For several years I've considered starting a blog, but I never got around to it. In hindsight, I think the last 10 years of my life would not only have made an interesting blog, but possibly a very successful reality TV show.
The main reason I finally decided to take the plunge is that I feel as though I have some important stuff to say. I am fairly certain that some people will find it useful, surprising, informative. One thing it will definitely be is honest.
For those of you who don't know, Doug and I welcomed our first child into the world November 3, 2009. That same day, our little angel flew away and peacefully slipped back into heaven. It has been 9 months since we said "Hello, I love you, Good bye" to our son Donovan. Those 9 months have been the most complicated, confusing, and difficult months of my life. There are some things that I get asked often, and some things that are frequently misunderstood. Maybe nobody cares and maybe some people could find these comments ungrateful or too blunt, but sometimes I feel I'm a little trapped with these truths. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to let them out. Luckily blogs are optional, no one will force you to read this. So, in case you were wondering...
1. Asking or talking about my son does not make me sad. There is no need to worry that you've upset me by including Donovan in the conversation. The only thing that makes me sad is the fact that Donovan is way up there in heaven, and I am way down here without him. There is nothing you can say or do that will make me sad, and...most unfortunately, there is also not much anyone can say or do that will make it better. People often say "Oh sorry to make you think about it" or "I didn't want to bring it up" It kind of makes me chuckle, and I know people are just trying to be gentle and kind and not cause me any more pain. So, clarification #1 is that there is not a moment that I don't think about Donovan and scarcely a breath I take that isn't just a little bit harder than it was before November 3. By opening the subject of Donovan, there is NO chance you will make me sad. There is however, a really GOOD chance that you'll totally make my day, give me a chance to talk about something really important to me, and show me that you're thinking about him too...which reminds me that I'm not alone.
2. Sorry, but another baby will not make it better. Another common well intentioned misunderstanding is that the only thing I wish for is a baby. I totally know that "You're time will come" and "You'll be able to have more children" are ways to encourage me and remind me that I won't be childless forever. But something I wish to explain is that our sadness is not simply because there is not a baby in this house. Someone we deeply loved and longed for, someone who belonged to us and looked like us, someone we held in our arms and kissed his soft cheeks....this special person is gone and is never coming back. Even if I had 12 more babies, I would still have a hole in my heart for Donovan. He was real, he was unique and he was my son. Yes there may be more babies in our future, but it is healthy and important for us to know that none of them will replace Donovan and there will always be something missing from our family.
3. I don't know what to say either! So many times I have heard "I just don't know what you say" and it's amazing how much I feel your pain on that. I am as confused as you are. I don't know what I would say either, if I were on the other side of the conversation. Don't feel bad for not knowing what to say. Really! I don't hold it against you. Sometimes things get awkward, because people are afraid of saying the wrong thing, but do want to say something. It's adorable, and I appreciate your caution and effort. But please relax. I'm pretty easy going. I have not yet been offended or infuriated by anyone's comment. And if you care enough to read this blog, I am totally confident that you also care enough to not be the first person to say something horrifying or cruel. : )
4. Little known fact: Deep down inside, I actually do think I'm going to be okay. Yes it's tough, and I don't know how to do this properly, even with 9 months of practice. But I have seen people do lots of tough stuff in their lives, and so far I still believe that there is peace for me, joy in my life and heaven to look forward to. Please don't pity me too much, or say "I could NEVER handle that!" Because you know what? Yes you could. If you had to. And the only reason I can, is because I have to. I didn't notice a detour around this tough stuff and trust me, I checked. When I hear those grandiose statements about how you'd never get out of bed if this happened to you, it puts a little dent in my determination to be a healthy person and it shakes my faith that there will be joy for me again. I know that what you really mean is "That must be so hard, and I'm so sorry that you have to go through this." Right? While I thank you for validating the difficulty of this experience, please try to do so without scaring me even more. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I can do this.
5. Please don't take anything personally. I have really been annoyed at myself for how forgetful and indecisive I have become. I can recall 4 times in the last week that I said yes to an invitation, then no, then yes again and then maybe. If you call me or email me and I don't write you back, please forgive me. If you invite me and I say no 4 times in a row, it's not you! It's me. I'm tired, I'm forgetful, I'm whiny, I need lots of "me" time. I love it that you still ask, I love it that you still call, even if it I don't reciprocate like I used to. One thing I'm very worried about is that someone will take my flakiness personally, which just adds pressure (and yes i know I'm doing that to myself). Grief is exhausting and I don't know how to do it. How often should I push myself to get out and enjoy the awesome people in my life? How much is enough time alone? I almost feel like I'm getting to know myself all over again, it's very weird. Also, for those of you who have kids, I adore your children, you know that. But some days I might feel a little extra vulnerable and being around your kids makes me miss Donovan even more. And then other days, I long to be around your kids, to play and laugh and remind me that I have a lot of love I can still share joyfully. We think parenting is cool and we are just sad that we're not doing it along side you. Please don't take it personally, it'll get better, we love you, thank you, don't give up on us.
6. Thanks for not freaking out. Honestly, one of the happiest moments of my summer was when my dear lovely co-worker asked me out of the blue "So did you pick a headstone yet?" I didn't even answer her, because I was so tickled that she asked. Why is that such a big deal? Quite frankly, I feel like a freak a lot of the time. I want to share with people about the headstone, or what I'm missing about being a mom, or say aloud the 45th reason why I wish I were on mat leave this summer, because these things are part of who I am and occupy a large part of my thoughts and feelings. I know it's not normal, but if I trust you enough to say this in front of you, you can handle it! Please engage in that conversation, it's okay to ask or say anything about it, because it is my new normal. I love it when I don't have to lie and say I did "nothing" on the weekend, when really I went to the cemetery and changed the flowers at my son's grave. I love it when I can just speak my truth and not worry that I will make someone uncomfortable. The reason it was so cool when she asked me about the headstone...is because she had let my new normal...actually seem normal! So refreshing and lovely. We chatted about headstones like we had just chatted about her garden. Not all conversations related to Donovan have to be somber and depressing. We are really getting used to the fact that we have a son in heaven, so hopefully others can get used to that we are used to it. Get it? It is so helpful to be able to be ourselves and speak openly about our life, without it resulting in a deer-in-headlights response. Thank you for going there with us. It helps tons, and again, reminds us that we are not alone.
I love you for reading my blog. I appreciate your interest. Thank you for every prayer, thought, wish, flower, email, call and kindness. I have been totally amazed at the goodness and beauty of the people in my life.
Thank you for wondering.