I am fundamentally different.
My life is no longer what the rest of society sees. I am no longer on the same wave length. The only other people who can truly understand are the other members of this terrible club of child loss. There is no ringing in of New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day singing Auld Lang Syne. There is only before and after the death of my only child. P.B life is now Pre Billy and Post Billy. Time means nothing else. There is only a brief acknowledgment of its passing.
I believe this comes from the basic restructuring of the primordial ooze that runs through our cells on a very deep level. I have been changed, there, that deep. Fundamentally changed. As it should be. I have been thinking about Elizabeth Kubler Ross and her surmation about how we (the members of the dead child club) will never be the same, nor should we be the same, nor would we want to be the same. I never understood that quote, until now. Now that I feel it in my mitochondria. The change within. How silly the pettiness of the lives of the living. And I strive not to appear flippant or condescending, because of course, to those experiencing those silly little annoyances, it is real. And valid. And, at times, life altering. Until something truly life altering happens and then everything changes. As it should.
I see people with children and I think, hold on tight. I live in fear for other parents, not wanting them to ever experience this. I hear of a pregnancy or see a newborn baby and what was once an occasion I would become excited about, now it is a cause for me to shudder. I think no way, and please don’t. Because at any second that person can be taken and then you would live as I do. I would not wish this on the devil. Do you hear me when I say that? I am telling you that this ‘experience’, if you will, is so….there just aren’t any words to describe the absolute soul crushing weight that we, the bereaved live in every day, that I would not wish this on the Devil Himself. No one should suffer this.
And yet, here I am. I get up and face it, and face it with a smile, everyday as to not upset you too much or not to cause you to worry too much but really, it’s because I need to be around people to put my life back together and I noticed that the more honest I was about my feelings of grief, the smaller the number of people who would choose to be around me. I am not judging. I totally get it. It’s hard and scary and sad and truly frustrating to the core to be around a person who is grieving, mostly because there is no way to fix them. No one can fix that. Add to that the person being grieved for is a child? And to top it off he was an only child? I wouldn’t want to be too close to that either. I understood that when my ex left and he promised to love me forever. How could I possibly count on any of you? That’s not to say I am angry, or disappointed, or disheartened. It is to say that I get it. I hold no anger or disappointment. And please believe me that when I say that I get it, I truly truly get it. My perception is completely altered. It’s like suddenly I got bit by a radioactive grief spider and became Griefman and I suddenly have a heightened sense of awareness and insight into my surroundings (sorry, there’s a really good Spiderman reference in there somewhere, just past the tip of my brain..)
And that’s not to say that there weren’t those who steadied themselves in the face of such horror and met me for breakfast every single Saturday morning while I cried into my pancakes. Or rooted me on when I showed up for work, sobbing before the morning meeting, and handing me tissues telling me they were proud of me and yes, my makeup was ok. To those I say thank you. You are superheroes. My superheroes. And for the rest, just know that my feeling that I had to hide and pretend for you helped me just as much as the ones who let me show my truth. It helped me to act as if things were ok. The internal pressure for me to not make you uncomfortable made me get up and put my makeup on in the morning and cry all the way to work. And I will continue to do this.
Because, although it is not my truth, it helps.