Another thing I've learned in the last week is how easy it is to step on my toes. I fully expect that in the coming months, I'll step on just as many.
Grief is a hard thing to navigate, and there are unfortunately no maps to guide through treacherous waters. Already, things meant to help have caused pain, and while I recognize the good intentions and the sincerity, good intentions don't make the pain less, only make me feel worse for feeling it.
And already, I see how my own confusion and honesty cause pain, when I admit that I can't be around pregnant women or children. The first baby was born yesterday, the one located in the same city as me. The mother, my friend, has been more than kind, offering to com and be with me, even while she was in early labor. I cannot stand the thought of seeing her with her son. It causes my chest to tighten up and my body to break out in a cold sweat. Seeing her son - born a over eight pounds heavier than my own - is too much right now. I believe she will understand that as she is an understanding, generous person.
But it hurts me to know that I react this way. It hurts me to know that I might cause her pain. I want to be graceful and charitable and generous; I fear becoming shrewish and temperamental and enveloped by bitterness. And even while I feel battered by trying to make other people more comfortable, squashing down my desire to stand on a table and yell my son's name over and over, telling people who inquire that I am ok or fine or the phrase my husband uses a lot, 'getting better'. . . sometimes I pause and think of an article/blog entry I read recently that stated how I sometimes feel quite succinctly - "Fuck Grace."
Sometimes I just need to let other people go and stop caring whether they are disturbed or bothered or hurt or think I'm crazy or taking too long or whatever and just scream (in my mind anyway) FUCK IT ALL. Reassuring other people is so tiring and so tiresome. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, I, ME, I need that reassurance that maybe someday I won't need to see Gabriel's face first thing in the morning or last thing at night and that maybe someday I can laugh without feeling guilty and that I won't burst into tears at something stupid like getting a new phone.
It would all be easier if I were able to articulate what I need from people - leave me alone for a bit, call me and make sure I'm ok, I need to talk to someone, let's avoid mentioning babies/children/pregnancy/Gabriel/anything, please I desperately need to hear someone say his name and acknowledge his existence. I can't tell people that what I really need is for someone to clean my house for me and send me books to read to keep me occupied. I can't tell people when they've hurt me because it's too complicated. I can't explain when I just need to talk and have someone hear me without trying to fix it. I can't express what I need most of the time, which leaves the people who love me bewildered and floating.
And so, toes get stepped on, and hurts pile up. And it's just one more thing that makes this totally unfair. I fear losing all my friends because I just don't know how to be friends anymore. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I honestly don't quite know how to manage the landscape, when it's all been changed by this earthquake that is Gabriel's death, and is still shifting and unstable.
It's such an isolating thing, losing your baby. Even the most loving, compassionate and well meaning people in my life can't understand it, however much they want to. Even my husband, the other person who knew Gabriel nearly as well as me, the only other person to hold him and love him in his brief life, can't follow everywhere I wander. It makes it frightening and even more lonely, feeling marked and set apart and scarred by it all, not knowing what is truth and what is perception, what is filtered through the lens of grief and what is unvarnished. Such a peculiar feeling.