It was the beginning of March after Mabel died and everyone left and Chris went back to work. I remember the month of March staring at me like an endless road. It felt like the longest month, made worse by the unpredictable and teasing weather that a New England winter brings at that time. I kept telling myself, just get through March and April will be better. I had things to look forward to in April- a girls’ trip to California, a wedding, a trip to somewhere warm with Chris. Maybe I thought that in a month I’d feel miraculously better? It’s true that my grieving is different. I don’t dread each day like I did in the beginning. I don’t cry as much. But I am still grieving hard. I’ve read up on the stages of grief and I know it’s a fluid process- jumping from one stage to another day by day, minute by minute.
I’m almost dreading these things I was once looking forward to- I think because then they’ll be over and what do I look forward to next? I also think they bring me closer to work- that was done intentionally, planning a trip before returning to work as a last relaxation thing before reality sets in. But because of that proximity, I’m almost dreading the trips because it means I have to return to reality. I don’t love living in my grief stricken la la land, but I know I’m not going to love living in the real world either. I wish there was some in between- some grief camp where I could go. Where we wouldn’t have to face the real world and we could just sit and talk about our babies all day. Where I wouldn’t have to choose between returning to a job that I once enjoyed but have pregnancy and birth held up in front of my face daily and leaving my career all together. Where I didn’t want to hide my tears or worry about how my sadness makes other people feel.
In the beginning of my grief a month seemed sooo long. I didn’t know how I’d get through a day, let alone a week or a month. Now a month feels so short, with work looming at the end. I am in a very different place now than I was a month ago, but they are still both bad places, just different kinds of bad. Where will I be in a month from now? Somehow I really did think something magical would happen when April came. Now that it’s tomorrow, I know that is not true. April may bring some “fun” things, it may bring some well-needed distraction, but it is also the beginning of the end. I have to go back to work, I know I do. My job has said they are flexible and I think I could tell them I’m not ready. But what’s the alternative? More of this. Staying home, avoiding the inevitable. I can’t hide forever. People tell me that no one is going to expect me to be better, even when I return to work. There is only some truth to that. People will expect me to function on some level similar to where I was before. My job can’t really be half-assed. Either I’m working or I’m not. The further I get from Mabel’s death, the better people expect me to feel. It’s the truth. And my return to work feels like an end to my mourning period. It doesn’t just feel that way; it is that way.
Hope is a funny thing. I wondered in pregnancy if I had hope for my unborn baby. I was told many conflicting things- your baby might die, your baby could live. There were times I felt bad because I thought I wasn’t being hopeful enough, though now I know I was just being realistic. The hope I had was made evident by the grief I felt after we lost Mabel. Of course I had hoped she would live! But then after Mabel died, what was there to hope for? The immediate thing was to hope to feel better- to make the pain go away. I hoped I would feel better in April. It seemed so far away that it seemed almost possible. How silly I was. I don’t feel better; I just feel different. Sometimes I feel worse, because now I’m beginning to see through the haze, to see what life will be like. So what is there to hope for?