“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning…
There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of man’s life…. People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this “commonsense” vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.”
– C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
The Mamas who had walked a mile in my sorrow, they told me to expect the extra heart weight and heart ache on my due date…and when any of my girlfriends announced a pregnancy…and when a friend gave birth to a baby…and on the anniversary of my baby’s death.
And those sweet grieving Mamas, they were correct. All of those occasions hurt, some more than others.
But nobody prepared me for what it would feel like on the day I should have been hosting my baby’s first birthday party. That party would have been should have been tomorrow.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know I’m all about my babies’ first birthdays. My own Mom once said that every other birthday is all about celebrating the child, but the FIRST birthday is about celebrating the child’s mama, too. Because we both “made it” through the first year. That first year feedings and burpings and snuggles and growing pains. All those milestones that flood life one after the other. The first birthday is a chance to celebrate all of those hard and wonderful, irrepeatable things.
Unexpectedly, this month has been full of grief for the child I lost, for the little one whose first birthday would have been this week. Not being able to host a first birthday party reminds me, I suppose, of all the milestones and memories I do not share with my baby…all the things we didn’t get to experience together.
It’s a strange sorrow, because even as I yearn to know and hold the baby I lost, I fully realize that my sweet baby Garrett would not be alive today if his older sibling (by 4 months) had lived. I hold Garrett and know that I cannot possibly live without him for a single moment – he means the world to me. And so it makes my sorrow for my Little One in heaven all the more…confusing. Strange. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I am not an expert on dealing with miscarriage and I hope I never am, but I guess I’ve learned this one little thing I can share with other moms who may have lost a child:
Don’t let anyone tell you when the hard times will come. Yes, it may be extra hard around the baby’s due date or anniversary of death. And then again it might not be hard for you. Either way, it is fine to feel any and every emotion that you do. But know that sometimes your grief will come and knock you over, completely by surprise. The “red-hot jab of memory” will seer your heart and consume your thoughts. And that’s okay too. Life is hard, and so is remembering the ones we’ve had to let go.
Sweet Little One, you have my heart forever. And I miss you.