A few months ago, in my early days of grief, I walked around with a constant sadness, like a bag full of sorrow slung over my shoulder. I could shift it from one side to another but it was always there. As the days progressed, my grief did too. The moment to moment sadness got lighter; I could function better. Now instead of the constant heavy weight on my shoulders, I get smacked in the face with that sack full of sorrow. When it was constant, there was almost a comfort in it- like an old friend. But now when it hits, it hurts so bad I have trouble recovering.
Yesterday I was smacked hard. I got my period- I realize this might be TMI, forgive me- and regardless of whether I’m trying to conceive or not (I don’t think I’ll be advertising that decision here anyways), most women don’t celebrate day 1 unless you’re happy to not be pregnant. As I return to some new normal of a monthly schedule, it’ll be a reminder that I‘m no longer pregnant, I’m no longer recovering, I’m not breastfeeding and I no longer have Mabel.
Later that day I opened the mail and found two cards in nice envelopes hand addressed to me. I’m still getting an occasional condolence card, which means the world to me. I opened one from a long ago friend, and was cheered. I opened the other and it was an invitation to a baby shower. It was accompanied by a note from the expecting, recognizing how this could be a stab. No matter how the invite was dressed, it would still sting. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have pregnancy that warranted a baby shower. I wasn’t even fortunate enough to have a pregnancy that produced a take home baby. Another reminder that I no longer have Mabel.
As these reminders hit, I began to cry. The cry grew into sobs and then a guttural howl. I had this tightness in my chest that I needed to release. At one point, through my tears and in between moans, I said to Chris, mournfully- “it’s still there!” Despite all my screaming I couldn’t get it out. It was a hurt that pounded in my chest, trying to eat its way out. It was a gnawing, scratching, pulling at my core, that no amount of howling would release.
In the midst of my meltdown, I had a sudden realization. Despite these reminders that I no longer have Mabel, I had forgotten it was Saturday- Mabel’s day- the day I visit Mabel. I was so overwhelmed with my emotions that I forgot. I hate to even write those words. I forgot. I didn’t include her in the schedule of errands to run for the day. I howled at this realization because I felt like a bad mother. I forgot. I have one thing to do to parent my daughter and that’s to visit her. I like visiting her. Sometimes I go and just sit with her. I had gone by myself just two days before to celebrate her three-month birthday. But on this regular day, I forgot.
The day was eventually salvaged. I was so distraught that I wanted to cancel all my plans for the rest of the day- but I knew that would add to my sadness. So we went to Mabel’s grave and I apologized to her. I spent time with some friends, who gave me good distraction. But the pain still lingers today. I now know what it’s like to get my first monthly reminder. I now know what it feels like to get my first baby shower invite. There will be many more of these triggers to come and I have to find a way to cope.