Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
The five stages of grief according to the Kübler-Ross model. Unless I’m still in denial (which I don’t think I am) I’m not sure I fit anywhere in particular on this scale. The stages that books, nurses and counselors tell me we will jump to and from in no specific order.
I had a good day yesterday. I enjoyed my morning alone sipping coffee and let my body be still. I had lunch with my Mom and Ted downtown. I enjoyed quiet time at home before I went to Adult Vacation Bible School with my Mama and took in the word of God. After I went to Bearnos with my family and my sweet cousin Courtney and had a few beers. (Jesus and drinking – very true to Abby form if I’m honest. .and I am)
Into the night I shared a silly picture online with the girls who can always make me laugh; my mom (the photographer) and Courtney. Jason Alden, or his cardboard cutout, apparently frequents Bearnos and is in high demand according to the bartender who was worried we were going to steal him. (never happening)
But when my head hit my pillow last night, I couldn’t sleep. 1 AM, 2AM, 3AM, 4AM, 5AM. .screamed the time on my phone. I laid in bed and thought to myself over and over the lyrics to Lincoln Brewster’s There is Power.
“There is power
In the name of Jesus
There is power
Power in His name.”
Not many thoughts rolled over my mind last night except one. I wondered what people would think when they saw the picture of me and Courtney. Would people see the picture and think I must be close to the “acceptance” stage of grief? I get asked a lot about when I will be returning to work. (not from my boss or any of my co-workers, I might add) It’s possible they know me the best and know that even when I’m smiling my heart is still sad. I’ve become a highly anxious person since Sam’s birth and each public outing takes a tiny bit of courage on my part. Although I’m reentering the world slowly and I get snapshots of the happiness I had before we lost Sam – Sam is never far from my mind.
I’ve found common ground with other Mama’s who have lost their babies. In her blog one Mama writes, “Sometimes I think people might look at us and think that we’ve been having a great time- that the whole baby-dying-but-still-getting-maternity-leave thing is working out quite well for us. I know for the most part at least it’s just paranoia, and that the vast majority of people know that this is the last thing in the world we would have ever wanted. I still feel myself cringe sometimes when people ask us if we ‘had a great time on holidays’ or when there are suggestions that any night since our lives have been turned upside down and shaken violently could be considered the ‘best night ever’.”
She continues, “As fortunate as I know I have been, the truth is that I am also incredibly resentful of my ability to do these things. I resent each and every night of uninterrupted sleep, I resent each time I breeze through airport security while the parents of young children dismantle prams and get red faced with frustration, I resent each time we decide to pop out for a meal with 5 minutes’ notice, or go out for the day without having to consider bottles and bags and babysitters. I deeply resent each moment and every experience that we’ve had because Max died. To carry on breathing while a part of you had died is so hard, to carry on living your life, to carry on smiling, to taste and to swim and to laugh can feel impossible. I would rip my passport to shreds, I would cut out my taste buds, I would relinquish my right to ever sleep through the night again in a nanosecond if it meant that there was the slightest chance to have him back with me. I would trade my life for his without question. I know that there is no perfect combination of proposed sacrifice which, like a rusty combination lock, will spring open and send the clock spinning gleefully back in time to January where the future seemed certain and where Max could have been saved. I continue to breathe without him and so I will continue to live for him. I feel him with me wherever I go. I open my eyes and my heart wider to all of the experiences life has to offer. I write his name to remember him, and to assure myself that I always will. I fight the temptation to simply exist and force myself to live as fully as I can.”
Maybe it’s possible I don’t and won’t fall into any model of grief. Maybe it’s possible that Ted and I are just learning to live life in a new way – day by day. I am thankful for my co-workers and for my boss, who I consider my family, that they’re allowing me to do my own thing for a few months while my body and soul attempt to recover.
Maybe it’s possible I couldn’t sleep last night and kept thinking over the power of Jesus because that’s with whom my grief lies. “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)