I’ve been following Still Standing, and a post today rubbed me the wrong way. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s are all triggers for me.
Thanksgiving, my entire family was here. For my parents, that’s a HUGE deal. Why? Because I was pregnant. Thanks, M., for making that happen. It wouldn’t have happened if not for you. 🙂
December 25th was the last happy day I can remember. I was blissfully pregnant, enjoying my belly and waiting to feel wiggles. I announced to our parents that we were having a GIRL! My husband and I gifted each other presents to prepare us to be the best parents possible. I made plans to hit up the after-Christmas specials to buy cute little outfits for my little girl’s first Christmas. I tear up just typing that.
December 26th. The bad news.
December 31st – January 1st. How could I possibly have a good year? I wanted to curb stomp each and every person who cursed me with happiness for 2013. Fuck you. Fuck your new year. My world was ending on January 2nd, and it was a long, painful death until January 4th. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a grinch this year.
The good news is that these holidays aren’t anything really special to me, so I don’t feel like I’ve lost too much. My family isn’t here, and my in-laws are pretty low key, so I don’t have to be around children, pregnant women, or have people ask me when I plan on having kids. I can get drunk and no one will judge me.
So I was really looking forward to reading a post on Skipping Christmas from Still Standing, a magazine for infertility and child loss.
I had high hopes for this article, because was looking for something realistic, that I can relate to.
And I was digging it – until I got here:
Then I look at my daughter.
This is her 4th Christmas. Full of wonder and joy. She just now understands the concept of Santa and Jesus’ birthday. Her anticipation of Christmas beams out of her shining eyes when she talks about it, over and over. “When will we go to Nana and Papa’s? How many days? When is Santa coming? Will he be on the roof? Can I see him? Where is the snow?”
It’s a constant, gentle reminder to me that these holidays aren’t just about me and my grief. They’re also about me being a mother to the little girl I am blessed to raise. And to take away Christmas from her this year – I can’t do that. It won’t bring me any more joy or comfort to skip or downplay it.
What happened to my sons happened. They are gone and I will miss and long for them forever. Every holiday, every event, every milestone will hurt for the rest of my life in some small way.
But she’s there waiting for me to make it magic for her, despite the pain and sorrow.
So we won’t skip Christmas this year. Why should any of us have to deal with more sadness? Maybe one year we’ll change it up and it will be the best thing for us. Not this year though.
And once again, I get kicked in the teeth by surviving child hope. The idea that I have to go on for my child. But I don’t have a child. I have cats. I have a lone budgie. I have koi fish. I have an independent husband who is rather lukewarm about the holidays, to be be generous.
It’s not that I’m angry at her – that’s her motivation. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who still have empty hearts? Those of us who lived through more than our fair share of grief? (author’s note – by this, I don’t mean to say that my grief is MORE than hers – In my opinion, anyone who has faced infertility and/or baby loss has already gone through more than their fair of grief. I always say on here that grief is grief: It’s not a contest who has suffered the worst. I was just kind of sad that I felt alienated by a post that I thought that I thought I was going to relate to – and that’s MY issue, not the author’s. This totally sounds like I’m minimizing her loss that was not my intent at all. She was gracious enough not to call me on it in her comment below. I don’t think I would have shown that much restraint. 🙂 )
Do I pretend to happy for my husband? Do I live for him? That makes me feel icky inside. I live for myself. People who tell me that I have to have hope, or that my daughter wouldn’t want me to be sad means nothing to me. In fact, it actually makes me angry. Stop trying to my grief to make you feel better.
Today, when I was leaving the grocery store, I found myself humming a Christmas carol. I think it might have been Walking in a Winter Wonderland. And to be honest, I don’t know why I was happy. I just was. And I’m okay with that.
The grief is still there. So is the rage. The pain. The bad feelings.
But I’m not controlled by them anymore. I understand what I did and why. I understand that there are people out there who disagree with my decision. I understand that they are incapable of having empathy for my individual situation. And I’m okay with that.
Cosmo ran an article about my situation a few weeks ago. And there were some horribly nasty comments. My husband even started his Facebook page just to address them. I think it was his way of defending me, protecting me. And he came to the same conclusion that I did: those people will refuse to change their world view. And I’m okay with that, too.
So my early Christmas present to myself is peace. Peace for myself.