Wednesday, February 9, 2011

That Mean Old Public Library

Dear Luke,

I feel that most days I manage life pretty well. I like the saying that other mothers like me have adopted, it's called "living with loss" or "finding a new normal" rather than "moving on". I feel like we've learned to live with this new life. But some days...

I find that my grief sneaks up on me at the most unexpected (often inopportune) times. Today it was at the public library. And I'm not quite sure why.

I've had a terrible cold and decided to pick up a new book to read so that I could soak in the tub once Halle and Sam were in bed. I've only been twice since your death. One of those times was shortly after we lost you and was a complete disaster. The other time, I took the kids to story time, under the stupid assumption that that is what I was supposed to do. My daughter's preschool teacher, an incredibly sweet lady but with no experience or understanding of what we were dealing with, told me that I should make life as normal for my two remaining kids as I could. This comment left me feeling even more guilty than I already felt (for heaven's sake, I hadn't even been able to keep my child safe in the womb, what sort of terrible mom am I?) and decided I needed to be a "better" mom. I equated this to taking my kids to story time at the library.

We entered the library, packed full of happy mommies and noisy kids. I know I should have felt happy to at least have two living children, but I was aching for my third. Call me selfish. It hurt to see that everyone else's life moved on while mine stood still. I wanted to hide from their happiness. I wanted to scream whenever I saw a woman with a big pregnant belly - the type of belly I've never had and never will get a chance at again. My sorrow and grief was outweighed only by the bitterness that began to well up inside when I realized these people were all living the life I wanted.

Time certainly has helped heal my wounds (along with therapy, medication, and the support of other grieving mothers) but it's funny how I still can't seem to go back to the library, of all places, without my heart breaking.

I remember taking Halle and Sam to story time outside during the early summer months. I was just starting to show, but unless you really knew me, you wouldn't have known, just looking like I'd put on a few pounds. I was still in the first trimester and we hadn't told very many people about you yet. Everywhere I went I was carrying around my new little baby and that fantastic feeling of having a wonderful secret. I was carrying a miracle and it was just for me. That little secret put a constant smile on my face.

We didn't go to story time for very long. Soon the weather was too warm, and although you were just the size of a little bean back then, your existence made my body temperature sky rocket. I'd never been pregnant in the summer before, and the heat was unbearable. So we stuck to doing the indoor crafts at the library while I cooled myself by the air conditioner. Halle and Sam adored this time and I would sit and daydream about how I would make this work the following summer with THREE kids. The thought was exhilarating. And also unnecessary as it turns out.

So silly that a library would bring me all these thoughts - thoughts that one moment bring a smile to my face with such sweet memories of my pregnancy and in the very next instant a torrential downpour of sorrow and deep loss.

I find it funny how these painful thoughts don't hound me as much at home as they used to. Perhaps that's because you are everywhere in our house. Your pictures, your memory box, your clothes, your room, the blankets laid out just waiting for your arrival. There isn't a place you can enter in this house and not be reminded that you exist. But outside of our home it's as though you never happened. Story time will continue at the library with or without you. Your memories there belong only to me. And that leaves me feeling sad and achy.

Just another place I'm not ready to be yet - the public library. I will add it to the long list of other places that hold memories of you, but only for me. Other places that I am not ready to return to. At least not yet.

Love you like crazy,

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