Monday, August 25, 2008

One step at a time

I recently started talking to a young lady who just experienced the loss of a baby. She was nearly 9 weeks along and while some people may not think that is very far, I believe it is. The loss was very real to her and her husband. They'd been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half. My heart goes out to her, I wish there was more I could do or say, but I know all too well how it is. I experienced a number of losses myself, including one early miscarriage at about 6 weeks. The one thing that sticks most in my mind is something my husband's aunt once told me. A loss is a loss is a loss.

My husband's aunt and uncle lost their eldest son in a car accident when he was nineteen. Needless to say they had a really hard time getting over that. And honestly, it is not something you ever really get over, but simply learn to deal with. At least that is how I see it. Anyway, at a loss group she was a part of, she was having a hard time with women who were there for their own needed support, women who had had a miscarriage. And it wasn't until someone said that a loss is a loss is a loss, she finally got it. Everyone's losses might be different than her own, but they are no less real and painful to those experiencing them.

I would have to agree there. When I lost my second and third child later, the loss affected me differently and I was mad when people so callously said things like, "Well, maybe this is God's way of taking care of things...' or "Maybe it's a blessing it happened now." Are you kidding me?! I often felt resentment for those who had lost an infant or child later on in life, people who sometimes viewed my loss as less than their own. I was sooooo mad! I wanted to scream at them, saying it wasn't fair, at least they had had time with their child. They had had the chance to see their beautiful eyes open and looking up at them. They had felt the unbelievable warmth of those tiny fingers wrapping around one of their own and squeezing. They had the experiences of their baby's coos and babbles, seen what color hair they had, experienced first teeth and feedings and diaper changes. They had seen their children grow. They had birthdays and Halloweens and Christmases and Easters and little league games or ballet classes. All things I NEVER had the chance to experience with my children. It was so unfair.

But then you get back to a loss is a loss is a loss. And just because someone's experience in losing a child is different than your own, it doesn't make it any less painful or real. Having children now 4 and 9, I can't imagine what it would be like to lose one of them and yes while I have experienced all those things I missed with my other three angels, I am still in no way ready to give them up or stomach their loss any more easily than I would have before. It is a different beast, but the pain is still the same.

I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to talk about my losses now. But more than that, I am grateful for the chance to help someone else through their own grief, even if it only makes one moment of one day a little better. You have to take it one day at a time while you are in the midst of that darkness and heartbreak. One step at a time. One wobbly foot placed before the other. Take heart in the knowledge there is hope to be found and there can be peace afterwards, though pretty much all of that is up to you.

Losing my three has made me a better person in the end I think. I truly appreciate all the love and support of friends and family in my life. I live each day a little fuller (usually anyway) and I am so thankful for what I do have. My husband and children are blessings to me, even those I've lost. Through them I've been able to help and comfort others and for me, that is the greatest way to honor their memories. If by having had my three, and lost them, I am able to better relate to others and most importantly give them some small measure of hope, it was worth it. They are worth it. My children and my experiences aren't something to be swept under a rug, no matter how pretty or expensive. I wear the experience like a badge of honor, forever emblazoned upon my chest, upon my heart.

And if anyone out there reads this and needs to talk, please don't hesitate to let me know. It's hard, it's painful, it sucks. But at the end of the day, you can also find much to be thankful for if you open your eyes and truly look around yourself.