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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back To The Beginning - Part 1, Page 1

I barely slept last night. Opening the cover of Emma's journal was like a portal. I knew it would be. And yet my sleepless hours weren't filled with movie-like images of the past. Instead they probed me with questions: What was on the next page? When will you continue the journey? Are you really ready? Are you scared of what you will find?

Grief Season arrived early this year.

Naptime isn't a given in this household any longer. The girls are four and six after-all, but today it evolved rather effortlessly. My plan was to revert to the infancy habit of 'sleep when they sleep' to preperve the moddacum of patience I have managed to produce today. But, being the finish what I start kind of person that I am I decided to finish commenting on some recent posts.

Good plan. Mentally swept clean I could actually rest.

However the last offering from the list led me to Once A Mother's blog, which left me sobbing, which brought me back to the journal, which- in turn - has found me here.

And so - Page 1

The Letter Reads:

"We wanted to say a final goodbye that travelled with you to your new home. Your father and I prepared your room and prepared our hearts for your entrance into our lives. Both are, at this moment, empty. In time your brother or sister will fill your room but noone will ever take your place in our hearts. We wish you a blessed trip to heaven and your sinless soul a speedy life until we meet you again. Our earthly time holding you, hugging you, dressing you, and loving you is etched forever in our memories. ~~ We love you forever, Mom and Dad"

The jounal sits in my lap as I type this, for as my tears fall freely I need her right now to tell the truth.

The truth is that I was clearly in shock. No one resembling the puddle-on-the-floor that I turned into could have formulated such clear, cookie-cutter thoughts let alone formulate them into sentences on paper with perfect elementary-ed-teacher handwriting. Although I don't actually remember pasting the picture into the journal or writing the letter, I can look back through my mind's eye. As it focuses I see a broken shell of a girl clinging to what she knew: order, writing, record keeping, and putting facts on paper, saying them repeatedly until they took the shape of the truth. Oddly, the entry in undated, yet as the next entry is clearly marked 9/15/00 I must have written this letter sometime in the week after her death and birth.

The truth is that most of what I wrote were lies. I clung to the untruths because, according to me, that was the way it was supposed to be. I wrote what I wanted my experience to look like, not ready to admit that the way it actually happened was all right and if someone chose to judge me, him, us for the choices we made that it would actually be their issue not ours. We had our issue. Our baby died. At some point I had to admit it, believe it, but not yet -- not when I wrote that letter, eyes glazed by fantasy.

The truth is that We didn't do all those pretty things I spoke of. I did. I prepared the room, I set up the car seat, I glowed at the baby-shower arriving home with a Ford wagon laiden down with more gear than our tiny apartment could hold. I was ready our baby girl. I needed to write that journal.

The truth is that Jer was more anxious, scared, and overwhelmed at the arrival of our baby girl than blissfully overjoyed. His emotions were completely valid as our re-connecting, falling in love, falling pregnant and getting married were unintenionally accomplished in the span of 6 months. He would have been fine. He would have been struck-down in love with that girl from day one. This I know. But instead, he was forced to attempt to reconcile his hestiant emotions with the devestation, grief, and disbelief her death presented. Moreover, the silent unanimous vote elected him the pillar, an ever present rock for me: making decisions, cooking, cleaning, working, paying bills; leaving little time or energy for any grief he needed to feel, to expel, to share with me.

As I work with family after family during their time of acute grief I see this play out. The father has little opportunity to just be, to feel their tidalwave of emotions.

The truth is I never acknowledged this. I never gave Jer his time or space to sort out the emotional expolsion that Emma's conception, death, then birth presented him with. Instead I projected rosy, hormonal expectations onto him putting a dual face on my experience. Oh, we had such hopes for our little girl, I gushed to a neighbor. We clearly remember how she settled right in our honeymoon cruise. She just loved the rocking of the ocean. It soothed her - really, I recounted more times than I can count. Yes, I confirmed to many a sympathizer, We were so ready for her. How can she not be here?

Taking ownership of this isn't easy, but it is essential. He deserved to be met with empathy, with compassion, with a smidge of understanding. I wasn't capapble. I was so lost within my vast image of what should have been while simultaneously writhing at the bottom of an equally deep grief hole that I let him suffer.

The truth is a miracle. He chose to stay. He chose to fight, for us.

The result is another miracle. I love him more everyday, not just for the traits that drew me into his heart originally, but for the choices he's made that broadcast his character. And, even more astoundingly, he seems to feel the same way about me.

He is a more dedicated, engaged, and compassionate father than I ever hoped to imagine -- even in my fanciful untruths. I see the proof of this everyday. You can read about it in this month's issue of Exhale. It's high time I gave this man, this father, the credit he deserves.

Why did Emma die? I have no rightly idea. But I have accepted this fundamental truth. With the right perspective, chaos is a window to calm fulfillment. I am strangely fulfilled. I miss her more than ever.

{Author's Note: Truly I had no idea where these journal pages were going to take me. Now, I am more curious and anxious than ever for this first post was not at all what I expected. I guess life rarely is. See? I'm still learning.}


Bluebird said...

So very interesting and profound. Thank you, so much, for your honesty.

I know, too, that my earliest letters to our babies were more well written - more succinct and with more clarity - than my letters a few weeks out. Initially surprising but, like you said, it also makes a bit of sense. . .

Martha said...

((Hugs)) to Jer, Emma's Dad.

Salma said...

My head is spinning...I don't know why I want to cry because the post is more inspiring than anything else.

The expression of a journey that completes the picture of survival and love is so evident here...and the part about your husband's strength...seems like you are writing my thoughts. WOW.

It's too bad that we have to write about these experiences...but it makes us stronger, I think.

Hope's Mama said...

Your first two "The Truth Is" paragraphs - oh my god me all over. Like so scary Cara.
Thank you.

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