This morning I woke up with the intention of publishing another post about my lazy, ungrateful, frustrating and yet absolutely hilarious children. When my feet touched the floor as I got out of bed, my heart fluttered and I felt a familiar uneasy nervousness. My stomach felt queezy, my hands were shaking as I brushed my teeth. I didn’t know whether I needed to go to the bathroom or pace. It wasn’t an anxiety attack, but I was close. Stop. Breath. In the nose. Out of the mouth. I told myself, “You’re good.” And kept moving.
Then it dawned on me…today is Toni Camille’s seventh birthday. Instantly, everything in the past week or so sped through my mind. My usually sweet, kind, and loving disposition (I’m normally a ray of sunshine) turned irritable and I was unusually tired. I was eating everything in sight and out of sight…I was actually foraging. Despite the fact that I’d been grumpy with my husband, he made sure that he bought me a nice gift for her birthday. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the timing of its arrival was perfect and he still hasn’t acknowledged the fact that its purpose was to make me smile on her birthday, I realize now what he was doing.
Whenever I have conversations with mothers who have lost babies or make a good faith attempt at counseling them, they always ask me how I choose to remember my daughter. For some reason, some grieving mothers are made to feel guilty about acknowledging their children after death. The truth is that no one can tell us the proper way to cope with our losses. What works for one mother may not work for another. Just as we reserve the right to raise our living children as we choose, we reserve the same rights in the way we choose to mourn and remember the ones who have died.
Miscarriage and infant loss disturb the natural order of things. It is counter-intuitive to everything that we expect as a part of our experiences in motherhood. Nothing prepares us for it. No two experiences are the same. No two women are the same. Therefore, the way each of us mourns will be unique.
For me, it has been almost seven years. I still think about my baby every single day, but each day has gotten a little bit easier and more bearable. I will admit it, in my journey to making peace with this I have replayed every moment and questioned what I could have done differently. I have bargained with God. I have thanked God for the opportunity to be her mother. I have awakened in the middle of the night convinced this whole ordeal was a dream. I have wanted to lie on her grave and spend the night. I have fantasized about digging her up. I am fully aware that these things may sound crazy to someone who hasn’t lost a child, but to someone who has…I hope it blesses you to know that you are not alone. Ultimately for me, though, I have resolved that God’s will was done. In fact, my faith in God is the only thing that kept me from attempting to join her on her journey.
Today marks the beginning of my “personal Lent.” Seven weeks and five days until I will remember the date of her death. It is a time of reflection for me. How can I honor her? How can I make our 36 weeks inside me and almost 8 weeks on earth a blessing to myself and others?
- I will always count her when asked how many children I have.
- I will remember her with her siblings and respect that they had their own experience.
- I will talk about her to her younger brother who is convinced he met her in Heaven. He probably did.
- I will acknowledge her birthday and remember all of the “feels” that I felt on that day. Good. Bad. Happy. Sad.
- I will acknowledge the date of her death.
- I will talk about her with my husband.
- I will acknowledge the emotions that come along with every phase of this experience and I won’t make myself feel guilty for it.
- I will try to bless other moms by helping them through their own pain.
- I will be present for my loved ones who are alive.
Losing my child was not the end of my life. Seven years in, I have mostly good days, some so so moments, and rare days where I just want to sit in a dark room with my thoughts and a jar of Nutella and a big spoon. In a prior post, I talked about the first time laughed again after losing her. I still laugh…a lot.
So, today is my kid’s birthday. I had my sad moment today. I’m out of Nutella. Don’t ask how many giant jars I went through. When the kids come home from school, we will eat cake. . .lots of cake. Tomorrow, I will start a diet.
I’m Joslyn Jackson. I have so many kids that I have to stop and take a headcount sometimes. This is my blog. That guy is my husband and he runs the circus. I am also a lawyer who loves to write about the absolute insanity that is my life. I started this blog to embarrass my children. That is my number one goal. If you are entertained in the meantime…great.
Today, my goal as a friend is to help other mothers who have experienced the unimaginable measure of pain and loss that is losing a child to know and understand that they are not alone. I have been there and it WILL get better.
If I have typos….remember I said I’m not perfect.
That’s it! Love, Peace and Souuuuuuuuuuullllllll!