It's hard for me to imagine that, 2 short years ago, Alexander was born and died five minutes later. It's even harder for me to realize that, in 2 months, it will be 3 years since Nicholas and Sophia were born and died soon after. My life... gone. Fallen apart. The old me: dead. Never to return. Happiness vanished forever.
Or did it? Could it? Is happiness so fleeting... so mortal... that it cannot transcend death? Isn't love stronger than death? Isn't love the precursor of happiness?
I think we orphaned parents hold to the truth that our lives have been irrevocably changed and are hearts so shattered that we will never be able to go on. Breathing hurts. Living hurts. How could it not? We are alive, our days go on, while those of our children do not. We age, one painful second at a time, but they never will, stopped as perpetual X hours/days/year olds. Dreams ended. Life- over.
And, for me, I know that whenever someone told me that my grieving should be over, that I should move on, that things were for the best, it just cemented me in my pain more. Move on? How does one "move on" from the death of a child? How? How could I?
You dont. I havent. The world has gone on around me. The sun comes up and goes down. Rain causes the earth to grow through her cycles. But I cant move on. I cant move beyond the deaths of some of the most important and most loved people in my life. Nor, do I want to.
But it has become a part of me. It no longer is about "moving on" or even "going forward". It is simply about living a full life, the fullest life that I can because, as some remnant of their DNA floats within my body, it is the only life on this earth that continues for them. It is living a life that results in Bobby and Maya knowing that they are my world... That gives them the life they deserve to have. One that is full of memories of the past and hope for the future.
The old me died. How could she not? And, in that death, she gave birth to a new me... A me that tried to look beyond the fear and hope... A me that died again with Sophia and birthed Alexander's mother, who tried again and tried to believe that lightening wouldnt- couldnt- strike twice. A woman who died and thought she may stay dead until she found life once again. And now... This woman who has died and been reborn over and over again. Who is she? Who will she be?
She will be happy.
No. She is happy.
The day before Thanksgiving, I loaded Bobby & Maya into their stroller and we walked to the library, then we did our errands. And, as I walked through the crisp, fall day, I was slapped by happiness. I was happy. I was content.
It was a shocking realization. And, as we walked, I had such an internal conversation with myself. "Happy? You cant be happy. Your children died."
And I contemplated that. Yes, they did die. They will always be dead, in the physical sense, in this world. I will never get them back to kiss or hug, hold or snuggle. And that realization beats me into submission time and time again. It rips the ground from my feet daily.
But they lived. They lived within my body. They lived on this earth, albeit briefly. They live in my soul and my heart and my memories. They always will. And that is a beautiful truth. Yes, they died. But they lived! And that is more important.
And, I have Peter. My love. My soulmate. The guy who smiles when he sees me in the morning. The guinea pig who lets me test out my recipes on him. The man who loves me unconditionally and has helped bring our beautiful family into existence.
And, on top of that, I have the privilege of today with Bobby and Maya. I pray for tomorrow, but I can't dwell on it. I have today. And I desperately dont want to lose today because I am too focused on what might be tomorrow. Those kisses and hugs and laughs... They will only be today for today. I can't control tomorrow, so why waste my precious today worrying about it?
I will never be the person I was. And I dont want to be. That person didnt see joy in the small things. She didnt see beyond herself in a lot of ways. She wasnt Nicholas's mother or Sophia's or Alexander's or Bobby's or Maya's mom. She wasnt the mother to our miscarried babies. She wasnt... me. Not the real me. Not the me you see now.
I'll also never "get over" being a bereaved parent. My grief will never just vanish and my pain wont end. It will always be with me. I'll always miss them. And that's okay. It's a part of me. And that part of me can find strength and wisdom and peace... and happiness. True happiness.
I am happy. Not because of this. Or because of that. But just "because". Because Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, and their miscarried siblings lived. Because Bobby and Maya live. Because Peter and I are not just in love, but love each other. Because I am. Because you are.
I dont know if happiness would have come as this secret gift if Bobby and Maya had died... Or if they'd never been conceived. I dont know if I'd have come to terms with our infertility if we'd never conceived. And, thankfully, it's not a road I need to walk down or think about. I'd like to think that, eventually, I would have found peace with the life I was living. But, truly, I dont know.
But this life, today. The one I have. The person I am. The mother and wife, daughter and friend I've become. I'm happy. It doesnt mean there wont be bad days or arguments or frustrations. But, in my core, there is joy.
This Advent, the gift came early... I hope you find something similar wrapped in your heart and that, if that is not your gift at present, that it will be someday soon.