They’d be six weeks old today, they’d be at 30 weeks gestational age. I wonder how much they would weigh. Would Zoë be on the bubble cpap by now or breathing on her own? Would Lennox be out of the critical care room? How many hours would I have spent holding them against my chest? By now, diaper changes would be old hat. I’d probably no longer be eagerly reading the “poop report” at each visit. How many ounces of breastmilk would we be going through and would I be able to keep up?
The pain has faded some. I rarely feel that sharp spear through my heart when I think of them, instead it’s a persistent bruised feeling that flares up if I poke it, but is just background noise the rest of the time. The loss is still as real as it was three weeks and six weeks ago, but it’s a dull ache now…a hollowness that will probably never leave me. The tears still come at random moments. I know that will be the case for a long time. The nausea still hits as I drive someplace I haven’t been since then. I faxed a doctor I hadn’t seen in a year a detailed list of the events of the past seven months so that I didn’t have to go through it all at yesterday’s appointment.
Strangely, I feel bad about this progression of grief. As often as I pleaded to no longer feel that way, to not hurt so badly, so intensely, it feels like a betrayal. I know that’s normal too. It doesn’t change the fact that moving on, finding a balance point adds a new layer of guilt, a new tint to this color of grief. I feel like I’ve moved to this new stage…not quite acceptance, but close…too quickly. Shouldn’t it take longer? I never hid from any of it though. I pushed hard. I looked at the photos and held the few treasures. I faced the difficult errands. Ignored wounds fester and take longer to heal. I suppose I’m just good at biting down and scrubbing them out. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It’s just me.
I’ve been back at work since Monday and, as hard as it was to walk through that door, sit down at a desk I haven’t seen since December 19th, I know being here has helped. I’ve had to talk to people and function like a “normal” adult. I’ve had to shower before noon, and figure out what to do for lunch. I’ve sent emails that have no mention of hospitals or doctors appointments. There have been difficult moments. Moments when I sobbed quietly here behind my cubicle wall, hoping no one would walk to the printer just then. Moments when I had to smile and try to make someone feel better as they stumbled through not knowing what to say to me. I’ve been acutely aware of the very thick wall I’ve built around me, the strong “don’t talk to me” vibes I’m giving off. I’m trying to set aside my resentment that others’ lives seem to be going along as they always have. Don’t they know that the world fell out of orbit three weeks ago? Why aren’t they rending garments and pulling their hair?
I have these moments when I feel like I step outside myself and just watch. Last night, I watched Shannon and myself play and joke like we always have. We smiled and laughed and teased. The marks of our grief are clear on our faces…creases on foreheads and a change to our eyes that didn’t exist before…but for the first time in weeks, we set aside that profound sadness and just were. It felt good. Hopefully we’ll reach a point in time where I don’t notice that we’re happy. I didn’t used to because you can’t be aware of a state until you have something to compare it to. Perfection isn’t recognizable unless you have something flawed to contrast it. Joy requires sorrow to be truly felt. We’ve had plenty of both.
Our lives will never be the same. Lennox and Zoë were the culmination of a dream that we labored towards for so long. I know there will be other dreams. But the loss of this one, will be with us forever. I don’t know where this road we’re on now goes, but I’m starting to feel ready to walk down it. Slowly, and with a lot of detours and backtracking.