He would be a month old now. Maybe we would be looking for the right pattern of sleep and waking and feeding. Maybe he would nap in my arms. Maybe he would make faces at me while he slept. Maybe he'd be wearing this or that little outfit. Maybe I'd be lamenting sore nipples or the lack of sleep. Maybe he'd smile at me.
|3 days old|
A friend and I were talking about loss and grief this weekend. She told me about a book she read that treats grief and loss not as something we mourn and eventually "get over," but as something we mourn that becomes a part of who we are. Instead of shaking it off, we assimilate it -- it becomes something that we learn to integrate into our identities and daily lives.
As difficult as it is to think of carrying grief around with me, the alternative is unrealistic and ultimately unthinkable. When we lose anyone we love deeply, it sounds simply ridiculous to me, this thought of "getting over it." Instead of attempting to shake off the burden that loss creates, we must learn to carry it, and in the learning, become strong enough to keep it with us always.
There are many things in the past month for which I was convinced I was not strong enough: an unmedicated birth, waiting a long night while Ewan had open-heart surgery and the outlook was grim, letting him go that last night in the hospital, and eventually burying him. I cannot tell you how many times I cried over and over from the very bottom of my soul: I can't do it!
And then I did. When someone tells me they could not have done what I did, I am compelled to tell them two things: first, it's amazing what you can do when you are called upon to do it. And secondly, I did not do it alone. It was only by the grace of God and an amazing network of support upholding me from every side that I was able to do any of what I did. It even sounds silly and a little untruthful to me to say "I did it," because I know just how weak I can be and how much help I needed.
As impossible as it sounds now, as much as I cry over and over how I cannot learn to carry this grief, I know that I will -- that just as Ewan was a part of me for ten months, the loss of Ewan will become a part of me. Just as I carried that swollen belly and learned to navigate through life with it, I will (with much help) learn to carry this, too.