I would like to wish everyone a very peaceful, happy and safe Independence Day weekend. I hope that for all of you it was/is/will be filled with love, friends, family, fun, sun and good food...as well as the ever present spirits of your angels.
Two years ago today I was about 24 hours away from marrying the love of my life after about 14 years together...we had our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on the 3rd and then had a nice picnic on the 4th to entertain our out of town guests and celebrate our nephew's 14th birthday. We had no idea what the first two years of our marriage would bring. ~ One year ago today I was in week #33 of pregnancy with our first born. We were still clueless about what laid ahead of us. ~ Today I am in the 29th week of pregnancy with our second child, yet there is no 10 or 11 month old baby here with us. We still have no idea what lies ahead, but we certainly know that this is just not how it was supposed to go. I am not super depressed or sad today...just making an observation that pretty much anyone reading this has made at one point or another. I do wonder, though, how long it will be before I look at the babies that were born around the same time Gracie was due/born without thinking about her....without thinking about all of the things we have missed and all of the things that we will miss for the rest of our lives.
Despite the fact that my heart has been so relatively light over the last few weeks, it is not always like this. This kind of ties in with my previously posted thoughts about wondering where my grief might wander once I am not so preoccupied by work...and where it might wander after we bring Jellybean home with us. I think about all of the other I have met over the last 11 months and about how many of them work through portray their grief, and I wonder a lot about the open portrayal of grief, even in the blogosphere. I think about the extreme ups and extreme downs that can come with this grief, and I think about the fact that no matter how hard some of them might try, very close friends and family can never really understand or appreciate where our grief and its process comes from. I wonder if any of us, when outside of our '4 walls of safety and comfort' are truly able to openly express our grief and how we really feel about our losses. Some are. There is no question about that, but it seems that many are not.
There are some BLM blogs that are 110% upbeat with regard to grief and loss. They are always 'glass half full.' I think about my own grief in comparison to this and sometimes wonder why I can't get it or keep it together all the time. I try to take advantage of the uplifting feelings that can come from these blogs, as they can be helpful in getting out of downward funks. As helpful as they can be in that way, I have learned that they may not always be as helpful for their authors, as some of these BLMs are not free to express how they are really feeling. This restriction is usually because their blogs are frequented by real life family and friends...when given the opportunity to express themselves in an unrestricted/uncensored forum, it turns out that these women usually spend as much time as I do feeling not-so-upbeat about this grieving process.
Flipping the coin over, there are some BLMs that really seem to struggle hard to get through this process. We have all had different experiences, so none of us will have the same grief process, but some of the women I have met here really seem to struggle...almost on a daily basis. While the basic components of our grief is the same, their struggles seem to be exacerbated by all kinds of different things...pre-existing emotional difficulties; family, friends, co-workers that expect the grief to end with the flip of a switch; multiple losses; infertility subsequent to loss; the list goes on and on. I feel so helpless when I read these women's blogs...I so much want to say something to comfort them, but know that there are probably no words at all that will bring much comfort. What I have learned is that many times these women's blogs are private with regard to family and friends, and these women are free to throw out any thoughts or words that help them feel better at the moment they are writing. Many times these posts are a 'snapshot' written at the height of a particular emotional event and they are also not a 100% accurate portrayal of that person's grief, just as the always-positive posts are not a true portrayal of grief....but they truly serve the purpose of getting it out and aiding in the healing process.
I don't know...perhaps none of that rambling makes sense. If it offends anyone, I apologize...I am just rambling and trying to sort out some of my own thoughts in a forum that I know is not likely to crucify me for doing so. I guess what I am beginning to realize is that no matter how we portray ourselves, I think when we boil it all down, so many of us struggle to maintain a healthy balance between the ups and the downs...and so often we struggle with how to balance the expression of the ups and downs, especially when dealing with our real life family and friends who will just simply (through no fault of their own) never understand.
(As I was reposing, I found that this paragraph was completely not visible on my blog - having it visible will probably help in the remainder of this post making sense. Ugh.) In thinking about all of this, I also think about the things in life that are certain to bring me up or down. This also includes the 'new' things that bring me up or down over the last 11 months. Since I haven't done a 'weekly' list in a while, I figured that I would do so now, and kind of share some of these things. Feel free to share some of yours with me and others if you wish.
The things that consistently bring me up are:
- My hubby - we have been together for about 16 years, married for two. We have absolutely had our share of ups an downs, even before we were married, but I am confident that there is nothing that we cannot conquer together. He truly is the love of my life.
- Softball - I started playing as a little girl and played for about 11 years. For several reasons, I did not play in college, but should have. It's a decision that I will forever regret (just a little bit), but one that I cannot change. Although fast pitch is my thing, I still thoroughly enjoy a good slow pitch game every once in a while.
- Making music - I was a song bird and band geek in high school. I am certainly far from being 'over gifted', but I can hold my own in either realm. I have not been part of an organized musical ensemble in about 10 years, and I miss it tremendously. I have been without a piano for about 12 years, and oddly enough, I think that having a piano might have made a huge difference for me in the early months after Gracie's death. It was always a means of stress relief for me, and I wonder what difference it might have made during this process.
- QT with my sister - we are 4 1/2 years apart in age, but we have always been close. She left for a 27 month assignment in Africa with the Peace Corps two weeks after Gracie's funeral. She wasn't supposed to be here for her birth, but as things worked out, she was. I am so glad that she was. I am so sad that she will not be here in September. I am looking forward to her return to the U.S.
- Success/accomplishment in the things that I do - For me, this kind of doesn't require a lot of explanation...it is sufficient on a general level. I take everything I do seriously - there are too many things to do in life to just waste time not being the best you can be. This includes academics, music, sports, my participation in the fire service, owning my own business, personal relationships and so much more.
- Family gatherings not overshadowed by drama or negative vibes - Unfortunately, where my family is concerned, this is hard to come by, but I love it when it happens. :-)
Things that consistently bring me down
- Constantly negative people - we all have our down moments, but I cannot handle being around people who can never find anything positive or upbeat to talk about, anticipate or be part of. I find people who are negative all the time to be exhausting.
- Drama - especially small town bullshit drama...yet, I will forever live in a small town. While it's sometimes entertaining to see the things that fire people up and get their panties all bunched up, most of the time it's just exhausting.
- Working to much with too little pay - I feel like this has been the story of the last 5 years (since I opened my own P.T. practice). I know that I am making headway, and that it's all good, but it just feels like it's taking forever. I will include with this the lousy salaries paid out to many emergency personnel in most parts of the country. If your job involves lights and sirens, you should be compensated well for that...you just never know what you are going to deal with from one day to the next.
- Living so far apart from the best friends I will ever have in my life - there is a distance of 2-3 hours between where we live and where most of my friends from college live. Now that we are all starting our own families, it makes getting together on a regular basis very difficult. I miss them all terribly...
- Knowing that other BLMs are suffering through difficulty TTC, infertility and subsequent loss.
There are some things that now go on the list titled "Things that usually bring me up, but sometimes bring me down". That list includes...
- Seeing Gracie's name in 'writing'
- People talking about Gracie in a way that acknowledges her existence and presence here in the world, and her importance in our lives
- Thinking about the rest of the children that we hope to have
- Family gatherings with other children
- Babies...especially those within 4 months of Gracie's age
- Reading other loss and rainbow blogs - I hesitate to put this on the list, but I really need to. As helpful and beneficial and therapeutic as it has been for me to read so many loss (and now rainbow) blogs over the last 10-11 months, I think that rehashing grief through other loss blogs might sometimes be more of a weight in my own grief process. I think it depends on the day and how I am feeling at any given moment, but I think I have reached a point where reading loss blogs might not always be beneficial.