Thursday, February 17, 2011
When that heart monitor flatlined in the early morning hours of October 25th, I lost more than just my beautiful baby girl. Yes, living every day without Ellie by my side, is by far the biggest and hardest loss of them all. Waking up each morning and starting another day, knowing that I won't get to kiss or snuggle my daughter ever again, takes my breath away. There are times when the pain is paralyzing. Losing a child is such an all encompassing, colossal loss, it's hard to fathom even noticing a change in the small everyday things around you.
But what most people don't realize, and what I am just learning myself, is that it's not just Ellie I lost. Several times a day, at every place I go, in everything I do, I find that nothing is the same.
At first, I could only see that she was gone. I missed her smell, the weight of her in my arms, her fuzzy head, her long chubby fingers. And I still do. But most days, that pain isn't as crushing as it used to be. Now it's more of a constant ache and emptiness.
At first, I knew certain things could trigger that pain, a sudden surge of anxiety and grief. It made sense that reminders of Ellie would bring sadness. Now, I understand why. I guess in the depths of my totally tangled and chaotic mind, I know they made me sad because they represented a loss. But now, now I get it.
It's not just Ellie that's gone. Everything I used to believe in, love, find joy in, depend on, has changed. It's not that I don't find joy or love anymore- that's not it at all. It's that it's different. Even in the happiest of moments, there is still sorrow. Yes, the sun stills shines, but the gray cloud always hovers nearby.
In everything I do, especially as a mom, is shaded by Ellie's absence. When I cook for three, I know I should be cooking for four- especially when Ellie would just be learning to love table food. When I do laundry, I miss the extra load of pink and purple, dresses and legwarmers. With the ease of carting around just one toddler, comes the pain of knowing I should also be wrestling another newly mobile toddler. Even the extra space in the diaper reminds of the extra space in my arms. Planning our summer vacation, our first family vacation, just shines light on the fact that we won't be taking the trip as a whole family.
Today, I had a "day off" - as if moms ever really get a day off. I went and had my hair done. As I walked in to the salon, the song "King of Anything" was playing overhead. Ellie loved dancing to this song. I thought, I can't even get my hair done in peace. The lady doing my hair was new to me; she had cut Max's hair but that's all. Since yesterday, I have been dreading the question. I don't like answering it but I hate the anticipation that comes before it even more. Then... "So, do you have other kids besides Max?" "Yes, a daughter." "How old is she?" .... "She was nine months old when she died in October." The lady was very nice and said all the right things. But it's there. It's always there. It will always be there.
Losing Ellie means losing our way of life. My perception of everything has been forever altered. I now question whether going to get my hair done is worth "the question." Before I run errands, I wonder if I have the strength to walk by the little girl's clothing department or not. I take a deep breath before I log onto Facebook and brace myself for picture's of new babies, cute little girls doing cute little girl things and worst of all, people whining about their kids. I miss just doing and not dreading. I miss just living among the living, because now I must live among the dead also.
Don't get me wrong, I can now see the beauty in life's everyday moments like I never did before. I hug Max tighter than I ever did before (if that's possible). We have experienced incredible kindness and compassion from so many people, I can't even begin to describe how amazing that feels. But even that is bittersweet. I know that I feel this way now because of what I have lost from my life. The outpouring of love was triggered by the death of our baby. I would give it all back in a second, just to have her back with us.
I miss waking up in the morning and being blissfully ignorant to the pain of losing a child. I miss not carrying this weight around. This very heavy emptiness. I mourn my old life. I mourn being angry over stupid, unimportant things. I mourn being just a little worried about Max's fever- now the elevated numbers on the thermometer bring me to the brink of an anxiety attack and the flashbacks come in an instant. I have lost the ability to take things for face value. I don't trust that just because things are ok now, means that they will be ok in the next minute. My desire to control that around me, has been rocked to the core.
It's not just Ellie I lost.