Monday, August 22, 2011

4 Years Later

R's day is Friday but I have to work that day and then we have some houseguests arriving in the evening, so...

I guess that says it all right there. Work and houseguests.

After four years, August 26 has been sucked back into the amorphous blob of ordinary days.

I'd like to think that my co-workers remember her and that my houseguests still care but that would be unrealistic. Even amongst the other members of this club, no one can remember all of the details about someone else's baby--wrong dates, genders, names.

Here, however, there's always respect. There is always understanding.

Your friends and family who haven't lost a baby think that imagining is the same thing as knowing but, it's not. There's nothing theoretical about R's death or the deaths of any of these other babies. This ain't no thrill ride. We aren't standing at the edge of the cliff looking down and wondering how it would feel to fall into space. We aren't clinging to the side, thanking our lucky stars for the near miss and promising to be better people in the future. We have already fallen and are grappling our broken way back up to the top. The brokenness is unappealing. If you've only had to wonder what it feels like, you can still imagine that the experience is at least somewhat beautiful or rewarding. It's better to wonder how it feels than to have someone tell you that it's a neverending festival of suck. Yeah. No one wants to hear that.

This doesn't mean that friendship and hospitality are out of the question but, you know, it takes some concentration and lowered expectations. It requires gaining some comfort with extended, uncomfortable silences. It requires forgiveness.

Forgiving is the gold standard, isn't it? Have you forgiven yourself yet? I'm not sure that I have. It's no small thing, forgiving. I'll likely work at it the rest of my life. But, I know that it's where I'm headed. It has to be. And, if I can forgive myself for letting R die, if I can forgive myself for all of the envy and anger in my heart, I can forgive my friends for forgetting her. I can forgive them for not understanding. I can even forgive them for not trying to understand.

When R died, it was almost like a new version of my self was born, a grasping, needy, undisciplined little person. Sound familiar?

How would I want to raise R if she were still here? Would I teach her to be bitter and self-concerned? Would I try to teach her patience and understanding, the discipline of kindness and forgiveness?

It's sort of an invalid question. If she had lived I'd still be skipping down the primrose path, gloriously ignorant of loss and misery. No one, including me, would expect me to learn a damn thing from the experience. But that isn't what happened. She died and took a good share of what I believed to be true with her. For four years I've been working on gathering new truths.

I'll keep it small this week. Small, simple truths for her short life. She's gone and I miss her and I love her.


  1. "She died and took a good share of what I believed to be true with her. For four years I've been working on gathering new truths."

    Sigh. I don't think I am doing very well with the new truths I have been gathering.

    Remembering R with you Tracy, and holding your simple truths close to my heart. Beautifully and simply stated.

  2. I'm in the trenches with you, working on the forgiveness thing. It's hard work.

    I'll be remembering R with you this week and especially on Friday. I'm so sorry she's not here with you.

  3. Sometimes I think I have forgiven myself. Sometimes I think there is nothing to forgive. And sometimes, I know that's not true. Sending love, and remembering R.

  4. This is exactly it. Others can only imagine or try to imagine. We already know. And we can't un-know it. Yep, "neverending festival of suck" is right.
    I too wonder if anyone else remembers the day she died (the day before she was born). I don't expect them to, but it has always been the shittier of the days for Simon and I to get through. Now we have the birthday of her sister on that day smearing happy all over the sad. I think in a way that is a good thing, but I hate to think what others make of the situation. You know, one replacing the other, a neat and tidy little ending to our sad story. One that we can now move on from.
    Understanding and respect here from me.
    And missing R with you, always.

  5. Forgiveness is hard, and sometimes it takes a lot of repetition. Thinking of you and R this week, and sending love.

  6. The paragraph that starts, "Your friends and family who haven't lost a baby think that imagining is the same thing as knowing but, it's not..." needs to be read by the world. It just nails this experience.

    I also love the line about lowering expectations, and about forgiving yourself. Sometimes I forgive myself, but it only takes some other dumbass thing I do to go right back to the self-loathing place. Lucia's death lumped in with the rest of it.

    Sending love on Friday and everyday, remembering your girl. xo

  7. "Your friends and family who haven't lost a baby . . . " so much truth right there.

    It is really hard to forgive myself, for her death and so much more. But on good days I can buck up, and bad ones I can't. I guess that's where I am.

    Thinking of you and remembering R. Sending peace your way on Friday.

  8. a grasping, needy, undisciplined little person. Sound familiar?

    Yup, sometimes I think G's death sent me right back to toddler-hood.

    It's so difficult, sometimes I think people would rather I just shut up about it already or came out with some wise words about life and death and how everything works out in the end. And then shut up already. But it isn't working out in the end. And it is kind of a neverending festival of suck. But you're right, nobody wants to hear that and I don't blame them.

    This is a beautiful post. R has been in my thoughts so much over this past week.