Have you ever felt like you can’t be in two places at once? That’s how I feel right now. I’m bouncing between coping with Alex’s death and the excitement of Molly’s arrival. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job with either one of them. There’s just too much conflicting emotion to work through.
I love Alex. I miss him. He’s not coming back. Can’t that just be the end of it? Not to sound callous or insensitive, but those are the facts. Why does my mind need to keep turning the grief over and over as if there is something new to discover? It’s the annoying telemarketer calls that interrupt when you aren’t expecting them. The day is going well; things look good, then an alarm goes off.
Alert! Alex died.
Yes, he’s gone. I miss him. No need to sounds the bells anymore…nothing has changed. Can’t we just accept that? It’s not that I’m stuck in my grief from Alex, I just didn’t expect to revisit it so frequently. My mind races to all the circumstances and feelings of loss around Alex. They’re unchanged. So why is my mind so insistent on bringing me back there?
Molly is coming shortly. Just over 4 weeks. May 29th. Time flies and she is well on the way. It’s close enough that we should start thinking about installing the car seats and buying a baby book. We’re on the cusp of welcoming this new blessing into our lives and the sheer joy that we should be soaring on is cut short. It’s not the “what-ifs” that I thought would paralyze me. It’s the timidity of the joy I feel.
It’s not the carefree, unabashed, all-out excitement that makes your heart burst while you’re waiting for your baby to arrive. It’s solemn. Calm. Unobtrusive. You could almost forget it’s there, waiting silently in the corner. Once you push all that grief out of the way, you see it in the shadows. The joy waiting for you to acknowledge it.
I feel like I need to “finish” with Alex before I can “start” with Molly. I know that’s not entirely possible, and may seem wrong to think that way. It’s just that nothing is changing with Alex. He’s in Heaven. I acknowledge it. I accept it. At times, I can even celebrate that. Why isn’t that enough? My sadness and grief around his departure are clouding the excitement around her arrival.
Before she even gets here, I’m already doubting whether or not she’s getting a mommy worthy of how wonderful she is bound to be. We’re not off to a great start.
It’s like I have this running checklist in my mind of things I need to do before she gets here. Diapers? Check. Onesies? Check. Stop mourning the loss of her brother so you’re not all lame and depressing when she gets here? That one’s a little harder to do.
There are plenty of families who have balanced grief and joy. I am so in awe of their strength and courage. I just don’t feel like I’m in the right place yet, and I only have 4 weeks to get there.
We took Benjamin on a big brother weekend to Madison this weekend. We stayed overnight in a hotel, went to the children’s museum, took him to Build a Bear… it was a nice time. You could almost forget that we had taken this journey as a family once before. At times, I think we are so lucky that Benjamin was only 2.5 when Alex died. He doesn’t really remember anything about it. Not that I don’t want him to have memories of his brother, I’m just not sure that I would have answers for all the questions he would ask.
“Mama, we had a big brother weekend when Baby Alex was born and he went to Heaven. Is Baby Molly going to go to Heaven too?”
“Mama, why did Baby Alex go to Heaven? Didn’t he want to live with us anymore? Will all my brothers and sisters go to Heaven instead of living with us?”
“Mama, why did you buy all that stuff for Baby Alex if he was never going to use it?”
I’ve come to realize that Molly is coming whether or not I’m done coping with Alex, and that’s really all there is to it. There is no “finishing” or “getting over” anything. It’s just coping. I can be normal or crazy or somewhere in between and I will deliver a baby on May 29th. That’s all.
I am preparing myself and our family for a journey we have taken before, a trip that had an unexpected detour. We wouldn’t have chosen the outcome, but we made it to an alternate destination. There are families who have taken this trip before, but I don’t think we can use their map as our guide. We need to find our own route, rely on our own instincts, figure out our own path.
I am eager to meet our little girl- I hope she knows how long our journey was to get her…