Year two of the Right Where I Am project already. Here is my post from last year.
And here is the link up.
Three years is different. This is the first May since we let her go that hasn't left me breathless with longing for what might have been. Her due date passed a few days ago, and it just barely registered when I noticed the date, just a flutter of a thought and then...gone. No sadness. No feelings of emptiness or a birthday missing on the calendar. This is the month she would have been born, but she wasn't, and that has somehow become normal. Somehow okay. Maybe this is what they meant by that stage of grief called "acceptance."
This isn't to say that I don't think of her anymore, because, oh, I do. I think of her daily, still. I think of her every time I see a little bird watching us, or when the sky above the ocean turns brilliantly pink. I think of her when I am in the shower. I remember, endlessly, it seems, that moment when I first felt something was wrong. I roll it over and over in my head, trying to pinpoint the moment when I could have done something, could have changed everything. But I don't want to anymore, not really.
I think of her as I watch this amazing boy blossom into a little person before me, not just a baby anymore. Her brother runs, he runs and tumbles and kicks with such force. I imagine her spirit is nearby somewhere, smiling about this, the things she never would have done in that little broken body. It is all because of her. This is how it was meant to be, it seems obvious now. He is very much here, and she is this abstract presence in our lives. Not here, and yet so very much a part of the last 3 years.
Orrin and I were spinning in my chair the other day. He stood on my lap and laughed as we spun faster and faster. Then he got very serious and wanted to stop, pointing at the shelf where Layla's ashes and photos sit. I said, that's Layla. He said, oh...Layla. Yes, Layla. Feet, he said, pointing out the little plaster mold that sits collecting dust. Yes, I said, she had the tiniest little feet! And then he was back to playing. I hope he will keep asking.
Somehow this didn't make me cry. Grief is so different now. Occasionally it rises in my throat and tears well in my eyes, but I rarely cry anymore. Sometimes I miss the release of those gut-wrenching sobs that plagued me in the early days. Now when grief visits, it sits on my heart, nagging in the perimeter of my thoughts, but I don't let it in much anymore.
In the beginning of my grief, I remember reading blogs of women that were years out from their loss and feeling horrified. I could not imagine ever accepting this loss, moving on with a new normal. I wanted to cry forever, because it was the only thing I had left. I clung to grief because it meant that she was real, she had existed, even when it seemed everyone around me had forgotten. But there was a moment (or a series of moments I'm sure) when I realized I could still love her and miss her and get up and move on, move past the grief.
Perhaps the most important thing three years has given me is strength. For the first time, I am talking about what really happened with people I don't know. I am fighting for understanding and compassion for those of us who have made the most difficult, horrible choice imaginable. I am admitting that something went very wrong, and we chose to let our baby go because we loved her. Not because she wasn't perfect, or because we didn't want her. We loved her so much that we chose to spare her from a life of pain and suffering. I am not afraid of anyone's judgement anymore, because I know it was the right thing. I know it was what her spirit asked me to do, what she was preparing me for from the moment I had that rush of intuition in the shower at 6 weeks along.
I will love her forever for everything she has given me. Strength, compassion, empathy, wisdom, gratitude, a beautiful, healthy child and the knowledge I need to create more of them if I choose to. She is still my first baby, the one who introduced me to that all powerful mother-love that was bigger than I ever could have imagined.
I cried for you, and the sky cried for you
and when you went, I became a hopeless drifter
but this life was not for you,
though I learned from you
that beauty need only be a whisper