Saturday, December 25, 2010
I didn't write for a few days because I wanted to spend time with my friends and family, but my goodness I missed this space. I apologize for the length of this post and my inability to pick a tense. I'm exhausted.
"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." ~Henri Nouwen
Food, gifts, games with the friends I consider family. They are family, but they have let us slip into their lives and be family as well which warms my heart. We eat and eat and eat and then play games and talk and laugh and I beg J to be adopted by C and D's parents so we can be real family, but he says he likes his mother, and, well, I do too, but can't we have more than one mother? Then it's gifts in the dark living room by the tree with beautiful lights and I love getting gifts – everyone has been teasing me because I am wearing a sweater J gave me before we came over because I couldn't wait until Christmas – and then, and then .. C says he has one more gift for us in the car. He tells us it's in memory of Charlotte and before he fetches it I apologize for the tears that will surely flow.
And it's beautiful. It's so beautiful all I can do is stare as I feel the tears building in my chest and throat. He created a breathtakingly beautiful picture of our girl ascending to heaven and once he frames it we will hang it in our living room. If I remember correctly it's called Sweet Ascension and Charlotte is a vibrant hummingbird in the middle of the picture and the loving hands of Jesus are reaching down to receive her ... Oh, I can't describe it, but it is incredible (Pictures to come, we're waiting for it to be framed).
We cry, we all cry I think, but it's dark, and I can't tell. I lean into J, I look around the room at C, R, C, and D and think about how blessed we are. Then I place my hand on my chest in an attempt to keep the tears down long enough to tell them how much we love them. And I do - I thank them for carrying us through this difficult year, for speaking of her, remembering her. R says she thinks of her every day, that she loves her. They all nod and tell us how much they care for our girl.
I don't know what we did right, or what stars aligned, to have these wonderful people in our lives but I am so grateful I can't find words without sounding crazy sentimental. My Aquafit girls and his racquet ball boys, but so much more: friends at the hospital, then I met the wives, and now it's six friends and two (well, three if you consider J) of those six I lean on so hard I'm surprised they don't fall over.
Then J wipes his eyes and says, “Okay, that's enough,” and we laugh because men can turn off tears and we three women are still wiping our eyes and sniffling and I've got fresh tears leaking out – dripping down my face and it's tears and laughter all together and that sums up this entire year. I have cried more, laughed more, loved more, hurt more in this year than any other of my life.
My hardest day. I sob in J's arms on the couch after breakfast. I haven't cried like this for a while. I'm crying so hard I feel like I might throw up. I eventually pull myself together, get dressed, and go to the library for a small bit of solace before we spend the afternoon with his family.
On the way home from the library I think about how I haven't spent a day in bed for so long, maybe even since August - which has the effect of making me want to crawl in bed with the books I've selected and the chocolate friends have sent to me, but it's Christmas Eve and family must be seen and life must continue without her.
I fall apart before we leave for the in-laws. Weeping, wailing, crying for my baby, whispering “I want my baby,” over and over. The river of tears which threatens to overwhelm me brings me back to the first few months after she died, when my eyes were constantly infected and swollen from crying so much. It's surprising, really, that I'm far enough out that I can see improvement, growth, and healing. I didn't know that would happen so soon after she died.
I cried on the way to the in-laws and slid back into meltdown mode on the way home. I told J celebrating – except I did not celebrate, more crawled through a war zone – Christmas without her hurts so much it feels like my heart is breaking all over again.
J and I are not communicating well right now, which added to the holiday stress. We had a major fight on Thursday and a decent one as we drove home yesterday. I think we are doing well considering everything we are fighting against, but there are moments when I want to scream for all the things aside from her gentle life I have lost.
We walked the dog around the neighborhood after arriving home and I realized it doesn't really feel like Christmas. Even so my body seems to know what time of year it is and my emotions are so heightened I burst into tears with little to no provocation. I'm so broken and sad there isn't a seven month old in my arms, at my feet, tearing into presents, chewing on wrapping paper.
I woke up at 4:30 am to a cold dog nose pressed against my back where my shirt had bunched up a bit as I slept. I shuddered and rolled over to see Isabel peering over the bed at me. My head aches from all of the crying I did last night and as I swing my legs over the side of the bed I feel lightheaded and disconnected. If only I were numb, perhaps this day would hurt less, but, no, I'm a bit dizzy, but definitely awake and I gather my glasses, phone and water bottle and stumble out of the bedroom.
Isabel doesn't need water, or a trip outside, but I'm hungry so I eat a piece of peanut butter toast. Then I fall asleep on the couch while she sleeps on the floor below me. I wake at 8 to a more painful headache and Christmas morning without my girl.
We spend the afternoon with my family. From my parents we received a bird for the garden, a picture of the three of us that says 'I will remember' across the top that we can hang on the wall, and a card that said toys were donated to needy children in honor of Charlotte. My sister gave us a little bird statue with a winter hat and a sweet card. I would take pictures, but I am so exhausted I don't want to move.
I know the only way out is through, but sometimes the through hurts so much I fear I am forever stuck in the middle, not moving forward, or back, just standing motionless, and since I imagine 'through' as a dark forest, I am stuck in the middle of a large, dark forest and I cannot see my way, and if I could my feet would not carry me out and that is a frightening, all encompassing, lost and lonely feeling.
But it's over, this miserable drag of a holiday which is supposed to be a joyous time of year is finally over. Despite the broken heart and tears I felt loved and blessed this holiday season and my sweet girl's name was spoken and her short life was honored and that healed a few more cracks in my shattered heart.