It has been three years now since I said goodbye to my daughter. 3 years without her here. 3 years of sadness, longing and growth. A lot has changed these last 3 years, but a lot has stayed the same. I know right after she died I couldn’t picture what a year later or even a week later would look like. How would I survive? Here we are, 3 years out from the most devastating time of our lives and we’re doing alright.
So, what’s different? I don’t cry every day anymore. I would cry myself to sleep every night. Every day, driving the car, in the shower, middle of the night laying in the center of the family room floor, it was a pretty steady stream of tears. The emotions are still there and there is still pain but the tears have slowed.
I used to have a really difficult time seeing any pregnant woman or newborn. It was too painful to witness someone else’s joy for what I wanted most. I would avoid pregnant friends, get insanely bitter when I saw pregnancy announcements and go into a dark place when I saw perfect newborns.
I have gotten better as time has passed being able to accept other women’s healthy pregnancies. Maybe it’s because I have since had a full term pregnancy and healthy newborn that I have been able to let go of some of that hurt. However, it still hurts like hell seeing twins and baby girls. I don’t know what it is, but baby boys I can accept and be happy for. Girls are a totally different story. There’s still so much pain there because we didn’t get to keep her and we still do not get to raise a daughter. The bitterness, anger and jealousy is still there.
I would say most days are pretty good. Some days, though, I still just revel at the moms who have no f-ing clue how easy they have it. They get to watch all their kids play/fight/make a mess/whatever… while I’m stuck here trying to picture what my daughter’s hair would look like or what her laugh would sound like. I get bitter about the naïveté when I hear moms complaining about trivial things. I could never be that naive, that innocent, again to think that those little things mattered. All emotions are stronger and faster to reach now.
Three years later there are these moments–these moments of intense joy. This joy, although often fleeting as it is quickly followed by the reminder of who is missing from this scene, is what sustains me. These moments of joy have grown from a brief, few seconds to now maybe lasting minutes or an hour. They come more often too. Months after losing our daughter these moments were maybe weeks apart. Now I can have these joyful moments days in a row. These moments, although brief, are sweeter and richer than anything I had ever experienced before loss.
I think that’s one of the big things… joy still exists but it’s different. Before loss, we could have seasons of happiness… Just so many smiles and positivity. Now joy is there but it’s in moments. It’s catching the sweetest unwarranted hug between my living children and letting my heart be filled with light. It’s seeing my fellow loss mama who has been struggling with infertility finally get pregnant. It’s letting the sun’s rays warm my face as I sit at my child’s grave and know she is with me.
Joy is different now. Life is different now. Would I give up all these changes to have her back in my arms? ABSOLUTELY! But since I can’t, I will appreciate the difference she has made in my life. The innocence is gone but this profound understanding of life and the moments that make it sweet is what we have been left with three years later.