Home again

December 9, 2008

We lived through my brother’s wedding this past Sunday, and through the traveling to and from one coast to the other, and it was mostly good, if exhausting.  Home is looking very good to me right now.  I’m planning on sticking close for as long as I can.

We both, N and I, spent a lot of time doing our best “I’m okay” faces for the family, and I mostly contained Grief Girl.  This was the exhausting part, the always being “on,” the constant effort to make sure that the focus was on my brother and his fiancee and not on me crying.  And to be honest, Mom cried more than I did, at least in public.

But the entire trip had been planned shortly after I knew I was expecting Teddy, and so it was haunted.  Mom, who’d helped with the plane tickets, had chosen the routes with fewest layovers so we wouldn’t have to mess so much with checking in the stroller and baby paraphernalia.  I kept wondering if he would have cried on the plane, and indeed wondering what his cries would have sounded like as we never had the chance to hear his voice.  We were on the same floor of the hotel as my parents, who’d planned, months ago, to offer us babysitting services in case we wanted to explore the city.  And I started doing my superimposing trick again.  I could close my eyes and see what it would be like if Teddy were there with us – that shadow life that is so different, so longed for.

And can I brag a little here?  I think that I was a rock star, was superwoman, was incredibly good for most of the trip.  I wasn’t as fantastic as N, and I’ll write more about that later, but I was pretty amazing.  I didn’t snap at my aunt who tried to comfort me by saying, “If only we could understand God’s plan,” and I really could have. I have the dirt on her, and could have been cruel and hurtful and I wasn’t.  I just told her I wasn’t on the best terms with God right now, and we changed the subject.  I didn’t break down after our really long plane ride to North Carolina, upon being greeted at our hotel by all the cousins including my elder cousin (the golden girl of the family) and her baby girl.  Said baby girl was literally thrust in my face (gee, thanks), a situation only saved by the child’s comic instincts and (bragging again) my good nature.  Baby immediately grabbed my nose in a tight little grip, and we all laughed.

That child will need her sense of humor, though.  Her father was perpetually drunk throughout the entire weekend.  Which is why, I’m guessing, he thought the best thing for me would be some kind of baby fix and that it would be comforting to joke about how I could be their baby-sitter at the reception.  He’s British, and maybe grief was handled differently in his family, but I’ve lived briefly in England, and I’m doubtful that he’s a solid representative of any section of British culture.  Think Dudley Moore in Arthur, only, well, less charming.  And I didn’t call him a sodden idiot, or a drunken, insensitive wanker, or tell him where to go or where to stick it.  I could have, and I didn’t.  I deserve new shoes. Or chocolate.  Or something.

The thing I never said, and wish that I had, is this – “Your baby is beautiful and I’m so happy for you, but lovely as she is, she’s not the baby I’m longing to hold.  He’s gone, and irreplaceable, and playing with your child, or even watching other people playing with your child isn’t something I really want to do right now.  It’s not personal, or about you.  It’s just where I am.”  I regret not saying that partly because it’s the best expression I can find of how I felt, last weekend, but also because, by not saying it, I denied my family the chance to rise to the occasion and respond with sensitivity and grace.  I’m not sure they would have, but now I will never know.



  1. You definitely deserve major chocolate…

  2. of course you can brag! sounds like you did incredibly well. you should be proud of yourself for being so brave. i play the superimposing trick too, it is a painful game to play but we can hardly avoid it.

  3. Sounds like success.

    Being “on” is so exhausting. Glad you made it through. Now poor yourself a stiff drink.

  4. Usually, people don’t, even family.

    I have said a lot in the aftermath of C’s death that we don’t regret the things we say, we regret that which we don’t say. It couldn’t be more true. So many times, we stifle our comments, because it’s nice and it’s what’s expected of us. For once, I would love to just say what I feel, what the others consider “not nice” but is really just the cold, hard, deadbaby truth.

    You sound like you did incredibly well. I can’t imagine having to attend such a haunted event. Although, from here on in, everything is a bit haunted, isn’t it?

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