My guest blogger today is Joy Page Manuel. Joy describes herself as a former academic, currently a blogging mom, aspiring writer, astrophysicist, gazillionaire philanthropist and goddess, and undoubtedly a perpetual dreamer, hopeless romantic, and overanalyzer. Please do take the time to visit her blog, Catharsis and indulge in all her though provoking and inspiring writings.
In this beautiful and touching post, Joy describes her experience of the loss of her baby and the parallel universe she now finds herself in. Her words brought tears to my eyes and I knew I wanted to share it with you.
In a parallel universe, in approximately 24 hours, I would be giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Emily. She would have dark brown eyes, have my complexion and would surprisingly be even balder than when her older brother was born. She’d show us how strong her lungs are as she cries out and announces she has arrived but I would also notice how calm she is as she first latches on to me to feed. This time, I know better than to fuss and worry too much. I know she is well and I will enjoy this moment of being able to hold my lovely daughter in my arms for the very first time and simmer in the sense of wonder and peace. Everything is well and soon, her loving brother will see and kiss her head, ask his questions and be in awe. Daddy’s heart is flooded with love and gratitude that once again, we had been blessed.
Unfortunately, the roads forked and this consciousness is located in this universe, this one where I do not have her, this one where seven months ago they told me her heart stopped beating, she stopped growing and later found that she had trisomy 22 and had no chance for survival.
I am much better now but I’ve clearly learned something very important about grief. I now know that it is not a stage, but a pavement that is laid upon the road you trek each day. It’s not some place you visit, like ‘Griefsville’, and then leave behind, because in truth it never really leaves you. Yes, it gets better in time and you get better at focusing your energies on what you have and what you can be happy about. But you know that your pain is still there, and the slightest reminder can tip the scale.
I still ache for her, specifically her and not just the possibility of having another child. As a matter of fact, I have declared numerous times that I no longer want to conceive. I don’t think my body can still take it (all the hormone shots, the pregnancy itself, the stressing over the whole thing and the thought of taking care of another child when my joints are aching). More importantly, my heart has lost all courage to try again and risk being shattered. I simply cannot bring myself to hope again. I have done away with it, have made peace with it.
However, in all honesty, I don’t believe I’ve fully made peace with my God. Something happened when I lost Emily and the faith I thought I deeply possessed melted and was swept away by the flood of tears and sorrow that flowed through me. For the most part, I’ve stopped talking to Him and don’t even know how, or if I should, or if truly there is ‘someone’ to talk to. Occasionally I whisper some thoughts to bless others, especially my loved ones, but the certainty that what I am doing makes sense or would make a difference had vanished. The void I feel is palpable, the questions stronger than ever. My only hope now is that my search for answers grows even stronger, for I believe the presence of any desire to find answers, then fueling a search, is still better than surrendering to the void. Behind any act of searching lies a hope for finding something…anything.
I’ve always said that ‘carrying the past with you’ and ‘letting it get in the way of the present’ are two different things. By virtue of that distinction, I can honestly say I am moving on and have moved on. You cannot tell me that I have not, if moving on means letting your life unfold and actively participating in it, engaging in what confronts you. I’ve moved on in that I’ve done my best to not further fuel the bitterness that sits in the crevices of my heart. But as with any significant experience, losing Emily has defined me. Grief tends to do that as it comes and goes, ebbs and flows. Even rocks are defenseless against strong crashing waves…