I've been thinking a lot today about how compartmentalized my life is beginning to feel, how I feel that I have split personalities at times.
One of the reasons I didn't want to go back to work is that I knew going back to work meant letting go of Gabriel. Oh, I know, I know . . . I will never let him go, he'll always be in my heart, I will always love him and he'll always be my son.
But going back meant I can't see his picture whenever I want, I can't stare at him as long as I want. I can't open up the box with his footprints and hats and blanket and touch them whenever I want. And I certainly can't talk about him whenever I want. Oh no. People immediately look very uncomfortable - afraid of me crying, breaking down, not knowing what to say . . . afraid of catching the dead baby virus, maybe. After all, can there be more bad luck than that?
All day long, I sit and work on reconciling the previous month's transactions and talking about the clean up that wasn't completed while I was out and I pretend to care about fixing telephone charges, mask of Normal Worker firmly in place and at the end of the day, I think . . . really? I just spent all day acting like any of that mattered. And it doesn't. Gabriel . . . he matters, but he's not here and I can't talk about him. I just lock him away in a box, like I'm going to do with his ashes and his things and all his pictures, only to be opened alone, when no one is around to see what happens.
I wonder what will happen during the holidays. Will we stay home for Thanksgiving per tradition, when we'd said we'd be there? Will we go for Christmas - when there is time and everyone is there and we are expected - when we'd said we'd stay home? I was looking forward to Christmas at home, by ourselves. But that was predicated on being full-term and possibly near labor. I don't think we have an excuse anymore. We're not even sure we want to celebrate Christmas this year, and I anticipate a lot of difficult moments and family can be . . . trying.
And I begin to wonder how things will go in more long term future. Will we always say we have a son named Gabriel who died? Will I bite it back not to see that look of horror and pity? What if we ever manage to have a baby who lives? How will we incorporate Gabriel in our lives so that they know they have a brother that we will love forever, who is no longer with us?
That's the crux of it, isn't it? How do we incorporate our son into our lives when he no longer exists in flesh? How do we walk the fine line between acknowledgment and comfort? How do we manage the precipice between morbidity and dwelling and living with a full acceptance of how things are?
I can remember my discomfort with an acquaintance in a similar situation and remember how shocked I was by how they chose to introduce their new child to their dead baby . . . the first trip somewhere outside of hospital or home was the grave, the first pictures were staged to be the same pictures taken with the dead baby . . . I tried very hard not to judge, because I knew then I did not understand every piece of the puzzle (and God, how I hoped I never would). I did not think they should adjust their own comforts and grieving process to my comfort level or what I thought I should do, but neither could I completely shake my vague discomfort at it all. And here I am, contemplating the same things.
How do I become a good parent to a dead baby? How can I be a good mother to Gabriel? How do I honor his memory, and keep him in my heart and in our minds and relevant without losing my shit and going completely crazy? How do we do this? I don't have an answer, only a feeling that if my current path continues, I will snap from the strain or the guilt.