And So On: A Tribute To Healing

How do I start this post? Should I talk about hitting rock bottom again (although this time it will be literally and not figuratively)? Do I talk about how ironic and rhythmic life seems to be? Do I talk about how losing my children seems to suck me in like a vacuum, and – all the while – I am running like hell to escape the eye of the tornado?

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of finding out Adam Gabriel was not going to make it full term. I can tell you I am still grieving as that doesn’t go away, but also that the intensity of it has lifted. Two years out and I feel like I am catching momentum again. I can say this without a child in my arms, without being pregnant, and without knowing which year in the future our adoption is going to be completed.

My in-laws are here and they are avid bikers, so yesterday we decided to take a 30-something mile bike ride down a local mountain. When my father-in-law asked me the date for a form that morning, I internally cringed and let him know it was the 24th – the day that starts my four day mourning period each year for A.G. (These are the horrendous four days between arriving to the hospital and delivering our angel; these dates aren’t something I really talk about with my in-laws, so I am not sure if they are cognizant of their meaning or not, although they obviously were devastated when they lost their grandson at 17 weeks of gestation.)

So, off we ride. It’s a beautiful day and I think to myself, on more than one occasion, that even though I am a little moody this morning, I am doing SO much better than the two years prior. I am enjoying the adventure and not overthinking things too much. I feel strong and healthy. I am holding it together! Well…

About 5 miles until the finish line, we need to cross another small highway that connects the trail. The guys are slightly in front of us and there is a truck coming. I have time to make the cross, but I am worried about my mother-in-law seeing the truck and I see she is swerving wide to avoid the truck which makes me pay extra attention. To her. Not to my bike’s path. I go down FAST, skidding across the loose gravel parking lot that connects us to the rest of the trail. My whole body is planted to this rocky, uneven, sharp surface. I slowly get up in a daze. I have dirt caked on my whole structure and, through the dirt, I can see I am starting to bleed in various places.

I was not worried about my physical body, but this was one of those moments you realize your mental fragility is coming to the surface because of something unexpected. I have had my share of hard knocks in the last three years, so I didn’t cry or show emotion. I know now how to control my deep sadness (mostly). My thoughts were racing though. My outside body now matched the turmoil and bruises I felt inside my body. I wanted to cry. I unbuckled my helmet because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I let my husband use whatever water we had left to try to wash off the open skin while I stood there in silence. I gave myself an extra second to get on my bike as I still felt unsteady and tingly.

Bike Bruises

I did not survive this day as a hero. This 24th day of July was marked in truth by the unfortunate incidents of today and my past. When our group asked me how I was doing I so badly wanted to say how my outside pain matched my inner turmoil, although the internal pain was much worse. I wanted to say that this fall felt like total defeat.

Oh…but I didn’t. I got back on my bike. I took a painful shower. I dumped hydrogen peroxide on my forearms, my shins, and my hands. I let it burn while I agonized. I did it again. I took a needle and picked the gravel out of the heel of my hand. I moved on with my day. I ate pizza and joined the group. I found a comfortable (enough) position to sleep despite my lacerated body.

This is what we do. We suffer. We remember. We pick ourselves up and try to heal. We remember. We suffer. We pick ourselves up and try to heal. We heal. We remember. We suffer again, but less. We heal a little more. And so on.

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Hitting The Restart Button (Whenever It is Needed)

This morning my Facebook news feed reminded me that I had a special memory from two years ago. The caption reads, “[My name here], we care about you and the memories you share here. You posted this photo exactly 2 years ago. We thought you’d like to look back on it today.” The memory is a photo, happily announcing my pregnancy with Adam Gabriel (at over 4 months pregnant). I was given the option to share the memory again with all of my Facebook connections. How thoughtful, Facebook. Really.

Pregnancy Announcement_privacy edit

*Edited family name for privacy.

Many of us whom have experienced loss have numerous instances like this. These moments bring out the immature, “life’s not fair” little girl in me. But, today, that’s all I am going to say about that and I am going to move on to brighter subjects because – in the end – that’s all we can really do. Unattach from the negativity, the sadness, the grief…and remember how lucky we are in so many other ways. Remember that we are loved. Remember that all our experiences give us an opportunity to grow in depth and compassion. Hit our restart buttons and press on, clinging to healthier attitudes and actions.

Life actually feels like it’s taking upward turns (slowly, but it’s happening). The days are long, the sun is vibrant, and – as I’ve mentioned – I’ve been given the opportunity to connect with many loved ones. Furthermore, my husband and I completed our first session with a spiritual director yesterday. We are so excited to have some spiritual guidance – some life-coaching so to speak –  from a woman seeming to know what questions to have us ask ourselves in order to help us flourish in congruence with reality and our faith. After ridding ourselves of some things that weren’t serving us anymore in our conversation with her, we felt relaxed.

And, within the hour, we got a call from our adoption agency. The birth mom of the little boy we are matched with completed her adoption training! This means that everything is still on track for a hopeful referral before 2015 closes. The birth mom still needs to wait 30 days and sign her intentions again, but – for today – we have made progress. Today, we notice that we have moved from the intense, relentless grief of losing our son (and three other, younger babies) to a place that feels like there is a crack of light.

July marks a flood of sadness for me ever since losing A.G. The sadness is still there, but THIS July we are making progress on our adoption. THIS July, we are working on our marriage. THIS July, we are learning hard lessons of perseverance and patience. I look around me and see others hurting more than I am. I think of how this Haitian birth mom is experiencing some of her darkest days and making brave decisions for her family. I say prayers for mercy. I say prayers of thanks. I can’t wait to see what next July brings for all of us.

A Leftover Type of Day

Happy Angelversary, A.G. Today, my leftover sadness, tears, pain, and outrage are being acknowledged – just for a moment – as I let them pass by on their way again. Today isn’t a day for a lot of words. Today is a day to get back in bed with all my clothes on and be comforted when my dog and husband join me – my Hollywood burying his face in me and my husband stroking my hair.

We aren’t taking all day, but just a little time to recognize what we remember, like leaving the hospital almost exactly 365 days to the hour without you. Like getting a big hug goodbye from the nurse, Kay, who walked us out to our car and was there with us 3 out of the 4 days and nights we stayed in that dark room where I faded in and out between reality and heavy, drug-laden sleep, missing you. When the tears stream down my face, I let them fall. When I can’t breathe out of my nose anymore, I take in the oxygen through slow, deep, mouth breaths.

These leftover moments have a place today, although life has moved on and my spirit has outgrown this as a constant place. Dear, A.G., thank you for teaching me my biggest life lessons and for making me grow more than I thought possible. Thinking of you with sweet mama’s love today and everyday, always.

The Calm After the Storm

I believe the storm may finally be over. It’s a dangerous thing to put in writing because, as soon as I think I know something, life will prove me wrong.

I am not pregnant, my job situation is still a mess, adoption is two years off by my best estimate, and I still have to baby my dog, Hollywood, in order to keep him healthy from meal to meal. But, for the moment, I feel the eye of the storm has passed and now I just have to keep moving through the aftermath, picking up all the windblown pieces of my life.

We got my genetic test back yesterday and my chromosomes are normal (enter little happy dance here). I am learning to love working part time. The adoption keeps steadily moving forward as I dream of learning how to braid cute, curly hair and nourish beautiful dark skin after bath time. I have continued to cherry pick moments in life that give me happiness…and happiness is surrounding me.

I feel more appreciative than I was able to feel most of this year. All year I felt an outpouring of compassion for others and a true spiritual awakening, but I am finally accepting where my life has led me in this moment. I feel joy bursting open in my soul from simply participating in my life.

As our dear Adam’s birthday approaches, I know my heart will never be whole again, but it may have grown deeper and wider. I am forever changed and this “new normal,” as I’ve coined it, is getting more comfortable, although laced with a sadness that I will always know. Through the sadness, though, space for the next chapter has finally been created.

I will revel in the fact that my deep breaths aren’t restricted with the anxiety and struggle that has been plaguing them for the last two years. I will continue to embrace the joy in the small, everyday moments. I will cherish the right-now, whether this truly is the calm after the storm or just a little break before the next blow. Either way, I have right now, I can breathe, and I feel peace.