A Lasting Darkness

When the power went out for two days last week, I was forced to not only live like a pioneer woman, bond with my children and eat nothing but dry cereal all day long (really, I am ASHAMED. The sugary goodness of the Fruit Loops call to me in times of crisis), but I was forced to reexamine my life and mull over the choices I have made. I had nothing better to do at the time, courtesy of the black out.

Since my son died 18 months ago, I have tried to fill my life up, tried to quiet the noise that rages inside my head during my waking hours. I knew I was doing this, but I seemed unable to stop. The pain was too great. The first four months after his passing, it simply hurt to breathe. I sat on the couch where him and I would snuggle and watch soap operas I mean, the birds outside our window and I would breathe him in, knowing how blessed my life was, how full. Suddenly, I was alone on this couch, and my life was obscenely hollow.

I knew that I was sinking deeper in my grief every day and I was harming my older children by just sitting there in my blanket of sadness. When a family friend tossed me a life line and offered to put me to work, I reluctantly grabbed it. I didn't want to work, I didn't want to see people and have to explain all over, everyday, and endure their looks of pity and sympathy. But I didn't want my kids to grow up and tell their spouses and children about how the death of their little brother wrecked their mother, their family.

So off to work I went. And it was bloody hard work too. Working at green house is physical. But I was surrounded by friends, and I found that it actually helped to tell people my story. It was cathartic, and I was healing. When that job ended, as all seasonal jobs must, I took in my nephew, The Worm. It was now summer break, and I was surrounded by my kids and a four month old Worm, and life was too busy to have time to break down.

Except that is what I did. I barely remember the summer, the heat, anything. I remember changing diapers and smelling the sweet spot on the side of The Worm's neck and wishing for the millionth time that it was Bug I was smelling. But the demands of an infant and two active children didn't allow for me to wallow in my misery for long. Soon autumn rolled around and when the kids went off to school I filled up my days with blogging and reading blogs, and the Worm.

Every day seemed a bit better, a bit brighter. I was starting to untangle my sadness. I was able to remember how to feel joy and not just pain, remember how to love, not just my children, but myself. I was able to forgive myself for the ultimate mommy failure: The death of her child.

Intellectually, I knew I was not responsible for the death of my kid. I did everything possible to prolong his life and make it the best little life possible. But while my heart was secure in the knowledge that I loved him enough, gave enough, sacrificed enough, my brain would not stop with the What If's.

Busying myself helped quell those nasty little What If's. I barely wrestle with them anymore. They have been mostly banished to the great outdoors, along with my fear of spiders and mice. I try not to worry about any of them anymore. But then suddenly, I lost the Worm, when my blog became public. Family politics prevailed and my sister and her child were caught in the middle. Now I was truly alone, since those first four months of Bug's passing.

I thought I was coping well; I was still being funny, I was still blogging. My kids were reasonably happy, my dog well fed. But I was still doing what I had been doing after the first four months. Busying myself to avoid my grief. I focused on my friends, my blog, the upcoming adoption. Anything but me. After-all, how many times can a person wonder if this pain will go away?

Turns out, a lot.

The power outage took away all my distractions. I had no computer, no telly, no music and no phone. I was stranded in my drive way, unable to leave or have anyone enter my snow covered home. While I sat there and tried to entertain my kids with endless rounds of Scrabble and Monopoly, I wondered what life would be like with Bug if he was still alive. Would he still walk? How tall would he have grown? Would he be able to sit on a chair with out me having to strap him in? Would I still want to adopt a new child? The questions raced through my mind, until I was desperate to drown out the noise.

Sitting there, with my kids, trying to make sure they didn't maim one another, I talked to them.  And listened.  I heard how much they missed their brother still, and I realized, it wasn't just me struggling with this heavy bundle of pain. They talked about how scared they were bringing in a new little kid, wondered if they would love it, worried that I would be so busy with the new child that I wouldn't have time for them. They remembered how much time I spent on Bug; they haven't forgotten all the things they missed out on because of their little brother.

They worried they wouldn't be a part of our new family. I listened, and I tried to reassure them, but when they lost interest in what ever game we were playing and wandered off to wrestle, I sat back and examined what they said. I worry too. I worry I won't be able to love a new child the same way I loved Bug, I worry I may resent the new child and the constraints he or she will place upon me with their needs. I worry I want to adopt to try and fill the vacant hole Bug's absence has created in my life.

Boo feels the same way. The closer the adoption creeps towards us, the colder our feet become. Is this normal? Are we just psyching ourselves out? I have voices screaming inside my head, all arguing over top of one another, clamoring to be heard. I don't know which voices to drown out and which to heed.

I fear ramming a child down my kid's throats and having them resent me forever more, repeating the cycle my own mother and I seem trapped in. I don't want to hurt my children by placing my own needs before them. Being a parent means sometimes letting go of your personal dreams and doing what is best for your children. Is this one of those times, one of those dreams?

I am listening to the quiet now. Trying to sort out the voices, the doubts, the fears. I am trying to face my grief once more, while marveling at the lasting power of this pain, this sadness. I wonder how long will it be before I can remember my child and all I gained and derived from him with out succumbing to the overwhelming sadness and hurt of his absence.

I am very aware I am standing at a crossroads, and the direction I take will not only impact my life and my husband's, but that of my children as well. I must not sacrifice my family as they are now in an attempt to recreate the family I had once. I must honor all of my children, not just the ones who passed.

So I must busy myself once again. But this time, instead of filling my hours trying to avoiding my feelings and fears, I'm going to try and embrace them. Maybe, finally, I will know what direction I am supposed to go.