How’s that for an uplifting title, eh?
Most of my adult life has been spent moving forward, upward. I always felt like I was the best I had ever been. The best shape of my life, the most grounded, the best place in my career, my marriage, you name it.
Especially as someone who went through a pretty significant weight loss and lifestyle transformation, I always looked at old pictures of myself and thought about how much better I’m doing now. I’m unaccustomed to the feeling of moving backwards.
I am not in the best place of my life. Or the best shape (no matter how many hours I spend trying to get back there). In fact, I am at the lowest low I have ever known.
In March, when I was, like, really freaking pregnant, I went to one of my best friend’s weddings. It was an amazing weekend seeing her marry the love of her life (and he is so good!), seeing a few of my favorite people and, honestly, just being alive. I was so fucking happy. That whole “pregnancy glow” thing people talk about it? I was like one of those lights that practically blinds you with its glow.
Today, I saw the photos from the wedding. And they are so beautiful. We all look so happy.
I can see it in my eyes, in my whole being. I used to be so damn happy. It was this huge part of my identity. If you were to ask people I knew to describe me they would tell you I was loud and bubbly and happy.
I wish it didn’t break my heart. I just want to go and look at these pictures from the happiest times of my life and celebrate that joy, that time I spent with Maddox before I knew anything was wrong. When my biggest concern was whether I would be able to be the best version of myself for him without sleeping for the first 6 months of his life.
Now, every picture, every moment before the last 4 months of my life is like looking into a museum of the person I used to be and the happiness that used to resonate so effortlessly from my soul.
I don’t really know what to do with that. With the feeling that my life will never be as good as it was before, that I will never be that happy ever again. Feeling as though the best days of my life are behind me and I am staring into the darkness of a future where I will never be who I was before.
It is terrifying. And isolating. And confusing.
I am a person who makes plans, sets goals. So now my goal is to try to be as close to happy as I used to be? Or what? My goal is to move forward one step at a time, which I know is the perfect goal for someone in my situation, but it is not the perfect goal for me.
It makes my entire existence feel…wasteful, insignificant.
And then there is the guilt. The guilt that I am looking at photos from the happiest day of my friend’s life and all I feel is heartache. The guilt that every time she looks at these pictures she, too, will be reminded that Maddox isn’t here. I feel like I stole some piece of her happiness that I can’t give back.
It shouldn’t be about me. But, lately, everything feels like it’s about me. Even when it’s not.
Part of me keeps waiting for the day when I will stop discovering new ways to miss Maddox, new ways to feel this loss. But, as a parent, you never stop discovering new ways to love your child and, if your child is gone, you never stop finding new ways to miss them.
Ari, I just happened on your home page because you are funny (found the recipe for “magic shell” ice cream cups – and “its really fun being married to me” statement – hilarious).
It was quite a jolt to see the pictures of you cradling your precious baby in the NICU, before I stopped chuckling.
It sent me straight back to the memory of my 2-day old granddaughter’s brief but worrisome stay in an observation nursery just last month. 13 years ago, SIDS claimed my 7 week old grandchild. I remember waking up each morning for two weeks, having had, at least a brief respite from that wrenching pain, and then the dawning realization, again, that she was gone – like living in the movie Groundhog Day, in a bad way.
I would look back at dates on the calendar, when everything was good. That act in itself drove the knife even further into my heart — and I was only her grandma. Her father, my son, bore a grief I had never been called to do. The small tremors in my heart come and go still — always unexpected and sometimes telling in the presence of others.
Nevertheless, I have comfort & faith that I will see and embrace that precious child again.
I so much want to be able to give you something to hold on to while you journey thru this crippling desolation. It feels like the total absence of hope. Maybe it helps however minutely, to know how others traveled in grief, and that you are never alone.
Yes, you will always be Maddox’s mom. That will never ever change. And you will hold him again, someday, never to part.
— I am not Jewish, but I am LDS & we are both of the House of Israel,and we are therefore kindred. There is light waiting to shine on you and your husband. Jesus Christ lives and is waiting to comfort you, if you can make a small space for him – even if at this point, you can only desire to have the faith of the size of a mustard seed, even to allow only a tiny space in your grieving heart. He knows you very well, and can comfort you as the most incredible, unspeakable blanket of heavenly love — I have personally experienced this. Ari, you and Steve will find hope and joy again, — and Maddox will be part of that Joy. Happiness too, will come back. May you continue in the love of your family and friends and to feel hope again.