Even more on letting go

May 6, 2009

He’s vanished so completely from most of the people in my life that it’s frightening.

There’s never been a day when I didn’t wish for more time with him, but now I find myself spending hours wishing he’d had more (and in most cases, any) time with his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, that he’d been able to meet my friends.  I wish his presence had been more solid, that it had gripped more people, that his mark on this world was carved into more than his father and me.

Some things get harder as you move on.

And I am moving on.  I’m laughing and smiling and working my ass off.  I’m concerned about the world around me, and “taking an interest,” as the saying goes.  I plant things.  I apartment hunt.  I write.  I function and then some.  But underlying everything is this palpable, throbbing ache of absence.  Where are you, little Huckleberry?

It used to be, when I talked to people, they looked at me with some understanding in their eyes, some sadness that knew my own sadness.  It felt like my scars were visible, a strange thing to find comfort in, but I did.  I know that Teddy’s story is still written on my body, still told in my eyes, still hovers around me like an aura, but I don’t think people recognize it any more; I think most of them forget.  And some who remember don’t want to acknowledge it – I meet well-intentioned willful ignorance fairly often these days, and I know that what motivates it is usually kindness, so I smile and move on and wish that a more courageous type of kindness was more common.

N and I, we remember and we mourn, and we know, can see the sadness in each other: Teddy was here.

But to most of the world around me, I just look frumpy, cranky, sad.  It gets lonely, and it makes me feel almost desperate sometimes. I want to graffiti his name on the hearts of everyone I know, of everyone in the world.  I want his memory to be vivid, deeply rooted, and solid instead of so damned ephemeral.  Selfish, I know, and self-absorbed.  But it’s so important, that he was here.

Knowing that he is becoming forgotten makes me want to hang on to my own memories all the more tightly.  It makes me want to hang on to less valuable things, too – to the guilt, to the hurt, the anger.  I wonder if I can be a fit mother to any possible future child while still holding fast to all these things.  I wonder if holding on to these things is a barrier to the very existence of any future child.

I am trying to work on hanging on to some things while releasing others, to keep him from vanishing entirely, as I so often fear he will, but to also keep myself from becoming a martyr to his memory.  These things are so tangled, though, and I’ve never been especially good at loosening knots.  I run my thumb over the plaster cast made of his feet and work to remember his nose, his chin, his fingers.  And I work to let go, as much as possible, of my guilt over my body (which may or may not have failed him), my doubts over whether or not there was a point where I could have done something that would have let us keep him, my anger at the universe, at God, at myself.

To hold on to the good – a noble undertaking, yes?  Perhaps it wouldn’t be noble if it were easy.



  1. Oh Erica. I’m so sorry. Because I know these feelings all too well. I’m sorry anyone else has to feel them. I wish I had answers to bring ease. Except maybe just that you are not alone, and that there are people around you who do know, who do see, who do understand, who will say TEDDY’s name out loud with you. Always.

    My husband says that only by letting her go will I have her forever… I’m working on that, but it’s hard. I’m not completely sure how to do that yet, but something tells me he might be right. Still, I don’t know that we can ever completely let go, especially as mothers.

  2. That first sentence is wonderful.

    I try to let go of the negative feelings as a way to honor Serenity. I don’t want bad things in me, in our marriage, to come from her too-short life.

  3. Figuring out the holding on while letting go is so hard. With you in that quest.

  4. I could have easily written this myself. Nobody recognizes the sadness any longer.

  5. I said almost the same thing to my Mum yesterday. I said people have forgotten, Mum. I’m old news. People aren’t sad like they once were. She’s so gone. It seems we are going through the same sort of things on the same timeline. Being pregnant again for me is not helping my cause, as now I just seem more “over it”.
    I’m so sorry Erica. You can graffiti Teddy’s name on my heart any time.

  6. Our babies will never be more important to others than they are to us. It’s impossible to forget them … their lives and their whole beings are engraved in our hearts.

  7. Yes, exactly. I’m so sorry. I know what this feels like and I wish it were different. For us readers of your blog, we never think of you without also thinking of Teddy. It is so hard when those IRL are unable to do that.

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