The first few years marked all the "first" anniversaries. Holidays, birthdays, trips and mile markers of life without Jimmy. The tears slowed and eventually reached the point of rarity.
I thought I knew what to expect if we lost Esther. Most writing on grief, loss and mourning talks of a time of "numbness". I never had that with Jimmy. My dad, brother and I planned on taking it head on. No avoiding, no running. That wasn't Jimmy's style and we weren't about to dishonor his life with that kind of behavior.
I now know numbness. It sounds so harmless. It sucks! I love my daughter and don't know why I am not completely crushed and useless. Its selfish of me, but I want to wallow a little. It just doesn't seem to be God's way with Esther. Instead I am reminded that even meeting her was a miracle. Hearing those two small cries as she was born. Holding her hand telling her "Esther your papa's here. I'm right here honey. Its OK. Your so strong and your papa's so proud of you." 20 days! She died the day after she was born on the machine that was meant to keep her alive. 20 days! I would love to wallow, but can't help but rejoice.
I know I said I was angry when the doctors gave us the horrible news, but I need to clarify. I was not angry at God. I was angry at the situation; if that makes any cense. I was angry because I didn't want to have that responsibility of deciding my daughter's fate.
Now I did have a moment of anger in the following days after hearing about other babies that were doing well. I wasn't mad that they were doing well, I just didn't want to hear someone else's good news. It had no value to me.
It didn't last though. I can't stand being mad. It is just such a waste of time, and makes me feel sick. There is, after all, too much to be thankful for. Now just like at children's hospital, the first few weeks were most painful at night falling asleep and after waking up first thing in the morning. Other than that, I felt alarmingly well. Numbness. Sure there were moments throughout the day, but they were rare.
I guess I expected to be so broken I couldn't function. Unable to get up or complete simple tasks because of the unbearable sadness. Rhonda, experiencing much the same situation, brought up how we had just spent several months preparing for this possibility. We reasoned that for 20days we were on the most intense emotional ride of our lives in the NICU. I know sometimes scripture quotes can be cliche, but it really is a "peace that defies understanding".
Now Rhonda likes to follow blogs and a group of moms that have lost their babies, and we apparently don't fit the norm. A lot of people hurt so badly they are suicidal. 85% of marriages end when they lose a child. I don't find those stories amusing or simple. People's hurt is intense.
Without Christ, without Rhonda I don't know what my life would look like.
Starting back to work was also a shocker. When I lost my brother I found a job that required the least amount of thinking possible. No responsibility for the guy who can't keep it together for more than a few moments at a time. Nursing does not possess any of those convenient traits. That said, the job has not been easier. It is just that being away from my wife, having the potential of a loss of control, has been hard. Days have been darker. While at work the first few weeks, I missed Esther more than ever. Although there are places to slip away and have a moment I am fearful of what might happen if I allow the "dam" to break at work. How I could continue through the day after losing it and just slip back into the flow with a snotty nose and red eyes. How I would have to explain to patients, doctors, coworkers.
Thankfully that is easing. Since Esther's funeral, memorial day and other "big days", the numbness is slowly fading. I have had several blowouts and it is soul shaking. I am glad just to know it is there and I'm not fearful of the reality. I see God's beauty and grace all around me. I assume this is only the beginning of our mourning and grief. That's alright. Esther is worth every tear, cry, sob, and groan. All grief is individual and personal. No one knows yours. Just as you can know no one else's. We may experience similar things but at different times and for different periods.
For far to many CDH parents, this is the rest of the story. Life does go on whether we are ready of not. Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body, soul and strength. Everything else is just a waste of time.
to be continued.........