I had been thinking that 2013 was our year. That it is all downhill, or maybe uphill (whichever is better in the end!), from here.
And then Hudson’s six month birthday rolled around, and then yesterday, the six month anniversary of her death.
Half a year has gone by, and I’m not “all better.” Not by a long shot. My life right now is the limbo between Hudson and Baby Dub Dos, regardless of how hard I’ve tried to fill this space with new experiences, new accomplishments, a focus on hope.
We went to my niece’s dance recital on Saturday. Armies of adorable little girls dressed like tiny mice and puppies prancing in a quasi-organized fashion across the stage… that kind of entertainment was fun for families, but not ideal for me in my present emotional state. Then, our seats just happened to be directly behind not one but TWO families with small babies, who were basically being waved in my face every time I took a break from watching the adorbs on stage.
I’m going to pretend that my tears during one “Ballet 1” number were due to my love for the art of the dance.
Then yesterday rolled around: the six month mark from our daughter’s death, and a Monday to boot. The Hubs and I both are battling some grody winter bug, and neither of us slept well the night before. Hello, recipe for disaster. As we did our nightly routine, I started to cry the unprovoked tears of the perpetually heartached. The Hubs did me a solid, just holding me wordlessly while I let the tears silently roll down my cheeks and into my hair, the silence broken occasionally by one of those wheezy sobs that sometimes escape during a quiet cry. When it felt like words were necessary, I just said, “I’m tired of waiting around for my life to do what it is supposed to.”
This life is not easy.
Today I awoke with a more hopeful outlook, a desire to make the most of this day since I don’t get it back. I was excited to come home to my husband and enjoy a little less bummed out evening. But I had to stop at the grocery store to grab a loaf of bread and some olive oil, and ended up in the checkout line of one of those “overly friendly” people, one I’ve been avoiding since Hudson’s birth and death because she was the type to ask about the baby.
Sure enough. When I got up to the checkout, she greeted me like an old friend and asked me, “How’s the little one?”
I’ve written before about these awkward encounters. You feel apologetic, and inauthentic. You can’t always serve up the story with a healthy side of tears and full explanation, but then you over-analyze the encounter and wonder if you should have provided more information, made more or less eye contact, explained what happened. The “10-items or less aisle” isn’t the place for a retelling of those three wonderful days that were my life with Hudson.
So I just said, “She passed away.”
“She only lived three days.”
“Oh… I didn’t know… I’m so sorry.”
It’s okay?! It is far from okay. Later in the brief, uncomfortable encounter, I had to say that, “You know, it’s not OKAY, but you shouldn’t feel bad for asking.”
I drove home replaying the scene in my mind, wondering how I could have presented the situation differently, wishing I could have just skirted the truth and said something like, “She’s the most beautiful baby ever born.”
I’m also struck by how I always say “She passed away,” not “She died,” or “She only lived for three days.” I’m sure there’s some sort of insight in that word choice, but I’m too exhausted to explore it.
So I guess I’m not “over the hump”. I am doubting that there is such a thing as a hump in this thing called grieving. Looking back at the last six months, I can vaguely detect a gradual upward trend… but in the minutia of the day-to-day, you really just have to take ’em as they come. This has been a hard week – every time I have an encouraging moment, its been met fairly quickly with a cruel counter from the universe. Weeks like these, you have to be patient, laser focused on the positives you can cling to, a one-moment-at-a-time existence that can be completely depleting.
But there ARE positives to cling to. Sometimes they are as small and sweet as the embrace of my husband, crying into his ever-growing beard. Sometimes they are as big and grand as a family trip to Maui for my thirtieth birthday this coming April (THIRTY!). And there are small and medium sized positives that sneak up on me in the day when I’m least expecting them. The challenge is to be on the look out for these, to revel in their simple beauty, however brief.
Some of the most beautiful things in existence only grace the earth very briefly.