This morning a colleague asked me how I am doing. I was suprised she asked and was honest with her. I was suprised again when by the end of our chat, she started to cry- and I didn't.
I told her that I am ok, but that it would be Bertie's third birthday next Thursday, so it's a difficult time for me. She said the expected stock answer "it takes time." Usually at this point I just say yes and smile and carry on about my day. But something made me engage her a little further this morning. I said, "Well yes, it is in some ways easier than it has been the last two years, but in other ways it is harder. He would be three. He would understand now what a birthday was all about- he'd be getting excited and pestering me about his birthday. It's different". And it is. The grief is not all-consuming as it was. It is "better" in that sense. I am coping well and getting on with living. But, the hurt is still as bad as it was. The hole in my soul and my life remains as wide and deep and empty as it ever was. My birthday yesterday was happier than the past two- but it still hurt aswell. It still represents another year gone by without Bertie and without a rainbow.
She told me about her aunt who lost a child, and was still grieving well into her seventies. I told her about my grandmother's last words to my parents, asking where her lost baby Jacqueline was. She told me she knew it would never go and I said no, it won't. I will never be over it. I'm coping, I'm living, but the hurt is still here (tapping my heart.) She walked off in tears and I stood there suprised, and impassively wondered if she regretted asking me how I was doing in the first place.
Is this how it changes? Has it become just another part of my life, something to mention now and then in a matter of fact way like redundancy or moving house? Yes it hurts, enourmously. And yes I cry, at home, in the car, now as I type this, in bed when I can't sleep....but not when I talk to people. It's like I am telling a story- telling it how it is, but I rarely cry now when I talk. Have I become used to it? The telling I mean?
And why was I surprised that she got upset? Did my lack of visible emotion give her the space to express hers? Because she was not needed in the role of comforter, did that give her space to truly put herself in my shoes, or her aunt's? She has no idea what a gift she has given me, through showing me that side. By demonstrating to me that empathy. It's so much more comforting than platitudes. Of course she cannot totally empathise with me. of course she does not know and can hardly imagine the depths of my pain- but for a few seconds, I think she allowed herself to try.
I wonder how this grief will evolve in the future. Will I stay in this limbo forever? In this getting on with it- but not happy, not fulfilled, making the best of a bad situation -life? I wonder where in society my husband and I fit now. We gave up the life of a childless young married couple three and a half years ago when we saw those two pink lines. We made a mental shift to parenthood and all our hopes, dreams and plans revolved around that. There's no going back from that. You can go through the motions of being a childless young couple again, and you can tell yourself isn't it great that we can be spontaneous and sleep in at weekends and go out when we choose and etc etc etc...but it's empty. We don't want those things any more. We don't fit in with our friends who do, but we can't find common ground with our parent friends either. I don't know where we go from here, how to carve a new life for us.
My husband thinks he could be happy if we never have a living child. I don't. My every waking thought is consumed with the pursuit of motherhood. Either with striving towards brining a living baby home, or of finding new ways to be a mother to Bertie. As I said to my mother in law in response to her pleas for me to find something else to fill my life- What else is there?