Sea Of Sorrow

I never know when it will happen. I never know what will set me off.  A word, a song, silence – suddenly I’m wrestling with the waves of sorrow, trying to find my footing. Trying to stand while being beaten against the shore. When the waves are done with me, I’m left exhausted, gasping for air, and completely devoid of strength. Yet the first thing I do once I stand again is return to the shoreline. I will never leave this place.

Over time I’ll learn how to ebb as the tide does. The waves will batter me, but I’ll be used to their tactics. I’ll be better able to withstand their ferocious blows. It won’t hurt any less, but I’ll be accustomed to how it feels.

These last few days have been filled with joyous moments. I celebrated ten years of marriage. Brent and I had a wonderful anniversary together. My parents are here and we’ve been enjoying our family time together. Dad has put on his Superman cape (figuratively speaking, I don’t have one of “those” dads) and helped Brent complete the shower repairs downstairs. We’ve cried together, but we’ve also laughed together.

Today, I’ve been knocked down by the waves of sorrow.  A few days ago, I took my parents to the cemetery to see Harlynn’s grave.  Harlynn previously had grass seed spread across her grave site. When I took my parents there, fresh grass was sprouting up. At first I found it somewhat comforting. Then, however, I realized Harlynn’s grave was becoming just like all the others. There would be no distinction. There would be no difference. More than that, though, there would be no loose ground. For some reason, having her under grass makes losing her that much more final. Once I let it sink in that grass was growing over her, my heart ripped wide open again. I will never get her back this side of Heaven.

When Haley was in the NICU and I was there every possible moment, I remember Dr. J telling me something that powered me on through the rest of our preemie journey. He saw me for the bazillionth time in a row as I stood at the sink and washed my hands to go spend time with Haley. He stopped, smiled, and said, “I see you here all the time! You are such a good mommy.”  My heart grew three sizes when he said that. I was doing the best I could. I was being the best mother I knew how to be for Haley.  I do the same for Harlynn. I go to the cemetery as often as I can. Sometimes a few times a day. This time, though, there is a different kind of reception. I’m greeted by the rustle of the leaves as the wind blows through the trees. I’m greeted by the chirping birds or the gobbling turkeys. There is no one to smile and tell me, “I see you here all the time! You are such a good mommy.”

Just this morning I felt a phantom kick in my belly. I put my hand up against it and caught myself about to talk to her. She isn’t in there. That kick wasn’t a kick at all. I started to rub my tummy just as I did while I carried Harlynn. It soothed her when I rubbed a circle over where her back was. I would give anything to soothe her now. Selfishly, I want her to be here to soothe me. I don’t want to be mourning the death of my child. I want to be changing her diaper. Watching her smile for the first time. Feeling her soft hair. Touching her pouty lips. I should be taking my parents to her crib to watch her sleep. Not to her grave site.

This morning at church, Haley made a new friend (read: she was flirting with a college boy during the service). He asked us afterwards if she was our only child. I turned away and winced as Brent answered, “Yes.”  Our only living child. Every Sunday at church when I fill out the “Keeping In Touch Form” with the names of our children, I pause and wonder, Will I ever stop writing Harlynn’s name? Will someone who doesn’t know what we’ve been through wonder why I write two names but carry only one child in my arms?

I stand on the shore as the waves lap at my feet. For now, they’re peaceful. Consoling. But in the blink of an eye, I’ll be rolling beneath them once again, struggling to catch a breath. Fighting to survive. Clamoring to stand.  And when it’s all said and done, I’ll return to that very spot on the shore.  I will never walk away from this struggle. I will never abandon my grieving-mother post. I will never leave this place.

Next: Morning Mumbles
Prev: A Mother’s Love

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