Friday, February 9, 2018

February, we meet again...

For as much as I do genuinely love the abrupt end of the holiday season every January, I know that the middle of that month will be difficult, and that once I get through that it will be February.

I know that.

It is that way every year since he died.

February always shows up.

This nagging dread. These dark days of winter. The weeks when I have always struggled the most, regardless of what else was going on. This time last year, I really and truly was thinking about ending my own life. When the anxiety and the depression get in my head together, it doesn't take long for it to get bad, especially this time of year when the light is so small and the days are so long.

This year has been so much bigger. Everything has been magnified.

The 15th of January is the day that I lost my first child. It has been 17 years now, but that day still insists on remaining on calendars anyway. I was supposed to be at a wedding the day it happened, but I was curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor instead. I'd be forced to justify that absence to people who never cared about me years later. Most of the people who should have cared...didn't. Maybe they never knew what to say, so they never said anything at all.

The thing about having a miscarriage is that it's so easy for everyone else to act like nothing happened. No pregnancy. No baby. No heartbreaking grief. It all gets erased. You become invisible to them. Or if they see you, they turn their mouths down just so, make those sad eyes at you, the ones that indicate they feel sorry for you somehow, but then remain silent nonetheless.

Ah, the ides of January.

Always an asskicker.

This year, I spent a few hours on the following day talking to a bunch of people who'd never lost a baby about losing a baby. Why that conference call had to be that week...I don't know. Life just has a way of working out that way, I suppose. As I struggled to explain what being in that situation was like to people with no reference point beyond a few stories they'd been told, I promised myself that I WAS going to be okay. That this was in a strange and twisted way, a fitting tribute for the anniversary. That it wasn't going to hurt so much because I was trying to make something, anything about this terrible process a little bit better for someone, anyone else. That somehow my sharing of my story could maybe make someone else feel a little bit less alone.

I convince myself of these things without ever knowing whether they are true, but because it helps keep me upright.

It came, then went. I was emotionally drained, but I was okay.


The day after that one, something else altogether happened. And maybe someday I will talk about it here, but it is much more likely that I won't. Suffice to say that I legitimately feel like I have aged ten years in the past month. I've never felt more responsible and powerless at the same time.

At least a few times in these past few weeks, I have found myself longing for reassurance that I was doing the right thing. That I was making the right choices. That I was doing the best that I possibly could. That I had done as much as possible and had found the right people to help. That I had leaned when and where I needed to, and that I wasn't irretrievably damaging anyone else by dropping all the balls I had suddenly let go.

It was one of those priority-rearrangers, for sure.

More than anything, though, I've wanted someone to sit me down and look me in the eye and tell me that 

Even if they don't know that. Even if there is no way to predict what the future will bring. Even then.

The person who was always the best at that was my father. And he isn't here.

He hasn't been here for a very long time.

It will be seven years tomorrow since the Santa Ana winds came and swept him away that morning.

If I am being completely honest with myself, I don't know that he would be particularly helpful or understanding about this situation we are facing. I don't. I don't know that he would comprehend what we are going through or why. I don't know that he would agree with my choices or the determinations that have been made, or the path that we have chosen to walk. I don't know that he wouldn't be like a few of those who know have been - offering well intentioned, but damaging and unsolicited advice. I don't know. Asking questions that only made it worse. I don't know.

But then there have been so many people, so very many people, who have lifted us up. Who have dropped everything at a moment's notice. Who have filled in the places I couldn't be. Who have shown up, handed me food, and let me cry on their shoulders. Who have, without even needing to know more, offered to help. Who have given time, energy, boxes of snacks, bags of coffee. Things to make sure that I was taking care of myself. Keychains and healing rocks to carry with me all the time. Some of them, things that there was no possible was that the giver would have known would have the specific meaning in my life that they have.

I feel like all of these people in our lives right now have combined forces in some magical and mystical way, forming an emotional support Voltron, to be what I need, what I would have hopefully gotten from him, what he can no longer give me. But it is here. It is still here.

It comes from UPS trucks and gets dropped in milk boxes and arrives in the form of memes and poetry.

My father is still here, and every single one of you who have shown us this kindness these past few weeks have given me a piece of him without even knowing it.

So many have asked me lately how I am.

Honestly, I don't know.

I know I am not okay, but I can't seek details beyond that in this immediate reality.

I don't have the luxury of time to think about how I am right now. There are so many other responsibilities I carry, and I can't be bothered to sit around and ponder my emotional well being. I have to be okay, because it isn't just my life depending on it.

I have to.

I happen to be really ridiculously good at crisis mode. Whenever other people need me, I rise to the occasion. And yeah, I usually end up sacrificing some bit of myself in the process, but this is what I do. And my role as saver has to be the most important one right now, because it is intertwined with my role as mother.

There is no other option.

I know that when the immediacy of this crisis passes, and Thor willing, I hope it passes sooner rather than later, I will hit the wall. I know this. I know that once I can lower my guard for even a moment, the waves will come crashing down with a force to level me. I know this. I am so numb right now that I will almost welcome it, because its arrival will signal stability elsewhere.

And we could use a little stability right about now.

This post didn't end up being much about you, Dad. But then you really never wanted me to write about you anyway.

I guess I just needed to tell you that even though things are not okay right now, and that I am not okay right now, we are surrounded by people who love us and care about us. And in each of them, I see a little piece of you.

And even if we aren't okay right now, we will be.

I miss you, Dad...but in a strange way I feel a little bit closer to you now that I have in years.

It would still be nice to hear you say it though.


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