Friday, May 27, 2016

The Tsunami of Grief

Pregnant with Cain (2011)
When we least expect it, grief hits, just as it has many times before, although in the moment, the blow feels unlike all the others we have experienced.  That's the thing about grief. It's completely and utterly unpredictable.

The most recent wave hit last week when a co-worker announced in a meeting that he and his wife were expecting their first child in December.  The entire room exploded with applause and well wishes filled the air, of which I was a willing participant.

But then came their expected due date. December 5th. I heard only those words and nothing after.

In that moment, with those words, time froze. That was my date, my due with Cain; the day I built my happiness around; the day I marked on my calendar with hearts and stars; the day I dreamed about since I first realized I was pregnant. The day he would never see because he was taken from me, from us, far too soon.

In that instant with no time to prepare for its latest blow, grief flooded me with a wave I never saw coming.  In those next moments, I felt as though I was literally drowning. Everything in me wanted to run from that room, and yet my body was frozen with panic. In my mind, my arms were waving frantically for someone, anyone to see that I was sinking under, but how could they? They didn't know.  No one there knew. And how could they possibly save someone from something, from a moment, they weren't aware was happening? 

The next wave hit a few days ago when Facebook reminded me on that date five years ago, we found out our baby, our son, might have a genetic disorder. We went into that appointment excited, so full of hope for our future, and walked out devastated, in shock, and completely unprepared for what the future might hold. Suddenly I was thrust back to that moment. I heard the doctor's words ringing in my ears like they did the day she said them. "You can terminate. We can do an amniocentesis or CVS, but with results this high, the numbers are usually not wrong." Again, time froze and I felt myself sinking back under.

And today, with yet another reminder from Facebook, the day five years ago we did our Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) to try to determine what the road ahead might look like for us, for our child. A day that was full of uncertainties, but one that still held so much hope.  Hope that the doctors were wrong; hope that our child would be healthy; hope that it was all in vain because our baby would be okay.  Looking back now, my heart breaks even more knowing that despite our positive news from the test, our son would be gone before he ever had a chance to meet his big brother. Again, all the sorrow and pain of five years without my son threatened to consume me, engulfing me in yet another swell of grief.

Even after five years - that's how long it will be in September - that's how it is.  The grief, the pain, the anguish still find me,  and when they do, though not as seldom as before, the intensity is just as great as it was in those first moments after Cain died. I'm immediately catapulted to the exact moment the doctor's words sank in, that there would be no saving my son, the moment I realized he would not be going home with us. A moment that changed the course of my life forever, that changed me forever.

This is the life of a bereaved parent. This is life after loss, never knowing from one moment to the next how your day will turn, what the next trigger will be, and how you'll make it back to the surface once that wave hits. Maybe this will be the time you actually drown from the grief of it all. Maybe you won't.  Will you give in to the memories? Do you even have a choice?  For me, those memories are all I have of Cain, and while they are painful, they are also necessary. I won’t lie though. Sometimes they do feel like too much, like this time might be the time I don’t make it back from them, like the grief my finally and fully consume me. When those moments hit, I look to my living children, my boys who are my beacons in my darkest times. They are my lighthouse, reminding me if I keep treading water through this latest rip current, I'll find myself safe on the shore. And while I am usually weary and worn from keeping my head above water, when I find I can once again place my feet in shallower waters, it is their love that pulls me completely ashore. 

They truly have no idea how often they save me.

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