Saturday, November 22, 2008

Relationships and grieving

Things have been going well. Tangerine is official, I have hours and customers, vendors and book keeping, events and marketing. I also have bills and stress but I expected that and so far both have been more than manageable.

I love working and keeping busy. I am not a lay-down-and-let-the-day-go-by kinda girl. I think we all have days when we don't feel good or we are just a little burnt out and our bodies and minds kinda take a little 24 our vacation or maybe just a 15 minute nap. I indulge in this practice but I find that if I am quiet and still for too long my emotions come to the surface and I slip into a sad dark place where missing my girl is more than I can bear.

I know someone who thinks that because I am able to stay busy, have goals, work hard means that I am healed up and ready to take on the work of repairing relationships and becoming a more giving person on an intimate level.


Working hard is not intimacy, it isn't personal, it's work, a distraction. I think it's healthy and necessary. This person went back to work a week after Stevie left because it was easier to look at a computer screen full of numbers than it was to be in a house where her shoes were still in the hallway and her books piled high waiting for her. I understand that.

I didn't have a job to go to, I didn't have an escape hatch, so I tore out the kitchen, moved my studio, cleaned the house, wrote a book, started a business.

I don't move through pain easily. I don't forgive easily. I can't seem to forget easily. What I can do is give myself a project a goal and put myself there in that working place, where I feel I have purpose.

I have a dear friend who I love who lost her child the same year I did. She was in a very healthy, wonderful marriage before her daughter left so her relationship comforted her. Not unlike me she poured herself into work, a major move, and tennis. This didn't keep the tears away, it didn't soften the blow, and it didn't fix everything but it helped her move through unbearable days.

My marriage was in deep trouble before Stevie left. I did not find comfort in it because for me it was something that needed fixing or leaving and I didn't have the energy to do either one.

Most marriages don't survive this kind of loss so I am trying not to beat myself up over this struggle. When I give it too much thought I get lost in it, there is no right thing to do. This family can not handle one more big upheaval but I am not in any shape to repair something that has broken for such a long time.

I can fix a sink, build a wall, lay a floor but only because it doesn't ask anything of my heart.

A therapist might have a whole other take on this and I can't say for sure because I am not one. For me grief is very personal. It has a flow like anything else but there are variations in personality, temperament, and mental stability. There are situations in families, relationships and finances. There are so many factors that will effect how the story unfolds.

The death of a child is unlike the death of a pet, a parent, even a spouse. Pain is pain but the death of a child is soul deep. It goes against the order of nature. Women are maternal by design, our hormones support our heightened instinct. When I gave birth to all three of my children I felt the flood of it. It isn't a subtle thing it's a tsunami. It is so over whelming that you actually react to it with tears.

I remember looking at my new baby thinking how fine my life was before this child, how ordinary. Then this little bundle of heat, milk breath and soft skin arrives and I just know that I will never be the same and I can't understand how I lived a whole life without this very vital part of myself.

Ask any mother of a new born and they will tell you that they are changed forever. You are suddenly not "You" anymore. Your instinct to protect your child over-rides your instinct to survive. This bond is formed and it's stronger than any kind of love you have ever experienced before.

You are in protection overdrive. There is no way to fight it, you are on a mission and it is one that never ends, that love never goes away or changes.

When you loose a child something inside you breaks. The worst fear you can imagine has been realized and you are undone.

If you have other children you go into auto pilot, at least I did. You may be broken but you still have a mission. It isn't easy because you are without one of your engines but you learn to navigate with the one you have. Mother nature has a way of helping you along, she gives you extra fuel, the right winds, and a soft place to land.


I don't know what it is like to be able to make it work after a loss like this. I only know one person who is doing well and that is because she started off doing well. Her and her husband were blindsided by their daughters illness but they were united and helped her together, they comforted each other from the beginning because they had a strong foundation of trust and respect. Her husband is not the biological father of her children but he takes his role as their father very seriously he loves them with his whole heart. For him these children are a gift and a part of the woman he loves most. I think his intense love and caring for her children bonded them and is helping them survive through loss.

It feels like he situation is the best possible scenario. I don't think mine is the worst because I know women who have had it much harder. I know one woman whose husband of 25 years left her for a younger woman. In the middle of her trying to come to terms with her husband leaving and her whole life changing she unexpectedly loses her 21 year old son.

Another woman I know lost her son in a car accident and a year later her husband leaves her. He had been having an affair for twelve years but blamed her because he felt she was not comforting him enough in his time of loss.

My husband is a good guy. He loved our daughter and he has always provided for us. I have been a good mom, and I have always been ground crew not as visible, not bringing in the big bucks, but necessary.

We have struggled for so many years to hold this family together. I am not sure we are going to make it. I am not strong enough, my heart is broken, I can't find the will to do what he wants, to help him, to make him happy, to make him feel loved or wanted enough.

My needs are basic, I need to eat, be able to pay the bills, sleep and work. I have found ways to survive, I comfort myself by giving to myself. I cry, I write, I surround myself with people who can give to me without asking anything back. People who understand that right now I need this and they are happy to help me in anyway. They call, send emails, invite me to lunch, listen to me cry. They never say "now it's my turn" They know me, they know that as I slowly heal I will slowly become more giving. They know that I would do the same for them.

Working, taking care of Noah and keeping the house running is about all I can do right now. I feel OK with that. I am actually very proud of myself. I know I stumble and fall but I am not laying in that bed waiting to die like I thought I would.

I can't speak for my husband but I know he needs something, has always needed something that I just don't know how to give him. We grieve differently and I can't change this, I can't race through it, and I can't be someone else. He expects me to farther along in this process, he expects me to fix our relationship. I can't.

I expect him to grieve like me, to feel what I feel, I can't imagine anything else.

He is making decisions and struggling. Part of me wants to tell him to sit tight and wait this out but I can't. I am in no shape to make promises or demands. He wants to be in a loving relationship, he wants to move past all this, he needs...he needs.

I am just me.

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