Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's been a while

I haven't written anything for over a month. I don't know how or why that happened. It's just that I suddenly got interested in other things for a while. I still read many babyloss blogs (as well as many other newly discovered blogs thanks to Google reader). But I went to the book store a month ago and found I was interested in books that DIDN'T have to do with death, dying or babyloss. Progress? Maybe. I bought “Outliers” and “Eat, Pray, Love.” Then I bought “In Defense of Food” and got “Food Matters” from the library. I became pretty much consumed with reading these suddenly new and interesting topics.

All of this new activity has me thinking a lot about how I'm coping with my winter of discontent (my year in hell, whatever you want to call it). Sometimes, I'm frankly mystified and even a little horrified that life does indeed go on. It does. I can still laugh. I can still care about things. I can still love. Seriously.

In other ways, I'm amazed at what a person's mind can handle. It's the rare moment of pleasure that's not accompanied by a parallel thought: I've lost so much. I would give anything to have her back. To relive those last few months with her. To change everything. I see the many pictures of Samantha around the house and I think she should be here with us. It kills me. That sweet girl deserved to live her life! Again and again, I have no choice but to face the obvious: that this is the hand I've been dealt and there's nothing I can do about it. I wonder, is this my new reality? For the rest of my life, will good times always come with a pang (to say the least) of sorrow? I think so. I guess I can live with that.

You all don't know me really, but I'm (mostly) a pretty together person. I'm very even-keeled, not at all dramatic and pretty damned task oriented. I set goals and work to accomplish them. I face problems and try to solve them. Which is not at all to say that I always succeed. I'm just saying, perhaps poorly, that I would usually describe myself as high-functioning under most circumstances.
So, how has that served me over the last 4 months since I lost Samantha? Well, my usual approach to trying to solve problems, trying to fix things, clearly hasn't worked out very well. As I've already said, I keep coming back to the highly disconcerting reality that I am powerless to bring her back. It's done. It's a painful reality every single time. I'm not good with accepting that kind of thing.

So as I look back on my actions in the wake of Samantha's death, I can see that I've attempted to control other things, things I do have some say in. Like working out. I'm way more fit than I was 5 months ago. I'm running and doing Pilates and lifting weights. I do like that I'm in better shape. And working out, especially running, is therapeutic for me. It's my Samantha time. I usually run down to the Potomac River. And once I'm there, I always throw a stick in for Samantha, and sometimes say a few words aloud to her (or the universe at large) before heading back. When the going gets tough and my legs start to hurt and my lungs feel like they're on fire, I think of her. In a bizarre kind of way it feels good to have physical pain match by internal pain. It just does.

I've also tried to be a more “present” parent. God knows in the really early days of losing Samantha I was not at all there for the other kids. I was pretty much reading online blogs, turning on the tv for the kids and generally muddling through. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by an amazingly supportive network of friends who took my kids on outings and playdates and other things to give my some alone time. And my husband has been ridiculously supportive. He has taken the kids a lot on weekends to give me the time and space I need to deal with this. (And I'm not just writing that because I know he'll read this at some point.) Anyway, I've tried to be a better parent. Trying to plan more outings for them and give a little structure to their days rather than just letting things unfold as they do. They've responded well and, mostly, we're doing pretty well.

And now I'm a little obsessed with music. I'm listening to more music again - especially through Pandora which is a great way to hear new music. No question about it, music moves me. I think it helps me heal. I've gotten out my guitar and started playing a bit again, too. I'm not good, mind you, but I can play the basic chords. The kids like to sing along (even when the lyrics are ever so slightly inappropriate), so it all feels very much like a Norman Rockwell childhood kind of existence. You know, except that it's been the worst year of our lives.

Somehow I ended up on Facebook, too, which I was hesitant about at first. There are of course plenty of awkward exchanges: Hey Alyssa, haven't seen you in years, how've ya been? Me: well, it's been a horrendously shitty year, but we're doing ok. Yeah, it's hard not to be a downer. But it's been nice to catch up with people, too.

Sometimes I think, what was I doing before? How do I have time for all these new (re-discovered) interests? The answer, of course, is that I'm NOT taking care of a (what would have been) 17 month old. I think I've written about this emotional dissonance before. I don't know how I'll ever reconcile it. I'm happy for the time and opportunity to pursue more of my own interests. But the price I've had to pay for this opportunity...., well, it's not a fair fight. I want my baby back.

Anyway, it feels good to write again. I don't know how often I'll update this blog, but I do find great value in just getting these thoughts out of my head. And this blog provides a handy forum for that, even if I'm not sure many people are actually out there reading it!


  1. I read somewhere, I think, or maybe I just made it up, happiness comes at a price. What you said about having a happy moment with a pang of sorrow reminded me of this. Even though life does go on its so hard to not wonder, wish, and pray things were different. Thinking of you and Samantha today.

  2. Hi! I came across your blog. We seem to have some things in common. We both have had 4 children on this earth, and have both lost our youngest daughter at relatively the same ages to CHD. My youngest daughter died April 26th. She was born with HLHS (half her heart) endured 2 open heart surgeries. We found out on April 21st that her heart was enlarged and her heart function decreased. She was put on meds and sent home on April 25th seemingly getting "better". She arrested at home in my arms Sunday morning April 26th, she was 14 months old. I can so relate to many of your posts, it is like thoughts from my head. I miss her like crazy and wonder if things will ever get "better". It is such a HUGE change going from 4 to 3. Jamie

  3. i am so sorry about your daughter samantha. that just sucks. I do like your post, it is encouraging for me, since losing my baby Silas at birth, the last 9 months have been pure torture.
    It sounds like you are working on healing you, and that is so important. its where i am stuck right now, even with all i'm doing to heal.
    lots of love to you-
    the music, yoga, writing on my blog, all of it is helping bit by bit.

  4. hmmm, just posted above and somehow one of my sentences ended up in the wrong place. can you fix that? weird!!!

  5. Hmmm. I don't know how to fix the weird sentence placement. Sorry!

  6. Yes, emotional dissonance. I feel the same way. I'm able to do so many things I never anticipated, but what an awful price to pay. I know both of us wish the day was filled with chasing after our toddlers instead but we do what we can with what we've got.