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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Grief in the Joy of Life

I have been struggling to post lately. But that’s what I do. When things are really bad inside, I disappear. This blog is a way to be present in my life. For some days now it has been hard to be present. It’s not that life is so bad or hard. It’s more the pain of living in general, the pain of having an open heart. Lots of things can rip open a heart that is slightly closed or just not as open as it could be. One is grief.

Lately I have been grieving. We finally found out why, why, why Ellie was born so early under such violent conditions. It has taken several doctors and 4 years to finally put the mystery together. With the answers I can no longer blame myself and I cannot responsibly try for another pregnancy either. That is a sad thing to suddenly find out your child bearing years are over. As unbelievable as this may sound, I am so incredibly grateful to have gotten to carry Ellie as long as I could. I am even more grateful that we are both still here to share our life together as mother and daughter.

When an answer comes to a question that has been asked for so so long it is like being immersed in cold water that makes you immediately numb. I suppose this is the way the body protects itself from death or the mind’s way of insulating itself from insanity. Numbness. Nothingness. Stuffing pain down into the cold water of shock while one cheerfully gets on with their day to day or snaps at their poor sweet husband.

This is what I have been doing on and off since mid December. All my dreams of carrying another baby and “doing it right this time” have been decimated by the truth that if I do the doctors assure me I will most likely die and take the baby with me. The best case scenario is a repeat of what happened with Ellie. That would be completely irresponsible on my part. So that’s it. There you have it. Grief come on down and do your thing.

I first learned about grief when my Nana Helen died. She was the first person I felt consistently and unconditionally loved by. She was amazing in her ability to transcend an incredibly difficult childhood to become wise. She is the reason I went on and slogged it through my own really awful childhood. She died when I was 21 leaving me to face grief alone. Newfound grief is the worst. I have found over the years that when grief comes, and it does, in its own unpredictable way, it is bittersweet and not so life threatening as when it is new. It comes on a whiff of wintergreen lifesaver and there is Nana in her gloves sitting next to me on a long car ride slipping me a wintergreen lifesaver with a twinkle in her eye and an arm around my small shoulders. I contemplate my paten leather clad feet that don’t reach to the end of the seat and am happy to be near her. No car seats in those days.

Life has its twists and turns and sucker punches and joys and love. It’s a mixed bag. I look at Ellie now and even more than before, when I did not know why, thank God for the miracle of her having survived, for getting to carry her and bond with her in that way a mother does. What a huge gift in light of its impossibility. If we are not here to unfold as souls and to learn to love more and find true compassion, why are we here? Ellie teaches me about both each day. Grief enriches the whole thing and reminds me to be thankful for what is in the here and now – which is a lot.