This past week, I have been editing some of my own writing. It is writing that I did in the months between losing Nelle and Iris. I found myself tensing up as I read my own words. I was still reeling from the pain of losing Nelle, pregnant again, terrified. And looking back, I know what is coming. That unfathomable doctor’s appointment where I learned that I had lost Iris too. I have to read through all of my fears that, in the end, proved to be true. Continue reading
In 2012, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was one of those “I have no idea what to say” moments. So I sent her a song, “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell. I thought it had all of the words that I could not say.
Today, that song happened to pop up on my playlist and as I listened to the lyrics, I started crying. In my car, crying and crying, I couldn’t stop.
I know you’ve got a little life in you left
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left
I should be cryihng, but I just can’t let it go.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking
…Oh, darling, make it go
Make it go away.
On the day I lost Iris, a dear friend sent me a song. She told me not to be strong right then because she, and others, would be strong for me. After several pregnancy losses of her own, she and I were pregnant together. She had her baby, not the same day that Iris was due. The song she sent me was “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies
The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows where
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He aint’ heavy, he’s my brother
I arrived at Quentin’s school, wiping away tears as I thought of both of these songs, and another entered my head. So often, songs have exactly the right words.
So take a good look at my face
You’ll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears.
If I had a time machine that could transport me back two days, I would tell myself to be prepared. Grieving hits at the most unexpected times.
I felt like I had been doing really well. Feeling even-keel, going to yoga consistently, ready to take on new challenges at work. Almost completely weaned from my anti-depressants.
Then July arrived. My due date with Iris was July 28. In the back of my head, I knew it was coming, but I was not prepared for how hard I would be struck.
Wednesday night, in the company of friends, I cried and cried. They type of crying I have not done in months. The unable-to-catch-my breath sobbing. The type of crying where I don’t know what to do with my hands: do I cover my face? Do I throw something? Do I ball my hands into fists and let my fingernails cut into my flesh? I couldn’t stop crying.
I woke up the next morning feeling awful, unrelated to the alcohol that I had consumed the night before. Instead of feeling lithe and clean, I felt heavy and dirty. I threw on loose pants and a scrubby shirt as a reflection of how poorly I thought of myself. I felt icky, hatred, foreign toward my body – also the type of feelings I have not had in months. I took a bath, with the temperature so high that it caused sweat to roll down my body, the type of punishment I usually reserve for hot yoga.
I thought that the promotion at work would be a welcomed distraction. Instead I found myself feeling like I was being called out for a decision. I was about to respond curtly to justify myself, but then had to take a step back and say “Let it go. You are not in the best place right now.” In retrospect, I was reading too much into it. I thought about asking for understanding in the upcoming months as I delve back into this new wave of sadness but I held back. How long can I ask the world around me to be considerate? Society expects me to have moved past the sadness by now. Changes in my role at work will mean that I am expected to be stronger, and I wanted the change and asked for it.
I drove in the rain today. It went from sunny to dark clouds quickly. I cried, hard, in the car, as I listened to the song This Woman’s Work.
Pray God you can cope
I’ll stand outside
This woman’s work…
I know you’ve got a little life in you yet
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left