Turn and face the strain

June 9, 2009

I feel like I’m playing a giant, non-stop game of “This Time Last Year.”  It’s a really crappy game, too.  There are no fabulous prizes for the contestant, the questions aren’t entertaining, and the game show host (this season of summer) is unrelenting.

This time last year we’d been told that, in all likelihood, nothing was wrong.  This time last year I was planning the same summer social event at work and worrying about how, just in case I had gestational diab.etes, I should maybe avoid the ice cream.

This time last year, I was placid and sure and content.  In hindsight, this is one of the hardest things to bear, that I was so cocksure, so certain all would be well, so clueless.  Not that anything would have changed if I had been scared to death.  I wonder sometimes if I’m not more than a little jealous of my past self.

I am trying to carve out little bits of this late spring and summer that don’t belong to or echo last year.  I am growing new things in my small garden of pots, we go for walks in the arboretum, I’ve taken on new projects, and I try to notice how I’ve changed.  Much as I’d like more time (any more time – an hour, a minute, a second) with Teddy, much as it’s hard to let go of the time I had with him, I’m different now.  Like it or not (and sometimes I hate it and sometimes it’s the relief that allows me to carry on) I’m not the same person I was last year, no matter how much I relive the events of Teddy’s life.

He is gone, and I hate it.  He is gone, and I’ve held him in my arms for the last time, and sometimes knowing that still makes it hard for me to breathe.

At the same time, he is gone and I’m no longer the raw wreck I was  in the months that followed his death.  No matter what lies before me, the actual moments of his loss are behind me, no matter how often I relive those moments, their particular, piercing pain has for the most part been replaced by a duller ache.  It’s a constant and throbbing ache, but I’m getting used to it and I can function around it.  I can (usually) sleep, carry on a conversation, start and finish projects, look at babies without turning pale and running away, and reliably walk through the grocery store without bursting into sobs, for example.  And if I do burst into sobs, at least I now know enough to be carrying tissues with me.

I read stories of newly babylost parents and my heart pounds with the memories of what it was like to be that new to grief, and I cry for the ones who don’t have any calluses yet, and I shake my fist at the universe because no baby should die, ever. Lately, though, I also think, “I’m glad I don’t have to go through that again.”

And then I knock on wood, rustle up salt to throw over my shoulder, and hope like hell that I’m right.



  1. i’m feeling a lot of the ‘last year at this time’ too. the spring. the memories. being so close. and so hopeful. memories of the old me.

    i too feel that time has brought some changes and i am thankful for that…but it still sucks most of the time.

    thinking of you and teddy

  2. I hope you’re right too. Surely.

  3. I hate that game. And yes, I am jealous of the old me, too. Probably more jealous of her than I am of anyone else.

  4. I always wish Ferdinand was the last baby to die, ever.
    walking with you, Erica. hang in there ((hugs))

  5. I still play this time last year . . . but now I play this time last year (this time last year I was pregnant and exhausted and afraid that when I went to my next appointment there would be no heart beat) and this time two years ago (this time two years ago we had just brought Henry home and we were overwhelmed with his equipment and terrified he wasn’t getting enough oxygen and mourning that things were not at all the way we thought they would be.) We’re two years + past his birth and 18 months past his death, and I’m still playing that game. And yes, it is a crappy game. Sorry you have to play it too.

  6. I’ve been playing that same game and it sneaks up in such stealthy ways. Its the littlest memories of all that joy of pregnancy that hurt so much.

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