Saturday, September 5, 2009

Stepping on toes

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.


shotzie said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting your grief out there. You are so amazingly empathetic, even in the throes of this tragedy. I admire your strength--even when you're admitting you don't have any left.

I wish there was something I could do to lessen your pain. I feel only the tiniest fraction because you are able to articulate it so beautifully, and even that is enough to cripple a lesser person.

I'm sorry.

Gerbil said...

Mia cara, there are no charts to navigate the waters and everyone's struggle is similar only in that it is the struggle.

People love you. You go on and stomp toes as you need to, intentionally or not. You do what you need to do. There is no explaining, no excusing because there is no need to do so. I heartily wish I was closer to you.

I wish I had better words, some way to take some measure of pain from your hearts. All I do have though, is yours.


Dawn~a~Bon said...


ditto Gerbil - you owe no one any explanations or excuses. You take care of you and don't worry about other people right now. We love you.

notsosmallfries said...

Honey, it is OK for you to take however long you need and to do whatever you need to do in that time. You don't have to console anyone. You don't have to apologize for your emotions. The people that love you will understand and we'll still be there for you 2 months or 2 years from now. Right now, all you have to do is to try to take care of you enough that you can make it through the next minute.


Ibis said...

There is no deadline for grieving. You don't have to be done with this for anyone's sake. I'm sure it is impossible for you to tune out the feeling of others, because it seems empathy is in your nature - yet you have every right to do so. Your soul is of paramount importance now, for as long as it takes.

queenrandom said...

Eas, love, you go ahead and do whatever you need to, to get through this. The people who love you will understand and will not take offense, and if they don't, well, fuck 'em. You only need to worry about you right now. Allow yourself the room to grieve, because you know what? Thank you's, congrat's, etc etc, don't really matter right now. They're fucking tiny potatoes. You couldn't do a thing to hurt me right now, and I'm sure a lot of your other friends feel the same. Lots of love to you.

Rachel said...

I have to agree with everything everyone is saying, and tell you that these sentiments have been circling since you lost your son. Step on toes, express your rage and grief as you've been doing, avoid who and what you need to avoid. Your friends are waiting patiently for as long as we need to. We only wish there were more we could do.

Tamsyn said...

I am so sorry, so utterly heartsick that you have to carry so much of this alone. Every time I think about what you're enduring, my throat closes up. Stomp on toes. Nobody, nobody could demand grace from you at this time. You are a momma without your baby. That overwhelms and overshadows everything else.

Christy said...

I have felt more withdrawn since I lost Chase. But sometimes I need to talk...even ramble...and I just want someone to listen. I have found that those that were close to me before he died (which I can count on just a few fingers--because that's just me) are almost closer while those that were not so close to me are even farther away. it's hard to explain but the true friends, will hang around for you. No, they don't know when exactly you feel like talking or not talking, but they will be there for you when you want them to be. The others will fade away. It's hard to feel like you have stuff in common anymore because this changes you. But the truest, most compassionate friends will remain by your side. I have cried on a strangers' shoulders because my tears can come on like a faucet, mid-sentence and I can't stop it. The bottom line is, like everyone has said, you do what you gotta do. No one in their right mind would judge you at this point for anything you say or do to them in the midst of this tragedy you are living. I am so sorry you lost Gabriel. So sorry.

That Chick Over There said...

You will always, always, always and forever belong with us. Always.

We love you.