was it me? Why was it her? I hate myself for being so jaded.
Behind closed doors, I give myself permission to miss the friends I've lost along the way. Because if I can't relate to them anymore, how can I really expect them to still relate to me?
Behind closed doors, I hate myself for being the person who cries when a song lyric hits her ear just right or who can't stop staring at the dark haired toddler holding her mother's hand in the grocery store. I wish I was stronger. Better yet, I wish I didn't have to be.
Behiind closed doors, I picture her face in my mind, and the heat from my tears rises from the pit of my stomach up through my neck, stealing my breath and stopping my heart.
Behind closed doors, I let the emptiness fill me. Because sometimes the only way to not be consumed by it is to give it permission to exist.
Behind closed doors, I worry what others will think of me if I say these things to them. How they will misunderstand. How they will call it "dwelling" or "unhealthy". How they will think I am unable to cope, when every single one of these things IS coping.
Behind closed doors, I strip off the mask that helps me pass for acceptable. I unwrap the binding that keeps my broken parts from spilling out onto the street and I am relieved I no longer have to pretend it doesn't suffocate me.
Behind closed doors, I hide from a world that doesn't understand - a world that thinks loss is contagious, death is unspoken, and grief is limited to a timeframe.
Behind closed doors, life is not always the show you see on stage. It's not the flashy costumes and the shining spotlight. It's dark and shadowy and full of secret passages. Passages where anything can - and does - hide.
Behind closed doors, there are moms just like me, doing the best they can every day to hold it together, to feel "normal", to bring some sort of purpose to their life after loss. Moms who are in a constant battle between what they are trying to be and what they actually are.
Behind closed doors, a sanctuary can become a prison if you let it.
Life moves forward, and you adapt yourself to the changes that brings, but you don't grieve less. You don't hurt less or miss less. You just learn to show it less.
And you let it out...behind closed doors.